The memorial paving stones outside Freemasons’ Hall commemorate Freemasons awarded the Victoria Cross during the Great War, and Royal Marine Portsmouth Lodge No. 6423 in Hampshire is fortunate to have one of those members amongst their founders
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the action that saw Sergeant Norman Augustus Finch, Royal Marine Artillery, awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), the lodge dedicated their Installation Ceremony in April 2018 to his memory.
United Grand Lodge of England had commissioned wooden cut-out figures to display the details of each holder at their memorial unveiling, which were subsequently sent to those Provinces in which the individuals had been members. Norman’s one had been presented to his mother lodge, Lodge of Hope No. 2153, who kindly allowed its use at the meeting so that Norman’s presence could be felt by all.
Additionally, so that present and future members would have a lasting memorial to Norman before them during meetings and festivities, a statuette of a Royal Marine was dedicated to his memory. This statuette had previously been presented to the lodge by Jane Suter, the wife of one of their regular visitors, for use as the lodge saw fit, and it was mounted on a plinth on which Norman’s citation had been engraved by Mark Bizley of Hermes Lodge No. 5532.
Prior to the Installation of their new Worshipful Master Graham Jickells, the statuette was presented to the outgoing Master Gary Spencer-Humphrey, with an explanation of the significance delivered by David Barron. The lodge then fell silent as Ian ‘Taff’ Davies MBE gave an eloquent and moving rendition of the ‘Zeebrugge Citation’. On completion of the ceremony the new Master took ‘Norman’ to their Festive Board where he symbolically represented ‘All Absent Brethren’.
To put these events into context, it was no coincidence that Royal Marine Portsmouth Lodge was consecrated on 23rd April 1947 as this was the date in 1918 that the Zeebrugge Raid took place – a date that ranks with special significance amongst all Royal Marines. A raid that displayed the commitment, bravery, ‘daring-do’ and valour of those members of the Corps (in its then form, Royal Marine Light Infantry) that all those following in their footsteps could aspire to.
Norman was awarded the Victoria Cross under Clause 13 of the Royal Warrant, which provides for the recipient to be elected by his peers, who were present at the action.
Norman was initiated into Lodge of Hope in September 1918 and was subsequently a founding member of Royal Marine Portsmouth Lodge, when it was consecrated in 1947. He was their first Senior Warden, and the following year was installed as their second Worshipful Master – 30 years after being awarded his Victoria Cross.
Freemasons' Hall, the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England, has been recognised with two silver awards at the National Venue Awards on 11th May 2018 in Manchester
The building was honoured in the Best Historic Venue and Best Christmas Venue categories.
The National Venue Awards are a sister event to the already established and successful London Venue Awards, and seek to give the same recognised benchmark and badge of excellence for venues from anywhere in the UK.
The awards provide venues with the opportunity to showcase the excellence of their facilities, the creativity of their customer-facing teams and the exceptional quality of their overall service.
Members of Lodge of St Cuthberga No. 622 in Dorset travelled to Freemasons' Hall in London to present a cheque for £1,785 to the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT)
The lodge's Past Master Geoff Knights and current Master Andy Gale presented the cheque inside Freemasons' Hall to Patrick Tonks, CHECT's Chief Executive, and Diana Emery, their Fundraising Manager. Geoff Knights said: 'During my term of office, I had funds for several charities and the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust was dear to everyone’s heart.'
The lodge raised a proportion of the funds through social events and lodge meetings. A large share however, was raised by James Smith, the lodge Charity Steward, when he and his wife Maria ran the London Marathon last year.
CHECT supports children with Retinoblastoma, which is a fast-growing eye cancer found in some babies and children under the age of six years. CHECT helps guide families through the shock, stress and practical challenges after diagnosis.
The charity funds research to improve understanding, treatments and outcomes and raises awareness to improve recognition and early diagnose of the disease.
Diana Emery said: 'I am over the moon with the amount raised by Dorset Freemasons as CHECT is a small charity with no public funding.'
Two installations with a difference took place between two London lodges, with the Worshipful Master and Secretary alternating roles between the lodges
The Installation of the Duke of Sussex Lodge No. 3343 took place at Freemasons' Hall on 1st February 2018 with new Worshipful Master Jim Bolton and new Secretary Terry Smith.
This was then followed by the Installation of its daughter lodge, the Lodge of Love and Charity No. 6224, held at the Croydon and District Masonic Hall on 12th March 2018, with the roles reversed as Terry Smith stepped into the chair as Worshipful Master and Jim Bolton as Secretary.
This meeting had the honour of welcoming the Metropolitan Grand Inspector David Cuckow to mark the lodge's 300th meeting. Later this year, Terry Smith will also receive his London Grand Rank after he completes his year in office.
