Wednesday, 09 June 2010 17:48

A eulogy to Rt Hon Lord Cornwallis, OBE, DL


9 June 2010

A eulogy to Lord Cornwallis by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes


The death on 6 March of Lord Cornwallis breaks a chain of more than one hundred years of continuous distinguished service to Freemasonry by the Cornwallis family. The family also have truly been Kentish Men, or do I mean Men of Kent, probably both!

Fiennes Neil Wykeham, 3rd Baron Cornwallis was born in 1921, educated at Eton and served in the Coldstream Guards during the Second World War.

As a Farmer of extensive orchards he served on major committees in the House of Lords and the European Commission protecting the interests of fruit growers and small businesses in general, for which he received his OBE. He loved the land, in particular the orchards as well as woodland generally.

He was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for Kent in 1976.

He was initiated in Douglas Lodge No. 1725, in Maidstone in 1954 and was Provincial Senior Grand Warden of Kent in 1962 and Senior Grand Warden in 1963. It was no surprise that his interest in charity took him to the former Royal Masonic Institution for Boys, of which he was Chairman 1966 – 1972.

In 1971 he was appointed Assistant Grand Master. Shortly after his appointment, the Bagnall Committee was set up to make a fundamental review of Masonic Charity. On its report being accepted he was asked by the Grand Master to chair the Grand Master’s Committee to implement the major changes recommended by the Bagnall Committee which resulted in the reorganisation of the Charities into their present form, no mean feat. Whilst we are again looking at some reorganisation, the solid basis formed by that Committee has stood the test of time and served Freemasonry well.

In 1976 he became Deputy Grand Master and Second Grand Principal and in 1982 succeeded the late Lord Cadogan as Pro Grand Master and Pro First Grand Principal, serving for ten years.

His period as Pro Grand Master was not an easy one. Public perceptions of the Craft, political interference, major enquiries into the compatibility of Freemasonry and Christianity by both the Methodist and Anglican Churches and the problems of the former Royal Masonic Hospital took up a great deal of his time. Indeed this latter point tried his patience enormously and he was very distressed when the Life Governors of the Hospital voted against the recommendations of the Hospital’s Board of Management in 1986.

It was during his tenure as Pro Grand Master that the policy of openness really commenced and he gave tremendous support to it, even though it was not universally popular at that time. During his later years he was very proud to see the results paying dividends.

After his retirement in 1991 he continued to serve on the Grand Master’s Council and his experience and wise counsel were much appreciated by his successors. Indeed, when I was appointed Deputy Grand Master, he summoned me and told me in no uncertain terms what he would expect of me, if he were still Pro Grand Master.

Published in Speeches

Quarterly Communication

9 June 2010
Order of Service to Masonry citation for RW Bro Sir John Welch, Bt, PSGW

Bro John Welch was made a Mason in January 1955, at the age of 21, in Apollo University Lodge, No. 357, Oxford. In 1962 he joined Westminster and Keystone Lodge, No. 10 (London) and became its Master in 1968. He is or has been a member of four other Lodges, including Jubilee Masters’ Lodge, No. 2712 (London), and has served as Master of each of them. He was exalted into the Royal Arch in Westminster and Keystone Chapter, No. 10 in 1964, serving as its First Principal in 1971.

Bro Welch was elected and served as Grand Treasurer in 1979, in which capacity he was also ex officio a member of the Board of General Purposes. In 1982 he joined the Council of the Grand Charity as one of the members appointed by the MW The Grand Master and in 1985 succeeded the late Bro Sir John Stebbings as President of the Grand Charity, continuing in that office until 1995, when he was appointed Junior Grand Warden (having held that past rank since 1992). He later served two years as Senior Grand Warden, in 1998 and 1999. In the Royal Arch having been Grand Treasurer concurrently with the Craft in 1979, he held the office of Grand Scribe Nehemiah in 1989.

