Wednesday, 01 September 2010 17:06

Major Event For 2012 Olympics

In less than two years the Olympic flame will burn bright above London for the first time since 1948. Freemasonry was at the birth of the modern Olympic movement and masons were active in many of the world's earliest sporting organisations. To celebrate the London Olympic Games and these masonic sporting connections, two London lodges, Spencer Park Lodge, No. 6198 and Royal York Lodge of Perseverance, No. 7, are organising a masonic meeting immediately prior to the Games.
     It will be open to all regular Freemasons, including Brethren from overseas, and is particularly aimed at those who have an interest in sport. The proposed programme includes a reception in the Library and Museum at Freemasons’ Hall and a gala dinner.
     The event will raise funds for disadvantaged young people and Metropolitan Grand Lodge is supporting this initiative. Contact Mike Winch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information. Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Chapter have formed an external relations team and have launched a website aimed at nonmasons. Go to for more information.

A student-designed lingerie collection turned Freemasons’ Hall in London into a catwalk, which would have been eye-popping for brethren used to its more sedate environment. Chantal Vizard, who studies at De Montfort University, based her designs on erotic photos from the nineteenth century. Her final degree collection – entitled Promiscuous Pearl – livened up the art deco building, and brought in useful revenue for Grand Lodge.

Published in UGLE
Wednesday, 11 June 2008 01:00

Pro Grand Master's address - June 2008

11 JUNE 2008

On the nineteenth of July, this very fine building – created as a Masonic Peace Memorial – will be seventy-five years old. At the June Quarterly Communication in 1933, held seventy-five years ago last Saturday at the Central Hall Westminster, Lord Ampthill, the then Pro Grand Master, thanking Lodges for their generous response to the appeal for the erection of this building said that, “it would be an outward sign of our pious memory of the Brethren who fell in the Great War and, at the same time, a fulfilment of the duty we owe those who came after us.”

I believe that the building remains today as a fitting memorial for the Brethren who fell in the Great War. And a fitting fulfilment of the duty the planners and builders owed to those who came after them. I am confident that that fulfilment will continue for many generations of future Masons.

Referring to the building the then Pro Grand Master continued, “it is a duty we owe to the cause of Masonry, and to Freemasons all over the world, that the headquarters of the English Constitution should be worthy of the honour and reputation that we enjoy, and that the place of assembly of the Grand Lodge of England should be fully significant of our faith and cause, our confidence in the future, and our determination to make Freemasonry more and more a potent influence for the good in national life.”

Shortly afterwards, the Grand Master, His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn held an especial meeting in connection with the dedication of this Masonic Peace Memorial at the Royal Albert Hall, followed the next day – 19 July 1933 – by the dedication itself, here at Great Queen Street. So, the first Quarterly Communication was held here on 6 September 1933. To commemorate that, at our next Quarterly Communication in September, I have asked Brother John Hamill, Director of Communications, to talk about the history of the building.

Towards the end of last year I launched a survey of Lodge and Chapter records. This survey will be an important building block for the book on Masonic history which we are planning to publish in 2017 as part of the Tercentenary celebrations of the formation of the first Grand Lodge. Undertaking this survey within an organisation of this size and age is ambitious. But I am confident that, with your help, it will be successful and that the results will also be important in encouraging further research into our history.

I have been following the results very closely and I am pleased that the project has been enthusiastically supported. All our Provinces have now appointed a volunteer co-ordinator to organise the survey. Most of these co-ordinators have taken the opportunity to attend a briefing meeting here at Freemasons' Hall, and have already started the survey in their Provinces. We hope to have completed the survey by the summer of 2009.

At the end of May the Deputy Grand Master opened the Women and Freemasonry Exhibition in the Library and Museum. It covers the development of Freemasonry for Women in the early years of the last century. At the preview guests included lady representatives from the various women’s organisations including the Order of Women Freemasons and the Honourable Fraternity of Antient Freemasons. We maintain our independence from the women’s organisations and they are happy to maintain their independence from us. Apart from the historical interest, the Exhibition has a valuable public relations benefit. It will help to dispel the commonly held myth, among non-Masons, that there are no women in Freemasonry! I commend the Exhibition to you.

