Celebrating 300 years

A Masonic Express adventure in Yorkshire

As part of the United Grand Lodge of England’s Tercentenary celebrations, the Province of Yorkshire, North and East Ridings hired a steam train for 300 Freemasons, including their friends and family

The Province kept the number at 300, to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the formation of the world’s first Grand Lodge for Freemasons.

The steam train was operated by the North York Moors Railway and ran between Pickering and Whitby, North Yorkshire. A metal plate was fabricated with the words Masonic Express in blue and white, which was affixed to and adorned the front of the engine.

In glorious sunshine, the event was presented as a family day out and the journey was set at a sedate pace through stunning countryside.

On arrival at Whitby Railway Station, in the centre of the town, the fun-filled 300 walked into the heart of this historic port to either take in some shopping, eat in the seafood restaurants or, for the more adventurous, climb up to the derelict Whitby Abbey, which is perched high on a cliff.

On arrival back in Pickering, the smiles on the faces of the 300 people was testament to the satisfaction of having enjoyed a fabulous family fun day together.

And as a result of the success of the Masonic Express adventure, the Provincial Grand Master RW Bro Jeffrey Gillyon expressed an interest in running another steam train in the future.

Beaminster Museum in West Dorset is hosting a ‘300 years of Freemasonry’ exhibition which commemorates the Tercentenary of the formation of the first Grand Lodge of England

The exhibition gives an insight into Freemasonry and in particular, Beaminster Manor Lodge No. 1367, showing some of its activities and personalities. 

It shows important aspects, including memorabilia of the history of Beaminster Manor Lodge and how it had played its part in local life in a rural community. It also aims to dispel some of the myths and mysteries around Freemasonry and answer questions posed by members of the general public.

The museum is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays 10:30am – 4pm and Sundays 2pm – 4:30pm.

The exhibition will be running until 29th October 2017.

Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons celebrated the 300th Anniversary of the formation of the first Grand Lodge of England, by unveiling commemorative blue plaques to mark the first activity of Freemasonry in the area at Masonic Halls across the Province

On 24th June 1717, four lodges, which had existed for some time in London, formed the Grand Lodge of England which has since continued to administer lodges across the country including the 76 lodges and it's 3,000 members in Leicestershire and Rutland. 

Leicester

The earliest known lodge in Leicester was established in 1739 and met at the Wheat Sheaf Inn on Humberstone Gate. Other lodges followed including St John’s Lodge in 1790 which is the oldest surviving lodge in Leicester still in existence. In 1859, the two lodges meeting in Leicester, St John’s Lodge, then meeting at the Bell Hotel, and John of Gaunt Lodge, raised funds to build a permanent home in Halford Street. The Masonic Hall in Halford Street continued to be the principal place of meeting for 50 years until it was deemed no longer adequate. 

A freehold Georgian house and its grounds on London Road were purchased in 1909 and the new headquarters were in use a year later in 1910. Freemasons’ Hall has been extended on a number of occasions, particularly in the 1930s and 1960s, and continues as the headquarters for the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland and has 43 lodges meeting there. The building has some of the finest Masonic Lodge Rooms in the country and has a large Masonic Museum with artefacts dating back to the 17th Century.

Syston

The first Masonic Lodge in Syston was formed in 1901, East Goscote Lodge, and was granted a Warrant to meet in the village hall. The Master of the Lodge, who owned an old school in Broad Street, built a new single storey Masonic Hall which continues to be in use after several extensions over the years. A total of 7 lodges meet at the hall today which makes it one of the largest halls outside of Leicester.

Loughborough

The first Masonic Lodge in Loughborough was formed in 1835 and met at the King’s Head but unfortunately closed in 1853. A new lodge, Howe & Charnwood Lodge, was formed in 1864 which also met at the King’s Head before moving to the Town Hall, after a disagreement with the landlady over the charge of 25 shillings per meeting. In 1956, the Masonic Lodges in the town purchased the Old Adult School in Ashby Square which has continued to serve as their meeting place.

Ashby-de-la-Zouch

The first Masonic Lodge to meet in Ashby-de-la-Zouch was Ivanhoe Lodge which met at the Royal Hotel from 1836 until the Lodge closed in 1841. Another lodge, Ferrers and Ivanhoe, which continues to meet today, was subsequently formed in 1859 and originally met at the Town Hall. In 1981, the old Lyric Picture Palace was purchased for £7,000 and refurbished at a total costs of £94,500.  The Lyric Rooms continues to host the two Ashby lodges and serving the local community.

