Over 700 Freemasons packed the magnificent Grand Temple at Freemasons’ Hall to witness a world first creation of a new lodge for young Freemasons – Essex Cornerstone Lodge No. 9968

A number of years ago, the Essex Cornerstone Club committee started to think about the formation of a new lodge, specifically for young Freemasons. They had a dream of what its purpose would be and what it might achieve. There followed a long period of planning and preparation and as time went by and progress was made, the realisation dawned that the lodge really would become a reality.

From then on, the excitement and anticipation built and reached their peak on Saturday 2nd March 2019 – the day Essex Cornerstone Lodge was Consecrated. The Grand Temple was the stage for this special occasion with over 700 Freemasons from across the English Constitution travelling to witness the ceremony.

The sponsoring lodge, Essex Provincial Grand Stewards' Lodge No. 8665, started the proceedings by opening the meeting. UGLE’s Assistant Grand Master, Sir David Wootton, and the Provincial Grand Master of Essex, Rodney Bass OBE, were then welcomed into the Grand Temple to rapturous applause.

The main event, the Consecration ceremony, was beautifully and memorably delivered by Rodney Bass, who commented: ‘This new lodge will encourage and support young Freemasons in their journey, providing a gathering place for young masons to increase their masonic knowledge and experience, and enabling Cornerstone Club Members to maintain strong relationships.’

The Founders of the lodge were presented to the Provincial Grand Master and reminded of their obligation to support and nurture their new lodge and uphold the values of Freemasonry for future generations.

Following this, those below the rank of Installed Master retired from the Temple which amounted to over 300 members. That included many from over 15 new and young masons’ clubs across England, who came to show their support and demonstrate the very essence of new and young Freemasons.

The Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Essex, Paul Reeves, then installed the Primus Master, Elliott Chevin, who went on to invest his officers. The Address to members was delivered by Sir David Wootton.

The Essex Cornerstone Lodge then presented a cheque for £2,022 to the Essex Festival 2022, making them Vice Patrons of the Festival.

The Provincial Grand Master then presented the lodge with a set of gavels, commissioned from an acacia tree from his own grounds. Following the meeting, a spectacular Festive Board was held for nearly 600 Freemasons where they experienced a musical treat including trumpeters, a string quartet playing modern music, and a unique performance of the Masters’ Song performed by a female singer acapella.

The members were also able to interact with a live photo mosaic display by uploading photos from the day and evening. The photos came alive culminating in a large mosaic of the Cornerstone Lodge crest, which provided a magnificent background to the banquet capturing memories of the historic event.   

Perhaps the most unexpected part of the evening was when the waiters pouring coffee began to bang on the tables, then their coffee pots and they miraculously turned into a most impressive drumming act. Not only that, all 600 diners were given their own drum kit and in unison, joined together and delighted in a memorable and incredibly fun act.

If you wish to find out more about the Essex Cornerstone Lodge or to arrange a visit, please contact the Secretary, Dr Jack Gilliland, on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Granite Chapter No. 2028, in the Province of Leicestershire & Rutland, was honoured to receive many distinguished guests at the installation of Daniel Hayward as MEZ for the ensuing year on 18th March 2019

The Chapter at first was pleased to receive the Grand Superintendent Noel Manby together with his Provincial team. With Daniel being a member of the committee of the Universities Scheme, he was also pleased to have present at his installation the Past Third Grand Principal, and UGLE’s Assistant Grand Master, Sir David Wootton, as President of the scheme, and also the Chairman Mark Greenburgh.

The Holmes Lodge room at Freemasons' Hall in Leicester was in full splendour with the Royal Arch banners ready for the evening. All were treated to a superb installation ceremony as Don Salt handed over the running of the chapter to Daniel and his new team. 

The warrant was expertly presented by the Grand Superintendent before everyone retired to enjoy the festive board, where Noel presented the Past Third Grand Principal with a bottle of Burleigh’s Tigers Gin, sporting the full colours of the Leicester Tigers.

Noel Manby said: ‘What a great occasion to have nearly 80 Companions present, a truly magnificent sight of all in their striking Royal Arch regalia.’