The Hampton Court Flower Show in July will feature a garden with a Masonic theme which I hope will encourage some of you to visit, if you have an interest in gardens. It is sponsored by the Metropolitan Grand Lodge and twelve Provinces in the south of England. I am looking forward to attending and the dates and details can be found on the UGLE website. Brethren, returning to the words of the Pro Grand Master in 1933, and comparing those words with the situation today: this fine building is fully significant of our faith and cause; we have confidence in the future and we remain determined to make Freemasons more and more a potent influence for good in our national life. In fact, I believe that the Craft is in a much stronger position now than it has been for many years, and I end my remarks by wishing you and your families a very happy summer.

Published in Speeches
Sunday, 01 April 2007 01:00

Freemasons' Hall: Refurbishment

New storage facilities for Lodges and Chapters at Grand Lodge are a big improvement, says Stuart Whitehead

Since 1933, when Freemasons’ Hall was completed, each Lodge and Chapter which uses the facilities have had their regalia and equipment stored in individual lockers. However, due to the requirements of health and safety (H & S) legislation, UGLE have undertaken a review of current working practices.

At present, Lodges and Chapters have their regalia and equipment stored in metal and wooden lockers which are in units up to 15 feet high. H & S requirement would these days state that fork lift trucks or specialised hydraulic equipment would have to be used to remove the locker and trays from the higher units when the UGLE porters transport each tray to the designated Lodge or Chapter room. 

Another problem the change of storage system encountered was the security aspect, because at present the individual Lodge and Chapter regalia and equipment, although stored in locked lockers in individual trays, over the years a number of these lockers have had their locks broken and not replaced.

As well as the trays being transported by the porter staff to each Lodge or Chapter room, these trays are left open and unattended for some time, while specific items are often 'borrowed' for a specific ceremony and not returned.

The new system that will replace the current practices, provides adequate security for each Lodge and Chapter and conforms to the H & S needs for UGLE porters to undertake their specific role. Each Lodge or Chapter will have their own metal drawer appropriately labelled, with their regalia sealed within a locked metal lid.

Three keys will be issued to the Secretary or Scribe, and these will be separately numbered with no duplication for other drawers. The individual drawer will be kept in a cabinet containing six drawers, which conforms to the H & S regulations as it will only be just over six feet high. These cabinets will be stored in a locked room environment with access only allowed to UGLE porter and security team. A new cabinet and drawers will be on display in the ante-room of Lodge Room No. 1 for Brethren to view.

This current review has also meant that a new racking system will be installed for the storage of banners, which will all be hung from rails. This was not the case previously, as several banners used to be rolled for storage, but this new method of hanging the banners will ensure longer life and less chance of damage to the delicate materials from which several of them are made.

Unfortunately, the cost of the Lodge drawers is being increased from £25 to £40 per annum. These are double the size of the Chapter drawers, which remain at the existing charge of £25 per annum. Likewise, the banner cost remains the same as before at £25. These charges for storage in central London are still very cheap, but with the added security for Lodges and Chapters.

The Lodge Liaison team, in particular John Vazquez, will be undertaking a role during the duration of the installation of this project and will be available on 020 7395 9283 to answer any queries. This will ensure that any disruption is kept to a minimum, and he will liaise with Lodges and Chapters regarding the issuing of keys by the UGLE security team. It is envisaged that this new format for Lodge and Chapter storage will last well into the 22nd century, providing an efficient and secure service to the users of the facilities at Freemasons’ Hall.

Stuart Whitehead is Facilities Manager at Grand Lodge

Published in UGLE
Monday, 01 January 2007 00:00

ADelphi System - A computer revolution

A new computer system called ADelphi that will eventually involve the whole Craft is unveiled by Roger Carter

ADelphi is the computer program that runs the membership system for all English Freemasonry at Freemasons’ Hall. It is a very significant program developed upon Oracle, the world’s leading database software. The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) system was called ADelphi after the Greek word for Brother and also, because it is a process to obtain information, it is a play on words of the Greek consultation of the Oracle at Delphi.

A programme of development funded by UGLE is now currently underway in conjunction with the Provinces, to extend the basic ADelphi program, which started primarily as a project just for the needs of Freemasons’ Hall, into a system for the benefit of all the Provinces and the membership as a whole. This exciting new system is to be called Provincial ADelphi.

Provincial ADelphi will be of major benefit, as it is likely in time to become the main system by which most Provinces communicate with Masons in their Provincial area, and by which these Provincial offices connect with the Freemasons’ Hall database.

As Masons become increasingly contactable through their use of the internet, their Provincial offices will be able to arrange membership renewal, subscriptions, meetings, Visiting officers and even seating plans through Provincial ADelphi.