Sir John is the second in his family to have played a significant part in the charitable activities of the Craft, for his father, RW Bro Sir Cullum Welch was President of the Board of Benevolence (the predecessor of the Grand Charity) for 19 years from 1954 to 1973. Sir John has not, however, confined himself to the field of Masonic charity. He again became an ex officio member of the Board of General Purposes when he was appointed President of the Grand Charity and took an active interest in the affairs of the Board, making a very considerable contribution to its various Committees. In particular he was Chairman of its External Relations Committee from 1997. When the Board was reorganised in 1999 he remained a member and continued to give the Board and the Craft as a whole the benefit of his wise counsel and extensive Masonic experience until 2005. It is gratifying to know that he is active enough to continue to be able to give us the benefit of that counsel and experience for many years to come.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 09 June 2010 17:41

Pro Grand Master’s address - June 2010


9 June 2010

An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

I am delighted to see so many of you here today. Having had the great pleasure to present Sir John Welch with the Grand Master’s Order of Service to Freemasonry and having called off for the Annual General Meeting of the Grand Charity, I will be brief.

Since the last Quarterly Communication I travelled to South Africa, accompanied by the Grand Secretary. The reason was to install the new District Grand Master for South Africa North and I first took the opportunity to visit the District of KwaZulu Natal in Durban. We met many of the Brethren as well as their wives and partners before flying to Johannesburg for the Installation. This was well attended by the District Grand Masters of Southern Africa and the Grand Secretary ran a business meeting for them all. I am delighted that they were all in good heart.

With the volcanic ash clouds cancelling all flights back to Europe, I am also glad that the Grand Secretary and I managed to return to England – flying via Luanda in Angola, then on to Lisbon where we travelled by car to Bilbao, finally flying by twin engine propeller plane landing on a grass airstrip in Essex – with only a two day delay. Such was our determination to return in time for the Annual Investitures!

Brethren, I hope you will agree with me that the faith last year’s Board of Grand Stewards placed in the ability of the Grand Connaught Rooms was well founded. The Grand Secretary put his head on the block during last year by stating his confidence in the new management and I believe that the quality of both the food and the service at the Grand Investiture means that he can keep his head. I repeat what I said last year, which was to encourage as many of you as possible to join us for lunch after the Quarterly Communication meetings.

I shall shortly be starting my regional business meetings when I will see all the Provincial Grand Masters. I am in regular contact with the Provincial Grand Masters and we recently held my business meeting when they were all together before the Annual Investitures. However, the regional meetings allow time for detailed discussions specific to each Province whilst still further improving communications with the Centre.

Brethren, since 1924 Port of Hercules Lodge No. 4626 has been meeting in Monte Carlo. In recent years three Lodges under the United Grand Lodges of Germany have been meeting in Monaco and a number of Monegasque citizens have become Freemasons in Lodges under the National Grand Lodge of France. In April of this year we were approached by the brethren in Monaco and the United Grand Lodges of Germany to assist in the formation and consecration of a Sovereign Grand Lodge of Monaco. As the members of Port of Hercules Lodge have agreed to be one of the founding Lodges of the new Grand Lodge we have agreed to assist in the project.

It only remains for me to wish you all an enjoyable summer.

Published in Speeches

Royal Arch Investiture 
29 April 2010 
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes 

Companions, firstly I congratulate all those of you that I have had the pleasure to appoint to or promote in Grand Rank this morning. It is important for you all to understand that the Royal Arch is both the completion and the climax of pure Antient Masonry. In our constitution there is an indissoluble link between the Craft and the Royal Arch making the Royal Arch not just a graceful adjunct to the Craft but a vital part of pure Antient Masonry. This theme will be the common thread through my speech.

As in the Craft, Grand Rank is a rare accolade – not given liberally – and with that Grand Rank comes the responsibility to explain and promote the Order – with the aim of recruiting and retaining members.

I have also had the especial pleasure, on behalf of the First Grand Principal, of installing Most Excellent Companion David Williamson as Third Grand Principal. He is already well known to you and respected in the Royal Arch and he has frequently carried out Royal Arch duties in his previous capacity of Past Third Grand Principal. On your behalf I congratulate him and wish him every success in this important role. At the same time I wish recorded our heartfelt thanks to the Past Third Grand Principal, the Very Reverend Neil Collings, for his enormous contribution to the Order for which he will never be forgotten.

Companions, it has been too long since we last had a Royal Arch celebration and I am delighted to announce the decision that we will celebrate the Bi-Centenary of the Declaration of the Royal Arch as the completion of pure Antient Masonry in 2013. In the 18th century the Premier Grand Lodge and the Antients Grand Lodge developed differing attitudes to the Royal Arch. The Premier Grand Lodge would only accept it as an order completely separate from the Craft. The Antients Grand Lodge readily embraced it and worked it within their Lodges. This divergence of opinion was settled in 1813 – two years before the Battle of Waterloo and I am delighted to say with no bloodshed – with the of the two Grand Lodges.

