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
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.
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.’
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.