Triple stand-in at Isaac Newton
At a meeting of Isaac Newton University Lodge, No. 859, circumstances meant that the three senior officers of the lodge could not be present.
Not content with their responsibility for planning this year’s Grand Festival, three Past Masters of the lodge, Simon Duckworth (1990), Chris Freeman (2003) and John Hammond (2006), who have served together on this year’s Board of Grand Stewards, took the three vacant chairs and led a triple raising witnessed by the President, Past President and Chairman of UGLE’s Universities Scheme.
A history of giving
We trace the origins of the four masonic charities that have come together to form the new Masonic Charitable Foundation
The four masonic charities have been integral to the Craft, providing crucial support to Freemasons, their families and the wider community. However, the existence of four separate organisations – each with its own distinct processes for providing support – hindered the development of a truly joined-up and consistent approach. After much consideration it has therefore been decided to launch a major new charity, the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF). From 1 April 2016, the Foundation will take over the work of the central masonic charities, providing a wide range of grants to Freemasons and their families who have a financial, health or care need. The Foundation will also award grants to other charities, medical research studies and disaster relief appeals.
The Foundation will ensure that the masonic charitable support network, which has provided assistance for centuries, remains fit for purpose and able to adapt to the needs of new generations. As we look to the future, it is worth remembering how the current four charities have evolved and how, under the banner of the MCF, cradle-to-grave support will remain in place for Freemasons and their dependants.
The Freemasons’ Grand Charity
Soon after the Grand Master’s installation in 1967, he commissioned a review of the masonic charities. It recommended that a new central charity be established to contribute to society as a whole, befitting the importance and scale of English Freemasonry. In 1980, the Grand Charity was established. It also assumed responsibility for UGLE’s Board of Benevolence, whose origins were found in the first Committee of Charity of Grand Lodge, formed in 1725.
With grants totalling more than £120 million, the Grand Charity has improved the lives of thousands of masons and their dependants, and has made extensive contributions to wider society, funding the causes that are important to members of the Craft. It has enabled Provinces to demonstrate their commitment to local communities through matched giving schemes, grants to The Scout Association and millions in hospice and Air Ambulance giving. Its multimillion-pound research funding has aided numerous medical breakthroughs.
The Grand Charity has brought far-reaching benefits to masonic fundraising by establishing the Relief Chest Scheme to promote efficient and tax-effective giving. The Craft has saved thousands of pounds in administration costs and donations have been significantly increased through Gift Aid. The scheme has also enabled members to come together following worldwide disasters, funding recovery projects in devastated areas on behalf of Freemasonry as a whole. Indeed, £1 million was raised following the 2004 Asian tsunami.
Through the Grand Charity’s giving, thousands have felt the positive impact of masonic charity and over the past 35 years in particular, Freemasonry has increasingly been seen publicly as a philanthropic leader, supporting many great causes.
Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys
From its origins as a school for girls, the RMTGB has worked for over 227 years to relieve poverty and advance the education of thousands of children from masonic families across the UK, as well as tens of thousands of children from wider society. The Trust has spent over £130 million on charitable support over the past 15 years alone.
In 1788, Chevalier Bartholomew Ruspini established the Royal Cumberland Freemasons’ School for Female Objects, supporting 15 daughters of distressed or deceased Freemasons. A provision for boys was introduced soon after, and over the next 200 years the institutions’ schools expanded and relocated. Eventually, the boys’ school closed, the girls’ school became independent, and the trustees focused on supporting children at schools near their own homes.
In 1982, the boys’ and girls’ institutions came together to form the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, later the RMTGB.
Over time, the Trust moved from fixed financial grants to packages of support tailored to each family’s circumstances. Innovative schemes were also introduced for youngsters with specific talents and needs.
The Trust’s support also extends beyond the masonic community. In 1988, £100,000 was awarded to Great Ormond Street Hospital, with major grants given ever since. Since the launch of the Stepping Stones non-masonic grant-making scheme in 2010, almost £1 million has been awarded to charities that aim to reduce the impact of poverty on education. The Trust also provides premises and support services for Lifelites, which equips children’s hospices across the British Isles with fun, assistive technology. Established as the Trust’s Millennium Project, Lifelites became an independent charity in 2006.
Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution
The RMBI cares for older Freemasons and their families, as well as people in the community. The history of the charity dates back to 1842 when UGLE inaugurated the Royal Masonic Benevolent Annuity Fund for men, followed by the Female Annuity Fund in 1849. The first home was opened the following year and the RMBI was officially established. In the early 1960s, provision was extended to non-annuitants and between 1960 and 1986, a further 13 homes were set up. The RMBI now provides a home for more than 1,000 people across England and Wales, while supporting many more.
At the heart of the RMBI is the commitment to deliver services that uphold an individual’s dignity. Its Experiential Learning training programme requires all new carers to complete a series of practical scenarios in order to better understand residents and has even received national news coverage for its unique approach. The RMBI is also recognised for its excellence in specialist dementia care services, which are increasingly in demand. Nine RMBI homes have been awarded Butterfly Service status, a national quality-of-life ‘kitemark’, by Dementia Care Matters.