Coalville

The first Masonic Lodge in Coalville, Grace Dieu Lodge, was formed in 1892 which met at the Masonic rooms situated next to the Railway Hotel. In 1926, a Committee was formed to raise money to pay for the building of the present Masonic Hall in Park Road which was subsequently opened in 1928. This Hall continues to be used by the two Masonic Lodges that meet in Coalville.

Hinckley

The first Lodge to meet in Hinckley, the Knights of Malta Lodge, was brought to Hinckley from Macclesfield in 1803. The Lodge met at various inns in Hinckley over a number of years. As the popularity of Freemasonry rose it was necessary to find a permanent home and land was bought in St Mary’s Road to build a Masonic Hall. The Hall was opened in 1928 and continues to host the lodges that meet in Hinckley along with serving the local community.

Melton Mowbray

The first Masonic Lodge in Melton Mowbray, Rutland Lodge, was formed in 1866 which met at the George Hotel. Subsequently, the stabling at the Wicklow Hunting Lodge on Burton Road was purchased for conversion into the present Masonic Hall. This was opened in 1951 and continues to serve the three Masonic Lodges that meet there.

Oakham

Vale of Catmos Lodge was formed in 1869 and met at the Agriculture Hall in Oakham. In 1877, the Lodge decided to meet in licenced premises and moved to the George Hotel. After 10 years, the Lodge moved back to the Agriculture Hall which was subsequently renamed Victoria Hall to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. An opportunity rose to utilise the accumulated funds of a member’s legacy to secure long term accommodation at the Old Hall at Oakham School. Two lodges have met there for the last nine years.

Uppingham

The Uppingham in Rutland Lodge was consecrated in 1984 and meets at the Upper Cricket Pavillion in Uppingham. After each meeting, members dine at the Falcon Hotel which has provided the Lodge with a venuefor over 30 years. 

Market Harborough

St Peter’s Lodge was granted a Warrant in 1870 to meet at the Three Swans Hotel in Market Harborough. As Freemasonry began to expand its popularity, a building fund was established in 1967 to build a permanent home. Land was purchased in Kings Road and the current Masonic Hall was built and opened in 1968 where currently two lodges continue to meet today.

Lutterworth

Wiclif Lodge was grant a Warrant in 1904 to meet in the Upper Room of the Town Hall in Lutterworth. The Lodge continued to meet at the Town Hall until 1963 when they moved to their permanent residence at the former Ritz Cinema. More recently further refurbishment and an extension has been undertaken. The Wycliffe Rooms now acts as both a Masonic Hall for the two lodges and also a Community Centre for a wide range of activities.

The plaques were unveiled by the Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, David Hagger who was supported by the Mayors of Charnwood, Oakham, Lutterworth and a large number of members, family and friends. The plaques were designed by W Bro Andy Green, Provincial Junior Grand Warden and made by local firm The Metal Foundry based in South Wigston, Leicestershire.

RW Bro David Hagger, said: 'We are celebrating 300 years of Freemasonry and the foresight and courage of our forebears to perceive and enhance our society over the centuries. If we continue to pursue our ideals of integrity, fairness and honesty, Freemasonry will continue to flourish in Leicestershire and Rutland.

'We'll also be holding several public events throughout 2017 including opening the doors to our Masonic Halls during the Heritage Open Days for everyone to see inside and an exhibition at Newarke Houses Museum in Leicester on Freemasonry, highlighting the contribution of Freemasons to our local communities. We hope this will lead to further interest and a better understanding of our historic fraternity.'

Over 800 Freemasons from throughout Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire joined together with civic dignitaries, family and friends on 11th June 2017, to help celebrate the Tercentenary and founding of the Premier Grand Lodge with a dedicated Evensong service at Peterborough Cathedral

The service was conducted by The Reverend Canon Jonathan Baker, who welcomed everyone and commented on the common theme of `giving` in all aspects of life.

The service was preceded by a parade of Freemasons in their Masonic regalia from the Peterborough Town Hall to the Cathedral in glorious sunshine, with members of the public lining the route. Each of the 93 member Lodges from the Province of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire were represented and paraded their historic and colourful Lodge banners. 

The parade aimed to replicate the last Masonic parade to be held in Peterborough over 95 years ago. Prior to this, parades were quite a regular feature in many towns and cities, but since the Second World War they had become rare.

