Securing our future
Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes is encouraged and humbled by members’ efforts as they ensure the Tercentenary year is a success
In our Tercentenary year, it is fitting that we look back on our history with pride. On 18 April we remembered brethren who have fallen since 1945 in the service of their country by opening the Masonic Memorial Garden at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. A week later, in the presence of the Grand Master, we remembered those of our brethren awarded the Victoria Cross in the First World War in a magnificent ceremony outside Freemasons’ Hall.
And so, as we look back with pride, we must look forward with confidence, recognising that we are a force for good in society and have so much to contribute to it. The Sky 1 documentary series has given us an amazing platform and viewing figures have been good. It has been well received and our Provinces are reporting an upsurge of interest, which I know you are capitalising on in order to secure our future. In addition, I believe it has enabled us to be aware of how important it is to talk openly about our Freemasonry and, perhaps, how best to do so.
GENEROSITY OF SPIRIT
As Pro Grand Master, it is very encouraging, yet humbling, to witness just how much effort you are all putting in to promoting our masonic values and making this Tercentenary year such a tremendous success. Your charitable giving never ceases to amaze me, and a magnificent total of £3,617,437 was raised at the Sussex Festival for the Grand Charity. This has been followed by the West Yorkshire Festival for the RMBI, which raised £3,300,300. I now have firm figures that show that last year we not only supported our own brethren with more than £15 million in grants, but also helped non-masonic charities with grants in excess of £17 million.
This year, the nation has been rocked by the serious terrorist attacks at Westminster Bridge, the Manchester Arena and at London Bridge. You should be aware that we have received numerous letters of support and concern from other Sovereign Grand Lodges around the world, some enclosing generous cheques to the East Lancashire Fund. These have supplemented the extreme generosity shown by many towards this fund, and I have been assured by the Provincial Grand Master that the money will be spent wisely where need is identified.
While congratulating you on all your efforts, I must pay tribute to my fellow Rulers, who have been globetrotting on our behalf. Having previously been to Bombay, the Deputy Grand Master paid a second visit to India this year to join the District of Northern India’s Tercentenary celebrations, and followed this by attending a Regional Conference in Jamaica.
The Assistant Grand Master, as President of the Universities Scheme, invaded South Africa with a very strong team. He followed this, immediately after our Grand Investiture, with a gala lunch and banner dedication in Malta. As a past Ruler, David Williamson kindly represented us in Gibraltar. And just to show that I have not been sitting idly by, I have just returned from a most enjoyable visit to our District in the Eastern Archipelago, having previously visited Bermuda for the bicentenary of its Lodge of Loyalty.
Carrying out these visits is a great privilege, and our brethren in the Districts value our presence and have great pride in being members of the oldest Grand Lodge.
‘We must look forward with confidence, recognising that we are a force for good’
Craft on canvas
In its Tercentenary year, the United Grand Lodge of England’s first ever Artist in Residence, Jacques Viljoen, gives a fresh perspective on Freemasonry
On 24 June, the general public were invited into Freemasons’ Hall to view a new exhibition, Rough to Smooth: Art inspired by Freemasonry – past, present and future. It featured work by the United Grand Lodge of England’s first ever Artist in Residence, Jacques Viljoen, who had been given unprecedented access to objects and spaces throughout the five-floor Grade II* listed building.
All of Viljoen’s subjects were painted from life, using traditional techniques and no photography. His work presents a new look at the world of contemporary Freemasonry, showing intimate moments that might usually go unnoticed. ‘This has been an incredible opportunity to explore an organisation with an intricate and ancient history,’ he said.
Alongside Viljoen, nine guest artists were also given unique access to Freemasons’ Hall, working in different mediums that ranged from oils to mixed media and photography. Renowned Norwegian oil painter Henrik Uldalen’s contemporary yet classic figurative work sat by work by Lithuanian artist Elika Bo, who creates images by endlessly layering objects, while Nicholas Chaundy offered a technical homage to the painting techniques used in the many masterpieces that fill the Hall.
President of the Board of General Purposes Anthony Wilson commented: ‘What has struck me, above all else, is the amount of thought and work that has gone into each picture. The artists have demonstrated both an understanding of, and a variety of responses to, Freemasonry, its values and, in particular, our splendid building.’
