Wednesday, 09 June 2004 10:52

Pro Grand Master’s address - June 2004


9 JUNE 2004

An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master the Most Hon the Marquess of Northampton, DL

Brethren, because we do not normally have very much business at the June Quarterly Communication, I thought you might be interested to know something about the overseas visits that the Rulers have made to our Districts during this past year.

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Wednesday, 28 April 2004 10:54

Pro Grand Master’s address - April 2004


28 APRIL 2004

An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master the Most Hon the Marquess of Northampton, DL

Brethren, it is good to see so many of you here today for this annual investiture, which must surely qualify as the happiest Masonic event of the year and I bid you a warm welcome. On behalf of the Grand Master, I congratulate all those whom I have invested with their new ranks. These have been given in part for what you have already done for the Craft, but more importantly in the hope that you will continue, with your new status, to do your utmost for the good of Freemasonry for many years to come.

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12 NOVEMBER 2003

An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal the Most Hon the Marquess of Northampton, DL

most of you will be aware that a Strategic Working Party (SWP) which I formed in 2002 has been considering whether the traditional Ceremony of Exaltation and other aspects of the way in which the Royal Arch functions are still appropriate, after some 175 years.

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Wednesday, 10 September 2003 11:09

Pro Grand Master’s address - September 2003



An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master the Most Hon the Marquess of Northampton, DL

You will all recall the unfortunate occasion last November when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was reported as having suggested that he had doubts about the compatibility of Freemasonry and Christianity.
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Annual Investiture 
1 May 2003 
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal 

Companions, I am sure you will all want to join me in congratulating those I have invested this morning on behalf of the ME The First Grand Principal. It goes without saying that your new ranks are in recognition of the efforts you have made for the Royal Arch. They are also given in the expectation that you will actively promote the Order among Master Masons and encourage them to join.

Companions, I know that the ME The First Grand Principal will be pleased, as I am, that Grand Chapter has endorsed the decision to permit him to form a Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London. In doing so they have followed the lead given by the Craft and have ensured that harmony continues in pure Antient Masonry. I appreciate that some Companions may have reservations about this new venture, but I hope they will now put those feelings to one side and unite with the rest of us to ensure its future success. I am not alone in thinking that the Royal Arch in London has been overshadowed by the Craft, to which is has played second fiddle for far too long. I am confident that the formation of a Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London will allow its members to flourish as never before.

A year ago I mentioned the then newly reconvened Strategic Working Party and its deliberations. This is proving a much more complex task than I originally envisaged but the main Committee has made some progress and will very shortly be making recommendations to the Committee of General Purposes for their consideration. As part of our deliberations I set up a sub-committee to look at the rituals, their content, including the historical inaccuracies, and the way they are delivered. Here I regret to say we have made little progress largely because other important matters have taken precedence. However, I am confident we will be able to discuss some of the proposed changes at the regular convocation of Grand Chapter in November.

Yesterday in Grand Lodge the Grand Master encouraged us to make contact with Brethren who had resigned from their Lodges due to direct or indirect pressures, and who may now be in a position to rejoin their old Lodge or join another one. Companions, this also applies to the Royal Arch and I would urge you to do likewise in your Chapters. Discrimination against our members still exists in some quarters even though the situation appears to have improved following our efforts to be more open about ourselves and our willingness to confront our detractors. In fact, I sense a new air of optimism as I travel around our Constitution, with the Craft in general being slimmer and fitter than it was fifteen years ago.

This annual Royal Arch Investiture meeting has to be one of the happiest Masonic events of the year. Not only are we guaranteed to have smiles on the faces of at least half those present, but the rest of us can take genuine pleasure in the happiness of those being invested. The Royal Arch may be smaller in numbers than the Craft but it makes up for it with that special and more intimate pleasure we get from our Chapter meetings.

Today’s ceremony has run very smoothly thanks to the quiet efficiency of the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team of Deputies. This is the last time we shall see E Comp Peter Lowndes in action as Grand Director of Ceremonies and I would like to take this opportunity of thanking him for all he has done for both the Craft and the Royal Arch over the past eight years. He will be particularly remembered for the many seminars he has held for Lodge and Chapter DCs, for his efforts in ensuring our high standards of ritual remain the envy of other Grand Lodges around the World and, above all, for his humour in Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter which ensures that those present are in a good mood when the Presiding Officer enters. I would also like to thank the Grand Scribe Ezra and his staff for their considerable efforts in organizing this investiture and the lunch which follows. Two investitures on consecutive days are quite a handful for those of us taking part let alone for those who have to organize them and they do a fine job!

Finally Companions I thank all of you for attending today and making this investiture such a happy meeting. I recently named a racehorse I have bred ‘Greet you well’ which seems an appropriate way of finishing my remarks, but I do not recommend a bet!

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Wednesday, 11 December 2002 10:13

Pro Grand Master’s address - December 2002


11 DECEMBER 2002

An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master the Most Hon the Marquess of Northampton, DL

When I was appointed Assistant Grand Master in December 1995, London Masonry consisted of over 1,600 Lodges and nearly 700 Chapters, which were administered by the then Grand Secretary through the London Department in this building. As Assistant Grand Master, a substantial part of my duties incorporated a special responsibility for London.

