A system of 33 degrees
The Ancient and Accepted Rite, or Rose Croix, is one of the oldest Orders, yet many Craft Freemasons know little about it. The Grand Secretary General explains how the Rite has attracted more than a quarter of a million members worldwide
Known outside England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland as the Scottish Rite, this order takes as its founding documents the Grand Constitutions of 1762 and 1786, the latter written by a group of eminent Freemasons under the titular direction of Frederick the Great.
The first Supreme Council (as national governing bodies of the Rite are known) was founded in South Carolina in 1801, with responsibility for an area now known as the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States. A Supreme Council for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States was created in 1813, and it is from that body that England and Wales received its warrant of constitution in 1845.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Documents issued with this warrant instructed that membership be restricted to those of the Trinitarian Christian faith, but today (apart from the British Isles and three other countries) all Supreme Councils around the world use the Craft requirement of a belief in a Supreme Being.
The Rite consists of 33 degrees, of which (in most jurisdictions) the three degrees of Craft Freemasonry are accepted in lieu of the first three degrees of the Rite. Of the remaining 30, different jurisdictions work different degrees, but in England and Wales just five are worked: the 18°, 30°, 31°, 32° and 33°. The only one worked in chapters is the 18°, known by the grand title of Sovereign Prince of the Rose Croix of Heredom. It is from this that the Order gets its nickname in England and Wales: Rose Croix.
EDUCATING THE MEMBERSHIP
The 18° is a profound and complex ritual, and one much loved by the members of the Order. The other four degrees are worked only at the Order’s headquarters in London. The ‘intermediate degrees’ from the 4° to the 17° are not worked in this country; however, a group of ritualists, the King Edward VII Chapter of Improvement, demonstrate one or two of them each year around the country for the education of the membership.
The 30° is roughly equivalent to Past Master and is awarded to those who have successfully completed a year in the Chair of their chapter. Degrees beyond the 30° are strictly limited, being granted by the Supreme Council for outstanding service to the Order. These promotions are not mere investitures at which a collar or sash is awarded, but a full ritual carried out by the Supreme Council itself.
Promotion to the 33°, the highest of the Rite, is restricted to Members of the Supreme Council, Inspectors General (roughly equivalent to Provincial Grand Masters) and a few other very senior members of the Order. Past members of the 33° have included Their Majesties King Edward VII, Edward VIII and George VI, and more recently Their Royal Highnesses The Duke of Kent and Prince Michael of Kent. The Duke of Kent is Grand Patron of the Order, an office formerly held by his father, the first Duke.
The Supreme Council collectively acts as Grand Master of the Order. No Council Member can instigate change without the unanimous consent of the others, which removes opportunities for confrontation. This also helps to maintain a happy and productive environment while the Council strives to work in the best interests of the Order and its members.
The Order has a flat structure: there are no Provincial Grand Lodges. Rather, each District is overseen by an Inspector General. There is therefore no significant gap in communications between individual members and the Supreme Council, a fact much prized both by the membership and the Council itself. The Supreme Council for England and Wales is ‘in amity’ with more than 40 other countries around the world, meaning members within this jurisdiction may visit chapters in those countries, thus promoting masonic harmony across the Scottish Rite, the largest international masonic community after the Craft.
With their own terminology, structures and practices, each masonic Order is different from the next. Here we break down the origins, requirements and beliefs of Rose Croix.
Why is it called Rose Croix?
The nickname Rose Croix derives from the 18° of the Order, the Rose Croix of Heredom.
I have a friend who’s a member overseas, but he isn’t a Christian. Is he allowed to visit here?
Absolutely. So long as his jurisdiction is one of the 42 countries recognised by England and Wales, he would be welcome to visit any chapter here – subject to invitation, of course.
Where is it based?
The Order is based at 10 Duke Street, St James’s, London, traditionally known as the Grand East. It moved there in 1910 from its old headquarters, which had perhaps the most masonic address in London: 33 Golden Square!
What is the relationship between the Craft and Rose Croix?
