DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FROM THE GRAND LODGE OF NEW YORK
1 MAY 2006
A speech by the MW The Pro Grand Master the Most Hon the Marquess of Northampton, DL
MW Grand Master, ladies and brethren. Firstly, may I, on behalf of my wife Pamela and myself, thank you for your kind invitation to be with you today and offer my congratulations on your 225th anniversary – you make your mother Grand Lodge very proud.Secondly, may I thank you and your brethren for the great honour you have conferred on me. It is something I shall always treasure and which I regard as a tangible proof of the very cordial relations which have always existed between our two Grand Lodges.
It will also remind me of the advice, love and support I receive from Pamela, who shares with me a passion for the Craft as well as some of the highs and all of the lows associated with my role as Pro Grand Master of English Freemasonry!
Your Grand Lodge had its origins in a group of Lodges under the Antients Grand Lodge of England and, I am reliably informed, your ritual still contains many elements of the working of that Grand Lodge, possibly more than our current workings in England do!
This evening is not an occasion to dwell on our respective histories, but we have recently discovered a fascinating link between your City and our headquarters.
The present Freemasons’ Hall in London was built as a memorial to our brethren who died in the First World War. A problem for the architects was that they had to erect a very heavy building, covering over two acres, on London clay which, even in the 1920s, was beginning to dry out.
The architects spent two months in New York in 1926 studying how your architects were able to build such magnificent structures. As a result, Freemasons’ Hall became the first building in England to be raised on a massive steel frame. The New York lessons learned by our architects certainly paid off, as the building has hardly moved in the ensuing 80 years, whilst many of the neighbouring buildings have had severe problems!
History is important, but we live in the present and must plan for the future, which in recent years in many Grand Lodges has looked somewhat bleak. English-speaking Freemasonry, whilst it is widely spread over the globe, has common roots and also common problems.
We all went through a very large expansion in the period after the Second World War, an expansion it would have been impossible to sustain indefinitely. Since the 1970s we have all suffered from a decrease in our members.