None of this could be achieved without a dedicated team, and an RMBI staff member recently received the Care Trainer Award at the 2015 Great British Care Awards in recognition of such commitment. The support and time given by each home’s Association of Friends is also a unique part of the RMBI. The associations – volunteer groups of local masons that work to complement resident services – are independently registered charities and their efforts over the years have ranged from fundraising for home minibuses and resident day trips, to sensory gardens and home entertainment.
Masonic Samaritan Fund
The Royal Masonic Hospital and its predecessor, the Freemasons’ Hospital and Nursing Home, had a Samaritan Fund to support masons and their families who could not afford the cost of private medical treatment. In 1990 the MSF was established to take on the role of this fund, and in its early years benefited from many very generous donations, including a grant from the Grand Charity, and the highly successful Cornwallis and London Festival appeals.
Thanks to the support of Freemasons and their families, the MSF has been able to expand the assistance it provides to cater for the evolving health and care needs of its beneficiaries. In addition to funding medical treatment or surgery, grants are available to support respite breaks for carers, to restore dental function, to aid mobility and to provide access to trained counsellors.
Since 2010 the MSF has provided grants to major medical research projects. Notable successes have included enhancing the diagnosis of prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s as well as support for those suffering from macular degeneration.
Each year the MSF helps more masonic families fund the health and care support they need to live healthy and independent lives. Since 1990 more than 12,000 Freemasons and their family members have been helped at a total cost of over £67 million.
Funded entirely through the generous donations of the masonic community, the Masonic Charitable Foundation will seek to continue the excellent work of the central masonic charities and be able to respond more effectively to the changing needs of masonic families and other charitable organisations. For more information, go to www.mcf.org.uk
Charting the history of the four masonic charities
1725 The premier Grand Lodge sets up the Committee of Charity
1788 The Royal Cumberland Freemasons’ School for Female Objects, named after the Duchess of Cumberland, is founded by Chevalier Bartholomew Ruspini
1789 The first anniversary of the Royal Cumberland Freemasons’ School is celebrated with a church service and dinner. Collections are taken, making this the first fundraising ‘festival’ for a masonic charity
1798 Inspired by Ruspini’s achievements, William Burwood and the United Mariners Lodge establish a fund to support the sons of Freemasons
1814 Soon after the union of the Grand Lodges, the Committee of Charity joins with other committees relieving hardship among masons to become the Board of Benevolence
1850 The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) is established, and the first RMBI home opens in East Croydon
1904 ‘Out-relief’ is introduced so that those not admitted to the masonic schools can receive grants to support their education elsewhere
1914 It is decided that the daughters of serving Freemasons who die or are incapacitated during WWI should receive a grant of £25 per year
1920 The Freemasons’ Hospital and Nursing Home opens
1933 The Royal Masonic Hospital opens at Ravenscourt Park
1934 The girls’ school moves to Rickmansworth Park. The school is officially opened by HM Queen Mary with 5,000 ladies and brethren in attendance
1966 Devonshire Court opens in Oadby, Leicestershire
1967 Scarbrough Court opens in Cramlington, Northumberland
1968 Prince George Duke of Kent Court opens in Chislehurst, Kent
1971 Connaught Court opens in Fulford, York
1973 The Bagnall Report recommends that the boys’ school is closed and that the girls’ school becomes independent
1973 Lord Harris Court opens in Sindlesham, Berkshire, and Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court opens in Porthcawl, Mid Glamorgan
1977 Ecclesholme opens in Eccles, Manchester, and The Tithebarn opens in Great Crosby, Liverpool
1979 Queen Elizabeth Court opens in Llandudno, Conwy
1980 The Grand Charity is established
1980 James Terry Court opens in Croydon, Surrey
1981 Cornwallis Court opens in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
1982 The masonic institutions for girls and boys merge their activities to form the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys
1983 Zetland Court opens in Bournemouth, Dorset
1984 Grand Charity hospice support begins
1986 The Grand Charity establishes the Relief Chest Scheme
1986 Cadogan Court opens in Exeter, South Devon
1990 The Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF) is established, assisted by a £1.2 million grant from the Grand Charity
1992 275th anniversary of Grand Lodge
1992 The Grand Charity awards more than £2 million to charities that care for people with learning difficulties
1994 UGLE recommends that all masonic organisations adopt the Relief Chest Scheme
1994 Prince Michael of Kent Court opens in Watford, Hertfordshire
1994 The Cornwallis Appeal raises £3.2 million for the MSF
1995 Shannon Court opens in Hindhead, Surrey
1996 Barford Court opens in Hove, East Sussex
1997 Total annual expenditure for Masonic Relief Grants exceeds £2 million for the first time
1998 Prince Edward Duke of Kent Court opens in Braintree, Essex
1999 To commemorate the millennium, the Grand Charity donates more than £2 million to good causes
1999 Lifelites is established by the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys as a Millennium Project to provide assistive and educational technology packages for children’s hospices across the British Isles
1999 The London Festival Appeal for the MSF raises £10.6 million
2000 Following the abolition of Local Authority student grants, the Trust establishes an undergraduate aid scheme to support disadvantaged young people at university. Almost 500 students are assisted during the first year of the scheme, rising to almost 1,000 by 2003
