Celebrating 300 years

Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons will mark the 300th Anniversary of the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge of England, by throwing open the doors to their Masonic Halls across Leicestershire - some for the first time - as part of the national Heritage Open Days

For anyone who has any interest in Freemasonry, has any questions they want answering, or just wants to see inside the buildings, these Open Days are the perfect opportunity to find out more.

Throughout the day, escorted tours of the building will be conducted, allowing visitors to access the lodge room where masonic meetings are held and hear of the symbolism, history and practice of Freemasonry.

Ashby-de-la-Zouch

Masonic Hall, Lower Church Street, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire LE65 1AB

The Masonic Hall (Lyric Rooms) in Ashby was opened in 1981 after the former Cinema on Lower Church Street was purchased and refreshed for over £100,000.

Hinckley

Hinckley Masonic Hall, St. Mary's Rd, Hinckley, LE10 1EQ

The Masonic Hall in Hinckley, also known as the Green Rooms, was built in 1927 in St. Mary's Road. The original construction of the building was of a single storey with a Lodge room, dining room and kitchen. 

In 2011, an additional storey was added to house a new Masonic Lodge Room. The lower floor was opened out to create a large function suite with an integral bar but maintaining much of the former architectural and aesthetic appeal. The Hall continues to host the lodges that meet in Hinckley along with serving the local community.

Leicester

Freemasons’ Hall, 78 London Road, Leicester LE2 0RA

The first Masonic Hall in Leicester was situated on Halford Street and was built in 1859. It moved to its current location on London Road in 1910 after the initial hall was deemed too small when the popularity of Freemasonry saw a significant increase. The original lodge room in the Hall, the Holmes Lodge Room, is deemed one of the finest in the country with a stunningly decorated barrelled ceiling.

Lutterworth

Freemasons’ Hall, George Street, Lutterworth, Leicestershire LE17 4ED

Freemasons’ Hall in Lutterworth, also known as the Wycliffe Rooms, was converted from the old Ritz Cinema in George Street in 1963. The former circle/balcony was converted in the Lodge Room. 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.

Market Harborough

Masonic Hall, Kings Road, Market Harborough, Leicestershire LE16 7JU

St Peter’s Lodge was granted a Warrant in 1870 to meet at the Three Swans Hotel in Market Harborough. As Masonry 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.

Syston 

Masonic Hall, Broad Street, Syston, Leicestershire, LE7 1GJ

The Masonic Hall in Syston was built in 1905 on a site of an old school in Broad Street which was enlarged in 1915 and a second floor added in 1930. A total of seven lodges meet at the hall today which makes it one of the largest halls outside of Leicester.

The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland David Hagger said: 'We are really excited about this opportunity, as part of the national Heritage Open Days, to open the Masonic Hall in Syston for the very first time. We look forward to welcoming the community to show them around and help better inform them about the history of the Hall and Freemasonry in general.'

Everyone is welcome, with free tours on Saturday 9th September 2017 starting at 10am until 3.00pm and no booking required.

Other Masonic Halls in Leicestershire opening as part of the Heritage Open Days are in Leicester, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Hinckley, Lutterworth and Market Harborough. More details can be found on the Heritage Open Days website here.

RW Bro Gayton C. Taylor completes 70 year milestone

On 28th June 2017, Provincial Grand Master RW Bro David Hagger of Leicestershire and Rutland visited Cornwallis Court, the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution Home at Bury St Edmunds, to present a 70 year certificate of service in Freemasonry to RW Bro Gayton C. Taylor

RW Bro Gayton C. Taylor, who is 95-years-old, was Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland from 1978 to 1989.

The Provincial Grand Master was accompanied by Provincial Assistant Grand Master VW Bro Peter Kinder and Past Provincial Grand Master RW Bro. Derek Buswell.

RW Bro David Hagger commented: 'Despite Bro Gayton being 95 years of age and having to use a wheelchair, he was in remarkably good health.

'He was delighted to receive the certificate which recorded not only the Lodges of which he was a subscribing member, but also the 43 Lodges of which he had been made an honorary member.'

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.’

The Classic 300 has been continuing in full force, with two runs held on the same day in Leicestershire and Bristol on July 2nd

In Leicestershire, several Freemasons participated with classic and future classic cars along with their motorcycles. The route was arranged by W Bro David Crocker and W Bro Mark Pierpoint, which started at the Devonshire Court RMBI Home in Oadby. This gave the residents a chance to look at the vehicles including the special edition Mike Tunnicliffe E-type Jaguar.

The classic car and bike enthusiasts then drove in convoy for the 15 mile journey to Bradgate Park on the outskirts of north Leicester. Upon arrival, they were warmly greeted by the Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, RW Bro David Hagger.

Many then walked through the park to the site of the Memorial Wood which is being funded by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Leicestershire and Rutland and the United Grand Lodge of England as part of the Tercentenary celebrations.