Friday, 07 December 2018 00:00

The launch of Solomon

Solomon the teacher: Fostering curiosity – developing understanding

The launch of Solomon, an online learning resource, is making daily advancement a reality in the Craft and Royal Arch

Sir David Wootton, Assistant Grand Master and Chairman of the Improvement Delivery Group, wrote in the last issue of FMT that the requirement to learn ritual by rote and then present it without any attempt at providing the most basic of context and understanding fails the candidate, because it overlooks the important messages that lie within.

Member surveys have highlighted learning as a major unmet need and a potential reason why members leave. Solomon has been created as an accessible online resource to stimulate interest and meet current and future needs.

WHO IS SOLOMON FOR?

Solomon will support the wants and needs of at least three groups:

  • Those who want to learn more about their masonry.
  • Those with programme planning or member development responsibilities in a lodge or chapter.
  •  Provincial or District Officers charged with promoting and providing learning resources and activities. 

Solomon will support personal inquiry or study, irrespective of experience or prior knowledge. It brings together material from many sources to help answer common questions and improve masonic knowledge and understanding. The online resource can be accessed on multiple platforms such as smartphones, tablets and computers and currently contains more than 350 items. 

Solomon is also designed to support the interests and requirements of lodges and chapters. The Lodge Mentor or Director of Ceremonies will be able to find material to help a member learn about or understand a topic or issue, or may introduce learning content into regular meetings. Solomon material comprises short ‘nuggets’, papers and demonstrations, as well as longer items for presentation and discussion. A regular presentation of these nuggets at meetings will stimulate a desire to learn more. 

Solomon materials will complement material collected locally by Provinces and Districts and will guide and support them in the advancement of their learning.

WHAT WILL I FIND?

Solomon is devoted to the Craft and Royal Arch. It is organised into three categories:

  • Seek & Learn: for individual exploration or presentation.
  • Share & Encourage: for use by lodges and chapters.
  • Support & Promote: for Provinces and Districts. 

The first two categories have eight modules covering the Craft, the Royal Arch and more general areas, such as symbolism and history. This arrangement will enable users to focus and drill down to individual nuggets, papers and presentations. It will also help to confine the inquirer to those areas appropriate to his masonic progress.

Once registered, you can login and enrol in one or more modules and explore Solomon to your heart’s content. It is intuitive and has been designed to foster curiosity and draw you in to seek answers. You can use various search tools to find and refine your inquiry. You may then read or download as much or as little as you wish. With smartphone access, Solomon can readily provide an answer to a question at a Lodge of Instruction.

Solomon provides a range of interesting material that will complement or even replace a ceremony

HOW WILL SOLOMON BENEFIT A LODGE OF CHAPTER?

Solomon complements the Members Pathway and individual mentoring programmes. These encourage a personalised approach to development. This approach should be extended to develop the interest and enjoyment of all members, enabling them to benefit from a deeper understanding of our ritual and traditions. The result will be improved performance of ceremonies, better mentoring and greater confidence in explaining Freemasonry to others.

Solomon provides interesting and accessible material that, if well chosen and well delivered, will complement or even replace a ceremony. It is designed to be popular, boosting attendance and interest. Ideally, learning activities will become an appreciated and regular feature of lodge and chapter meetings.

A ‘nugget’ is a five to ten-minute item of interest that can be presented by a member. It will easily fit into a meeting; perhaps to set the scene, or to act as a conclusion, or even when the candidate retires. It is also suitable for personal study and can be a resource for lodge quizzes. It may also lead to a presentation that expands on a topic of interest.

While there may be some who feel there is no time at a meeting, it’s hoped that by making time for learning, the benefits will become clear and members will increasingly value time devoted to it. A well-organised lodge or chapter will have a programme that reflects the needs and interests of all its members, one which they enjoy and which encourages them to attend. Learning may also extend beyond the regular meeting to a Lodge of Instruction or special masonic events.

HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?

As the success of the UGLE Learning and Development programme depends on local support, the Programme Support Team wishes to work collaboratively with Craft and Royal Arch Provinces and Districts. Solomon therefore includes resources to support local development. 

In launching Solomon to Provinces, Stuart Hadler, the Programme Lead, emphasised the key importance of presenting and delivering material in an understandable and engaging way. This takes skill and so Provinces are being asked to identify suitable members to be presenters, to develop their skills and to promote their use. The skilled presenter will draw attendance and overcome the negative stereotype of the boring lecture. 