The Annual and Installation Returns will be processed through this route, as will letters to Masons about Provincial matters. Soon the Masonic Year Book for each Province will be produced electronically, and then it may be possible for any Mason to quickly access the up-to-date information directly on the internet.

The potential for saving a great amount of time, especially in Provincial offices, and the consequent likely cost-saving is a significant benefit of introducing the system countrywide.

This whole process has been designed to be a collaborative programme in conjunction with the Provinces. Before any development work took place, the Director of Operations at UGLE and key members of the IT Team visited Provinces across the country to explain what was happening and ask them what features they wanted.

A series of workshops with many more Provinces then took place at Freemasons’ Hall to identify precisely the type of specification that was required for the system.

A Project Plan was created and approved by the Board of General Purposes. A set of three specially selected Provinces: Hertfordshire, Surrey and Somerset, were contacted and agreed to be ‘Pilot Provinces’ to test out the developments as they were created, and agree a standard approach on behalf of every Province.

A Project Team made up of the Head of IT, Stephen Fryer, supported by a small team of skilled Oracle developers commenced a programme of work in accordance with the Project Plan. Monthly meetings with the Pilot Provinces were scheduled to take place to ensure that the project progressed at a steady rate.

A module for submitting Annual Returns has now been tried and tested in the Province of Surrey, and subsequently is being tested in Hertfordshire and Somerset. A different module, a process for considering Provincial honours, has been tried in Hertfordshire, and is now being trialled in all three Provinces.

It is anticipated that the modules identified above will be completed, tested and ready by early 2007. A number of further Provinces have already volunteered to be the next to try and test the system.

A project programme is therefore being developed which will identify the next Provinces to join the system, starting with those who have already heard about the benefits of Provincial ADelphi and wish to volunteer.

It is anticipated that as more Provinces see how the system helps them, they will also wish to join. This process is designed to ensure that when the system is fully operational, there are not the same sorts of problems that have occurred in some other national IT systems when they have been introduced!

Keith Gilbert, Provincial Grand Secretary of Hertfordshire, following use of the first modules, commented: “Although we already had an effective database, the introduction of ADelphi has proved to be a first-class tool in enabling us to speed up communication with the Brethren and with Grand Lodge.”

Bryan Craddock, Provincial Grand Secretary of Surrey, said: “It is clear that Provincial ADelphi is the way ahead and it is good to be working together with UGLE on such a scheme”.

Graham Bowerman, Provincial Grand Secretary of Somerset added: “I am pleased to report that the ADelphi system is providing us with a firm basis for the administration of the Province with easy access to up-to-date and accurate details of all our members.”

In addition, Harry Barnes, Provincial Grand Master of Dorset, who has started to look at the way it works, commented: “I found the system very intuitive, flexible and comprehensive.” All responses to date have been very positive.

As well as work on Provincial Adelphi, the IT team have been carrying out associated work on a festivals and donations module for the Grand Charity on behalf of all the other Masonic charities. In addition, there are plans afoot to develop a system to allow payment of subscriptions and other monies by direct debit through ADelphi.

This would enable charity donations to be made directly to the Relief Chest and create a comprehensive system for the collection of charitable donations from brethren.

The Provincial ADelphi system could, in time, be used increasingly as a means of communication between individual Lodges and their Provincial office or direct with Grand Lodge. As the system develops and expands, the possibilities are huge.

With the prospect of individual brethren communicating direct with their Provincial leadership, and even Masonic message boards etc., only time will tell where this will go!

Roger Carter is Director of Operations at Freemasons’ Hall

Published in UGLE

Special events: the full 'Monty' at Grand Lodge

Freemasons' Hall continues to attract major commercial events, as Karen Haigh explains

Among recent star events that have taken place at Freemasons’ Hall (FMH) is Spamalot – the musical production of Monty Python’s famous Holy Grail and the Alternative Hair Show, the biggest show at Grand Lodge since opening its doors to events last year. 

After being approached by Laughalot, the production company for Spamalot in May 2006 it was with a sense of optimism that we entered into the planning of the event with the organisers. 

We knew from the beginning that the event was going to be fun, but we had no idea how wonderfully the building was going to be transformed for the West End hit musical, and how much the building would allow the parts of the show to come to life within its various areas assigned for the party. 

Its creator, Eric Idle, one of the original Monty Python team, visited the building and was very impressed and from his suggested ideas for the party great detail went into the event, even down to what menus were used by caterers ‘Create’ on the night. 