The Articles of between the two, forming the Craft and Royal Arch into pure Antient Masonry, defining it as consisting of ‘...three degrees and no more, that is to say, those of Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch’. For your added interest the  between the original Grand Chapter and the Royal Arch members of the former Antients Grand Lodge was initially known as the United Grand Chapter, with the name changed to Supreme Grand Chapter in 1820.

With the understanding that, although the in 1813 is also very significant to the Craft, the major Craft celebrations will be in 2017 to celebrate three hundred years since the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717.

The Royal Arch celebrations in 2013 will take the form of a Special Convocation here in the Grand Temple followed by a commemorative dinner. The 2013 Royal Arch Committee is being chaired by the Second Grand Principal and the Executive Committee for the event is being run by Grand Scribe Ezra. Grand Superintendents will be briefed in detail by Grand Scribe Ezra who, in turn, will promulgate the information accordingly.

This will be a most important event in the history of the Royal Arch. To further recognise the event it has been decided that a collection be made for a donation to the Royal College of Surgeons, to be used specifically for Royal Arch bursaries. Again, the detail of this will be communicated by your Grand Superintendent.

An approved Royal Arch tie has been produced and is on sale as from today.

I am wearing one now. As another example of the indissoluble link between the Craft and the Royal Arch, the Grand Master announced yesterday, in his speech at the annual Craft Investiture, that the Royal Arch tie can be worn in Craft Lodges.

Grand Scribe Ezra will be issuing guidelines on the wearing of the tie within both Grand Chapter and Chapter meetings.

Finally, I wish to thank the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies for the excellent way the ceremony has been conducted and Grand Scribe Ezra and the large number of people in this building who have been involved in the detailed planning and organisation of this important meeting.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 11:51

Grand Master’s address - April 2010


28 APRIL 2010

An address by the MW The Grand Master HRH The Duke of Kent, KG

I want first to congratulate very warmly all those that I have had the pleasure to appoint or promote this afternoon and to welcome all those of you who are here to support them. Grand Rank is only conferred after much consideration and is a rare accolade given both in acknowledgement of good work done and , more importantly, in anticipation of future endeavours. Be assured that the rest of the Craft members will be looking to you both for leadership, particularly in the important area of mentoring, and to set the highest standards in all your activities at all times. There are many situations when these attributes will be called for and humility will be a common thread in all of them.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 10 March 2010 10:57

‘Freemasonry in our Districts’


10 MARCH 2010

A speech by the VW The Grand Secretary Nigel Brown
Most Worshipful Pro Grand Master and Brethren,
On the 27 April this year, the day before the Annual Craft Investitures, the Pro Grand Master has made the decision to hold – for the first time – a business meeting here specifically for all District Grand Masters. This is a clear sign of the importance we attach to supporting our Districts and the Board of General Purposes felt it important for me to give a short talk today on both why the Districts are important to us at Grand Lodge as well as to all their members.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 10 March 2010 10:54

Pro Grand Master’s address - March 2010


10 MARCH 2010

An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

I believe it appropriate today to inform you of a matter that relates more particularly to the Royal Arch. As you will know the Third Grand Principal, the Very Reverend Neil Collings, has been unwell for over a year and sadly will not be returning to his Masonic duties. At the Convocation in April this year I will be installing his successor as Third Grand Principal.
The Grand Master, in his capacity of First Grand Principal, has decided to appoint the Assistant Grand Master as Third Grand Principal. Right Worshipful Brother David Williamson is, of course, extremely well known and respected in the Royal Arch as well as in the Craft and has frequently carried out Royal Arch duties in his Royal Arch capacity of Past Third Grand Principal.

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A speech by VW Bro Graham Redman, Assistant Grand Secretary, and VW Bro John Hamill

GFR: MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, in the early part of 1809, the Antients or Atholl Grand Lodge, apart from authorising expenditure totalling £177–6s–0d for the Erection of a Throne and presenting or resolving to present three Brethren with gold medals in testimony of their services to the Craft, seems to have been preoccupied with the arrangements for a Masonic Procession, Sermon and Festival in celebration of St. John’s Day (24th June).