Although neither formally recognises the other, in practice the relationship is an extremely close one. The Grand Master, Pro Grand Master and Deputy Grand Master are all members of the 33° and the Grand Master is the Grand Patron of the Order. Similarly, all nine Members of the Supreme Council are Grand Officers of UGLE.
Who runs it?
The Order is headed by a Supreme Council of nine eminent members. The current Sovereign Grand Commander (Chairman of the Council) is Alan Englefield, formerly Provincial Grand Master for Oxfordshire and the first Grand Chancellor of UGLE.
How many members are there?
There are around 27,000 members, with around 24,000 in England and Wales and 3,000 in its Districts overseas. Worldwide there are many, many more, with more than a quarter of a million in the US alone.
Is the country divided into Provinces in the same way as the Craft?
Yes, although in this Order they are called Districts. Each is headed by an Inspector General.
What is the supreme council’s emblem?
It is a double-headed eagle surmounted by a crown and holding a sword between its claws. A triangle on top of the crown displays the number 33. Underneath reads ‘Deus Meumque Jus’, which translates as ‘God and my right’.
Is Rose Croix an ‘invitation only’ Order?
Absolutely not! Membership is open to all those who have been a Master Mason for at least one year and are prepared to sign a declaration that they profess the Trinitarian Christian faith.
How many people hold the 33°?
There are around 150 members of the 33° in England and Wales, of whom the large majority are current or past Inspectors General.
The guardian of regularity
Treading a fine line between advice and interference, Derek Dinsmore’s position as Grand Chancellor is akin to that of Foreign Secretary when it comes to working with Grand Lodges around the world
When did you become a Freemason?
I was initiated in 1970 in the Midlands at Chevron Lodge, No. 6021, where I was also involved with rugby. I played for a club up there and the president of the Worcestershire and Herefordshire Rugby Union proposed me into his lodge. I was in the fashion business and had to come back to London, where I was starting my own business, and I was then asked to go through the Chair. I had control of my own diary, so I was able to go up to their meetings on a Friday. My wife was from Birmingham, so it matched up with weekends when she would go back to see her mother.
In London, I joined the Rose Croix in 1980 and was Grand Director of Ceremonies for 10 years. By that time, I was working with a German company, looking after the promotion of their products in the UK and Ireland. I retired when I was 58 and started to focus more on my Freemasonry. I was then offered the position of Grand Chancellor at Grand Lodge, taking over from Alan Englefield, who was my predecessor, in 2012.
Why was the position of Grand Chancellor created in 2007?
The relationship between our Provinces, Districts and all the overseas Grand Lodges that we recognise used to come under the responsibility of the Grand Secretary. However, with things like the break-up of the Eastern Bloc in the 1990s, the Grand Secretary had to spend an increasing amount of time dealing with urgent external relations as more Grand Lodges sought recognition, sometimes to the detriment of other matters under his care.
The Rulers and the Board of General Purposes therefore decided to relieve the Grand Secretary of the pressure of external relations and created the office of Grand Chancellor in 2007. I’m responsible for overseas relations, not our Districts, and with Grand Lodge now recognising 197 Grand Lodges around the world, there is a lot to deal with.
Of course, I always knew through my days in Rose Croix at Duke Street [in London] of the regard in which the United Grand Lodge of England was held. However, it wasn’t until I started doing this job that I realised quite how high a position we have in the world as the ‘Mother Grand Lodge’. Each Grand Lodge is sovereign, but we do get asked for advice a lot and we have to be very careful in the way that we conduct ourselves.
On the whole, everybody wants to be on side and wants to keep it that way. Generally, that’s the role of the Grand Chancellor – to be seen, to be spoken to, to give advice when asked, and to promote regular Freemasonry worldwide. The biggest problem we’ve got is not regular Freemasonry but irregular Freemasonry. That’s becoming more and more of an issue with things like the internet. With so many voices on the web, people don’t know the difference between regular and irregular Freemasonry.
So is your role to make sure Grand Lodges stick to the rules?
There are principles in our Book of Constitutions that we would call ‘regularity’. If somebody asks me why does UGLE recognise another Grand Lodge the answer would be because we are happy with its regularity and that we would be content for our members to inter-visit with their members. However, there are lots of Grand Lodges, or bodies calling themselves Grand Lodges, around the world that don’t comply with our rules of regularity. They might have mixed lodges, not believe in the great architect of the universe, get involved in politics or religion – things that we would call ‘irregular’.