As the media interest began to build up for the opening night, there was great excitement that the Monty Python team would be re-united. On the night of the event many stars of the stage and TV came to Freemasons’ Hall, but the most memorable part of the evening was seeing the Monty Python team laughing and talking together within Grand Lodge. 

The Alternative Hair Show is an annual event to raise money for sufferers of leukaemia. Organiser Tony Rizzo decided to utilise his expertise in the hairdressing world after the death of his son, Valentino, from leukaemia and the Show was born at Camden Palace in 1983. 

In previous years the event has been held at the Royal Albert Hall and for the organisers to move the event to FMH was quite a challenge. It had taken months of preparation from them and FMH staff to make sure the event was a success. 

It took from the Friday until the Sunday to transform the Grand Temple for this 90-minute theatrical show. Behind the scenes there were 19 teams from all over the world who were performing, and many areas within the building became dressing and make-up rooms. 

During the Sunday evening there were three performances with an audience of 1,400 per show, and the final gala performance culminated with the appearance of Vidal Sassoon, who was heralded by a fanfare of trumpeters. 

The event raised £162,000 for Leukaemia Research.

Published in Features
Saturday, 01 April 2006 01:00

Public relations: hottest spot in town

Freemasonry is now receiving much better media coverage, as John Hamill reveals

In 1985, when Freemasonry seemed to be constantly under attack in the media, the writer and journalist Bernard Levin wrote two very supportive pieces on Freemasonry in his regular column in The Times. As he was not a Freemason he was invited to have lunch with a small group of senior Freemasons at Freemasons’ Hall. It proved a most valuable occasion.

He saw our problem as being that Freemasonry had been taken out of the public consciousness in the post-World War II period, resulting in the public not knowing what Freemasonry was.

As he put it – it is part of human nature to be suspicious of things we have no knowledge of, and suggested that the best way of altering public suspicion was a return to the openness of the pre-war period, to work with the media and to bring Freemasonry to the public’s notice – in a positive way – on a regular basis.

Grand Lodge took the advice to heart, but quickly realised that the centre could not deal with all the media. In the late 1980s, Provincial Grand Masters were invited to appoint Information Officers, who would have much better local knowledge than the centre, and could establish personal links with their local media.

As a result we now have a network of volunteer Information Officers who, with support from the centre and a great deal of hard work, have had an effect. In many Provinces, Freemasonry is now reported in the local press as interesting local social and charitable news.

The national media is a different game. National newspapers are only interested in stories with a 'that day news' content, which will give them an edge over their competitors. The Grand Lodge Communications Team regularly meets with journalists and have found that the Craft’s belief that there is a strong anti-Masonic element in the media is untrue.

Most journalists, like the public, have little knowledge of Freemasonry. Many of those we have met have become fascinated and keen to write, but hit the problem of their editor wanting a 'that day' news angle on which to hang the piece.

In that, Freemasonry is in a similar position to the many other voluntary organisations, such as Rotary, Round Table, Women’s Institute, Guides, Scouts etc, whose activities are rarely noticed in the national media.

That said, there have been references to Freemasonry in the national media over the last three years showing it in a positive light. As examples: The Guardian interviewed Anne Kent in the Grand Secretary’s office for their series 'Women in a man’s world'; The Independent did a two-page spread on Freemasons’ Hall as a gem of Art Deco architecture; The Times produced a half page on Freemasons’ Hall as a film location; The Daily Telegraph carries brief notices of the meetings of Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter; obituaries of major figures now include reference to their Masonic activities.

Activities with the national and local media all fulfil Bernard Levin’s advice of keeping Freemasonry in the public consciousness, but a more direct way of influencing public attitudes is by inviting them into, and to use for non-Masonic purposes, our Masonic buildings. 

In the last few issues of MQ we have reported on various non-Masonic events at Freemasons’ Hall. In addition to bringing income to Grand Lodge, these events are a major opportunity to let the public see our buildings and have an opportunity of asking questions.

Filming for television or feature films involves a lot of standing around for the actors and technicians. They get curious about the building, we are on hand to answer their questions and usually pass on to them the square booklets and copies of MQ Magazine.

When next somebody says anything to them about Freemasonry, they will have something positive to say about it. Some of the film shoots have even produced candidates.

The fashion shows, film premiere parties and other events have not only introduced a lot of people to Freemasons’ Hall who would not otherwise have visited, but have also generated press coverage.