It was a unique evening at Saint Nicholas Lodge No. 6377 in Ilfracombe on Wednesday 21st March 2018 where Ron Thompson, aged 97, was installed as Worshipful Master in a fine ceremony carried out by his predecessor Terry Bridges
Ron was also taken by surprise on the night when he was presented with a 70 Year Certificate of Service to Freemasonry on behalf of the Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Ian Kingsbury. Ron was also given the rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden and presented with the badge and jewel of that office.
Ron was initiated back in February 1948 in a double initiation with his elder brother. They were initiated by their father in Pro Minimis Lodge No. 5180 which met at Freemasons' Hall in London. Ron became Master in 1960 and again in 1972.
When he moved to Devonshire in 1997, the lodge elected him to Honorary Membership. Ron also received London Grand Rank in 1975 and was Exalted in Pro Minimis HRA Chapter on 26th January 1956.
Ron joined Saint Nicholas Lodge and Davie HRA Chapter 3721 in 1997, but resigned as he moved to Essex where he joined Gunfleet Lodge No. 6884 and Le-Soken Chapter No. 2949. Having returned to Devon two years later, he rejoined both St Nicholas Lodge and Davie Chapter.
Ron was installed as MEZ of Davie Chapter in 2005 and appointed as Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah in 2009.
Last year, he served as Senior Warden in Saint Nicholas Lodge and the brethren were delighted when he agreed to become their Master.
14 March 2018
An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes
Brethren, it is always a pleasure to see this magnificent temple as full as it is today, although it is hardly surprising bearing in mind the special nature of today’s meeting. Our Provinces and Districts, as well as those involved here at the centre, have taken a great deal of trouble in identifying those brethren most deserving of the honour that they have received today. I hope it has been a very special day for them and I really do congratulate and thank them. As always brethren, whilst congratulations are very much in order for all that you have done, particularly during the Tercentenary year, it also raises great expectations for your endeavours in the future.
We also have the Soane Ark back with us today. As those of you who were at the Tercentenary celebration at the Royal Albert Hall, (or those of you who read Freemasonry Today) will know, the original of this beautiful mahogany piece, the “Ark of the Masonic Covenant”, was made by Bro Sir John Soane in 1813. It was dedicated at the great celebration marking the Union of the Ancient and Modern Grand Lodges in 1813 and the Articles of Union were deposited inside.
It was tragically destroyed by fire in 1883, but UGLE commissioned an exact replica for our Tercentenary, which was dedicated at the Royal Albert Hall in October. Then, as in 1813, we placed a facsimile of the Articles of Union inside it, as well as the “Three Great Lights”.
It was on public display at the Soane Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields for the months after the Royal Albert Hall celebration, but now it has returned to its intended place in Grand Lodge. Triangular in form, it has at each corner a column of the Ionic, Doric and Corinthian order representing Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, the three great pillars on which our lodges, including this Grand Lodge, are said to stand.
I am sure that it will grace our Grand Lodge meetings for centuries to come.
We have become only too well aware of the term 'fake news' in recent times and we began this year with our own encounter with 'fake news'. Many of you will have seen the coverage generated by the outgoing Chairman of the Police Federation and the Guardian newspaper and I trust you will have also seen our responses. Let me assure you that UGLE will always stand up for its members, their integrity and their care for the communities from which they are drawn. It is my firm belief that policemen are better policemen for their membership of our proud organisation. However, it is not just policemen who can benefit from membership – lawyers, public servants and indeed all men benefit from the teaching our ceremonies have to offer, and the time has come for the organisation to stand up and make these points loudly and clearly. Enough, brethren is enough.
I have said it before and I say again I strongly believe that the future is bright for Freemasonry. We created a bow wave of optimism last year which produced a surge of interest in the Craft. We must now ensure that we maintain the momentum created and build on that legacy, and we will.
This year is very much a year of change, particular of key personalities both here and in the Provinces and Districts. On your behalf I welcome Geoffrey Dearing to his first Quarterly Communication as President of the Board of General Purposes and, in April, David Staples, our CEO will become our new youthful and dynamic Grand Secretary, bringing together all the activities here in Freemasons’ Hall. Already this year we have installed two new PGMs as well as new DGMs in New Zealand South Island and SA Western Division. Both John Clark from Buckinghamshire and Anthony Howlett-Bolton from Berkshire are able to be present and I welcome them to their first Quarterly Communication as Provincial Grand Masters. We now start a steady stream of installations: nine Provincial Grand Masters and ten District Grand Masters, plus many Grand Superintendents in the Royal Arch. This will keep the Rulers in both the Craft and Royal Arch busy this year as we catch up on the backlog.
Although we have plenty of ceremonial work to do, I am also keen that we continue to visit Provinces and Districts in a less formal way. We are here to provide help and support and we must show it.