Rough to Smooth was just one of the attractions at the Freemasons’ Hall Open Day, with members of the public also able to visit the building’s ornate Grand Temple and the shrine to those Freemasons who lost their lives in World War I. Musical performances from Grand Organist Carl Jackson, the Occasional Strings quartet and the Art Deco Orchestra accompanied visitors throughout the event.
The Open Day was organised by the Library and Museum of Freemasonry. Reflecting on the event, Library and Museum Director Diane Clements said: ‘It was a very successful day, with more than 2,800 visitors enjoying the music, the architecture and the opportunity to see the Artist in Residence exhibition.’
The Library and Museum has acquired a portrait of Lord Petre, the Grand Master who proved instrumental in the building of the first Freemasons’ Hall at Great Queen Street
Freemasons’ Hall in London has hosted many of this year’s Tercentenary events. As the headquarters of the oldest Grand Lodge in the world, it is certainly the focus for overseas masonic visitors.
For more than 50 years after 1717, Grand Lodge was content to hold its meetings in taverns and the halls of city livery companies. It was likely seen as quite radical for this relatively new organisation to contemplate having its own premises.
The acquisition of the Great Queen Street site and the construction of the first Freemasons’ Hall took place under the leadership of Lord Petre (1742-1801), who was Grand Master from 1772 to 1776. It was therefore appropriate that this year, the 275th anniversary of his birth, the Library and Museum should purchase a pastel portrait of Lord Petre.
Grand Lodge already owns a full-length portrait of Petre, which was copied from an original at Ingatestone Hall in Essex in the 19th century. This new acquisition was painted from life by Lewis Vaslet in Bath in 1793, when Petre was in his early 50s. The purchase was supported by the London Grand Rank Association Heritage and Educational Trust.
Petre was a leader of the English Roman Catholic community and was instrumental in securing the relaxation of legal restrictions on English Roman Catholics. As Grand Master, he chaired the committee that oversaw the building of the first Freemasons’ Hall and his enthusiastic endorsement of the Great Queen Street site is indicated in the committee’s minutes.
Library and Museum of Freemasonry
60 Great Queen Street,
London WC2B 5AZ
Open Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm
Brethren of Navy Lodge, No. 2612, which meets at Freemasons’ Hall in London, have presented their most senior naval member, Admiral of the Fleet HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, with a gold Tercentenary Jewel at Buckingham Palace
The presentation was made on behalf of the lodge by its Master, Captain Simon Thomas RN, and its youngest and most junior serving member, Lieutenant Josh Skelding RN. They were accompanied by Commander Michael Higham RN and Navy Lodge Secretary Commander Jonty Powis RN.
After the presentation, His Royal Highness and the brethren talked about the lodge and Freemasonry in general, including the recent Sky 1 documentary series about the Craft.
The Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, has unveiled a commemorative stone to mark the founding of Grand Lodge
It’s been 300 years since four London lodges came together on St John’s Day, 24 June 1717 to found the world’s first Grand Lodge. Three of the four lodges that made this vital contribution to Freemasonry still meet today: Lodge of Antiquity No.2, Royal Somerset House and Inverness Lodge No.IV, and Lodge of Fortitude and Old Cumberland No.12. Referred to as ‘time immemorial’, these lodges operate without a warrant and have a band of dark blue in their lodge officers’ collars.
To honour the tercentenary of this date, a commemorative stone was unveiled outside the Tower Entrance of Freemasons’ Hall. The occasion was marked by a joint meeting at Mansion House, where the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, was proclaimed as the Master of all three lodges.
Next time you pass Freemasons’ Hall, be sure to cast your eyes over this commemorative stone, as it celebrates the history of four lodges coming together to found the Premier Grand Lodge.
Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL) made its mark at Freemasons’ Hall after two days of glitz and glamour in August 2017
Now in its seventh year, AFWL is Europe's largest fashion event promoting and nurturing African and African-inspired design talent, as over 5,000 visitors, 42 catwalk designers and 60 exhibitors came to show London what African fashion is really all about.
The beautiful marbled hallways and vestibules of Freemasons’ Hall saw a host of brightly clad visitors browsing for African-made or inspired jewellery, clothing and accessories ahead of the main event – the catwalk shows.
Africa Fashion Week London continues to shine a light on African designers the world over, while at least 15 countries were represented on the catwalk.