2001 The TalentAid scheme is introduced by the Trust to support young people with an exceptional talent in music, sport or the arts, with 75 supported in the first year
2003 The Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys becomes the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB)
2004 The Grand Charity donates £1 million for research into testicular and prostate cancers
2005 More than £1 million is donated by Freemasons and the Grand Charity to help with recovery efforts following the Asian tsunami
2006 Lifelites becomes a registered charity
2007 Special funding for Air Ambulances begins
2008 All four central masonic charities move into shared office space in Freemasons’ Hall, London
2008 The Grand Charity donates £500,000 to The Scout Association, enabling more than 23,000 young people to join, and £1 million to Ovarian Cancer Action
2008 Scarbrough Court reopens in Cramlington, Northumberland (rebuilt on its original site)
2008 The MSF makes its first grant in support of medical research, and respite care grants are introduced
2010 Stepping Stones, the RMTGB’s non-masonic grant-making scheme, is introduced to support disadvantaged youngsters
2010 MSF dental care grants are introduced
2013 James Terry Court reopens in Croydon, Surrey (rebuilt on its original site)
2013 The MSF Counselling Careline service launches
2015 Following a 30-year partnership, the Grand Charity’s grants to the British Red Cross now exceed £2 million
2015 The MSF marks its 25th anniversary by awarding over £1 million for medical research
2016 The four masonic charities join together to form the Masonic Charitable Foundation
Letters to the Editor - No. Spring 2016
I was surprised and delighted to see a photo in the winter 2015 edition of Freemasonry Today of a group of nurses at the Royal Masonic Hospital taken in 1958. The group includes my wife on the right at the end of the patient’s bed. I can still name several of the other nurses.
At the time, I was an undergraduate at Cambridge and I frequently travelled to see her at the hospital nurses’ home at Ravenscourt Park. I am pleased to say that we are still happily married after 53 years.
Tony Kallend, Isaac Newton University Lodge, No. 859, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
Held at the end of 2013, the University Lodges’ Ball not only harks back to a bygone era of masonic tradition but also shows the modern face of Freemasonry
Recalling a time when the masonic lodges of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge staged lavish social events, the University Lodges’ Ball, sponsored by Aerice, was held on 23 November in the glamorous surroundings of the Honourable Artillery Company’s Armoury House. Hosted by the university lodges in conjunction with Freemasons from across London, the night proved to be a glittering celebration of masonic social tradition.
In the autumn of 2012, the Secretaries of Apollo University Lodge, No. 357, and Isaac Newton University Lodge, No. 859, Chris Noon and Alistair Townsend, both – independently – had the idea of reviving the ball tradition. ‘We used to hold balls every year or two in the nineteenth century and we realised that 2013 would be the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the greatest ball that we ever held: the Grand Ball, which was in commemoration of the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra of Denmark, both of whom attended the event,’ explains Chris.
Held by Apollo in 1863 at Christ Church, attendance at the Grand Ball was large and the catering was lavish. After World War II, however, Freemasonry followed the rest of the country into austerity and the balls fell into abeyance. Chris and Alistair decided to plan a grand event so that the masonic ball might regain its rightful place as the highlight of the social calendar.
With five hundred and fifty guests attending, the ball featured the best of British music, entertainment and hospitality, and also raised money for military charity Combat Stress and the Royal College of Surgeons. ‘We are delighted to be able to benefit from this amazing event,’ says Uta Hope, director of fundraising and communications at Combat Stress.
The first degrees
Through the Universities Scheme, Freemasonry is reaching a young, community-minded generation. Sophie Radice finds out what attracted five university recruits to Leicester’s Wyggeston Lodge
University is a place that encourages self-expression and personal discovery. Surely not a time when you would consider joining Freemasonry, with all its traditions and structures? Dr Andy Green of Wyggeston Lodge, No. 3448, disagrees: ‘Freemasonry is a sociable and supportive fraternity. This works very well with those just starting out on their adult lives and looking to meet a range of people with a solid moral code – it’s also a lot of fun.’
The first university lodge, Apollo University Lodge, No. 357, was founded at Oxford almost two hundred years ago, with Isaac Newton University Lodge, No. 859, following some years later at Cambridge. Since then, many thousands of young men have been introduced to Freemasonry through these two lodges, and they provided the inspiration for the Universities Scheme. Set up in 2005, the scheme establishes opportunities for undergraduates and other university members to learn about Freemasonry and to bring fresh minds and ideas into the organisation. There are now more than fifty lodges pursuing a similar course. Their membership consists of undergraduates, postgraduates, senior members of the university and alumni, ranging in age from eighteen upwards.
Wyggeston Lodge in Leicester joined the Universities Scheme in 2011 to try to revive membership numbers – in the 1950s the lodge had one hundred and twenty members and in 2010 it had dwindled to thirty-two. In the past few years, however, the lodge has initiated twelve students. Last summer, four students from the University of Leicester were part of a special meeting of the lodge, when it carried out its first ever quadruple initiation ceremony. This saw Valentin-George Tartacuta, Yusif Nelson, Peter Clarke and Peter Shandley joining the Craft.