The team also wants to share good examples; these include specialist lodges and working with light blue clubs. A collaborative approach between the Craft and the Royal Arch is encouraged.

Solomon is still in its early stages and will expand in volume, range and diversity. There will always be a need to commission and source new and credible material and the team looks forward to receiving the views and suggestions of Solomon users. For able members eager to write material for inclusion, Solomon provides guidance on the style and other format requirements.

Early feedback on Solomon has been positive from new and experienced masons alike. David Pratt, Provincial Grand Master for Yorkshire, West Riding, remarked that the nuggets are ‘solid gold’, packed with interesting topics to educate even experienced Freemasons. ‘They are so easy to access and use. Any lodge member can lead the activity… I shall be strongly supporting and promoting the use of Solomon within my Province.’

To access Solomon, go to https://solomon.ugle.org.uk

Published in UGLE

Today is the first anniversary of the United Grand Lodge of England’s epic Tercentenary celebration at the Royal Albert Hall – and to mark the occasion a DVD has been released

Over 4,000 Freemasons from Provinces and Districts were joined by representatives from over 130 sovereign Grand Lodges from around the world for this Especial Meeting to mark 300 years since the founding of the world’s first Grand Lodge for Freemasons.

The event started with the procession of Grand Officers entering the Hall, before the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, took his place in the Queens’s Box, accompanied by the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes, Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence and Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton. The audience then witnessed a theatrical extravaganza which embraced the rich history and heritage of Freemasonry and featured a cast of renowned actors including Sir Derek Jacobi, Samantha Bond and Sanjeev Bhaskar.

The DVD is available to all UGLE members and has been distributed to Provincial Offices – please contact them if you have not received your DVD.

The Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, spoke about the historic event, which you can view below.

Published in UGLE

Suffolk Freemasons Andy Gentle and Nick Moulton cycled all the way down to Freemasons' Hall on 12 September 2018, completing the final part of a four year challenge which has helped to raise over £21,600 towards their Festival 2019 for the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution

The Provincial Grand Master of Suffolk Ian Yeldham, together with his partner Amanda, wishing to show their support, accompanied Andy and Nick on this last cycle. All arrived safely and were greeted by Sir David Wootton, UGLE Assistant Grand Master, and James Newman, Chairman of the Masonic Charitable Foundation, along with around 70 supportive members from Suffolk.

Back in 2014, Andy and Nick came up with the idea of cycling to every lodge within the Province to attend a meeting, looking to raise awareness of the Festival whilst also hoping to gain an extra donation from each lodge they visited. With the added bonus of getting a little fitter and also being some of the very few to have visited all 68 lodges in the Province.

Their original target of £6,600 had to be re-evaluated due to fantastic support, as in the end the total amount raised was over £21,600 with 2,260 miles cycled. 

Andy commented: 'The cycling challenge has been just that, no easy task either physically or logistically, with one of the hardest aspects being the juggle with work trying to fit in around all the various lodges meeting dates. 

'But it was rewarding in so many ways, seeing the beautiful Suffolk countryside in a way we would never have otherwise seen it, making so many new friends amongst brothers and of course being so very well supported by all the lodges.'

Daily advancement

Assistant Grand Master and Chairman of the  Improvement Delivery Group Sir David Wootton  explains how a new online service will allow  members to access the learning resources  necessary to enjoy Freemasonry to the full

A survey conducted three years ago by the Membership Focus Group found that 68 per cent of respondents thought that understanding the moral and philosophical issues underpinning Freemasonry and its symbolism was either very important or essential. These values and principles define us as Freemasons and our relevance as an organisation. Explaining them to our members is a strategic imperative of the Rulers.

Ritual and ceremonies are a core activity of lodge and chapter life. While many members attend Lodge of Instruction and enjoy learning and performing ritual, often key messages and nuances are simply missed. With the emphasis on performance, devoting time to gaining the underpinning knowledge about ritual and ceremony has all too often become peripheral or optional. The opportunity to explore and understand is often not provided at lodge or chapter meetings or is considered second best to a ceremony. 

There are, however, growing instances of well-delivered presentations about masonry and an evident enthusiasm for more. So, it is important that we ensure that our members have ready access to the intellectual and practical resources necessary to enjoy their Freemasonry to the full. 

