Celebrating 300 years

A Surrey Freemason will be donning his hiking boots and preparing to take part in the Nijmegen March this July

Spread over four days from 18th – 21st July 2017, W Bro Nigel Feltham will be taking part in the 101st International Four Day March in Nijmegen, Holland, for the fourth time.

During the four days, Nigel Feltham will be walking approximately 100 miles, alongside a total of 47,000 starters of this popular event. He will be joined by his friends Andrew Bignold and Cornish Freemason Michael Wierenga, who is also a member of Stoneleigh Coronation Chapter in Surrey and will be completing the walk for the ninth time.

Nigel Feltham commented: ‘The party and carnival atmosphere in the village every night is incredible, hundreds if not thousands of walkers sharing their experiences of the day. The last day is the best, with bands playing and people cheering; it’s a very emotional experience with a medal waiting for you at the finish line.’

Nigel Feltham will be raising money for the Surrey 2019 Festival appeal, with proceeds going to the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI).

You can sponsor Nigel Feltham by clicking here

Local charity boost for Cornwall

Cornwall masons have distributed £118,000 to 37 local charities at a Provincial Charity Day held at Newquay. Among the charities was Cornwall Hospice Care, which received £6,100 from four lodges and the Royal Arch. Another recipient was the Cornwall Youth Brass Band, whose members played for the guests.

Dedicated cancer support in Truro

At the annual meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Cornwall held at Newquay, Provincial Grand Master Stephen Pearn presented Macmillan Cancer Support with a cheque for £75,792 towards its Cove Appeal, to build a new cancer support centre in Truro.

The Cove Macmillan Support Centre will provide a dedicated support facility for people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly affected by cancer, whether they are the patient, caring for someone or simply worried about cancer. More than 21,000 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are living with cancer.

The welfare estate

When Augustus John Smith signed a lease to run the Isles of Scilly, he created an infrastructure that would transform living conditions for the poor. Richard Larn OBE charts the life of this enthusiastic Freemason and philanthropist

While the Victorian era produced countless well-educated young men from wealthy British families, Augustus John Smith stood out. Provincial Grand Master and Chapter member of both Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Smith saved the five off-islands of Scilly from starvation.

The Smith family originated from Nottingham, where grandfather Smith had made his fortune in textiles. His son James took over the business before moving into banking and property investment, purchasing Ashlyn’s Hall in Berkhamstead, where Augustus was raised. The young Smith was at Harrow when his mother Mary died while visiting Paris. 

Graduating from Christchurch College, Oxford, Smith greatly missed his mother and her guidance. Her love of horticulture encouraged him to later create the now world-famous Tresco Abbey Garden on the Isles of Scilly. However, his great passion in life was education and improving the lot of the working class.

While in his twenties, Smith’s father gave him a very large sum of money. With such serious funds in a bank account, many young men would have embarked on the Grand Tour, seen Europe end to end and thoroughly enjoyed themselves, but not Smith. A studious and serious young man, he toured Britain, studying the working class – their living conditions, employment, finances and education.

At his own expense, Smith established two schools in his home town where ‘the three Rs’ were taught alongside instruction in industry. He suffered abuse from his peers for his support of the poor, with wealthy industrialists fearing that education would make workers unwilling to slave for the pittance they were paid. It was this opposition to progress that caused him to seek pastures new, somewhere he could turn his dream of reformation into reality. Smith toured England and Ireland looking for such a place before setting his heart on Scilly.   

The needs of the islands, owned by the Duchy of Cornwall and deemed ‘unprofitable’ by their previous tenant, were summed up in a Duchy Report that stated: ‘No corner of Great Britain stood in greater need of help than Scilly.’ A similar comment was voiced by the Rev George ‘Bosun’ Smith, who stated in 1818, ‘Oh, that some of our wealthy and benevolent countrymen, whose hearts are as generous as their means are ample, could but witness these things.’

