Sunday 3rd September may have been cold and wet in rural Wiltshire, but that didn't stop over 1,000 Freemasons and their families from braving the elements to attend Salisbury Cathedral for a very special evensong service
The Provincial Grand Master RW Bro Philip Bullock welcomed civic leaders including the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire Mrs Sarah Rose Troughton, who was accompanied by her husband Mr Peter Troughton CBE, as well as the High Sheriff Lady Marland who joined Masonic leaders RW Bro Anthony Wilson and RW Bro George Francis PAGM for lunch before the service.
The service itself was the culmination of two years preparatory work by Assistant Provincial Grand Master W Bro Stephen Bridge who worked very closely with Canon Precentor Rev Tom Clammer in organising the event.
W Bro Stephen Bridge said: ‘It was a truly remarkable event - looking down the nave of the Cathedral it was quite incredible to see so many people present and proudly wearing Masonic regalia, which was a moment of intense and humbling delight and something that will stay fresh in the memory for many years to come. It’s at times like these that all of the planning, negotiation and apprehension became worthwhile.
‘We have celebrated the Tercentenary in Wiltshire’s most beautiful and impressive place of worship. In doing so we have not only honoured those Brethren who founded the first Grand Lodge, but also the generations of operative masons who built and maintain such an inspiring building. I can think of no more appropriate place for us to mark such an important Masonic event and I trust we have also contributed to the start of a mutually supportive relationship with the Cathedral, something that can only help promote Freemasonry in Wiltshire and beyond.’
RW Bro Philip Bullock was effusive in his praise of the event and the support it received. He commented: ‘It was a thrill to see the nave of the Cathedral so full. The support was quite amazing and we had Brethren from every part of the Province attending. It was also a particular pleasure to welcome members of the three branches of our Masonic Widows Association.’
By attending a service that was part of the Cathedral’s ordained pattern of worship, Wiltshire Freemasons provided an admirable public window, helping local communities understand the true values of Freemasonry. It is hoped that the service might be repeated in the not too distant future.
Please scroll through the gallery at the top to view photos from the service
At a Tercentenary event in Chippenham, three local lodges played host to brethren and their partners from Loge Zur alten Linde, No. 368, which meets in Dortmund, Germany
Fraternal visits have been taking place in Dortmund or Wiltshire for many years. On this occasion, it was decided to combine the fraternal visit with the Tercentenary celebrations in Wiltshire. Among the visitors was Arnim Schneider, Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Germany.
The host lodges – Chaloner Lodge, No. 2644; Wiltshire Lodge of Agriculture, No. 9090; and Fiat Lux Lodge, No. 9773 – also organised a trip to Longleat safari park, followed by a country social evening in Melksham.
Despite inclement weather, the Province of Somerset safely delivered the special south west Tercentenary banner to the Province of Devonshire in the magnificent Exeter Cathedral
The banner recognises the special fraternal bond that exists between the South West Provinces and has toured to the Provincial Grand Lodges of Jersey, Hampshire and Isle of Wight, Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset. Devonshire will pass it on to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Cornwall later in the year.
The Provincial Teams from Somerset and Devon paraded in regalia and met in the nave of Exeter Cathedral where the banner was formally passed over.
Stuart Hadler, Provincial Grand Master of Somerset, and Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devon, greeted one another and expressed their delight to be able to publicly show and acknowledge the 300th anniversary of the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge.
Wiltshire Freemasons found themselves in the wonderful surroundings of The Grange at Winterbourne Daunstey where they held a Teddy Bears Picnic
Entry to the event was free on the condition you brought a teddy bear and there was lots of entertainment on display for all the family including three bouncy castles games with a teddy bear hunt, a duck race and a thrilling birds of prey flying display.
There was also the opportunity to enjoy music on the lawn before adjounring to the magnificent recently converted Tithe Barn for afternoon tea.
The superb grounds of The Grange were bathed in glorious sunshine and the sound of happy children filled the air as they explored the woodland searching for hidden teddy bears and watched as rubber yellow ducks washed down the stream, cheered on by anxious owners desperate to win a bag of sweets.
The Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire Philip Bullock was thrilled with the day, commenting: 'I know that members of the Salisbury Lodges put a great deal of effort into making this day a success - they can be very proud of their achievement.'
The real winners though were Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) and the assisted living bungalow at nearby Alderbury, who between them shared almost £2,000 from the fundraising.
Rosie Greer, a senior sister at Salisbury Hospital enjoyed her day helping man the Teddies for Loving Care stand and display. She said: 'I have been especially pleased to be able to tell lots of people how a little TLC bear makes such a big difference to a child's time in our Accident and Emergency department.'
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.
On what was one of the warmest days of the year so far, Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes joined Provincial Grand Master RW Bro Michael Wilks at Hampshire and Isle of Wight's Provincial Grand Lodge meeting in Southampton
One of the highlights of the day was the official handover of the Tercentenary banner from the Province to RW Bro Philip Bullock - Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire.
The specially commissioned banner has now been carried through the Provinces of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney and Hampshire and Isle of Wight and on 19th July it will be formally handed to RW Bro Richard Merritt, Provincial Grand Master for Dorset.
This year not only marks the Tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England but also the conclusion of the Masonic Samaritan Fund 2017 Wiltshire Festival, which provides the ideal excuse to hold a celebration lunch in Trowbridge’s Civic Centre on Saturday 23rd September 2017.
