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.'
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.'
Remembering the fallen
For the first time in living memory, Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons attended the annual Remembrance Day service in Leicester in order to pay their respects and to lay a wreath to the fallen.
The Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro David Hagger, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Peter Kinder together with other Provincial Officers and their wives and partners attended the service at Victoria Park on Sunday 13th November 2016. They joined thousands of military veterans, local civic dignitaries and members of the public.
The service was led by the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Martyn Snow. During the service, maroons marked the two-minute silence between 11am and 11.02am.
Wreath-laying was led by the Lord Mayor of Leicester Cllr Stephen Corrall and Deputy Lt Col Richard Hurwood. The Provincial Grand Master was also invited to lay a wreath, on behalf of the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, at the war memorial to honour those who lost their lives during active service.
The Provincial Grand Master said: 'During the Great War, we had over 160 brethren serve, of which seven died. In the Second World War, five brethren also lost their lives.'
He continued: 'It was therefore a great honour to lay a wreath on behalf of the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons honouring the brethren and all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.'
The Rutland Lodge No. 1130, which meets at Freemasons’ Hall, Melton Mowbray, celebrated its 150th anniversary on Thursday 6th October 2016
The Sesquicentennial Festival was held at the regular meeting of the lodge who were honoured to receive the Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro David Hagger, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Jim Buckle, and the rest of the Provincial Officers.
In total over 90 brethren were in attendance to witness this relatively unique occasion which has seen only five other lodges in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland celebrate this milestone.
After the lodge was opened the Master offered the gavel to the Provincial Grand Master who on this occasion willingly accepted it. The Master read the Warrant and the Centenary Warrant of the lodge before W Bro Keith Harkness gave a thoroughly absorbing talk on the Highlights from the History of the Lodge.
The Rutland Lodge No. 1130 was consecrated on the 19th October 1866 at the George Hotel, Melton Mowbray by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master W Bro William Kelly. The lodge was named after His Grace the Duke of Rutland, the cousin of the first Master Bro George Norman, Squire of Goadby Marwood. The lodge was given permission by the Duke of Rutland to use the arms of the Duke on the lodge banner.
In the days before street lighting, the lodge originally met on days of the full moon to enable the members to find their way home by light of the moon but now meets 8 times a year on the first Thursday evening in the months between October and May. The lodge met at the George Hotel for 44 years and then subsequently met at the Colles Hall, Burton Street, Young Men’s Institute Hall in Market Place, Egerton Lodge, the Corn Exchange, and has met at its’ current home at Wicklow Lodge since 1951.
After the lodge meeting was closed, the Brethren enjoyed a wonderful Festive Board and were each generously presented with a hardbound copy of ‘The Sesquicentennial Festival 1866-2016’ which was compiled by W Bro Harkness and designed by W Bro Mike Rawson.
The Provincial Grand Master said: 'The 150 years of this lodge, since its consecration in 1866, are ample proof of the dedication shown by the Brethren in Melton Mowbray to our great Order. As the lodge travels its masonic pathway, I’m sure the brethren will display that same devotion and dedication in the future. I, and the masonic Province of Leicestershire and Rutland, wish them well.'
On Saturday 29th October 2016, the Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, RW Bro David Hagger, along with Trustees of the Bradgate Park Trust marked the commencement of the first tree clearance for the reflection area of the Memorial Wood at Bradgate Park, Leicestershire
The Memorial Wood is being funded by Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons along with United Grand Lodge of England to enhance a small woodland at the Park to create a tranquil and reflective space. This project is one of a number of projects in Leicestershire and Rutland that will be supported to mark the 300th anniversary of the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717.
The small woodland plantation is located opposite the Cropston Reservoir. Currently the woodland is fenced and inaccessible, but a new path into the heart of the space from the main carriageway will be suitable for all visitors. As part of the proposals the woodland will be fenced with traditional parkland deer fencing, new hedgerow planted and the wildlife value of the area enhanced, with new glades and trees planted. Natural paths within the woodland will allow people to explore the wood, whilst seating and a central feature will ensure there is an area for quiet reflection and remembrance. A centrepiece within the wood will consist of a seating area along with a sculpture of a stag.
Peter Tyldesley, Director of the Bradgate Park Trust said, 'We are regularly asked about opportunities for memorial trees and benches with plaques, but the nationally important landscape and heritage designations of the site means we cannot always accommodate these. This is a way that we can provide somewhere for our visitors to remember someone special, with a memorial plaque within a dedicated space. As a charity we are delighted to be working with the local Freemasons and also the United Grand Lodge of England.
'Their generous grants will support the physical work on the ground within the Site of Special Scientific Interest. It will also assist the charity in establishing a programme whereby people can purchase plaques within the Memorial Wood in recognition of the special nature of Bradgate Park to people throughout their lives. This will be available once the habitat improvements are completed in the autumn of 2017.'
The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, David Hagger said, 'We have worked with the Bradgate Park Trust in the past and this project is an important community initiative for our Tercentenary celebrations. Not only will conservation volunteers and our members be able to get involved in developing the project, working alongside the Bradgate Park Team, it will provide a lasting legacy of a special place where people can reflect on loved ones. Bradgate Park is close to the heart of local Freemasons, as Charles Bennion, Bradgate Park’s original Benefactor, was an eminent Leicestershire Freemason.'