I’m convinced that the reason that we are going to celebrate our Tercentenary this year is because we’ve not got involved in politics and religion over time; otherwise I think it would have been the end of English Freemasonry. So we have to be careful, and that’s what we’re really trying to do, trying to promote regular Freemasonry. If there is more than one Grand Lodge in a jurisdiction that applies to us for recognition then, provided that the two agree to share the territory or jurisdiction, we would consider recognising them as regular bodies.
‘It was always a question of when, rather than if, we would re-recognise the Grand Loge Nationale Française’
How do you approach your role?
The best bit of advice I was ever given when I first started travelling for Duke Street, around 16 years ago, was that once you’d flown over the Isle of Wight, forget what goes on in English Freemasonry. It’s not about implementing or taking a set of working practices out to other Grand Lodges. Every single one is entirely sovereign and nobody can tell it what to do.
After every trip as Grand Chancellor I make a report. There is also a group of people behind me, I’m not pushed out there on my own. I report to the External Relations Committee, which is a subcommittee of the Board of General Purposes, and I’m also on the Board of General Purposes itself.
If we consider that a Grand Lodge’s practices are irregular, then we’ve only really got two courses of action. One is to suspend relations and the other is, as a last resort, to withdraw recognition. Because of the respect and recognition that UGLE has, just being able to do that does give it power, which is why there is a fine line between advice and interference – you’ve got to tread a fairly careful road.
What happened in France in 2009?
The Grand Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) was formed more than a 100 years ago, and we never considered its members or lodges to be irregular. It was only the behaviour of the then Grand Master that we felt was bringing Freemasonry into disrepute. We made representations, but nothing changed. We then suspended relations, so members of lodges under UGLE and lodges under GLNF could go to their own lodges but there wouldn’t be any inter-visitation.
We hoped that this suspension would fire a warning shot across the bows, but after 12 months we had to withdraw recognition. This meant that those members who belonged to lodges under the GLNF and UGLE had to resign from one or the other. There was a lot of movement within Europe trying to create a confederation within France, and some were trying to open Districts within France.
We said to everyone, ‘Look, stand away, it’s a problem for the GLNF’s members. It’s for them to resolve, and outsiders should not get involved.’ For us, it was always a question of when, rather than if, we would re-recognise the GLNF. A new Grand Master was elected by the French brethren, a new executive appointed, and peace and harmony returned. After a period of about two years recognition was restored.
‘I’ve been in Freemasonry for 46 years and I’ll never be able to put back in as much as I’ve got out of it’
How do you interact with other Grand Lodges?
We have open invitations to our sister Grand Lodges to come to our Quarterly Communication meetings. We just ask them to give us four weeks’ notice, and we restrict the visitations to three senior members because of space. There’s a dinner the night before for the visiting Grand Masters, usually in Freemasons’ Hall, where we can talk about any issues, although we try and keep it social rather than business-led.
I also go to annual meetings at overseas Grand Lodges. It gives you the opportunity to talk to everybody and we can resolve most of the issues that come up through face-to-face meetings.
In my business life working for a German company, the common language was English, but sometimes I would be talking at a board meeting and they’d be saying ‘yes’, but when I looked at them I knew they hadn’t understood what I’d said. So I’d go another way to try to get the information across. That’s very important for my role, where I am talking to people whose first language isn’t English. It’s about face-to-face contact and getting a feeling about people.
What does Freemasonry mean to you?
I’ve been in Freemasonry for 46 years and I’ll never be able to put back in as much as I’ve got out of it. I believe very much in the principles of Freemasonry and I’m happy to promote them. They are as relevant today as they ever were, particularly to younger people.
Freemasonry is a personal journey for the individual and we hope that the lessons he learns will affect his public and private life. But for different people it means different things. I’ve met plenty of Freemasons who’ve become quite esoteric and spiritual but on the other hand you also get those people who meet four times a year with the same group, have dinner afterwards, go home and that’s that. There’s nothing wrong with either approach, it just depends on what the individual wants to get out of it – after all, it is a fraternal organisation.