You meet such a huge range of people
The Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire Philip Bullock has given an insightful interview following a recent visit to Swindon to promote the town’s nine lodges during the United Grand Lodge of England's Tercentenary
Philip commented: ‘Freemasonry is a body of people who – I think it’s reasonable to say – share the same view, which is that we’re not bystanders of life.
‘We want to be active members of life. What I mean by that is that we care about one another and we care about helping others, not because we want acclamation for it, but because we are compassionate people. We give to charity with compassion rather than, necessarily, looking for a spotlight.’
Freemasonry means something different to each individual and Philip Bullock is grateful for the opportunity it has given him to meet a huge range of friends: 'For me, one of the predominant things about it is the superb range of friends that I’ve met, really genuine people who are a delight to be with.
‘We are always looking for men of good character who want to join an organisation which has high values and places great emphasis on personal integrity, a desire to help and personal development.
‘I think most Freemasons would say they are better people for being exposed to Freemasonry. It also develops your self-confidence, not in a flamboyant way but a general inner self-confidence.’
The Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, has asked Freemasons to adopt a policy of openness and transparency in their contact with the public and the media, particularly in view of the tercentenary celebrations of the formation of Grand Lodge. In rising to the challenge Wiltshire Freemasons threw open the doors and welcomed over 260 members of press and public to an open day at the masonic hall situated in the very heart of the Cathedral City of Salisbury.
Making people feel welcome is very important and this was achieved with great success by Freemasons and their wives who greeted every visitor young and old with a smile as bright as the sunshine which flooded the streets bringing Salisbury to life as shoppers thronged the nearby shops and cafes.
To help explain the role of Freemasonry in society, its history and work, the lodges meeting at Salisbury compiled a series of ‘story boards’ outlining what Freemasonry is, what it does and, equally importantly, how a person can become a part of this amazing organisation.
This latter point was taken up in response to the Pro Grand Master’s comment that it is a matter of paramount importance we recruit and enthuse new members and ensure we go from strength to strength in the future, in both numbers and our usefulness to the society.
Areas were allocated to the charities supported by Salisbury Freemasons and featured representatives of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, The Scouting Association, Salisbury Hospice, Hope for Tomorrow, The Stars Scanner Appeal, Carer Support Wiltshire, Army Benevolent Fund, Children's Chance, Reading for the Blind, and the Province's very own Teddies for Loving Care.
One of the most sought after viewing locations with visitors was the lodge room with its impressive architecture and decoration. To bring the room to life, RW Bro Sir Ron Stuart-Paul provided an explanation of its many features to very attentive audiences, many of whom have been resident in Salisbury for decades and who expressed delight at having the opportunity to ‘see behind the scenes’ and have their questions answered.
The Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro Francis Wakem, whose enthusiastic support for the open day was welcomed by the Salisbury Lodges, has asked the Provincial Communications Team to use the success of this event as a pilot for the programme of activities being planned for the 2017 tercentenary celebrations of the formation of Grand Lodge. Discussions on the planning, marketing and implementation of the Open Day together with an assessment of the overall value of the event will help the Provincial Communications Team in its quest to establish a credible series of Province wide promotions including more open days, leading up to and beyond the actual tercentenary celebrations.
It seems that it is not only Britain’s athletes who have attained gold in recent times.
The Province of Wiltshire may be small in terms of lodge representation, but it has an active and vibrant membership which embodies the oft-quoted sentiment of the Provincial Grand Master that it possesses a large heart, lives well, laughs often and loves much.
Last year three of its members have been presented with 50 years service certificates.
On Wednesday 21 November, Gooch Lodge No. 1295 was honoured with a visit from the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Peter Winton who presented a 50 years service certificate to W Bro Dennis Bull.
A few days before, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, W Bro Philip Bullock ‘did a double’ when he presented certificates to W Bro Keith Newton and W Bro Stuart Brown, both members of the Lodge of Friendship and Unity No. 1271, which meets in the lovely market town of Bradford on Avon, famed for its history as a wool centre.
Not forgotten was W Bro Dennis Simmons a member of St Edmund Lodge No. 4714 meeting in Calne, who has also received a well merited certificate recognising and celebrating his 50 years service to Antient Freemasonry.
To round off a very happy few months the Province also recognised W Bro John English who has completed 60 years of service as a Wiltshire Freemason. Initiated into Gooch Lodge No. 1295 on the 15 October 1952, John was installed as Master of the Lodge in 1967. He was promoted to Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 1982, and was made an honorary member of the Lodge in 2008. He has now completed 60 years service as a Wiltshire Freemason.
This remarkable achievement was marked by a visit to John's home in Devizes by the Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire, RW Bro Francis Wakem, together with members of Gooch Lodge.
With each presentation there is invariably a story to be told about the recipient of the honour, and it is these stories which bring alive the various ‘honours boards’ which are to be found in lodge rooms. For in achieving such a milestone as 50 years of service it must be acknowledged that the brethren will have known many of the names of those who have served in the capacity of Master and will remember with a mixture of awe and affection the part they played in the life of the lodge.
We are reminded that for our ancient brethren it was ‘the hope of reward which sweetened labour’. While a certificate may not be strictly termed a reward, it is hoped that brethren who have laboured in the cause of Freemasonry for so many years will accept the grateful thanks of the Province and their lodge for their selfless service.