The last parade in 1922 was held to help raise funds to assist with major restoration works needed in the north east wing of Peterborough Cathedral. The event raised a significant sum and coupled with other fundraising, the target was reached and the work completed.

The Provincial Grand Master Max Bayes commented: 'It's a wonderful day for Freemasonry and the Province of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire. I am sure that all present thoroughly enjoyed the day and were rightly proud of their membership.'

In Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire, Freemasons raise over £100,000 each year for charitable purposes and regularly support the local community with donations to many worthy causes.

Twelve Hinckley Freemasons are taking on the National Three Peaks Challenge, to celebrate the United Grand Lodge of England's Tercentenary and raise money for the Masonic Charitable Foundation and Lawrence House

The National Three Peaks Challenge will involve climbing the highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales in just 24 hours.

The Freemasons are all from Hinckley Lodges including Knights of Malta Lodge No. 50,  Burbach Lodge No. 8699 and Lodge of St Simon and St Jude No. 8729.

The challenge starts at Ben Nevis in Scotland on Saturday 2nd September 2017, followed by Scafell Pike in England and finishing on Snowdon in Wales.

Organiser W Bro David Fell commented: 'Taking on the National Three Peaks challenge is a great way to celebrate the Tercentenary and raise money for the 2022 Festival for the Masonic Charitable Foundation and Lawrence House, which supports homeless young people in the Hinckley area.'

The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, RW Bro David Hagger said: 'I wish all of our walkers a safe expedition and thank them for their support in raising money for two wonderful charities.'

Donations to the challenge can be made by clicking here

At a celebration dinner to mark the 300th anniversary of the United Grand Lodge of England, Northumberland Freemasons gave away £300,000 to local charities

Provincial Grand Master of Northumberland Ian Craigs hosted the event at St James’ Park where almost 800 Freemasons, their families and special guests from North East charities celebrated the Tercentenary. Special guest of the evening was Pro Grand Master Peter Geoffrey Lowndes.

Although the evening was filled with entertainment, good food and distinguished guests, it was the charitable side of Freemasonry that stole the show.

Ian Craigs explained that the Provincial Grand Lodge of Northumberland has given away £300,000 to local charities this year to boost worthwhile and deserving projects throughout the region. There are 27 lodge meeting places across North Tyneside, Newcastle and Northumberland and the donations all went to local good causes.

Ian Craigs commented: ‘We’ve tried to donate money to charities close to each lodge building so that we can really make a positive impact on local projects and causes near to where Masonry takes place.

‘Our donations, which were all chosen by our members, will go a long way towards helping the charities concerned carry on their sterling work. This is one of the main things that Freemasons do and often we give without telling anyone. This year, we celebrate our 300th year and we’d like everyone to know how we help their local community.’

Charities benefiting from donations included the Hextol Foundation, Mustard Tree Trust and Percy Hedley Foundation who were each granted £10,000.

Others included the Berwick & District Cancer Support Group, Mind Active Charity and Leading Link who were each given £5,000 on the night.

Leading Link’s manager Julie Greener said: ‘This is a very generous donation that will help us to give valuable skills to the young people of Northumberland. At the moment, we are working on a mentoring scheme that is helping vulnerable young people in the more rural parts of the county. We are very grateful to Northumberland Freemasons for the opportunity to carry on with our work.’

In addition to the 33 charities who attended the celebration event, a further 45 will receive cheques for the good work they do to help the people of Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.

On a hot summers night, the meeting of the Lodge of Amity No. 137 held on 19th July was anything but regular when Wiltshire Freemasons travelled to the Masonic Hall in Poole  the occasion being the Tercentenary banner handover between Dorset and near neighbours Wiltshire

Two Provincial Grand Masters, two Past Deputy Provincial Grand Masters and two Assistant Provincial Grand Masters added lustre to the occasion, which saw over 100 brethren witness the moment when Wiltshire's RW Bro Philip Bullock invited Dorset PrGM RW Bro Richard Merritt to receive the banner and pass it on to the Provincial Grand Master for Somerset.

In a ceremony planned and executed to perfection, the banner took its place in the Lodge room following an insightful explanation of its origins and journey around the South West Provinces thus far.

RW Bro Richard Merritt explained how the banner has travelled from Jersey, through Guernsey and Alderney to Hampshire and Isle of Wight before being entrusted to Wiltshire.