The recent Julien Macdonald fashion show, which always gets heavy media attention, not only got Freemasons’ Hall mentioned on all the major television news channels, but also in all the reports in the next morning’s papers and in the fashion and gossip magazines.

The coverage by Sky and GMTV included stunning visuals of Freemasons’ Hall all clearly identified. Nothing was said about Freemasonry, but coverage like this gradually gets it over to the public that there is another side to what they have previously been told.

Bernard Levin warned that destroying myths and changing public opinion was a long term job. He was certainly right. But a lot of hard work has been done by a lot of people over the last 20 years and the signs are there that attitudes have changed.

The best example of that is in the local media where, on occasion, the Information Officer has not had to act when someone (usually a local politician) has had a go at Freemasonry in the local press because a local non-Mason (often one who has attended an open day) has written in to challenge what the detractor had said. That certainly is a change!

John Hamill is Director of Communications at the United Grand Lodge of England

A favourite location

Charlotte Clark, a director of Inca Productions, which staged the Julien Macdonald fashion event at Freemasons’ Hall, speaks about her love for the building as a spectacular venue:

Inca Productions has a very long history with Freemasons’ Hall. I first came through the doors to the Grand Temple in 1999 and apparently was the second woman through the doors after Princess Diana. I was instantly seduced, smitten and star struck by the space. Having worked in events for over 15 years now, it is very rare to be rendered speechless by a location, I was instantly star-struck.

The Grand Temple had the same effect on Julien Macdonald when we showed him the space for the first time. As creative director of Givenchy, he has had the opportunity to show his collections in some of the most beautiful venues in the world – he was the first designer to show in the Grand Palais after its refurbishment – in his opinion the Grand Temple is his favourite location to date.

Working in Freemasons’ Hall is a joy from beginning to end. From an event producer’s point of view it does not get much better. The space is never ending, your events team are a joy and nothing appears to be too much trouble. We were even allowed to use a glitter bomb that sent showers of gold into the air and tumbling down onto a sea of supermodels.

One of my favourite memories of Julien’s show was walking out of the Grand temple doors with Paris Hilton after the event. She climbed into her limo, rolled down the window and pointed to the building, smiled and drawled, ‘that’s hot.’ Freemasons’ Hall is now officially London’s hottest venue.

Published in Features
Sunday, 01 January 2006 00:00

Development of Freemasons' Hall

Development of Freemasons' Hall

Exciting new developments at Freemasons’ Hall have been announced by the Board of General Purposes.

Since its formation in 1814, the Board of General Purposes has been responsible for the management of the finances and real property of Grand Lodge. Freemasons’ Hall is the major physical asset of the Craft and is an enormous responsibility, made the more difficult by its Grade 2* listing internally and externally.

The Board has been reviewing both the use of space in the building and the costs of running it. Discussions have been held with the four national Masonic Charities and a plan has been agreed in principle for them to move their offices into Freemasons’ Hall during 2006.

Few visitors to Freemasons’ Hall realise how much space is available outside the Lodge Rooms and public areas. The lower ground floor area has been used mainly as storage. Sensitive plans have been developed by the Board of General Purposes to open up the space, which is surrounded by a light well with natural daylight, to provide modern offices giving a good working environment.

Both Grand Lodge and the Charities will benefit from the changes. Costs of the development will be shared and, once in the building, the Charities will contribute to the running and maintenance costs of Freemasons’ Hall. The move will free-up the accommodation currently occupied by the Charities on the North side of Great Queen Street, which will be upgraded for commercial letting, bringing in additional income for Grand Lodge and the Charities, who own the properties.

Whilst that is going on, the office space on the ground floor occupied by the Grand Lodge staff, which is much as it was designed in the 1920s, will be reorganised and upgraded to accommodate both the Grand Lodge staff and the offices of the Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London.

Anthony Wilson, President of the Board, commented: “2006 is going to be an exciting and challenging year for the staffs of both Grand Lodge and the Masonic Charities.

“Once the work is complete they will have a much better standard of accommodation, better use will be made of the space available in Freemasons’ Hall and the other properties in Great Queen Street, and the changes will be to the financial benefit of all.

“Charity is an integral part of Freemasonry. The Charities now work closely together and have a common purpose with the Craft. It seems eminently sensible that the various administrations should all be housed under one roof, where they can work together for the good of Freemasonry in general.”