‘It’s very exciting to see the lodge filling up with the younger generation, all of whom seem to have great ideas about the future of the lodge and what might make Freemasonry more attractive to their age group,’ says Andy, Universities Scheme Subcommitee Chairman at Wyggeston. ‘We have already made good use of social networking sites – we have a strong Facebook and Twitter presence, as well as a website with film clips of our new members talking about why they joined, and a blog. I realised that it was essential to be able to contact and attract young members through these forums. It has made the lodge communications more dynamic, because we have all had to up our game in a way.’
Provincial Assistant Grand Master Peter Kinder, who is also the Provincial Universities Scheme Liaison Officer, says: ‘We are very lucky in this area with potential next-generation Freemasons because we have three very good universities – Loughborough (with the Lodge of Science & Art), De Montfort (with Castle of Leicester Lodge) and Leicester itself. When we first went to the University of Leicester freshers’ fair three years ago, we were really surprised at the interest. So many people wanted to talk to us and asked us to explain what we were doing there. We spoke about the history of Freemasonry and if they seemed interested, we suggested that they came and had a tour of the lodge.’
Peter recalls how, at the end of the freshers’ day, the floor was filled with flyers. ‘But you couldn’t see any of the Freemasonry ones chucked away. I suppose we were a little bit more unusual than the pizza and taxi firms. We gave out seven hundred leaflets that first year and one thousand this year. We seem to be going from strength to strength.’
Learning the ropes
Peter Clarke is in his third year studying history and knew very little about the Freemasons when he came across the stand at the freshers’ fair. ‘It took me a year to think about it and by the time my second freshers’ came up, I had done a bit of research and found out about the history of the Freemasons. I thought it would be something a bit different to join and take me out of my normal social circles. I like the feeling of being part of something bigger and, as a history student, I was fascinated by tracing back the roots of Freemasonry.’
‘It’s very exciting to see the lodge filling up with the younger generation, all of whom seem to have great ideas about the future of the lodge.’ Dr Andy Green Business and finance student Jeff Zhu also came across Freemasonry for the first time at a freshers’ fair. ‘It was my second year at university; I had just split up with my girlfriend and was feeling a bit down, so I went to the freshers’ day. I come from China and I have to say that I liked the historical look of the Freemasons’ stall, but I had never heard of them before.
Many Chinese students just stick together but I really wanted the chance to branch out. I also like the values of integrity, kindness, honesty and fairness. It fits in with the way I want to live my life.’ Peter Shandley, who reads law and has just finished a year studying in Germany, was taken aback when he made his first visit to Wyggeston Lodge, which holds its meeting in Leicester’s Freemasons’ Hall – a Georgian building with stunning interiors. ‘From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but when I came inside and saw the main hall I was really interested in the heritage. e hall was built in 1910, when this area was really booming from the textile trade, and is one of the most impressive in the country. I feel really privileged to have been initiated into this lodge because it is such a distinguished one. I have so enjoyed my experience here that I have brought someone else into the lodge. He was initiated in December.’
‘I like the feeling of being part of something bigger and, as a history student, I was fascinated by tracing back the roots of Freemasonry.’ Peter Clarke
While initially surprised by the decision to join, friends of university lodge members have been receptive to hearing about the general ethos of Freemasonry. Andrew Slater, who is in his third year reading medical biochemistry, says that he was attracted by the international aspect of Freemasonry and the fact that ‘pretty much anywhere you end up in the world you could find a Freemasons’ lodge and be welcomed there’. He also goes to other lodges in the UK and enjoys being part of the events that they hold. ‘It’s a good feeling to know you have people who will welcome you everywhere.’
For Andrew, joining a brotherhood that brings him together with new people is important. ‘Andy Green is so great at promoting the values of decency, charity and brotherhood that it is hard not to be enthused by him. there is also the feeling that as well as having a great deal to teach us, the Freemasons here are very receptive to what we have to say about the way forward to keep membership alive. I have also become friends with students from different departments that I would never have met if I hadn’t become a Freemason.’
Alex Pohl is twenty-two and has enjoyed acting in the ceremonies. ‘I’m often nervous and things never go exactly to plan but it really helps with a sense of belonging and fraternity.
I am really committed to the Freemasons – it is a lifetime thing – and I joined because I knew about the huge amount Freemasons do for charity. I also really like the modesty behind the charitable giving. It’s not something that the Freemasons make a big deal of but so much of what we are about is the desire to help others as much as we can. I really respect that, and I am excited about being a part of a new generation of Freemasons.’
‘As well as having a great deal to teach us, the Freemasons here are very receptive to what we have to say about the way forward to keep membership alive.’ Andrew Slater
Having a ball
Apollo University Lodge, No. 357 (Oxford), and Isaac Newton University Lodge, No. 859 (Cambridge), invite all masons and friends to the University Lodges’ Ball on 23 November 2013 in the unique setting of Armoury House, London. This collaboration marks the 150th anniversary of the Grand Ball held by Apollo for the Prince of Wales (later Grand Master and King Edward VII), in celebration of his marriage to Alexandra of Denmark.
