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.'
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.