This year, as you know, is the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World War – 'The Great War'. I have no doubt that many of you will be commemorating this, as appropriate in your area. This building was built to commemorate those masons who lost their lives in that war. It was called the Masonic Peace Memorial Building, but changed its name at the outbreak of the Second World War to Freemasons’ Hall. We shall commemorate the end of the First World War on 10th November 2018 under the auspices of Victoria Rifles Lodge and I am sure it will be an impressive occasion.
Brethren, I hope that today has been a memorable event for those I have invested. Many congratulations, once again, and remember there is no resting on your laurels.
To bring the union of the Grand Lodges into being, Articles of Union were agreed that laid the foundations of the United Grand Lodge of England. As such an important document, it was to be carried into each Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge by the Grand Registrar. Sir John Soane (1753-1837) offered to produce an ‘ark’ to stand in front of the Grand Master’s throne into which the document could be safely placed while the meeting was in progress
Soane was one of England’s greatest architects. He became a Freemason and, after the union of the two Grand Lodges in 1813, was the first person to hold the new office of Grand Superintendent of Works. As such, he was the professional adviser overseeing the maintenance and development of Freemasons’ Hall in London.
The first work Soane produced for Grand Lodge was what became known as the Ark of the Masonic Covenant. It was an impressive piece of furniture, triangular in shape with an Ionic, Corinthian or Doric column at each corner and surmounted with a dome topped by Soane’s signature lantern.
The ark stood in front of the Grand Master’s throne from 1814 until 1883, when disaster struck. A fire broke out in the old Grand Temple, gutting its interior and destroying the portraits of former Grand Masters, as well as most of the furniture and Soane’s ark. Much was done to reconstruct the interior of the room and reinstate the paintings and furniture, but the ark was not replaced.
One of Soane’s 20th-century successors as Grand Superintendent of Works was architect Douglas Burford, who hoped one day to persuade Grand Lodge to have a replica constructed. It took 30 years for that dream to finally become a reality, and Burford was delighted to learn that, as part of the Tercentenary celebrations, Soane’s ark was to be reconstructed.
The project was one of cooperation between The Library and Museum of Freemasonry, Sir John Soane’s Museum, the Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation and master wood carvers Houghtons of York. Their combined efforts produced a superb and accurate reconstruction of one of the lost treasures of Grand Lodge.
After appearing in an exhibition at Sir John Soane’s Museum, the ark was transported to the Royal Albert Hall for the great Tercentenary celebration, where it was dedicated by the Grand Master. Afterwards, like the original, it took its place in the Grand Temple as a permanent memorial.
From the Grand Secretary
Welcome to this Tercentenary souvenir edition of Freemasonry Today, which celebrates the achievements of 2017 while looking to the future with a quiet confidence. I say that in the knowledge that I will retire at the April Investiture and hand over to David Staples, our current dynamic CEO, which will bring back together all of the departments within Freemasons’ Hall under one head.
Clearly the Sky TV programme and the many events organised across the Provinces and Districts last year, which are commemorated in this special edition, considerably raised the profile of Freemasonry. It is now important that we maintain that momentum by promoting our values and relevance to society at every appropriate opportunity.
In this unique issue, we feature the events that helped make the Tercentenary so remarkable – from the especial meeting at the Royal Albert Hall to the teddy bears’ picnics, cathedral services and masonic parades held. These celebrations not only show what Freemasonry has achieved in its long history, but also demonstrate its ongoing commitment to communities and causes, both at home and overseas.
With this in mind, we draw from the masons we’ve interviewed in Freemasonry Today whom we feel represent the core values of Freemasonry. From Wayne Ingram, the mason who has been raising money in order to fund facial reconstructive surgery for a child he met in Bosnia, through to Sean Gaffney, who lost his leg in an accident only to win gold at the Invictus Games – these are the type of individuals taking Freemasonry forward for the next 300 years.
FATHERS OF FREEMASONRY
We also feature inspirational masons from history who have helped make the Tercentenary an anniversary worth celebrating. These are masons who worked tirelessly in their local communities, broke down social barriers and challenged the status quo in order to improve the lives of those about them – from the Duke of Sussex, who helped shape modern Freemasonry, through to Augustus John Smith, who brought education and hope to the residents of the Isles of Scilly. Reflecting the spirit of the Tercentenary as an ongoing journey, we call this issue Past, Present & Future.
Brethren, it has been a great privilege and pleasure to have been your Grand Secretary for the last two years, and I wish you well for what I know will be a bright future.
‘It is important that we maintain momentum by promoting our values and relevance to society’
A renewal of pride
For Director of Special Projects John Hamill, the Tercentenary celebrations have been an opportunity to reflect on the past, enjoy the present and plan for the future
One thing that I hope will come through to readers of this special souvenir edition of Freemasonry Today is that not only were the celebrations successful, but also that the brethren, their families and friends who attended them had a great deal of enjoyment in taking part – whether it was at the dramatic performance and ceremonial at the Royal Albert Hall or one of the many smaller local events.