Published in More News

A message from the President of the Board of General Purposes, RW Bro Anthony Wilson, PJGW

As a result of Grand Lodge in March agreeing a substantial increase in Grand Lodge dues next year, the Grand Secretary has received many letters of concern.

It is clear from many of the points raised that the reasons given at the Quarterly Communication in March were not always fully understood. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to reiterate the key reasons and then explain the costs that Grand Lodge has to cover from its dues and, therefore, what our money is spent on.

One of the major reasons is the cost of maintaining Freemasons’ Hall, which was built by the Craft as a memorial to those who died in the Great War. It is not only a monument to them but is the flagship of Freemasonry in England and Wales and our headquarters. It belongs to all our members and we have a duty both morally and legally (it is a Grade 2* listed building) to keep it in good repair. Unfortunately it is now over seventy-five years old and becoming increasingly expensive to maintain.

Another reason is that for a number of years Grand Lodge dues have been subsidised by investment income. If investment income is removed from the accounts, Grand Lodge has been operating on a deficit between operating income and expenditure. Using investment income to bridge that gap has meant that we have not been able to build-up any significant contingency or sinking fund for major expenditure on the structure of Freemasons’ Hall.

Therefore, when faced with the substantial cost of paying for the removal of asbestos we had insufficient funds set aside.

Raising the dues in 2006 by £9 (including VAT) will enable us to meet operating expenditure out of income, build up sufficient reserves for undoubted future major structural repairs and spread the recovery of the asbestos costs over a three-year period, rather than by a one-off charge in one year. In percentage terms the rise in Grand Lodge dues seems enormous but in real cash terms it is about twenty pence per week. The Board is responsible for the finances of Grand Lodge and believes, after lengthy discussion, that this is the best way forward to ensure Grand Lodge’s financial future.

In 2004 we received three windfalls: from the sale of a non-Masonic painting, the sale of a property in Great Queen Street and an unexpected legacy. Whilst these have given us the cash flow to pay for the asbestos removal, without selling our investment portfolio, to have used them permanently would have been like selling the family silver. These windfalls are capital assets which are, and should remain, part of our endowment.

It has been suggested that the proceeds from the sale of the painting should have been used to defray the asbestos costs. The painting was part of the heritage of the Craft. It is only proper that the proceeds should be used to endow the Library and Museum of Freemasonry and be put back into acquiring additions to and maintaining the Masonic collections housed in the Library and Museum.

Turning to the annual costs of Grand Lodge, these fall into two main areas: the costs of administering the Craft and the costs of maintaining Freemasons’ Hall.

The administration of the Craft is carried out by the Grand Secretary’s office, which has five main divisions: the Grand Secretary’s private office, Communications, Finance, Operations and Secretariat and Registration. Their work includes the processing of annual and installations returns for the Craft and Royal Arch; the printing and distribution of business papers and Minutes for Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter; amendments to and new editions of the Book of Constitutions and Masonic Year Book; organisation of Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter meetings; servicing the Board and Committee of General Purposes, and The Grand Master’s Council; dealing with matters relating to the Constitutions, procedure and protocol; publication and distribution of MQ magazine; general printing; public relations and information; promoting a positive image of Freemasonry; developing and maintaining the new Adelphi registration system; maintaining contact with recognised Grand Lodges overseas and facilitating intervisitation by members; running and maintaining Freemasons’ Hall; managing the complex finances of a major membership association; and dealing with a myriad of Masonic questions from both home and abroad which arrive by post, telephone and email.

Each of the departments works to an agreed budget, which is reviewed on a monthly basis. New financial systems were introduced five years ago which enable us to monitor and review progress and to track areas where savings can and have been made.

The costs of Freemasons’ Hall include the standard costs of council tax, water, gas, electricity, insurance and, increasingly, security. They also include general maintenance and repair costs, but not major refurbishment or structural operations which, in an aging, listed building, have to be costed and budgeted for separately.

Whilst over the last few years Grand Lodge dues have risen in line with inflation, in absolute terms there has been only a slight increase in income as a result of falling membership. In contrast, rents at Freemasons’ Hall have risen by more than inflation and now represent 14% of income. This reflects both rises in room rents, so that users pay a fair share of costs, and the success of allowing outsiders to use parts of the Hall. The Board is currently reviewing accommodation at Freemasons’ Hall, and how it can be used further, without detriment to the purposes for which it was built, to maximise the income it can generate.