Scroll through the gallery at the top to view photos from the event
Ewan Gordon and Oxfordshire Provincial Junior Grand Warden Dale Osborne clocked up the miles in the name of charity, as they walked from Oxford to Freemasons’ Hall
The intrepid pair started their journey on Saturday 5th August along the Thames Path, managing around 20 miles a day, and have helped to raise £3,000 for the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) in the process.
Five days later and having completed their journey outside Freemasons’ Hall on Thursday 10th August, they were greeted by David Innes, MCF Chief Executive, and Les Hutchinson, MFC Chief Operating Officer.
You can sponsor the pair by clicking here
Originally founded as ‘The Black Fryers Bridge Lodge’ by operative masons working on the now famous river crossing, Cadogan Lodge No 162 celebrated its 250th anniversary in Temple 10 at Freemasons Hall, London, on Tuesday 6th June 2017
This was in the presence of RW Bro Sir Michael Snyder, Metropolitan Grand Master, and RW Bro The Earl Cadogan, Past Deputy Grand Master, who, half a century earlier, during it’s Bicentenary in 1967, was Worshipful Master of the Lodge bearing his family name.
Under the watchful eye of Worshipful Master Shravan Joshi, a selection of current and Past Provincial Grand Masters from Kent, Surrey and Warwickshire joined 140 members and other guests. All present were treated to an afternoon of contrasting types of agenda items. Two in particular illuminated the proceedings, due to their originality and pertinence.
Cadogan Lodge Past Master W Bro Don Foreman, combined his passion for history and talent as a public speaker by entertaining the Brethren with a thoroughly researched and frequently humorous history of the Lodge. Highlighting notable members of both ill and commendable repute, W Bro Foreman was at great pains to point out that the latter far outweigh the former.
W Bro Alan Wolsey (Loyal Manor Lodge No 6445 in Dorset) then gave a fascinating demonstration of the traditional methods of working stone, but not before arranging a tarpaulin to protect the chequered carpet of the ‘Indian Temple’ from flying debris. As he introduced the assembled Brethren to the necessary tools and age-old techniques, the familiar symbolism became increasingly vivid: the dedication, patience and practice being imperative to improving oneself as a mason, whether speculative or operative.
Since the 1800s, Cadogan Lodge has had many international links and testament to this was the visit by members of one of Cadogan’s two daughter lodges, The Lodge of St. George (Singapore) No 1152. Their Master, W Bro Thomas Graeff, presented commemorative coins to mark the occasion. Interestingly, Cadogan member RW Bro William Read rose to the rank of District Master of the Eastern Archipelago during his time in Asia and was the Consecrating Officer at the formation of St. George in 1867.
Having closed the Lodge in due form, the Brethren retired to a Festive Board at the Royal College of Surgeons where Cadogan Lodge’s rich history and centuries of convivial masonic spirit were continued and suitably celebrated.
Essex Freemasons and their families made the most of a once in a lifetime opportunity to help the Province celebrate the United Grand Lodge of England's Tercentenary in real style with a glittering Last Night of the Proms spectacular
Featuring the British Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, the concert was attended by nearly 3,000 people on Saturday 8th July 2017 at Freemasons' Hall.
There was also a champagne reception hosted by the Provincial Grand Master Rodney Lister Bass and his Executive.
The event was the latest in many such occasions to mark the Tercentenary, which includes a number of Open Days held at Masonic Centres across Essex. Many more are planned for 2017, where Freemasons will be on site to answer questions from the public alongside exhibits of historical masonic regalia, literature and photographs.
Please scroll through the gallery at the top to view photos from the concert
Continuing a tradition of excellent craftsmanship from when Freemasons’ Hall was first built, the new washroom area outside the Grand Temple has received a special mention for the tiling
This recognition was given at the 2017 Tylers and Bricklayers Triennial Awards, which were held at Grocers’ Hall on 6th July.
Run by the Worshipful Company of Tylers & Bricklayers, the awards are held every three years to recognise projects within the area bounded by the M25 motorway that demonstrate all-round excellence in brickwork, roof slates and tiling, and wall and floor tiling.
The renovation to the washroom area at Freemasons’ Hall was completed in late 2016, with large format porcelain tiles and feature walls including stone vanity and credenza tops.
The overall winner in the Tiling category was Tottenham Court Road tube station for its Paolozzi mosaics.