The activities that took place around the country and in our Districts overseas were worthy of such a notable anniversary. But the celebrations were not limited to our own members. Many of our sister Grand Lodges around the world regarded the anniversary not just as being the Tercentenary of the Grand Lodge of England, but also the Tercentenary of the start of the organised, regular Freemasonry of which they now form a part.
Throughout the year there was a steady stream of visitors from other Grand Lodges who came to Freemasons’ Hall in London, simply to be here during a very special year and to say thank you to the ‘Mother Grand Lodge’.
PLACE FOR HUMOUR
Sometimes we take ourselves a little too seriously and forget that Freemasonry is to be enjoyed. We take great pride in our work and carry it out with dignity and decorum, but even within the confines of a lodge meeting there are times when humour and gentle banter has its place.
We should keep in mind that part of the Address to the Brethren, given at each Installation meeting, in which we are reminded that we should ‘unite in the Grand Design of being happy and communicating happiness’. A great deal of happiness was communicated during the Tercentenary celebrations. That is something we should preserve and build on in the future.
When attending major celebrations as Pro Grand Master, the late Lord Farnham would often say that there were three things we should do at special anniversaries: reflect on the past, celebrate the present and plan for the future. Were he still with us, I think he would agree that we have followed his wish list during the Tercentenary year.
A RICH HISTORY
During the lead-up to the celebrations, we certainly reflected on the past. The history conference in Cambridge organised by Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076, in September 2016; the new exhibition gallery at the Library and Museum in London; the splendid celebratory book The Treasures of English Freemasonry 1717 – 2017 and the amazing performance at the Royal Albert Hall will all be permanent records of that reflection. To this we should add the exhibitions that were mounted in masonic premises and public museums around the country, and the many talks given by masonic historians.
We celebrated in style, as the events recorded in this issue show. Our grateful thanks should go to everyone at both national and local levels who put so much work into making the celebrations a success. It was hard and, at times, exhausting work, but not without its moments and well worth the effort given the obvious enjoyment of those who attended.
As we reflected on our past, so we looked forward, too. The Membership Focus Group and its successor the Improvement Delivery Group, the University Lodges Scheme and the growing network of young masons groups across the country are all focused on the future.
As the Pro Grand Master said in his review of the year in December, we can now move forward from here with enormous self-belief. One of the intangibles that the Tercentenary celebrations has produced is a renewal of pride in Freemasonry among the members. These are all things that we should foster and build on so future generations can enjoy Freemasonry, as we and our predecessors have done.
‘The activities that took place around the country were worthy of such a notable anniversary’
Just getting started
With the Tercentenary celebrations raising awareness and improving perceptions, Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes believes there has never been a better time to be a Freemason
It has been an enormous privilege to have been Pro Grand Master during the Tercentenary year. At the outset, Provinces and Districts were asked to concentrate on coming up with events in their own jurisdiction that their brethren could join in and enjoy. Dare I say, they all did this in spades, and I include our groups of lodges in that.
Quite rightly, there was often a significant charitable aspect to these events. I should add here that this was greatly enhanced by the imaginative input from the Masonic Charitable Foundation with its multitude of grants across the Provinces. The Rulers and past Rulers have endeavoured to meet your requests and wherever we have been, brethren have looked after us with incredible kindness and generosity. Thank you all so much.
Since our last communication, we have had the Grand Ball and our major celebratory event at the Royal Albert Hall. The events of 29 to 31 October were a resounding success, and I must single out Keith Gilbert and his team for the superb administrative arrangements throughout. Diane Clements and the museum staff managed to collect, catalogue and display the many gifts brought by the 133 Grand Masters from around the world amazingly quickly. These are now all displayed in the museum.
A JOB WELL DONE
Finally, thanks to James Long and his team, who took us all by surprise at the Royal Albert Hall with an amazing and uplifting performance of masonry across the three centuries. The whole London experience was beyond my expectations, and from the comments we have had since, it astounded all our hundreds of visitors from overseas. Well done indeed.
Brethren, has there ever been a better time to be a Freemason? I really believe that during the year we have learned so much about how to talk about our Freemasonry with non-members, helped enormously by the Sky documentary, which has opened our eyes and made the general public more receptive. I would love us to have had more editorial control over the end product, but that would, perhaps, have defeated the object. Nonetheless, I think we can go forward from here with enormous self-belief and pride.
We head now into 2018, continuing the work of the Improvement Delivery Group and capitalising on the great successes of 2017, rewarding those who have worked so hard throughout the year. We will also be remembering the fact that it is 100 years since the end of World War I, after which Freemasons’ Hall was built as the Masonic Peace Memorial to recognise the sacrifice of more than 3,000 English Freemasons who fell in that conflict.
‘I think we can go forward from here with enormous self-belief and pride’