The sesquicentenary University Lodges' Ball will take place on Saturday 23rd November 2013, at Armoury House, London, the headquarters of the Honourable Artillery Company
For more information and to buy your tickets, visit the University Lodges' Ball website.
About the Ball
At the first meeting of the Ball Committee, it was agreed that there were three central reasons to hold this ball. The first, simply, was to have fun - to organise a large event that could be enjoyed by friends, partners, and family, and hopefully repeated in years to come. The second was to do it for a good cause - to raise money for two very worthy charities. And the third was to resurrect and commemorate the great tradition of the masonic ball, of which can be found below.
It is hoped that this event will not only give guests an opportunity to meet and enjoy a lavish and unique celebratory evening, but will also give non-masonic guests the opportunity to learn more about Freemasonry by meeting members, asking questions, and finding out more about what we get up to!
The particulars for the event are still being confirmed, but it is possible at this stage to provide an outline. The ball will be preceded by a number of (optional) banquets, information about which can be found here. Guests will have the option to book places at these dinners once they have purchased their ball tickets.
The champagne reception will commence in the Prince Consort Rooms at 8.30, after which all guests will assemble in the Prince Consort Rooms to watch the opening ceremony at 9.15.
Once the opening ceremony has finished, Armoury House will be opened and the evening will really begin! The events programme is still being finalised, so check back soon for updates, but the night will feature:
- Dancing - traditional ballroom dancing in the Prince Consort Rooms, and more informal throughout Armoury House
- Live music of a variety of genres
- Magicians, acrobats, and other visual performers
There will also be a wide selection of food and drinks available on the night, all of which is included in your ticket price, so the only time you will have to open your wallet is to donate to charity!
Frequently asked questions
Do I have to be a Freemason to buy tickets?
No! The original University Masonic Balls were the highlight of the social calendars in both Oxford and Cambridge. Now, as then, anyone can attend - so if you have always been curious about what Freemasons get up to, you now have a chance to find out...
Why are there multiple banquets beforehand?
As is the case with almost all society Balls, it would be logistically impossible to have a seated banquet for 900 guests, then have the same rooms immediately available for the evening's entertainments. Traditionally, several parallel dinners have taken place before such events (in Clubs, nearby restaurants, and even in guests' houses), which end in time for guests to come to the Ball in time for the opening ceremony.
You can view details of these banquets here, and will be able to book places at them when you buy your tickets. However, please remember that it is not compulsory to dine beforehand - a variety of food and drink will be available throughout the night at no extra cost, so guests who have not dined will certainly not go hungry!
Can I sponsor the University Lodges' Ball?
What is the dress code?
Evening Dress. This means white tie and tails for gentlemen (although black tie and tuxedo are acceptable), and long gowns for ladies. Formal military Mess Dress and National Dress are also encouraged. To hire or buy Evening Dress, please visit our formalwear sponsor, Clermont Direct, who are kindly extending discounts to Ball guests.
There is a long history of Apollo and Isaac Newton University Lodges holding balls, garden parties, and other festive events at the end of the academic year at Oxford and Cambridge. The balls started early in both lodges' histories, and carried on well into the twentieth century, being considered one of the highlights of the social calendar in both universities.
The best known of these balls was the Grand Ball held by Apollo in 1863 at Christ Church to celebrate the wedding of the Prince of Wales (later Grand Master and King Edward VII) and Alexandra of Denmark, who both attended. The ball cost £2,046 (the equivalent of around £220,000 now). Luckily, half the cost was borne by the college!
Attendances were large - in 1866, 750 attended the ball and over 3,200 attended the garden party - and, as you can see from the menu from an Isaac Newton University Lodge ball in the early twentieth century (in the gallery above), the refreshments were lavish. Unfortunately, after World War II, Freemasonry became less ostentatious, and the balls fell into abeyance.
In the late autumn of 2012, the Secretaries of Apollo and INUL, Chris Noon and Alistair Townsend, met for an ale or two, having both, independently, had the idea of resurrecting the ball tradition, noting that no equivalent existed for Freemasons today. They agreed that it would be difficult to achieve for either lodge on its own, but that, if resources were combined, and the ball were to be held for masonry as a whole, it could be a success.
It was also decided that, despite the short notice, 2013 would be an auspicious year to hold the event - marking the 150th anniversary of Apollo's Grand Ball, and the 200th year of Supreme Grand Chapter (the charitable appeal of which it therefore seemed sensible to support). The obvious location was London - neutral territory - and, after considerable investigation, Armoury House was chosen, as an outstanding venue with a suitable capacity.
It remains to be seen whether this sesquicentenary ball will be a one-off, whether it will be repeated in another 150 years, or whether it will become a regular event in the Masonic calendar. It all depends on how many tickets are sold...
At the suggestion of Anthony West, Chairman of the Grand Lodge 250th Anniversary Fund, Tuscan Lodge, No. 14, arranged a Fellows Presentation at The Royal College of Surgeons of England in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, in the presence of The Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent.
The 250th Fund was set up in 1967 to support the college in making annual grants to support research Fellows, and currently there are three Freemasons’ research Fellows each year. In connection with the bicentenary of Supreme Grand Chapter in 2013, an appeal is in progress, the funds of which will be applied for a similar purpose.