For me, it’s been about being introduced to some great people who I would never otherwise have had the opportunity to meet. The nice thing about Freemasonry is that, irrespective of who you meet, we’ve all gone through the same process: we’ve all been initiated, we’ve all been passed, we’ve all been raised, and we’ve all gone through the rituals. That gives you a level and such a strong base.
Derek Dinsmore has taken over the role of Grand Chancellor, in succession to Alan Englefield, who has been appointed Sovereign Grand Commander of the Ancient and Accepted Rite (Rose Croix). Alan was the first person to be appointed to the new post of Grand Chancellor in 2007. As Grand Chancellor, one of his duties was to assist the Grand Master and the Rulers representing Grand Lodge on formal visits overseas and at international gatherings.
At the annual investiture this year, the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, said that Alan had made ‘an invaluable contribution to bringing us closer to other Grand Lodges around the world, as well as to maintaining our position as the Mother Grand Lodge’.
Derek was initiated into Chevron Lodge, No. 6021, in 1970 and is a member of the Grand Master’s Council, the Board of General Purposes and the Committee of General Purposes. He is a member of the Royal Arch, Rose Croix and other Orders. He spent much of his childhood on a family farm in West Wales and later joined Debenhams. In 1974 he started an agency to market products of European fashion houses in the UK and Ireland and spent the last 11 years of his working life as chief executive of Betty Barclay (UK) Ltd. Married with two sons and five grandchildren, he retired in 2000.
HRH The Duke of Kent explains why transparency is critical for Freemasonry and urges an active spirit of openness
Our concern must be for the future, especially with the approach of our three-hundredth anniversary in 2017. In planning for this great anniversary, I believe these times demand innovation, and imaginative thinking, while retaining our principles.
In this I make no apology for again reminding everyone of the need truly to demonstrate transparency, and to work towards regaining our enviable reputation in society. To do this we have to show how and why we are relevant and to concentrate on the positive aspects of Freemasonry, in particular our generous tradition of giving to a wide variety of causes.
In regards to transparency, we still have some way to go in dispelling the myths that remain deep rooted in many people’s minds, not least the media. Very considerable progress has been made in this direction already, but challenges remain, and there is still work to do to overcome prejudices and misconception.
I am very pleased that we have already achieved two firsts of some importance in tackling this challenge. The first of these was the commissioning of the first ever independent, third party report, written by non-masons, on the Future of Freemasonry. This report has been highly successful and has itself acted as the catalyst for the second of our two innovations, namely the first media tour, conducted by the Grand Secretary.
I recommend that you all take advantage of this active spirit of openness to talk with equal frankness to your family and friends. I think that if you follow this advice, you may well be surprised by the positive reception you will gain.
I want to congratulate all those whom I had the pleasure of investing. To attain Grand Rank in the Craft is a very high accolade of which you can feel justly proud. This promotion does, however, come with an obligation always to set the highest example in standards of integrity, honesty and fairness wherever you are.
Among those I have appointed to acting office are the new Grand Chancellor, the president of the Grand Charity and the Deputy President of the Board of General Purposes, and I want to take this opportunity of thanking their predecessors.
First of all, Brother Alan Englefield, who as the first Grand Chancellor, has made an invaluable contribution to bringing us closer to other Grand Lodges around the world, as well as to maintaining our position as the Mother Grand Lodge. Secondly to Grahame Elliott, who as president of the Grand Charity, as well as presiding over the Grand Charity itself, was instrumental in the successful move of the four charities into this building and thirdly, to Michael Lawson who has given a long and dedicated period of service on the board since 1988. To all three brethren we owe a considerable debt of gratitude.
CRAFT ANNUAL INVESTITURE
25 APRIL 2012
AN ADDRESS BY THE MW THE GRAND MASTER HRH THE DUKE OF KENT, KG
Brethren, I start by congratulating most warmly all those whom I have had the pleasure of investing today. To attain Grand Rank in the Craft is a very high accolade of which you can feel justly proud. This promotion does, however, come with an obligation always to set the highest example in standards of integrity, honesty, and fairness wherever you are.