The Church Service, procession and Festival of St John the Baptist was an annual event. In 1809 it was variously proposed that the event should take place in Islington, Hackney, Lambeth or Camberwell. The service actually took place at Camberwell Church following which the brethren processed to the Grove House, Camberwell for dinner. The Grand Treasurer reported that the day’s costs had been £210–5s–3d leaving a shortfall of £29–1s–6d to be taken from Grand Lodge Funds.

Nor was Charity neglected. In March 1809 £100 from Grand Lodge funds was voted to the Masonic Charity for Clothing and Educating the Sons of Indigent Freemasons. To this, later in the year, was added 200 guineas to celebrate the coming Golden Jubilee of King George III. This special grant would enable the Boy’s Charity to take on another ten boys, bringing the total under their care to fifty.

GFR: In September of that year the Minutes record that:

Bro Jeremiah Cranfield, Past Master of 255 again brought forward a motion presented and afterwards withdrawn at the meeting of Grand Lodge 7th June last, that a committee be appointed from the Grand Lodge to consider of and adopt such prompt and effectual measures for accomplishing so desirable an object as a Masonic .

The RW Bro Charles Humphreys, PSGW objected to the motion being received as tending to annihilate the Antient Craft. Hereon a very long debate and conversation ensued.
The RW Deputy Grand Master in the Chair, after maturely considering thereon and as at present advised and according with his duty as Deputy Grand Master conceived it incompatible with his situation in the absence of the Grand Master to receive such Motion. And thereupon the Grand Lodge was closed at past 12 o’clock at night.

In December, Bro Cranfield returned to the charge, by objecting to the adoption of the whole of the minutes of the September Communication, whereon a long and interesting debate upon the minutes of the 6th September last took place. After some time it was moved by Bro Charles Humphreys, PSGW and seconded that the said minutes be read separately and the sense of the Grand Lodge taken thereon paragraph by paragraph and the question being put thereon the same was carried in the affirmative.”

The minutes were severally read and confirmed unanimously except for the last minute and the motion therein mentioned and moved by Bro Cranfield for a Committee to be appointed to consider and adopt prompt and effectual measures for accomplishing a Masonic .

Upon this the debate recommenced and thereon it was moved by Bro Charles Humphreys and seconded that the said motion made by Bro Cranfield and refused to be put by the Deputy Grand Master be expunged from the minutes of the RW Grand Lodge and the question being thereon put passed in the negative.

Afterwards Bro Cranfield’s motion of the 6th September was again read and the question thereon put the same was carried in the affirmative.

JMH: This momentous resolution, brethren, I shall return to in a few moments.

GFR: In February 1809, the Moderns Grand Lodge was opened in due form and – as usual – the Laws relating to the behaviour of Masons in Grand Lodge were read.

The Special Committee appointed in November 1808 to enquire into the charges preferred against the Royal Naval Lodge reported. A number of Brethren had laid eleven charges against the Master, Officers and Brethren of the Lodge, then numbered 57 and now No. 59, and three charges against one of its members, Bro Francis Columbine Daniel. The charges included unjustly and unconstitutionally erasing the names of two of the complainants from the Lodge books without their consent and thereby terming them expelled members; not keeping a set of Bye Laws in the Lodge for the internal government thereof; not regularly registering the members and the Brethren initiated there in the books of the Grand Lodge; not regularly and justly paying the Liquidation fee at the Grand Lodge; irregularly admitting a joining Member who had on a former Lodge night been black balled by nine; and publishing and inserting false statements concerning the transaction of the Lodge. Apart from his having been implicated in several of the charges against the Lodge, and in particular the last, the principal complaint against Bro Daniel was that he illegally presided over the Lodge under the assumed title of ‘Acting Master’.

The members of the Committee had found themselves hampered in their investigations, particularly that into the non-payment of fees to Grand Lodge, by a lack of co-operation on the part of the Lodge. The matter was deferred to the April Communication, then to November and eventually stood over to the following year.

JMH: The tribulations within the Royal Naval Lodge took up an inordinate amount of the time not only of the premier Grand Lodge itself but of its Committee of Charity (which in addition to its charitable function worked as a sort of Board of General Purposes) and the special Committee set up to investigate the charges laid against members of the lodge. The reason Grand Lodge took such an interest was money. The premier Grand Lodge had large debts resulting from the building of the first Freemasons’ Hall in 1775 and its later extension and renovation. To reduce the debts they introduced a Liquidation Fund and required lodges to pay a levy to the fund in respect of each of the members of their lodge. The investigation committee found that Royal Naval Lodge owed £168 – 4s – 6d in registration fees to Grand Lodge, had paid nothing into the Liquidation Fund in the years 1799, 1805 or 1807 and had made no returns of names or monies since April 1807.