Other distinguished guests included the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes, Assistant Grand Master David Williamson, Grand Secretary Nigel Brown and the Grand Director of Ceremonies, Oliver Lodge.
The guests were welcomed by Professor Norman Williams, President of The Royal College of Surgeons, while plastic surgeon Professor Gus McGrouther expressed his gratitude to the masonic community for its support. Professor McGrouther explained that the college receives no NHS funding for research and that this all has to be paid for by voluntary contribution. The college supports 20 researchers annually chosen from 150 applications.
Three Freemasons’ Research Fellows gave talks. They were Vaibhav Sharma, on improving hearing through reducing scar tissue; Miss Ming He, on tissue engineering for transplantation; and Satoshi Hori of the Uro-Oncology, Hutchinson/MRC Research Centre, University of Cambridge. A member of Isaac Newton University Lodge No.859 also spoke on targeting growth factors in prostate cancer.
Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge
13 June 2012
Report of the Board of General Purposes
The Minutes of the Quarterly Communication of 14 March 2012 and the Annual Investiture of 25 April 2012 were confirmed.
A Resolution was moved that the annual dues (including VAT) payable to Grand Lodge in respect of each member of every lodge for the year 2013 shall be:
In a lodge in England and Wales that is unattached ............................. £50
In a lodge in a Metropolitan Area or a Province .................................. £30
In a lodge in a District ............................................................................£7.50
In a lodge abroad not in a District ..........................................................£12.50
The Resolution was approved.
A Resolution was moved that the fees (exclusive of VAT) payable for registration, certificates and dispensations should be increased in line with inflation to:
(a) the Registration of £
1. A Grand Officer, present or past, on first appointment ................... £106
2. A Deputy or Assistant Metropolitan Grand Master or a
Metropolitan Grand Inspector (under Rule 60) ............................... £59
3. A Deputy or Assistant Provincial or District Grand
Master (under Rule 66) .................................................................... £59
4. A holder of Overseas Grand Rank (under Rule 93) .......................... £23
5. A Mason, inclusive of Grand Lodge Certificate (initiation,
or joining from a Lodge not under the Grand Lodge)
In a Lodge in England and Wales that is unattached ................... £59
In a Lodge in a Metropolitan Area or a Province ........................ £52
In a Lodge in a District ................................................................ £32
In a Lodge abroad not under a District ........................................ £44
(b) the replacement or amendment of a Grand Lodge Certificate .......... £58
(c) a certificate for a Serving Brother ..................................................... £32
(d) a Dispensation by the Grand Master ............................................... £30
a Dispensation by the Grand Master “nunc pro tunc” ............................. £60
The Resolution was approved.
CONTRIBUTION TO THE GRAND CHARITY
Under Rule 271, Book of Constitutions, Grand Lodge must fix each year the annual contribution that is payable to the Grand Charity. The Council of the Grand Charity had requested that for 2013 the annual contribution be increased to £16 in respect of each member of a lodge in a Metropolitan Area or a Province, or in England and Wales that is unattached.
The Resolution was approved.
2011: Was Sir Christopher Wren a Freemason?
The Lecturer, Dr J.W.P. Campbell, has informed the Board that in addition to the five official deliveries to Isaac Newton University Lodge, No. 859 (Cambridgeshire); Christopher Wren Lodge, No. 4855 (Berkshire); Archibald Campbell Lodge, No. 4998 (Madras); Alphin Lodge, No. 8461 (East Lancashire) and Metropolitan Grand Stewards’ Lodge, No. 9812 (London), the Lecture was also delivered on eight other occasions throughout the Constitution. The Board expressed its thanks to Bro Campbell for the considerable time and effort he has spent in this connection.
2012: Scouting and Freemasonry: two parallel organisations?
The Prestonian Lecturer for 2012 is A.D.G. Harvey. Three official Prestonian Lectures for 2012 have been or will be given under the auspices of: Humber Installed Masters Lodge, No. 2494 (Yorkshire, North and East Ridings), Authors Lodge, No. 3456 (London) and North Notts Masters Lodge, No. 9525 (Nottinghamshire).
RECOGNITION OF FOREIGN GRAND LODGES
The Grand Lodge Oriental of Colombia “Francisco de Paula Santander”
The Grand Lodge Oriental of Colombia “Francisco de Paula Santander” was formed on 18 November 1945 from four lodges meeting in the region of Santander under the National Grand Lodge of Colombia, at Barranquilla, which is one of the four Colombian Grand Lodges currently recognised by the UGLE.
The Grand Lodge of los Andes
On 29 April 1972 the Grand Lodge of los Andes was formed by the Grand Lodge Oriental of Colombia “Francisco de Paula Santander”.
The four Colombian Grand Lodges already recognised by the UGLE together with the above two cover distinct geographical areas in Colombia and all share mutual recognition.
The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Nevada
The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Nevada was formed on 16 August 1980, from three lodges meeting in that State under the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arizona, which was recognised by the UGLE on 11 September 2002. Having shown that they have regular decendency and that they conform to the Basic Principles for Grand Lodge Recognition, the Board, having no reason to believe that they will not continue to maintain a regular path, recommends that these three Grand Lodges be recognised.