Among those I have appointed to acting office are the new Grand Chancellor, the President of the Grand Charity and the Deputy President of the Board of General Purposes, and I want to take this opportunity of thanking their predecessors. First of all, Brother Alan Englefield, who as the first Grand Chancellor, has made an invaluable contribution to bringing us closer to other Grand Lodges around the world, as well as to maintaining our position as the Mother Grand Lodge. Secondly to Brother Grahame Elliott, who as President of the Grand Charity, as well as presiding over the Grand Charity itself, was instrumental in the successful move of the four Charities into this Building and thirdly, to Brother Michael Lawson who has given a long and dedicated period of service on the Board since 1988. To all three Brethren we owe a considerable debt of gratitude.
Brethren, today our concern must be for the future, especially with the approach of our three hundredth anniversary in 2017. In planning for this great anniversary, I believe these times demand innovation, and imaginative thinking, whilst retaining our principles. In this I make no apology for again reminding Brethren of the need truly to demonstrate transparency, and to work towards regaining our enviable reputation in society. To do this we have to show how and why we are relevant and to concentrate on the positive aspects of Freemasonry, in particular our generous tradition of giving to a wide variety of causes.
In regards to transparency we still have some way to go in dispelling the myths that remain 'deep rooted' in many people's minds, not least the media. Very considerable progress has been made in this direction already, but challenges remain, and there is still work to do to overcome prejudices and misconception.
I am very pleased that we have already achieved two firsts of some importance in tackling this challenge. The first of these was the commissioning of the first ever independent, third party report, written by non-Masons, on the future of Freemasonry. This Report has been highly successful and has itself acted as the catalyst for the second of our two innovations, namely the first media tour, conducted by the Grand Secretary, and which achieved a reach of more than 117 million people.
I recommend that you all take advantage of this active spirit of openness to talk with equal frankness to your family and friends. I think that if you follow this advice, you may well be surprised by the positive reception you will gain.
Today's has been a memorable gathering and its undoubted success has been achieved by a great deal of careful planning and hard work, so that on your behalf, I want first of all to thank the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies for the skill and precision with which the ceremony has been conducted, and secondly the Grand Secretary and his staff for their long hours of planning which have 'borne fruit' so excellently this afternoon.
It’s probably fair to say that Freemasonry in Monaco has been low-key for a number of years, following its conditional acceptance by the Monégasque authorities in the first half of the twentieth century.
The Port of Hercules Lodge was formed in 1924 under the English Constitution, and many Monégasques who wished to become Freemasons sought membership outside the principality. In more recent years, three lodges were formed under the German Constitution, but it became apparent that the Monégasques who had joined lodges in France would like one of their own. Accordingly, the first steps were taken three years ago to establish a Grand Lodge in Monaco, and this meticulous planning came to fruition on 19 February in Monte Carlo.
The Grande Loge Nationale Regulière de la Principauté de Monaco was formed by seven lodges, one formerly meeting under the English Constitution and three each under the German and French.
The consecrating officer was Pro Grand Master, Peter Lowndes, assisted by the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Germany, Rüdiger Templin, as Senior Warden; and the Past Grand Master of the National Grand Lodge of France, Jean-Charles Foellner, as Junior Warden. The ceremony was directed by Oliver Lodge (Grand Director of Ceremonies) with the help of Nick Bosanquet and Sebastian Madden (Deputy Grand Directors of Ceremonies) and Malcolm Brooks (Grand Tyler). The team from UGLE also included Nigel Brown (Grand Secretary), Alan Englefield (Grand Chancellor), Reverend Dr John Railton (Grand Chaplain) and Ron Cayless (Grand Organist).
The consecration ceremony proceeded without a hitch, and included the unveiling of the lodge boards, the familiar scriptural readings from the Bible, the symbolic use of corn, wine and oil, and the censing of the lodge and its officers. It was conducted almost entirely in English, but the Rulers-designate took their obligations in their own languages. Jean-Pierre Pastor was installed as the first Grand Master, and he then appointed and installed Claude Boisson as Deputy Grand Master, and Rex Thorne, Knut Schwieger, Renato Boeri and John Lonczynski as Assistant Grand Masters.