Having now been passed to Dorset, the next destination will be Somerset when RW Bro Richard Merritt will transfer the banner to his Somerset counterpart RW Bro Stuart Hadler during a special presentation ceremony to the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance at Henstridge on 9th August.

RW Bro Philip Bullock thanked the Province of Somerset and in particular, the Master and brethren of Lodge of Amity No. 137 for the generous and warm fraternal hospitality extended to the Wiltshire team.

A 72-year-old Leicestershire Freemason will be undertaking an epic 215 mile cycle journey in aid of the Masonic Charitable Foundation, as a celebration of 300 years of English Freemasonry

Rod Harpham, from Botcheston near Hinckley, will be cycling the Trans Pennine Trail which is a long-distance path running from coast to coast across Northern England entirely on surfaced paths. It is an exciting route for cyclists linking the North and Irish seas, passing through the Pennines, alongside rivers and canals, and through some of the most historic towns and cities in the North of England.

Rod Harpham will be accompanied by his son Russell on the 215 mile ride starting at Hornsea north of Hull on the 29th July 2017 and finishing on the beach at Southport north of Liverpool.

The ride will be completed over two weekends and he is aiming to raise at least £1,000.

You can sponsor Rod Harpham by clicking here and adding Howe and Charnwood 1007 to question three.

Freemasons from the Bordon, Alton and Petersfield Masonic Centres held a charity presentation evening to celebrate the United Grand Lodge of England’s Tercentenary

Held at the Bordon Masonic Centre, the evening was well attended by local charity and community representatives and Freemasons including Chairman of East Hampshire District Council Lynn Evans, Mayor of Alton Dean-Paul Phillips and Mayor of Whitehill & Bordon Colin Leach.

Provincial Grand Master of Hampshire and Isle of Wight RW Bro Mike Wilks opened with a talk about Freemasonry and the values it represents and teaches its members. A total of 26 local charities and community organisations were supported and then given the opportunity to talk about the amazing support and services that they provide to the local communities.

Over £17,500 was presented to the below charities:

This money is achieved by Freemasons holding charity evenings or by regularly contributing to a Lodge charity fund, which is then used for the benefit of local causes. 

Mike Wilks commented: ‘Listening to the charity representatives explain the work they do was very humbling. It provided even more motivation for us to keep raising funds for such worthy causes. 

‘For 300 years we have been supporting charities and I hope we’ll still be doing it in another 300 years.’

The evening concluded with a social gathering in the dining hall of the centre. This provided a great opportunity for the charities to further explain what they do and to learn about Freemasonry from its members.

Nearly 300 Freemasons, family and friends from 33 different lodges across the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland gathered in Leicester to celebrate 300 years since the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge on Saturday 24th June 2017

The Grand Summer Ball was held on the exact date that 300 years ago in 1717 four masonic lodges gathered together at the Goose and Gridiron ale house in London and formed the first Grand Lodge in the world which continues to govern Freemasonry in England and Wales today.

Held at the Athena, guests were welcomed by the Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro David Hagger who wished everyone a wonderful evening celebrating the Tercentenary.

After dinner, the Provincial Grand Master took to the stage to draw the winners of the Tercentenary prize draw. Prizes included villa accommodation in Antigua, Florida and Devon, a hot air balloon ride and light aircraft flights – all very generously donated by Brethren from the Province.

The Provincial Grand Master also paid tribute to the 23 cyclists who had recently completed an epic 300 mile cycle ride raising over £21,000 for the Masonic Charitable Foundation and Rainbows Children’s Hospice in Loughborough. The seven riders who attended the ball were asked to stand up and were applauded by everyone on their great achievement.

During the evening, a silent auction offered a multitude of exclusive items, including a signed montage from Leicester City Football Club's Premier League winning season, a private hospitality suite to see Micky Flanagan and VIP trips to Las Vegas to see The Who and to Paris to see the Rolling Stones.

Further entertainment was filled by Black Jack and Roulette tables and guests filling the dance floor for well over an hour and a half, as they were taken back to the 1960’s by a Beatles tribute band.

Not only was the evening a celebration of Freemasonry, it was additionally successful in raising over £10,000 for the 2022 Masonic Charitable Foundation Festival which will go towards the target of £1.8 million to be raised by the Province over the next five years.

RW Bro David Hagger commented: ‘What a wonderful way to commemorate the Tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England by bringing many Brethren and their families together to celebrate this special night.’

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