Devoted to reform

The reverend was referring to the conditions he found during a tour of the off-islands, which revealed men, women and children in the depths of poverty. He wrote in his journal: ‘What strength could they have from limpets and dried leaves off the hedge, which they mix with hot water? ... Scarcely any clothes and no shoes, the woman frequently goes out at twelve at night to any family who can hire her, and stands washing till the next night for four pence and a little food.’

After signing a lease for ninety-nine years at an annual rent of £40, Augustus Smith was asked by the owners to pay a fine of £20,000 – a refundable surety, he was told. The five off-islands were in a deplorable state; the Duchy wasn’t prepared to invest in its own property, yet still it demanded this sum. 

Smith also had to promise to spend £5,000 building a new quay, and a further £3,400 on the parish church. Any lesser man would have walked away – but not Smith. He arrived on Scilly in 1835 as Lord Proprietor and embarked on a huge construction plan, offering employment and paying wages out of his own pocket. 

Smith set out a policy that cut to the quick of the old Scillonian ways. In future, every child would attend school until the age of thirteen. New dwellings went up, quays and roads were repaired, and new ones created, all at his own expense. He banned smuggling, introduced a magistrates’ court and upset a lot of people who were reluctant to change. 

With no property on Scilly sufficiently large enough for his personal needs, Smith built Tresco Abbey as his private residence, overlooking two lakes in the grounds of the old St Nicholas Priory.

The moral man

One of Smith’s great passions was Freemasonry. 

He was initiated into the brotherhood in Watford Lodge, No. 404, in London in 1832 at the age of twenty-seven, and later became a member of numerous other lodges. In 1855, aged fifty-one, the Phoenix Lodge in Truro sponsored his election as Deputy Provincial Grand Master; by 1863 he was chosen as the sixth Provincial Grand Master of Cornwall.

Just when Smith joined Dolphin Lodge, No. 7790, Isles of Scilly, is uncertain. There had been a lodge on the island from 1755, but in 1783 it changed its name to Godolphin Lodge, possibly out of respect for the family who held the tenancy of the islands for centuries. In 1851, for reasons unknown, the lodge surrendered its warrant and closed. 

While this could have been due to a lack of support, it does not seem likely. With shipbuilding on the main island of St Mary’s at its peak, the island was packed with workers and countless ships’ captains, many of whom were masons. There is a possibility that Smith initiated its closure, since as a mason he was morally obliged to support the lodge and attend its meetings, but his role as Lord Proprietor placed him in an impossible position. We shall never know.

In 1872, Smith died aged sixty-seven from gangrene of the lungs in Plymouth. He was buried in St Buryan, Cornwall, choosing that location over the islands as a death-bed protest against the Duchy of Cornwall, which he felt had treated him badly. 

Smith had worked tirelessly for the benefit of Scilly. He got the post office to connect the islands to the mainland by telegraph cable, established a regular packet service, mail collection and delivery, and encouraged new enterprise including the island’s burgeoning flower industry.

Published in Features

Cornwall backs 28 local charities

A recent charity event held by the Province of Cornwall was attended by more than 100 people from 28 local charities – as well as many friends and volunteers – who received donations totalling more than £46,000. Provincial Grand Master Peter George said, ‘A joint event like this, with the national masonic Grand Charity and the Cornwall Masonic Benevolent Fund, allows us to make larger combined donations across a wide range of local charity groups.’ 

Wednesday, 30 April 2014 17:57

Grand Master's address - April 2014

Craft Annual Investiture 

30 April 2014 
An address by the MW The Grand Master HRH The Duke of Kent, KG 

Brethren, I want to start by saying a very warm welcome to you all, and to thank you for re-electing me as Grand Master at the last meeting in March. I particularly congratulate all those that I have had the pleasure of investing today.

Whether you have been appointed to or promoted in Grand Rank, I want to emphasise that two of your key tasks are recruitment and retention. It has become clear from the research carried out by the Membership Focus Group chaired by the Deputy President of the Board of General Purposes that these tasks are more important than ever before. I am particularly concerned to hear that very few members recruit at all, and that there is an unacceptably high loss rate after each of the three degrees and indeed during the first ten years of membership.