I can assure you that the decision to raise Grand Lodge dues was, therefore, not taken lightly and only after much thought and debate. The Board is aware that it could have an effect on membership, but in real terms the new level of dues is the equivalent to less than 40 pence per week, which is a very modest amount to belong to such a “club”.

The Board and I are very aware of two particular areas of concern – firstly the effect on those on fixed incomes and on those with multiple memberships. However, any outcome has to avoid relieving one section of our membership by disproportionately increasing the burden of the rest. Whilst we acknowledge the problem of fixed incomes, unfortunately the age profile of our membership, which shows approximately 35% of the membership is over 65, means that giving any reduction would put a disproportionate burden on the younger members, upon whom we depend for the future of our organisation. We are, nevertheless, planning to relieve some of the burden of multiple memberships by giving relief to those who belong to an Installed Masters Lodge as well as another Lodge. A proposal to do so will be laid before Grand Lodge in September.

I hope that the above explanation will increase the Craft’s understanding of why the rise in Grand Lodge dues is necessary. The Board takes its responsibilities very seriously and would be failing in its duty to the Craft if it did not take what it regards as essential steps to safeguard the future financial stability of the Craft, to ensure that the administration can continue efficiently to service the Craft, and that we can maintain and hand on to our successors our flagship building so that it remains a fitting and working memorial to those whom it commemorates.

Published in UGLE

Croydon Freemason Cyril Spackman was a man of many talents, including winning the design competition for the Hall Stone Jewel, as Alan Chard explains

At a special meeting of Grand Lodge in June 1919, the Grand Master, the Duke of Connaught, expressed a wish that a memorial be established to commemorate those brethren who had made the supreme sacrifice in the 1914-1918 war.

It was agreed that this memorial should be a building of a central home for Freemasonry on a site to be selected in London.

The Masonic Million Memorial Fund was then launched in September that year and brethren both at home and overseas were invited to contribute to raise the £1m needed to finance the work.

The contributions from individuals and Lodges were to be recognised by the award of a commemorative jewel.

For the jewel design it was decided to hold an open competition with a £75 prize for the winner, and at the Grand Lodge meeting in June 1921 it was announced that the design selected was that submitted by Cyril Saunders Spackman.

He was initiated into Panmure Lodge No. 720 on 21 January 1918 when 30 years old. The Lodge was to become a Hall Stone Jewel Lodge, although Spackman resigned in February 1923.

But in 1937 he thought there was a need for a new Surrey Lodge to be formed to cater for professions such as engineers, architects, surveyors etc. This led to the founding of Beaux Arts Lodge No. 5707, consecrated at Sutton Masonic Hall on 28 January 1938. Spackman and Sadler, his father-in-law, were both founder members, Spackman being the first secretary, and Sadler the first Master.

With the coming of war, Surrey County Council requisitioned the Hall for use as a rest centre, but Spackman came to the rescue and offered the Lodge the use of his studio for its meetings.

As a result, the Lodge met there regularly from 1939 to 1948. Spackman became Master in January 1940, and had the unique distinction of being installed in a ceremony conducted in his own home.

He remained secretary right up to his death, and even during his year in the chair, he continued to deal with Lodge affairs, although another Brother was secretary by name.

He was a man of many talents – architect, painter, sculptor, teacher, writer, Freemason. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio on 15 August 1887, the only son of a Welsh Methodist minister the Rev. John and Adele Saunders Spackman.

Educated in schools on both sides of the Atlantic, in 1922 he was commissioned to paint the portrait of a prominent Croydon Freemason, Richard Joseph Sadler.

Mr Sadler had a daughter, Ada Victoria, and romance blossomed, and later that year they were married. The Croydon Times (19 August 1958), in an interview with Spackman, reported:

A high-ranking Surrey Freemason, he recalled that it was Freemasonry that led to his marriage with Miss Queenie Sadler, the well-known Croydon violinist in 1922, and to his coming to live in Croydon. He first met her when he was asked to paint the portrait of her father, who was then a prominent Freemason. “And it was a real Masonic wedding, in St Matthew’s, George Street” Mr Spackman remembered.

They had one daughter, who became a writer, and a son who became an RAF pilot, and who then flew with British Overseas Airways Corporation. Then he became a designer and test pilot with Miles Beagle Aircraft. Tragically he was killed during a flight at the age of 35.

At their home in East Croydon, Cyril Spackman had a splendid studio built to his own design in which he could exhibit his own works and hold meetings.