The Memorial Wood will be officially opened on Thursday 5th October 2017 by the Pro Grand Master, RW Bro Peter Lowndes.
Children’s ward gets new nebulisers
Six nebulisers were presented by local Freemasons to the Children’s Ward at the Leicester Royal Infirmary via the Asthma Relief Charity by Leicestershire and Rutland PGM David Hagger.
Nebulisers convert liquid medication into aerosol droplets suitable for inhalation, using compressed air to enable patients to breathe more easily.
Each nebuliser will help 150 children over its six-year life. Members of Grey Friars Lodge, No. 6803, which meets in Leicester, also donated £1,400 to the Leicestershire Royal Infirmary Children and Young People’s Cancer Unit to provide play equipment and materials together with updating medical equipment.
Freemasons in Leicestershire and Rutland are celebrating a magnificent milestone in their charitable donations to the local community during the last five years
As they approach their 300th anniversary, figures released today show that Freemasons based in Leicestershire and Rutland, despite the recent economic downturn, have donated to over 400 different charities to the sum of £800,000.
Just under a third of the money donated went to healthcare charities, whilst those charities supporting children and youth received a quarter of the funding. Other charities were also supported who focus on social welfare, education, disability, elderly, culture, sport, religion, homeless and animals.
Freemasonry is one of the biggest contributors to UK charities, including both masonic and non-masonic causes. It encourages members to take a moral and ethical approach to life, helping them become the best that they can be. It seeks to reinforce the principles of kindness, honesty, fairness, tolerance and integrity.
Some of their recent donations include £10,000 to Warning Zone, the Leicester based interactive life skills centre, for an e-Safety zone, £15,000 to Leicester Cathedral for the reinterment of Richard III, £25,000 to the Leicester Children’s Holiday Centre Mablethorpe for play equipment and £50,000 to the new Centre for Medicine at the University of Leicester.
Other major beneficiaries include the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance, LOROS Hospice, Rainbows Children's Hospice, and PROSTaid.
David Hagger, Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland said: 'All of our members are encouraged to give to charity but should always be within their means and it is entirely up to each member how much they wish to contribute. The money donated is raised by the members themselves from such events as ladies' nights and other social occasions where family and friends get together.'
He continued: 'I'm incredibly proud and thank all our members for their philanthropy and generosity by contributing this amazing amount of money to local communities reinforcing the role that Freemasonry has always and continues to play in society.'
Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons are currently in full training getting ready to do a 300-mile cycle ride marking their 300th anniversary and aiming to raise £20,000 for the Rainbows Children's Hospice in Loughborough and the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF)
On 24th June 1717, four masonic lodges, which had existed for some time in London, formed the Grand Lodge of England which has since continued to administer the 7,000 lodges and it's 200,000 members across England and Wales.
Leicestershire and Rutland have 3,000 members which meet in the 76 lodges across the two counties. Masonic lodges are based in Leicester, Loughborough, Hinckley, Syston, Uppingham, Melton Mowbray, Lutterworth, Market Harborough, Oakham, Coalville and Ashby de la Zouch.
At least 35 Freemasons, aged between 22 and 70 years old, from over 20 different lodges will be cycling in June 2017 to each of the 11 masonic meeting places within Leicestershire and Rutland. They will then head to the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England at Freemasons' Hall, Covent Garden in London. When clocking up the 300 miles they will take a short detour to the site of the former Goose and Gridiron Ale House in St Paul's Churchyard, London where the first Grand Lodge was formed before they head back to Leicester.
Simon Oldfield, keen cyclist and organiser said: 'Cycling 300 miles will be a test of all those taking part, everyone is motivated to do the training knowing that we are raising money for two very worthwhile causes as part of our Tercentenary celebrations. It has brought together cyclists of varying age, experience and fitness, building a real team spirit for the challenge ahead.'
The Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People, based in Lougborough, provides care to those that are affected by life-limiting and life-threatening conditions. Helen Lee-Smith, Head of Individual Giving at Rainbows, said: 'I would like to thank Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons for organising their 300 mile cycle ride to celebrate 300 years of Freemasonry and for supporting Rainbows. Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons are doing a wonderful thing raising funds to help us run the hospice – fundraising efforts make such a huge difference to both the children and young people at Rainbows and their families.'
The MCF supports Freemasons, their families and the wider community. David Innes, Chief Executive of the MCF said: 'Our work depends entirely on donations from Freemasons and their families across England and Wales, and we are continually surprised and inspired by the unique and challenging ways that they raise funds for us. We wish all participants in the Leicestershire and Rutland 300 mile bike ride the best of luck and thank them in advance for their hard work and generosity.'
The Provincial Grand Master of the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, David Hagger, added: 'We'll be holding several celebratory events in 2017 and this charity bike ride is a perfect opportunity for our members to raise money for good causes by undertaking this physical challenge. We're keen to shake off our bygone image and this bike ride is a great example of this. Recently we have found that more younger people are attracted to Freemasonry as they seek a social environment with strong values and traditions that also supports the local community.'
He continued: 'During 2017, we'll also be opening the doors to our masonic halls for everyone to see inside and an exhibition on Freemasonry at Newarke House Museum in Leicester 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.'