A Resolution to this effect was approved.
ERASURE OF LODGES
The Board had received a report that 18 lodges had closed and had surrendered their Warrants. The lodges are:
Lodge of Emulation, No. 1505 (West Lancashire), Greenwood Lodge, No. 1982 (Surrey), Carville Lodge, No. 2497 (Northumberland), King Edward VII Lodge, No. 2969 (South Africa, Western Division), Napier Clavering Lodge, No. 3428 (Northumberland), Raynes Park Lodge, No. 4377 (Surrey), London Staffordshire Lodge, No. 4474 (London), Continuity and Perpetua Lodge, No. 4651 (London), Lodge of Progress, No. 5017 (Hertfordshire), Camperdown Lodge, No. 5250 (Hertfordshire), City Centre Lodge, No. 5787 (London), Hinchley Wood Lodge, No. 5809 (Surrey), Noel Acacia Lodge, No. 5852 (Surrey), Keystone Lodge, No. 6173 (Warwickshire), Rosemary Lodge, No. 6421 (Northumberland), Riverside Lodge, No. 7247 (London), Allegiance Lodge, No. 7434 (Cheshire) and St Ambrose Lodge, No. 8251 (West Lancashire).
A Resolution that these lodges be erased was approved.
THE RULERS’ FORUM
A recent review of the Rulers’ Forum and consultation with Provincial Grand Masters has led to the conclusion that the Forum is not functioning as originally intended. By contrast, the Rulers’ Forum Groups have proved remarkably effective in promoting discussion across Provincial boundaries. After careful consideration, the Board recommended that the Rulers’ Forum be dissolved and that the Rulers’ Forum Groups be reconstituted on an informal basis.
It further recommended that the members of the Commission for Appeals Courts and certain members of the Panel for Clemency, who are currently elected by the Rulers’ Forum at its meeting in December, be appointed in future by the Grand Master from among Brethren nominated for appointment in the same manner as currently applies for election by the Rulers’ Forum.
A Notice of Motion to amend the Book of Constitutions accordingly appeared the Paper of Business.
LIST OF NEW LODGES
List of new lodges for which warrants have been granted by The Grand Master showing the dates from which their warrants became effective:
14 March 2012:
9870 Sir Adeyemo Alakija Lodge (Ebute Metta, Nigeria)
9871 Sussex Motorcycling Lodge (Southwick, Sussex)
9872 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Lodge (Ramsey, Isle of Man)
9873 Ghana District Grand Stewards Lodge (Accra, Ghana)
ADDRESS: DIAMOND JUBILEE OF HM QUEEN ELIZABETH II
Dr J W Daniel gave an address entitled Royal Jubilees and Loyal Freemasons.
Grand Lodge will meet on 12 September 2012, 12 December 2012, 13 March 2013, 24 April 2013 (Annual Investiture), 12 June 2013 and 11 September 2013.
SUPREME GRAND CHAPTER
Supreme Grand Chapter will meet on 14 November 2012, 25 April 2013 and 16 October 2013 (transferred from 13 November by resolution of Grand Chapter).
In March, brethren from Apollo University Lodge No. 359 (Oxford) and Loge Robert de Sorbon (Paris) attended a meeting at Freemasons’ Hall, Cambridge, followed at the June meeting with a friends and family garden party. The celebration of the anniversary was held in July, at which the principal guest was the Deputy Grand Master, Jonathan Spence.
The prime purpose of the meeting was to make the substantial charitable donations that the lodge had decided should be the main way in which it celebrated its anniversary year.
The lodge has donated £1,000 for each year of its existence, with £50,000 going to the Grand Charity through the Provincial Festival, £50,000 to other masonic charities and £50,000 to a number of non-masonic charities drawn from suggestions and requests from lodge members.
Past Masters of the lodge presented cheques to the Assistant Grand Master, David Williamson, the Metropolitan Grand Master, Russell Race, and to the Presidents of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institute (RMBI), Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF) and the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB).
The Provincial Grand Master received the cheque for his Festival on behalf of the Grand Charity.
A scheme to encourage undergraduates into Freemasonry is outlined by Oliver Lodge
It is said that young men have no interest in Freemasonry, that such formality is alien to youth and that the minimum age for initiation is ‘the full age of 21 years’. The trouble with generalisations such as these is that, generally, they are misleading.
We need to challenge the mantra; if we don’t, we are ignoring our own history and missing an important opportunity.
My hypothesis is that young men come in all shapes and sizes and that, perhaps surprisingly, large numbers are indeed interested in Freemasonry.
Those Masons lucky enough to have come across either Apollo University Lodge or Isaac Newton University Lodge will know very well that these two hugely successful Lodges attract substantial numbers of initiates every year from undergraduates at their two great universities. Both Apollo at Oxford and Isaac Newton at Cambridge have, in their own very different ways, proved to the Masonic world that young men can and do make exceptional Freemasons, producing many of the leaders of the English Craft today. And there is nothing hypothetical about that.