In 1995 I inherited 900 liaison officers, most of whom reported on the Lodges of which they were the senior members, and in many cases were the only personal contact the London Department had with the majority of our London brethren. 

Only 300 of the original liaison officers were able to become active Visiting Grand Officers, and over the next two years more Grand Officers were added, so that every Lodge and Chapter had a visit from someone who could advise, support and encourage its members. I was warned there were as many as 200 Lodges that were unlikely to survive in the short term, so doing nothing was not an option, and I therefore started the active Visiting Grand Officers scheme. The system of allocating ranks, including Grand Rank, was changed and became more transparent so that everyone now knew where he stood. Ranks were now based solely on merit and ability. 

The next step was to disentangle London Masonry from its dependence on Grand Lodge, and give it a structure both autonomous and above all caring. London Management was created and London was divided into 22 groups with a chairman at the head of each. For five years London Management, originally chaired by me but now by Rex Thorne, has run London Masonry with the Assistant Grand Master retaining that so-called 'special responsibility'. The final step will be voted on in Grand Lodge next March. 

The London Committee was set up by the Board and it was agreed that a long period of consultation would follow, and this is happening. 

Uniquely, London Masonry has its own honours system, London Grand Rank being its only appointment and Senior London Grand Rank its only promotion, with no past ranks. Having listened to the views expressed by Lodges and Chapters, the London Committee has withdrawn the recommendation that a Junior London Grand Rank be introduced, and this has been accepted by the Grand Master. The London honours system, Craft and Royal Arch, will remain exactly as it is. However, the proposals for active offices, which will not be Ranks but appointments, will remain, as these are needed for ceremonial and administrative purposes. 

The third difference inherent in London Masonry, and probably the most important, is that it has never been in control of its own destiny. It is only very recently that the Board of General Purposes has delegated some of its powers to London Management. But its finances are still included in the accounts of Grand Lodge, and there are many instances where it is not allowed by the Book of Constitutions to make decisions for itself. London Management has done a good job looking after its members for the past five years but it has no authority within the Book of Constitutions, and is headed only by a chairman and not by an officer of Grand Lodge with Masonic authority ratified by the Constitution. Its byelaws have never been approved by Grand Lodge, and remain in a state of limbo - still an integral part of Grand Lodge, but responsible in part for its own affairs. The time has now come to regularise this unconstitutional structure. 

The Grand Master could, under Rule 62 of the Book of Constitutions, turn London into one or more Provinces. This was considered by the Committee, but swiftly rejected, even though it would have been a much simpler change. Exercising powers under Rule 62 would probably have entailed the loss of the special features that London enjoys, like the London Grand Rank system. 

It is an anomaly that many relatively minor decisions concerning London Masonry have to be approved by the Board of General Purposes and Grand Lodge, of which the majority of members are brethren from the Provinces. If London Masons had their own Grand Lodge they could decide much about their future for themselves. 

Masonry's future depends on training our younger brethren to become tomorrow's leaders, but when does one get the opportunity of seeing the potential of future leaders in London? Not in Grand Lodge - which is the only forum at present for London Masons who are Wardens and above - but solely at private Lodge level, where many go unrecognised. 

The London Committee recommended the creation only of active officers needed to service a Metropolitan Grand Lodge, with no past ranks. The 71 annual Craft appointments represent approximately one for every 750 Masons. Such a small number will have no impact at the grass roots, but a Metropolitan Grand Lodge will give London Masons a self-regulating Masonic structure for the first time. 
The recommendations have not been suggested lightly. It is a big step, which is acceptable to the Grand Master and has been approved by all the bodies entrusted by our members to manage the Craft on their behalf. The world is very different from what it was even ten years ago, and unless Freemasonry adapts, as it has always adapted throughout its long history, it will not survive and grow. Some have suggested that these proposals will lead to a decline in the numbers of London Masons. I believe exactly the opposite. We have already seen a considerable decline in numbers over the past 30 years, and unless we rise to the challenge, there is no reason why that decline will not continue. I am confident that once a new structure is established, we will all see great and exciting advantages, and it will prove to be an asset to English Masonry. 

You will be aware of the unfortunate and ill-advised remarks concerning Freemasonry made by the new Archbishop of Canterbury. A very large number of our members wrote to him at Lambeth Palace to express their dismay, and in some cases outrage, at his insensitive and inaccurate comments. The Grand Secretary has written to him officially on behalf of Grand Lodge (see P4). His letter is on the UGLE website. Although, all of us, whatever religion, can only be appalled at the implications of the Archbishop's allegations, I believe that we should, for the time being at least, assume that his comments were based simply on ignorance of the truth, and not malice. The Archbishop has been invited to Freemasons' Hall to learn a little about Freemasonry, as all his predecessors have done over many years. We can then only hope that he will revise his opinions and have the grace to admit just how wrong he was about the compatibility of any of the great religions with Freemasonry.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 11 September 2002 11:15

Pro Grand Master’s address - September 2002



An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master the Most Hon the Marquess of Northampton, DL

Lord Northampton said that, as a public relations exercise, Freemasonry in the Community week was undoubtedly a great success with much positive coverage from local press and radio, albeit very little in national media.

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