Members of three Universities Scheme Lodges meeting in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland - Wyggeston Lodge No.3448, which is the Universities Scheme Lodge for the University of Leicester, Castle of Leicester No.7767 (De Montfort University) and Lodge of Science and Art No.8429 (Loughborough University) - met together for a joint meeting to celebrate the success of the Universities Scheme in the Province together with the Tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England.
The meeting, which was held at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, on Saturday 25th February 2017 was attended by over 90 brethren who witnessed 3 ceremonies (an Initiation, a Passing and a Raising) with multiple candidates and conducted in turn by each of the lodges.
The Lodges were extremely honoured to welcome the Assistant Grand Master, RW Bro Sir David Wootton, who is President of the Universities Scheme, along with the Scheme Chairman, W Bro Edward Lord. Also attending were the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro James Buckle, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Peter Kinder, brethren representing ten other Scheme Lodges, and with other visitors.
After the Master of Wyggeston Lodge Master, W Bro Yogesh Patel, opened the meeting at 2.30pm, the Master of Castle of Leicester Lodge, W Bro Daniel Hayward, along with members of the lodge conducted a triple Raising. Following a short tea break it was the turn of Lodge of Science and Art to conduct a Passing. Finally, after a further tea break, Wyggeston Lodge conducted an Initiation ceremony for three new members, two of whom are students at the University of Leicester.
The meeting was followed by a wonderful Festive Board, where the lodges enjoyed a hearty three course dinner and the company of the guests and visitors. A raffle held in aid the Alderman Newton’s Educational Foundation, which is a local charity offering financial support to individuals and schools to help people access education or training opportunities in Leicestershire, raised £420. A collection for the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2022 Festival also raised £422 including Gift Aid.
W Bro Andy Green, organiser of the event and Vice-Chairman of the Universities Scheme, said: “Getting the three lodges together provided a wonderful occasion to celebrate the Universities Scheme in the Province and to mark the Tercentenary of Grand Lodge. It was encouraging to see so many younger members enjoying their Freemasonry, which created a real buzz throughout the day.”
Jewels in the crown
After W Bro James Noel Pitts, Howe and Charnwood Lodge No. 1007 and Lodge of Science and Art No. 8429, passed away in June 2013 his family asked the Almoner of Howe and Charnwood, W Bro Ray Hardy, to dispose of his masonic regalia and deal with some masonic curios
W Bro Ray faithfully returned regalia to the lodges of which W Bro Jim had been a member, but there was an old toffee tin containing a number of masonic jewels and other assorted items. W Bro David Sharpe from the Lodge of Research No. 2429 was then asked to help identify them and to deal with them as he thought best.
Many of the jewels were duplicates of those held at the Masonic Hall at Loughborough, and so he took them to the Provincial museum in Leicester to include in their collection. Four of these jewels are of special interest:
The first is a bicentennial jewel issued in 1917 during World War 1, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the formation of the Grand Lodge of England. On the obverse is an engraving of the MW Grand Master The Duke of Connaught, and on the reverse appear the arms of UGLE and the dates 1717–1917.
There are also two silver Masonic Million Memorial Fund Commemorative Jewels. These were in recognition of money donated to the Masonic Peace Memorial, later to become known as Freemasons’ Hall, in memory of the many brethren who had given their lives in the First World War. These were issued to any lodge member under the English Constitution who donated ten guineas (£10.50) or more. They were given to W Bros JS Potter, PPJGW and H Mallinson. Some 52,334 individual jewels were issued. Any individual mason donating 100 guineas or more was eligible for one of these jewels in gold. Was there a gold one for W Bro Potter, since he donated over 100 guineas? If so, what became of it? If not, why not?
A slightly larger medal in gold on a light blue collarette to be worn by successive Masters of lodges was awarded to those lodges contributing an average of ten guineas per member, which were to be known as Hall Stone Lodges. Howe and Charnwood did not qualify, but there are two such lodges in the Province who did, Albert Edward Lodge No. 1560 and Enderby Lodge No. 5061. In all, 1,321 lodges at home and abroad qualified as Hall Stone Lodges.
The final jewel in the tin was perhaps the most interesting. It was created to be awarded to those individual masons who had donated at least 240 guineas (£252). 956 of these Jewels were issued. This was given to W Bro Potter, and is inscribed M.M.M. and his name. Does this mean it was donated through the Howe Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 21, of which he was a member and by 1930 Director of Ceremonies?
Whilst these jewels are, of course, of considerable interest, they are only in the museum in Leicester due to the thoughtfulness of W Bro Jim’s family, and will form part of a display of his curios and works donated the museum.
How easily they could be now in some antique shop or a flea market. One must ask, will families know what to do with masonic regalia, books and curios when the owners pass away?
This is the point made by W Bro Walters in the conclusion of his inaugural address to the Lodge of Research in 1977 when he said: 'Many masons have interesting material. When they die their wives or executors may not appreciate it and it would be a service to posterity if arrangements could be made to deposit it either with their lodges, or an established library or archive before it gets into the hands of persons who may not appreciate its value.'
Three Leicestershire lodges were part of a unique joint meeting to celebrate recent UNIVERSITIES' SCHEME successes
Since joining the Universities’ Scheme, over 50 university staff, student and alumni have joined the lodges in just four years.
The Lodge of Science and Art No. 8429 joined in December 2010 and is the scheme lodge for Loughborough University. Wyggeston Lodge No. 3448 is the scheme lodge for the University of Leicester and joined in April 2011, with Castle of Leicester Lodge No. 7767 for De Montfort University joining in October 2012.
Members of the lodges and visitors from across the country gathered in the decorative Holmes Lodge Room at Freemasons' Hall to witness each lodge conducting one of the three ceremonies consisting of candidates from all the lodges.
The acting Master of the Lodge of Science and Art, W Bro Peter Legg, started the day's proceedings with a triple Raising ceremony. Then acting Master of Wyggeston Lodge, W Bro Andy Green, who is also part of the UGLE Universities’ Scheme Committee, conducted a triple Passing ceremony. Castle of Leicester Lodge then conducted a triple Initiation with acting Master, W Bro Paul Wallace taking the Chair.
The lodges were pleased to welcome the Deputy Chairman of the Universities' Scheme, W Bro Daniel Johnson, who said it was 'a marvellous day' and that the Province were seen as huge supporters of the scheme.
The members of the three lodges enjoyed a special celebration Festive Board after the meeting and raised £300 for the Alderman Newton’s Educational Foundation, a local charity that offers financial support to individuals and schools to help people access education or training opportunities in Leicestershire.
The entire meeting went extremely well and clearly demonstrated the very good heart of the three Universities’ Scheme Lodges within the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland.
VW Bro Peter Kinder, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, who has overseen the development of the scheme within the Province said: 'We are delighted with the amazing response we have had to this new scheme. Freemasonry has recently proved to be very popular amongst younger men, particularly students and this resurgence of renewed interest into our historic fraternity, which is 300 years old in 2017, has led to lodges, such as the three University Lodges, having to hold extra meetings to cope with demand. The Masonic code of moral behaviour, charitable giving, especially to non-masonic charities, and honesty, really appeals to many young men, even in this modern day and age.'
W Bro Daniel Hayward, UGLE Regional Co-ordinator for the scheme who also took part in the ceremonies, said of the meeting: 'It has been a wonderful day celebrating the success of the scheme with so many friends. We look forward to welcoming many more young men who are looking to better themselves as people and assist a wide variety of charities by becoming members of our fraternal society.'