As so often happens, the problems in the lodge centred around one character: Francis Columbine Daniel. A successful surgeon and apothecary, Daniel was a strong minded character of decided views who brooked no opposition. He was a member of lodges under both the premier and the Antients Grand Lodge and had a great interest in charity. He persuaded members of the Royal Naval Lodge to set up and fund a charity to clothe and educate the sons of indigent or deceased Freemasons, which in 1816 united with the similar charity under the Antients Grand Lodge to become the Royal Masonic Institution for Boys. Outside Freemasonry, Daniel is remembered for two things: inventing an inflatable life vest for sailors, which won him gold medals from both the Royal Humane Society and the Royal Society of Arts, and gaining a knight hood by accident. Attending a garden party at Buckingham Palace he joined what he thought was a queue waiting to be presented to the King and was somewhat amazed when he was asked to kneel and had each shoulder tapped with a sword! Having been dubbed he could not be “un – dubbed” but his accident caused a major review of the procedures for the installation of future knights.

GFR: At the April Communication another topic was raised:

The minutes of the Committee of Charity were read and confirmed, whereupon it was resolved that the Grand Lodge do agree in opinion with the Committee of Charity that it is not necessary any longer to continue in force those measures which were resorted to in or about the year 1739 respecting irregular Masons and do therefore enjoin the several lodges to revert to the Ancient Land Marks of the Society.

JMH: Reporting of Masonic meetings in the press in the 1720s had led to great public curiosity about Freemasonry. This, in turn, led to enterprising journalists producing articles and pamphlets claiming to reveal the secrets and rituals of Freemasonry. In 1730 one Samuel Prichard produced a pamphlet entitled “Masonry Dissect’d” which for the first time gave details of all three of the Craft degrees. He must have been reasonably accurate as a significant number of individuals used his work to gain access to lodges and make claims on the lodge charity box. This panicked the premier Grand Lodge which, in the late 1730s, to catch out these impostors, reversed the first and second degree pillar words. Unfortunately they appear not to have informed the Grand Lodge of Ireland of the change, which was to have a significant effect on English Freemasonry.

In the 18th century, as today, there was a significant Irish population in London. Many of them had become Freemasons before leaving their native land but after the ritual change in the late 1730s were rejected as impostors when they attempted to visit lodges. After a decade of such rejections, on the basis that if you cannot join them beat them, a group of mainly Irish brethren in 1751 met at the Turks Head Tavern in Greek Street, Soho, and formed themselves into a Grand Committee until such time as a noble brother could be elected to serve as their Grand Master. Thus was the Antients Grand Lodge born. They were proud to accept the epithet Antients as they claimed that the original Grand Lodge had departed from the ancient landmarks and they alone were working “Masonry according to the ancient institutions”.

The decision by the premier Grand Lodge to reverse the 1730s changes was the first step towards negotiating an equable with the Antients. In October 1809 they set up a special Lodge of Promulgation whose brief was to ascertain that their ceremonies were in accord with those practised in Ireland, Scotland and lodges over the seas and to establish the landmarks of the Order. That was the public reason, the reality was that they wished to bring themselves more into line with the practices of the Antients lodges to ease the road to .

My co–presenter referred a few moments ago to Brother Cranfield’s motion in the Antients Grand Lodge to form a committee to look at a possible . It rather begs the question of why a simple Past Master rather than a senior member of the Antients Grand Lodge should raise such an important resolution. Cranfield was a member of Oak Lodge No. 255 (still in existence as Oak Lodge No. 190). Another member of that Lodge was one Francis Columbine Daniel, whom we have seen was active in both Grand Lodges. Daniel was well known to Thomas Harper, who despite being Deputy Grand Master of the Antients Grand Lodge was also active in the premier Grand Lodge and like Daniel had served as a Grand Steward and was a member of the Grand Stewards Lodge. Harper and Daniel were both advocates of a of the two Grand Lodges. Would I be laying myself open to accusations of being a conspiracy theorist were I to suggest that Cranfield was possibly a stalking horse acting for Harper and Daniel?