Hall Stone Jewel

The Masonic Million Memorial Fund Commemorative Jewel, issued to individual subscribers. The design was described at the time as follows:

“The jewel is in the form of a cross, symbolising Sacrifice, with a perfect square at the four ends, on the left and right squares being the dates 1914-1918, the years in which the supreme sacrifice was made. Between these is a winged figure of Peace presenting the representation of a Temple with special Masonic allusion in the Pillars, Porch and Steps. The medal is suspended by the Square and Compasses, attached to a ribband, the whole thus symbolising the Craft’s gift of a Temple in memory of those brethren who gave all for King and Country, Peace and Victory, Liberty and Brotherhood.”

In 1930 he was elected a Licentiate of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Although he trained as an architect he had always wanted to be a painter, and in 1913 he exhibited for the first time at the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition at the age of 26.

The work accepted was Westminster Abbey – the West Front. In 1916 another work was accepted – Crickhowell Bridge, Wales and the following year The Edge of the Coppice was approved.

One commission he must have enjoyed was for Queen Mary’s Doll’s House. Queen Mary had always been an enthusiastic collector of antiques, especially miniatures, and the Doll’s House was intended to be not just a gift, but also to promote the work of leading British artists, designers and craftsmen.

Built on the scale of 1:12 it was completed in time to appear at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924. After the exhibition closed it was taken to Windsor Castle for permanent exhibition, where it has remained to this day.

The architect of the house was Sir Edward Lutyens – one of the three assessors for the design competition in 1924-1926 to select an architect for the new Freemasons’ Hall in Great Queen Street, London.

More than 1,500 craftsmen and artists were invited by him to participate in the construction of the house and its furnishings, including Spackman, who contributed Fir Trees against a Sunset Sky.

Honours now came to Cyril Spackman, and in 1916 he was elected a member of the Royal Miniature Society and the Royal Society of British Artists (RSBA).

For Freemasons, his most important commission was the design in 1921 of the Hall Stone Jewel for the United Grand Lodge of England, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1922.

He was very proud that the jewel is a main feature in the central panel of the stained glass window behind the shrine on the first floor vestibule at Freemasons’ Hall.

However, there is one interesting change in the jewel in the panel. When he designed it in 1921 this was prior to the architectural competition for the new building.

When the window was designed several years later, the façade was now known, so the winged figure of Peace, instead of holding a model of a classic temple – as in the jewel itself – is actually holding a model of the Tower façade for the building.

The Duke of Devonshire was Grand Master 1947-1950, and in 1950 Spackman exhibited at a Winter Exhibition of the RSBA a bust of the Duke, and in December that year he presented it to Grand Lodge.

In 1944 he was admitted into the Worshipful Company of Masons, which had its origins in the operative guild formed to control the stone trade in London.

Spackman was generous with his time and talents and was a well-known and active figure in the local community. He was chairman of the Croydon University Extension Committee, the Committee of the Croydon Writers Circle, an Honorary Vice-President of the Croydon Symphony Orchestra and a Vice-President of the Croydon Camera Club.

Not only were Lodge meetings held at his home, but he let it out to local cultural groups, and in the studio he took private lessons and held classes in architecture, painting, sculpture and drawing.

He had an international reputation, and his works were widely exhibited from the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool to the Cleveland Museum of Art in the United States. As a writer his one major publication appears to have been Colour Prints of a Dream Garden and Old World Garden, a collection of prints taken from original drawings, some of which had been exhibited at the Royal Academy.

Some of his work has been left to posterity. There are prints in the British Museum, drawings in the permanent art collections in some City Art Galleries, and works in private collections in the UK, USA, France, Holland and Sweden – and, of course, the Hall Stone Jewel.

Cyril Spackman died of a heart attack on 16 May 1963 at the age of 76.

Acknowledgements: The author wishes to thank the National Art Library, the Royal Academy of Arts, the Royal Society of British Artists, the Royal Society of Arts Commerce and Manufacture, the Royal Institute of British Architects, Croydon Local History and Archives, Westminster Central Reference Library and the Library and Museum of Freemasonry. Particular thanks are due to Dr Susan Owens (Royal Collection Trust), Peter Clark (Worshipful Company of Masons), Stephen Freeth and Juliet Barnes (Corporation of London), Stephen Briney (Panmure Lodge No. 720), Douglas Burford (Beaux Arts Lodge) and James Nye (Remigium Lodge No. 7343).

Published in Features
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