Other Grand Lodges were represented by more than a hundred delegates and many presented gifts to the newly installed Grand Master, including a magnificent ceremonial sword from the United Grand Lodge of England. The new Grand Master appointed and installed his officers, before the UGLE team withdrew, leaving the Grand Master and his new team to complete essential business. Monaco’s Grand Lodge had been launched in splendid style.
Andrew Montgomery Looks at the Need for this New Office
Those of us who study the Communications of the Grand Lodge may have noticed that, from last September, we have had a new Grand Chancellor – new in every sense, for Alan Englefield is the first man to hold that office. We may wonder why another Senior Grand Officer is required, the Craft has managed to get by without a Grand Chancellor for over two hundred and fifty years, so why do we need one now? Given that the title of Chancellor is difficult to pin down: it can refer to the German Head of State, the Finance Minister of the United Kingdom or the honorary head of a university, Grand Chancellor sounds suspiciously like another example of ‘Jobs For The Boys.’ It isn’t.
How many Freemasons does it take to change a lightbulb? Change!? Things have changed and they’ve changed for the better. It is good to be able to report that, globally, Freemasonry is on the rise!
For two centuries, the business of managing Grand Lodge’s relations with her sister Grand Lodges was overseen by a triumvirate that comprised the Grand Secretary, the Board of General Purposes and the Grand Master’s advisers. Up until the Great War, “external relations” were handled in a gentle and gentlemanly manner. Emergencies, such as the defection of the Grand Orient of France, in 1876, were few and far between. It was largely a case of deciding on the regularity of new Grand Lodges, and until the drastic redrawing of the map of Europe following the collapse of the old empires after 1918, there weren’t very many new Grand Lodges to worry about.
After the Second World War there was another period of creative cartography. The suppression of Freemasonry in what was now the “Eastern Bloc” led to masonic activity going underground – though the light was never extinguished – and an increase in bodies styling themselves “masonic” though wholly irregular by the standards of the United Grand Lodge of England. The infamous Italian ‘P2’ affair is an example that many of us will recall with a shudder.
The Increase in Grand Lodges
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, masonic lodges that had met in secret reemerged and dormant Grand Lodges were re-established. In 1989, Grand Lodge recognised seventeen regular Grand Lodges in Europe; today thirty-six are recognised and one is under consideration.
The total number of overseas Grand Lodges recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England is now a hundred and sixty-seven, in seventy-five countries This statistic, which at first appears a paradox, is explained by the fact that the States of America have individual Grand Lodges.
There are also Lodges overseas, which remain part of the United Grand Lodge of England, are governed directly from London, and remain under the jurisdiction of the Grand Secretary. It is obvious that External Relations – dealing with Grand Lodges recognised by Grand Lodge but working under Constitutions other than our own – now require a full time office and a dedicated officer.
Our First Grand Chancellor
Alan Englefield may accurately be described as a dedicated officer. Born in 1940, he was educated at Thame Grammar School, under the headmastership of Hugh Mullins who later became headmaster of the Royal Masonic School at Bushey. Though never a Freemason himself, he was clearly sympathetic to the values that the Craft seeks to inculcate. He was far more concerned with a boy’s ability to behave like a young gentleman than in his academic ability or his prowess on the sports field. He was, in every sense, of the Old School. The Grand Chancellor will not, I am sure, mind being similarly described.
Alan’s career in the Police Force, in his native Oxfordshire, spanned thirty two years. He was 35 and already a Police Inspector when, on a Police College scholarship, he won a place at Worcester College, Oxford to read Law.
The college council, in that inimitably indirect, Senior Common Room way, expressed its concern that the policeman in their midst, should he detect the scent of some particularly exotic cheroot at a party on college premises, might see fit to report the matter to his law-enforcement superiors.
Their fears were quickly put aside. Alan Englefield assured them that, in his view, the maintenance of college discipline was a matter for the college authorities. This little anecdote reveals an important facet of the Grand Chancellor’s character; one vital in the holder of that office. He is not a man given to interfering in areas that are not his direct concern!