UNDERSTANDING THE WAY

The history of Freemasonry and the evolution of our ceremonies is fascinating. Our ceremonies originated during a period of relative instability and intolerance, and our forebears saw a need to create a society founded on moral and social values. 

Back in the 18th century (the Age of Enlightenment), Freemasons were stimulated by the desire to explore and explain the world through the application of moral, religious and intellectual principles. Over time, this intellectual aspect has dropped away. 

But as we seek to demonstrate Freemasonry’s relevance in the 21st century, it is timely to remind ourselves of those moral and social lessons contained within our ritual and their fundamental value to our lives today.

There is a genuine concern that a concentration on the performance of ritual, without appreciating what we are doing and why, overlooks the important messages that lie within, and that this is one reason why some members choose to leave. Although a wide selection of books and online resources are available, it takes effort to identify appropriate pieces to use within the lodge environment. Additionally, there is a need to have someone with excellent presentation skills who can really engage members and stimulate lively discussions that will assist them along their individual masonic journeys.

PRIORITISING LEARNING

This provides three key challenges. The first is to identify suitable material that is appropriate to any given situation. This might be a short nugget or a quick talk; at other times it may be a longer presentation with questions and answers. Or perhaps a demonstration of a ceremony with a detailed explanation of the underlying symbolism. A further development would be the provision of material in audiovisual formats.

The second is how to deliver the material. We need to identify, recruit and support people with the enthusiasm and ability to communicate the essence of the material, delivering it in an attractive, understandable and engaging way. This will also require investment in suitable equipment and resources. 

The third and perhaps the biggest challenge is how to build and sustain the demand for and interest in learning to become a regular part of masonic activity. This is a challenge for Provinces as well as for those in lodges and chapters, such as Mentors and Directors of Ceremonies who have a responsibility for doing this anyway.

Learning and development is an important element of Freemasonry. On behalf of the Improvement Delivery Group, an online repository of masonic learning called ‘Solomon’ has been created. It will provide informative and accessible material to inform and point members along the path of a daily advancement in masonic knowledge. It is designed to be used by individual masons, lodges, chapters and Provinces, evolving over time. 

Solomon will also offer examples of good practice – submitted by Provinces – to help develop and deliver learning activities and opportunities. It will facilitate the obtaining of knowledge at a local level and in forms that will fit comfortably with the needs of both the younger and the more experienced mason. Solomon will complement the Membership Pathway as well as individual Provincial mentoring programmes.

I look forward to the launch of our Learning and Development programme and the introduction of Solomon. It is due to be launched in November and will be explained in detail in the next edition of Freemasonry Today.

Published in UGLE

At the Craft and Royal Arch meetings of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Yorkshire, North & East Ridings, it was announced that the Festival had raised £1,881,413

Provincial Grand Master Jeffrey Gillyon and Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton addressed the gathering at York Racecourse, where the news that the Province had exceeded its target of £1.6 million was revealed.

Chelsea Lodge stalwart Freddie Davies compered a musical extravaganza at a Northern Masonic Variety show, which raised £10,860 for the West Yorkshire Mark Benevolent Fund

Bradfordians Lodge No. 9886 Past Master Sir David Wootton, UGLE Assistant Grand Master, attended with Yorkshire, West Riding Provincial Grand Master David Pratt at Bradford Grammar School along with Bradford Lord Mayor Clr Abid Hussain and West Yorks Lord Lieutenant Dame Ingrid Roscoe.

Artistes included internationally acclaimed vocalist Gordon Cree and electric violinist Lauren Hinds, who both produced outstanding virtuoso performances.

The university lodge, the Lodge of Fraternity No. 1418, welcomed Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton and Provincial Grand Master of Durham Eric Heaviside as guests to witness a triple second degree ceremony on 24th May 2018

David Chapman, Lodge of Fraternity, Stephen Cullen, Mowbray Lodge No. 5373 and David Squirrell, Universities Lodge No. 2352, were all passed to the second degree.

The candidates were conducted around the lodge by the senior deacon of their respective lodges.

Published in Universities Scheme

University Lodge of Chester No. 4477, welcomed Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton, Cheshire Provincial Grand Master Stephen Blank and more than 100 masons to witness the initiation of seven new members

The ceremony was conducted by Professor Andrew Thomas. The Provincial Grand Master presented Sir David with a bottle of Scotch whisky, while the lodge presented him with a bottle of Cheshire gin.

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