The Membership Focus Group has been formed to analyse the statistics and to make proposals to stem the loss of members. It is already clear that the Mentoring Scheme will play a vital role going forward. It is therefore important that Lodge Mentors appoint appropriate personal mentors to look after each new candidate, rather than trying to do all the mentoring themselves. I look to you all, as Grand Officers, supporting the Mentoring Scheme.

Naturally, I expect you will also be good examples to others whatever their rank – not only in your good conduct and supportive approach but also by demonstrating your enjoyment of Freemasonry.

Yesterday evening I hosted a dinner for Provincial and District Grand Masters. The support of and direction from your respective Provincial and District Grand Masters is paramount and I am pleased to hear how closely they, in turn, are working with the Centre, here at Freemasons’ Hall. This inclusive approach is core to the future of the English Constitution.

I continue to hear of the good work done by the Provinces in their local communities and no better example has been the help given to the victims of the recent floods, especially in the West Country. This good work was supported when I recently had the opportunity to visit two Provinces. In Gloucestershire where I also attended their annual service in Gloucester Cathedral and also in Cornwall. I was impressed by the enthusiasm of the members I met in both Provinces.

Finally Brethren, I want to express our thanks to the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies for the smooth running of the impressive ceremony that you have just witnessed, as well as to the Grand Secretary and his staff for all their hard work leading up to today’s investiture.

Published in Speeches

Grace gets on her bike

The daughter of Adrian Ferrell, of Lodge of Fortitude, No. 131, Province of Cornwall, has received funding for a specialist tricycle to aid her mobility and enable her to cycle with friends.

Thanks to the commitment of lodge Almoner Ted Wallis and his understanding of who is eligible for support from the MSF, the charity has been able to provide a mobility grant to fund a custom-built bike for seven-year-old Grace. 

Grace was born with cardiac problems and following a stroke her doctor recommended the use of a specialist tricycle to help strengthen her legs and assist with her walking. Her mother, Elaine Ferrell, said, ‘Grace is so much happier now that she can join in racing around with her friends. She loves her cycle, which was even supplied in red, her favourite colour.’

 

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund

Cornwall digs deep for Samaritan Fund

There has been a magnificent effort by the Province of Cornwall in raising £1,876,879 in its Festival on behalf of the Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF).

Provincial Grand Master Peter George commented, ‘This amount greatly exceeded the target I set when I became Provincial Grand Master, and demonstrated yet again that one of the core principles of our Order is very much alive within our membership.’ The guest of honour at the Atlantic Hotel, Newquay, was Assistant Grand Master David Williamson.

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund

The Masonic Samaritan Fund was delighted to host two Provincial Grand Masters and to witness a very generous show of West Country solidarity

RW Bro Ian Kingsbury, PGM for Devonshire, presented a cheque for £5,000 to his neighbouring PGM, RW Bro Peter George in support of the Cornwall 2013 Festival. On behalf of the MSF, Richard Douglas (CEO) welcomed both visitors and, in accepting the very generous donation, assured both PGMs that it would be put to good use on behalf of those in need of health and care support.

With only a month to go until the finale of the 2013 Cornwall Festival on behalf of the MSF, this very welcome donation from the Province of Devonshire is much appreciated by all concerned.

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 01:00

CORNWALL GOES FOR GOLD

The Cornwall Provincial crest includes 15 bezants (gold coins), a fitting emblem in Olympic year as the Province embarks on its final 12 months of fundraising on behalf of the Masonic Samaritan Fund 2013 Festival. On a gloriously sunny day, Provincial Grand Master Peter George hosted the Fund’s Annual Meeting in Falmouth. In addition to welcoming members who had travelled from all parts of the Province, Peter thanked staff, Trustees and members of the Fund who had made even longer journeys. He was particularly pleased to welcome the ladies present, who hopefully left the meeting better informed about the work of the Fund. The Olympic theme was evident as Tony Evans, Provincial Grand Charity Steward, implored all present to ‘Go for Gold’ in one final fundraising effort on behalf of the Festival appeal.

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund

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