The Park Ranger Peter Tyldesley gave an interesting talk on the history of the park and also the construction of the Memorial Wood which is due to be opened by the Pro Grand Master RW Bro Peter Lowndes on Thursday October 5th 2017. The visitors were shown the newly installed 14 tonne granite stone, which is to be the centrepiece for the wood along with a walk around the paths, which have been created to meander throughout the one acre wood.

South West – Route 2

On the same day, the crowds also gathered on a lovely summer's morning at Ashton Gate Stadium, home of Bristol City FC and Bristol Rugby, to await the arrival of a wonderful selection of classic cars. This was the departure point of the South West Route 2 run to the world famous Haynes Motor Museum in Somerset.

A giant electronic screen on the side of the stadium welcomed all the crews as they entered the car park and after light refreshments the first cars were ready to leave. The Provincial Grand Master of Bristol Alan Vaughan, accompanied by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Jonathan Davis, presented the "travelling gavel" to John Slade, who was driving a beautiful 1967 E-Type Jaguar.

The Union Jack was raised and then at 30 intervals the other 23 cars began their scenic journey, where they passed through Cheddar Gorge, Wookey Hole and the Somerset Lowlands.

Morgans, a Sunbeam Tiger, an Aston Martin, a Triumph Stag, a Royal Sceptre, a Bentley and a Mini Cooper, to name but a few, were then cheered by the spectators as they left.

Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons have completed a four-day cycle ride visiting all the Masonic Centres in the Province before continuing to Freemasons’ Hall in London and back again

The 300 mile trip not only marked the 300th anniversary of Freemasonry, but raised over £21,000 to be split equally between the Rainbows Children’s Hospice in Loughborough and the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

The 23 cyclists ranged from 19 to 64 years of age and were from 15 masonic lodges based in Leicester, Oakham, Syston, Market Harborough and Ashbourne in Derbyshire.

They were waved off from Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Jim Buckle, and Helen Smith from Rainbows, and during the ride were welcomed by Brethren at the Masonic Centres in Loughborough, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Coalville, Hinckley, Lutterworth, Market Harborough, Uppingham, Oakham, Melton Mowbray and Syston. 

They were also warmly welcomed at Freemasons’ Hall, London, by the Chief Executive of the Masonic Charitable Foundation, David Innes. The cyclists made a quick detour in London to visit St. Paul’s Churchyard where the first Grand Lodge of England was formed 300 years ago in 1717 at the Goose and Gridiron ale-house.

W Bro Simon Oldfield from the Wyggeston Lodge and organiser of the event, said: 'We are all proud to have taken part in a great adventure and it's such an achievement by all the riders and support crew, with great team spirit and camaraderie to raise money for charity.'

The cyclists arrived back on schedule at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, where they were welcomed by the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Peter Kinder and a large number of family and friends.

W Bro Paul Simpson, Master of St. Wilfrid’s Lodge in Market Harborough, said: 'The whole experience was most enjoyable. This is what Freemasonry is all about - working together as a team to raise funds for charity whilst having great fun in doing so. I made friends that will be friends for life now.'

The Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro David Hagger, commented: 'I most sincerely thank the cyclists and assisting crew on behalf of all the Freemasons and their families in Leicestershire and Rutland for the generous contribution they have made. It is truly a magnificent achievement.'

Tuesday, 13 June 2017 06:00

Boxing clever

The Province of Leicestershire and Rutland has raised £30,000 for the MCF thanks to a sports memorabilia auction that included Sir Henry Cooper’s boxing glove

In March, Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons held a sports memorabilia auction at the Leicester Tigers rugby ground as part of their five-year Festival Appeal in support of the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

Hosted by former England cricketer Ed Giddins, the evening raised more than £30,000, with lots including a wheel from Nigel Mansell’s Formula 1 car, a football signed by Pelé and Chris Froome’s Tour de France yellow jersey.

The most coveted lot was a pair of Sir Henry Cooper’s boxing gloves, which he used in the 1969 European Heavyweight Title fight in Rome against Piero Tomasoni, who Cooper beat in five rounds. The gloves sold for £1,800 alongside Cooper’s autograph and newspaper clippings about the fight. Freemason Mark Pierpoint donated the gloves, which had been given to his father, Ray, many years ago by a member of Cooper’s team.

David Hagger, Provincial Grand Master, said: ‘We have started our Tercentenary celebrations in style with this wonderful charity event. I’m thrilled that we have raised so much for the Masonic Charitable Foundation.’

The Province is among the first to launch a Festival Appeal in support of the MCF, and hopes to raise £1.8 million over five years.

A blue plaque was unveiled by the Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, David Hagger at Freemasons' Hall, Leicester, on Saturday 29th April 2017 to mark the 300th Anniversary of the formation the first Grand Lodge of England

The commemorative blue plaque marks the first activity of Freemasonry in Leicester where the earliest known lodge in Leicester was established in 1739 and met at the Wheat Sheaf Inn on Humberstone Gate. 