He was initiated into Icknield Way Lodge, No. 8292, in the Province of Oxfordshire, in 1971. He is also a member of the Apollo University Lodge (Oxford), No. 357. On the completion of his Constabulary duties, he worked for nine years for the Ministry of Defence.
Alan was Provincial Grand Secretary for Oxfordshire from 1988 to 1993. From 1997 to 1998 he was Assistant Provincial Grand Master but left that post on being appointed Grand Secretary General of the Supreme Council - the governing body of the Ancient and Accepted Rite for England and Wales and its Districts and Chapters Overseas - which rules Chapters Rose Croix. Between 2002 and 2007 he was Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent for Oxfordshire, and in 2007 he was appointed Grand Chancellor.
Representing the Craft
As Grand Chancellor, one of his duties is assist the Grand Master and the Rulers of the Craft in representing Grand Lodge on formal visits to recognised Grand Lodges overseas and at international gatherings of regular masonic bodies.
It is abundantly clear, taking into account the proliferation of new Grand Lodges and the great number of long-established ones already detailed, that the role of maintaining close, fraternal relationships is one of vital importance, but Brother, formerly Inspector, Englefield is all-too-well aware that the purpose of the Grand Chancellor’s Office is not to act as a form of Masonic Interpol
Despite that fact that United Grand Lodge of England is the world’s premier Grand Lodge, it is not in a position to ‘lay down the law’ to others, nor does it seek so to do, for that is the route to resentment, schism and ruin. Grand Lodge, via the Grand Chancellor’s Office, can offer support and guidance based on centuries of experience, but it is determined ever to recognise the distinction between advising and interfering.
All Grand Lodges, like College Councils, are sovereign bodies and do not take kindly to outsiders - even when they’re insiders - meddling in their internal affairs.
The Grand Chancellor is a not a full time employee, though one imagines that his spare time must be in rather short supply. He is chairman of the External Relations Committee; to keep the Rulers, the Grand Master’s Advisers and the Board of General Purposes up to date on dealing with recognised Grand Lodges there is much correspondence to be dealt with! He works in close collaboration with John Hamill, Grand Lodge’s Director of Communications, and with Peter Roberts, External Relations Adviser.
He is responsible for ensuring that Grand Lodge’s policy concerning External Relations is properly adhered to whilst encouraging the exchange of information and views from across the world, thus drawing the masonic family ever closer together.
Alan Englefield, the Grand Chancellor, addresses Grand Lodge on his new role in external relations
From time immemorial – or from at least the 1750s! – Grand Lodge’s relations with our sister Grand Lodges have been managed by a combination of the Board of General Purposes (and its predecessors), the Grand Master’s advisers and the Grand Secretary.
For much of the period up to the late 20th century external relations was a gentle art which took up little time. Occasionally there were explosions of activity such as the decision in 1876 by the Grand Orient of France to drop the requirement that candidates must have a belief in a Supreme Being.
Then there was the decision to remove all references to the Great Architect from their rituals and the proliferation of new Grand Lodges in Europe with the redrawing of the map of Europe after the cataclysm of the First World War.
But, in general, it was simply a case of occasionally having to decide whether or not a new Grand Lodge met our standards of regularity and could be recognised as part of the world wide family of Freemasonry.
After the Second World War the map of Europe was again re-drawn into the Eastern and Western blocs, leading to a reduction of Freemasonry in Europe when it was forced underground in the Eastern bloc countries.
At the same time, in what was becoming an increasingly politicised world, there was a growth of irregular Freemasonry with bodies springing up claiming to be Masonic.
But they did not accept our basic principles, in particular the bar on Grand Lodges or brethren in their Masonic capacities making public statements on matters of religious, political or social policy.
As the oldest Grand Lodge, we have had thrust on us the role of being the guardians of regularity and in many ways are expected to police what is regular and what is not.
Those are not roles that we have sought and we cannot be an international policeman solving problems within and between Grand Lodges.
This role came very much to the fore in the 1990s after the demise of the Eastern bloc, the return of democratic institutions in those areas and the very welcome reestablishment of dormant, and making of new Grand Lodges there.