GFR: We now fast-forward one hundred years to 1909. In March, after the adoption of various reports, the Pro Grand Master declared:

Brethren, I have been sorry to hear within the last few days that the Resolution which I have now to propose is giving rise to difference of opinion, and even in some quarters, I grieve to hear, to a feeling which almost approaches resentment, but I trust that the explanation which I have to offer will succeed in removing misunderstanding, for it is to misunderstanding, I venture to think, that difference of opinion is due.

The resolution proposed by the Pro Grand Master, which followed the grant of an honorarium to the Grand Registrar of 1,000 Guineas in 1906, was:

“That in view of the Resolution of the 6th June, 1906, affirming the principle that the duties of the Grand Registrar ought not to be rendered gratuitously, and in view of the great and growing importance to Grand Lodge in her relations with the colonies and with foreign countries of the correct and authoritative interpretation of Masonic Law, it is desirable that the remuneration of the Grand Registrar should take the more satisfactory and regular form of an annual retaining fee of such an amount as may fairly be tendered to distinguished counsel.”

The Motion was seconded by a Past Grand Chaplain, but opposed by the Vice-President of the Board of General Purposes. The Deputy Grand Master spoke in support of the motion, concluding his remarks with:

I am convinced that whenever the time comes … for a new Grand Registrar to beappointed, if we are to have the man we ought to have, we shall have to pass this Motion. I do submit it would be much more graceful and gracious to pass it now.

The Motion was put and declared to be lost.

JMH: When one looks at the Grand Lodge finances and sources of income in 1909 it is not surprising that the suggestion that the Grand Registrar be paid a retainer of at least 500 guineas was negatived. Grand Lodge’s income came from registration fees for new and joining members, fees for warrants, patents, dispensations and appointments to Grand Rank, rents for the use of Freemasons’ Hall and from the Tavern and investment income. Lodges paid quarterage in respect of each member but this went to the Fund of Benevolence. Grand Lodge dues as we know them were not introduced until 1930! There was also the matter of principle. If the Grand Registrar were to be remunerated what about the Grand Superintendent of Works, who freely advised Grand Lodge on all property matters, and even the Grand Director of Ceremonies who was regularly called on to rule on matters of protocol and ceremonial?

The debate was – to be polite – robust, despite the motion having been proposed by the Pro and supported by the Deputy Grand Master. When the Rev JT Lawrence rose to support the motion there were cries from the floor of “Time, Time”!

GFR: How different from the proceedings of the Grand Lodge in the 21st century!

This time last year we left off at that part of our history which mentioned the problems with the Freemasons’ Tavern. In December 1909, the Board of General Purposes which had been giving progress reports throughout the year reported that the work connected with the reconstruction and enlargement of “Freemasons’ Tavern,” hereafter to be known as “The Connaught Rooms, Freemasons’ Hall,” is approaching completion, and will be ready for occupation by the end of the year.

The Board has concluded an arrangement with Bro George Harvey, at one time a manager of the Hotel Cecil, for granting him a lease of the premises for seven, fourteen, or twenty-one years; and looking to the high esteem in which he is held by very many members of the Craft, to whom he is well known, and to his great experience in connection with establishments of a similar character, the Board confidently believes that the arrangement is one which will be as beneficial to the Craft as it hopes it will be to Bro Harvey.

The greater part of the building has been entirely re-modelled. The principal Banqueting Hall has been enlarged to an extent sufficient to accommodate 800 diners. Additions and improvements have been made to the smaller dining rooms, and the kitchen and service arrangements have been entirely reconstructed, greatly enlarged, and in every way adapted to the most modern requirements.

JMH: When last December I quipped that “like the poor, problems with the Connaught Rooms were always with us” I had no knowledge of what would happen next door during 2009! In 1809 and 1909 problems with the Freemasons’ Tavern were happily settled and with the installation of new managements lengthy periods of good management and service to Freemasonry followed. With the installation of the Harvey family in 1909 the Tavern became the Connaught Rooms, as a compliment to the then Grand Master. A Brother Lewis Ferguson queried the rents and the costs of the refurbishment. The President of the Board informed him that the rent was £500 for the first year rising by increments to £3050 and the refurbishment of the building had cost Grand Lodge nearly £30,000. The present Board of General Purposes did rather better. As the President announced in September the new lessees, Principal Hayley, were to invest in excess of £5 million refurbishing the Connaught Rooms and a commercial rent was being paid to Grand Lodge. We can only hope that the new incumbents will have the same flair and care as the Harvey family in 1909 and that the Grand Connaught Rooms will live up to its new name!