Other lodges followed including a lodge which met at ‘The Pelican’ in Gallowtree Gate, which was formed in 1754. In 1761, two lodges were formed - Lodge No 87, which was associated with the Leicestershire Militia, and Lodge No 91. Lodge No 91 continued to meet at several Inns and Taverns including ‘The Crown and Thistle’ in Loseby Lane, which is now O’Neills pub, and ‘The Leather Bottle’ in Church Gate.

Members of Lodge No 91 subsequently formed St John’s Lodge in 1790 which is the oldest surviving lodge in Leicester still in existence and first met at the Lion and Dolphin in Market Place. The lodge met at the Three Cranes Inn, Gallowtree Gate from 1801 to 1810 when it moved to the White Swan, Market Place and in 1817 at the George Inn.

In 1859, the two lodges meeting in Leicester, St John’s Lodge, then meeting at the Bell Hotel, and John of Gaunt Lodge, meeting at the Three Crowns, and its 80 members, raised funds to build a permanent home in Halford Street lead by William Kelly. 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.

David Hagger commented: 'Freemasonry has been a long established fraternity in the local communities and we wish to celebrate our history by installing these commemorative plaques to mark the historic occasion of our 300th anniversary.

'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.'

RW Bro David Hagger, Provincial Grand Masterfor Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, visited the headquarters of Lifelites on Wednesday 15th December 2016 for a demonstration of some of the equipment that is provided by the charity to children’s hospices

Lifelites began as project within the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys and became an independent charity in 2006. It provides specialist entertainment, educational and assistive technology packages to over 9,000 children and young people with life-limiting, life-threatening and disabling conditions in children's hospices including Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People based in Loughborough. 

Caroline Powell, Lifelites Training Manager, drives the Lifelites' training strategy to ensure all of the donated equipment is utilised to its full potential by hospice staff was delighted to demonstrate some of the equipment including Eyegaze which makes a computer accessible for disabled young people. Through a sensor, Eyegaze allows them to track their eye movements enabling them to move the cursor around the screen. Children whose carers and families thought they were unable to communicate, can now do so with this magical technology – they can tell their carers what they would like to eat or drink and can even, for the first time, tell their parents that they love them.

Simone Enefer-Doy, Chief Executive of Lifelites said: 'We are hoping to provide Rainbows in Leicestershire with another new package of our latest technologies in 2018 and will be fundraising for that project in the New Year.'

Published in Lifelites

The annual carol service attended by Freemasons of the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland was held at Leicester Cathedral on Sunday 11th December 2016

The Rev Canon Johannes Arens, Canon Precentor welcomed over 200 members and their family and friends to the cathedral for the service, including the Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro David Hagger, Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Jim Buckle and Assistant Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Peter Kinder.

The congregation were supported in singing carols by the Senior Trebles and Songmen of the Cathedral Choir and accompanied by the Cathedral Organist, Simon Headley. Carols sung included ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’, ‘Long Ago, Prophets Knew’, ‘It Came Upon the Midnight Clear’, ‘See Amid the Winter's Snow’, ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ and ‘Hark! the Herald Angels Sing’.

Lessons were read by W Bro Ian Hammond, Master of the Howe and Charnwood Lodge No. 1007, W Bro Kelvin Johnson, Provincial Grand Secretary, W Bro Paul Roberts, Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, the Provincial Grand Master, Deputy Provincial Grand Master and Assistant Provincial Grand Master. The sermon was given by the Rev Canon Jeff Hopewell.

After the service, wine and mince pies, provided by the Province, were served in the cathedral by members of the Derek Buswell Lodge of Provincial Grand Stewards No. 9705.

Opening evening for the curious

Freemasons from lodges in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland were invited to bring their sons, friends and colleagues who might be interested in finding out more about the ancient fraternity to an open evening at Syston Masonic Hall on the 14th November 2016.

In the past three years, unlike the national trend, membership in the Province has seen a rise – particularly amongst younger masons who are keen to join and to mark the Tercentenary of United Grand Lodge of England in 2017. It is aimed to welcome 300 new members across Leicestershire and Rutland joining the 3,000 strong membership which meet in the 76 lodges across the two counties.

A total of 80 gentlemen accompanied by their hosts packed into the lodge room to listen to a number of short talks on what Freemasonry is, how it developed, why people join and charitable aspects which were given by W Bros Phillip Dodd, Brian Golland and Marc Taylor. Additionally Bro Andrew 'Jock' Keenan introduced the Light Blue Club which is the social club for newer members. It was so well attended that extra chairs had to be brought into the lodge room to accommodate everyone.

The Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro. David Hagger, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Jim Buckle and the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Peter Kinder were also in attendance to support the event and answer any questions from the guests.

After the talks, the guests and their hosts enjoyed a sumptuous buffet and a chance to chat with their hosts about masonry on a more casual basis.

The Provincial Grand Master said: 'We are finding that more and more younger people are attracted to Freemasonry as they seek a social environment with strong values and traditions that also supports the local community in charitable giving.'

He added: 'Whilst we would be delighted if our guests this evening consider joining our fraternity, I trust that they have all left with an extremely positive attitude about the Freemasons.'

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