This alone brought heavy pressure on the Grand Secretary. For example, in 1989 we recognised 17 regular Grand Lodges in Europe, today we recognise 34 with another four under consideration! As a result, the office of Grand Chancellor was created.
The Chancellor’s main roles are to chair the External Relations Committee, to advise the Rulers, the Grand Master’s advisers and the Board of General Purposes. He must ensure that Grand Lodge’s policy on external relations is carried through, and to ensure that all correspondence in this area is dealt with in a timely fashion.
As the Grand Chancellor is not a full time employee, I shall be assisted by John Hamill, Director of Communications and Peter Roberts, our long-term External Relations Adviser.
The Grand Chancellor will also assist the Grand Master and the Rulers in representing Grand Lodge on formal visits to sister Grand Lodges and at international gatherings of regular Freemasonry. With the revolution in fast communication systems and the ease and reasonable cost of travelling today, the Masonic world is coming closer and closer together and inter-visitation and the regular exchange of information can only be good for the future of regular Freemasonry in general.
External relations cover our relations with other Constitutions outside our own and are my responsibility. England still has over 800 Lodges meeting outside these islands under District Grand Masters, Grand Inspectors or being governed directly from London.
Although many of them are separated from us by great distances, they are still very much an important part of the United Grand Lodge of England and will continue to come under the jurisdiction of the Grand Secretary.
Normally, when they are visited by a Ruler, the Grand Secretary will accompany them, not the Grand Chancellor. He has already visited Ghana and in the autumn he will accompany the Pro Grand Master when he visits our Districts in India.
There are also areas where the Grand Secretary and Grand Chancellor will work together. During the summer we had our usual tripartite meeting with Ireland and Scotland. Because that meeting involves both practical matters of Craft administration and jurisprudence as well as the discussion of relations between the Home Grand Lodges and other Grand Lodges, both the Grand Secretary and I were present. The same applies with the annual meeting of the European Grand Secretaries and Grand Chancellors. Co-operation between the two of us becomes even more important in those areas overseas in which we share territory not only with Ireland and Scotland, but also with a local sovereign Grand Lodge.
External relations are crucial to the future harmony and stability of Freemasonry on a global level.
Alan Englefield has become the first Chancellor of Grand Lodge
At the Annual Investiture on 25th April, RW Brother Alan Englefield was invested as the first Grand Chancellor of the United Grand Lodge of England.
Since the early 1990s, Masonic international relations have become something of a growth industry. That is partly a result of the rebirth of Freemasonry in East Europe, the Balkans and Baltic States.
It is also partly because the ease and speed of both communications and travel have resulted in much more communication and inter-visiting between members at all levels within regular Grand Lodges around the world.
When the Pro Grand Master’s Strategic Working Party was considering the role of the Grand Secretary in the 21st century it was decided that such were the demands of his responsibilities to the English Craft and Royal Arch, both at home and in our Districts overseas, that another officer was required to carry out Grand Lodge’s policy in relation to external relations and to share with the Rulers the honour of representing the Grand Master on formal visits to sister Grand Lodges.
Brother Englefield brings a wealth of experience in international relations to the new role. As Grand Secretary General of the Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Rite he gained a firm grounding in the complexities of international Masonic affairs. On retiring from that office he became a member of both the Board of General Purposes and the External Relations Committee, succeeding Sir John Welch as chairman of the latter.
The office of Grand Chancellor is not a full-time, salaried post within the administration of Grand Lodge. Brother Englefield will be backed up by a secretariat consisting of John Hamill, Director of Communications, and Peter Roberts, who has been for many years the Administrative Assistant on External Relations.
The creation of a new office required the design of a new emblem and jewel. The globe symbolises Masonry Universal and the clasped hands fraternal relations and brotherhood.
Brother Englefield commented: 'I am delighted and honoured to have been appointed as the first Grand Chancellor. External Relations is a complex subject but, with the support of my team, I look forward to carrying out my new duties, not least the pleasure of assisting the Rulers and the Board in cementing and maintaining the warm relations we have with our old friends around the world and in developing close relations with the newer members of our world wide fraternity.'