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 10:59

Pro Grand Master’s address - December 2009



An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

We have had a fairly full agenda today, with the Grand Charity Meeting and the excellent talk from Bros Hamill and Redman. I shall, therefore, be brief.

Brethren, as I hope they know, our Districts are an immensely important and valued part of UGLE. I hope and believe that communications with our Districts are as good as they have ever been. We are delighted when they visit us, as they frequently do, and we always try to be present with them on important occasions.

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Regular Convocation 
11 November 2009 
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal 

Companions, those of you who were in Grand Lodge in June or September will know that the Preliminary Declaration to the Rules in the Book of Constitutions was amended by the removal of the additional sentence which had been added to it in 2003.

The Preliminary Declaration – defining pure Antient Masonry as the three Craft degrees including the Royal Arch – was composed in 1813 to enable the  of the two existing Grand Lodges to take place. By this declaration the Royal Arch was accepted by both contracting parties as an essential part of, and the means whereby, a Brother completed his journey through pure Antient Masonry by absorbing the practical moral lessons of the Craft, and the more spiritual message of the Royal Arch.

The addition of the Preliminary Declaration in 2003 was meant to strengthen the indissoluble link between the Craft and the Royal Arch, but it appears to have caused confusion and suggested to some Brethren that it was the first step to some form of separation of the Craft and Royal Arch. The latter was most certainly not the intention.

Despite the changes made in the Royal Arch in the last few years there is no intention of breaking this link that was so firmly established back in 1813.

In their Report to Grand Lodge in June the Board of General Purposes stated “The Board believes that it is a matter of common ground that the teachings of the Royal Arch enrich those of the Craft and vice versa. Properly considered therefore, each is inextricably interwoven with each other, with the result that no Brother’s Masonic experience can be considered truly complete unless he has been exalted into the Order of the Holy Royal Arch”. Those are sentiments, Companions, with which we would all heartily agree.

So important do we regard the 1813 Preliminary Declaration, and the acceptance by the Craft of the Royal Arch as an integral part of pure Antient Masonry, that the Committee of General Purposes is putting in hand plans to celebrate the Bi-Centenary of the adoption of the statement at the Convocation of this Supreme Grand Chapter to be held in November 2013. Further details on this will be given at the April Convocation.

Our Third Grand Principal has retired as Dean of Bury St Edmunds Cathedral due to his continued ill health. Many of you would have seen the moving article in Country Life about his farewell service which highlighted the enormous contribution he had made to the Cathedral in a sadly short space of time. I am sure you would wish me to convey greetings and support from you all here today, when I next visit him. And Companions, not a few minutes before this meeting I also heard that a Past Third Grand Principal, the Rev Preb Leighton Thomson, TD, had a nasty fall and he is in St Thomas’ Hospital. He has been spoken to from here, and he is in his usual good spirits.

Companions, what I am going to mention next refers very much to the Craft as a whole and not just the Royal Arch.

Many of you will be aware of the announcement made by the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, that judges and other members of the judicial system such as magistrates, will no longer have to declare that they are Freemasons. Nor will applicants for judicial office have to disclose that they are Freemasons on their application form.

This is as a result of action taken by the Board of General Purposes following a Ruling by the European Court of Human Rights on a case involving Italian Freemasonry that to single out Freemasonry and not include all other organisations was discriminatory, and in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Board made it clear to the Minister that unless the policy was changed it would institute proceedings on behalf of Grand Lodge and its members.

In his statement Mr Straw stressed that the Government’s policy requiring disclosure, which had been operating since 1998, had shown no evidence of impropriety or malpractice within the judiciary as a result of a judge being a Freemason, and that he had concluded that it would be disproportionate to continue the collection or retention of the information.

Companions, this does not mean that our members do not need to disclose that they are Freemasons; common sense will always dictate when it is appropriate to do so and, if there is any doubt, you should err on the side of disclosure. In any case, I hope we would all be proud to do so.

The Board will continue to monitor the situation and will not hesitate to take steps against any Public or Local Authority who discriminate against our members.

Finally Companions, as always I thank the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for the efficient way they have run the ceremony, and Grand Scribe Ezra and his staff for organising this successful meeting.

Published in Speeches
Page 12 of 18

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