Likewise, age itself is not a barrier. Provincial Grand Masters have the authority to dispense with the traditional minimum age for initiation, as they have been doing for many years. This is no longer the rarity that it once was, and may well one day beg the question of the need for the continued existence of the regulation.
That may make clear why the Assistant Grand Master, David Williamson, has set up the Universities Scheme. That, and the fact that at present less than 800 of the many thousands of English Masons are under 25.
We live in a time of an aging population, but in the Craft our population is aging faster than most.
While one might be tempted to suppose that this arises because we Masons live life to the full and survive well, in reality it has rather more to do with our reluctance to make Freemasonry properly accessible to those who have not yet established their professional careers. The Universities Scheme is about to change all that.
In essence, the scheme is setting out to enable specified Lodges to appeal to undergraduates. More formally, the scheme’s objective is 'To establish and/or enhance arrangements and opportunities for undergraduates and other university members to join and enjoy freemasonry.'
To this end, the AGM has established a group of Masons, well below average age, but with vast experience of university Masonry, to promote the scheme. With the enthusiastic support of the Provinces in question, as well as the members of the scheme group, he has visited Lodges in Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Durham, Exeter, Oxford and Sheffield to invite them to participate in the scheme.
He also plans to visit Manchester in the autumn. Each of these visits has resulted in a Lodge devoted to becoming or firmly remaining open to undergraduates from that city’s university. In some cases that is a commitment amounting to a very real challenge for the Lodge in question.
It would, however, be a mistake to give the impression that Apollo and Isaac Newton are the only undergraduate Lodges in the country. At Durham, the Universities Lodge has been actively welcoming undergraduates to its fold over recent years. Likewise, St Vincent Lodge in Bristol and, to varying degrees, in other universities too. On all of this, the scheme intends to build.
Who can doubt that momentum is a wonderful thing? Apollo has been fortunate to have existed for nearly 200 years (indeed, there existed, even in the 18th century, a University Lodge in Oxford). Blessed with critical mass, established undergraduate Lodges just free-wheel, picking up initiates effortlessly as they go. Or so it seems.
In fact, while they may appear on the surface to glide like swans, they achieve it by paddling like fury under the surface.
Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that their existing undergraduate membership exerts a gravitational pull, reinforcing their daily efforts to ensure a healthy future. For those setting out on this path for the first time, the biggest hurdle is the first one. How are the first few undergraduates to be found?
A typical initiation path is that a chum will suggest that Masonry might interest the individual; he will be introduced early-on to other young members; he will meet the secretary and be given a fairly frank outline of what he can expect and what is expected of him. Very few do not proceed to initiation.
In seeking to answer that question more broadly, each participating Lodge is setting up a committee to determine its own unique approach. If that looks like successive wheel re-inventions, it is not quite so. The function of the scheme group is to provide to participating Lodges the benefit of the group’s collective experience and ideas.
But, more importantly, it is fundamental that each Lodge should resolve the question in the way that suits its own circumstances and customs. The AGM’s scheme has no intention of seeking to create clones across the country; rather the focus is that the objective should be achieved in a range of different ways, further enriching the diversity of Freemasonry and fully respecting the individuality of each Lodge.
Let me nevertheless offer a little of the thinking of the group. Recent experience has shown that a fair proportion of young initiates first made contact with Freemasonry through the internet. To some that will come as quite a surprise; others will have known or guessed that it was so.
But the conclusion must be that a website is a valuable thing. University Lodges must be prepared to be fairly public affairs; they must advertise without shame, to freshmen each year, using opportunities to promote Masonry in general. University Lodges should support undergraduate charities and ensure that such benevolence is known to the public. Another, probably unsurprising, feature of successful experience is the opportunity for undergraduates to meet the Lodge either over drinks or dinner, in order to acquire an impression of the people and, even more importantly, of Freemasonry itself.
The avoidance of un-undergraduatefriendly features is also significant. Careful consideration has to be given to costs, to dates and times, to early involvement of new joiners and many similar details of the Lodge’s administration.
In addition to all of this activity within the university Lodges, a valuable contribution to this theme is the recent pair of reductions in dues agreed by Grand Lodge, both for its own levy and for that of the Grand Charity.
All costs for undergraduates and other young men are magnified in their significance, whether they be subscriptions, dining fees or the price of regalia. With initiative and determination, ways can be found to ameliorate the burden.
It is also to be hoped that the profile of the scheme itself will result in an enhancement to the usual paternal or family-based encouragement. Where such suggestion might typically have awaited the initiate’s 30th birthday, it might now instead relate to establishing contact with the Lodge of an undergraduate’s university, ten years earlier.
Although the focus of the scheme is squarely on universities, everyone involved is very well aware of the relevance of it to young men outside university life. To them, Freemasonry should extend a similar welcome whenever and wherever the opportunity arises. Universities may represent merely the start to the process of Masonic involvement of a materially wider age-group.
There is no doubt that the scheme represents a project that will take many years to achieve its full potential. The challenge will be to continue to innovate, to continue to drive the programme in the face of occasional set-back and disappointment.
But with momentum, the scheme will deliver.
Oliver Lodge is chairman of The Universities Scheme Group