Celebrating 300 years

Watch unique and unprecedented access to the Freemasons

To mark the United Grand Lodge of England's Tercentenary, a Sky television crew were given unique and unprecedented access to discover what it means to be a modern-day Freemason

The five part documentary they made looked to go beyond the myth and legend to discover what it means to be a Freemason today and answer the questions – who are Freemasons and what do they do?

From our regalia to some lavish ceremonies, through to ancient rituals and bonds of brotherhood, many viewers will recently have had the pleasure of watching the documentary ‘Inside the Freemasons’.

There were many behind the scenes highlights to enjoy including coverage of the biggest day of the masonic calendar, the Annual Investiture, and the official consecration of the first masonic football lodge, as well as a feature with UGLE’s newly appointed Chief Executive Officer, Doctor David Staples, FRCP, DepGDC.

Although the documentary was recently shown on Sky 1, if you missed it, fear not, as a special edition on DVD is now available to pre-order: it consists of two DVDs, featuring all five episodes and 30 minutes of exclusive extra content.

The ‘Inside the Freemasons’ DVD will be released by June 15th and is now available to pre-order from Letchworths Shop by clicking here

Published in UGLE
Wednesday, 26 April 2017 16:37

Grand Master's address - April 2017

Craft Annual Investiture

26 April 2017
An address by the MW The Grand Master HRH The Duke of Kent, KG

Brethren, I congratulate all those I have had the pleasure of investing this afternoon with their various ranks. You have all made the distinctive contribution to Freemasonry as is recognised in your promotion or appointment today but I do ask you also to remember that, while the honour rewards past achievements, that does not absolve you of a continuing commitment to ensuring our long term future.

This year brethren, as you may have noticed, sees a major anniversary in the form of our Tercentenary. This presents us with a unique opportunity to promote Freemasonry. A number of events have already taken place and the last two weeks have seen the first two episodes of the Sky TV documentary ‘Inside the Freemasons’, the opening of our Memorial Garden at the National Arboretum and, yesterday, the unveiling outside this hall of the magnificent memorial to those 64 gallant Freemasons who were awarded the Victoria Cross in World War One.

Brethren, the effort put in by so many of you to ensure the success of these different events is quite outstanding. I have therefore decided that it would be appropriate to recognise both your hard work and this Tercentenary year with the award of extra Grand Ranks. How these are to be distributed will be decided in due course but I just wanted to let you know that I greatly appreciate your commitment and dedication.

The smooth running of a ceremonial occasion like this one could not happen without a great deal of planning and I do congratulate the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for their excellent work. My thanks also go to the Grand Secretary and his staff who have devoted a great deal of time and effort to making this a happy and successful event.

Finally, I once again congratulate all those I have invested and appointed today.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 08 March 2017 00:00

Grand Secretary's column - Spring 2017

From the Grand Secretary

By the time you receive this issue, our Tercentenary year will be well under way and our Rulers will have already attended overseas events in Denmark, Mumbai, India, and Zakynthos, Greece, at our unattached Star of the East Lodge, No. 880. His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent has also attended a church service at Canterbury Cathedral for the Provinces of East and West Kent, Sussex and Surrey. We now await the broadcast in April of the long-anticipated Sky TV documentary Inside The Freemasons.

It is an exciting year as we build towards our showpiece event at the end of October. So far, it is likely that we will welcome around 160 Grand Lodges from around the world to celebrate with us at the Royal Albert Hall and look forward to our next 300 years. We now need to build on our successes and use this year to show ourselves as the vibrant and relevant organisation which is Freemasonry.

Looking forward to the Tercentenary in this issue of Freemasonry Today, Keith Gilbert highlights the planning and organisation of celebratory events taking place across not just the UK but the entire world. As Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes notes in his Senior Insights column, these are exciting times, so we should celebrate in style by showing our pride in being Freemasons.

When it comes to showing the best in Freemasonry, Spinnaker Lodge in the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight is a shining beacon. We find out how its members are encouraging younger Freemasons into the Craft with a shared interest in all things sailing. The sixth specialist lodge in the Province to be consecrated in the past four years, Spinnaker will be visiting new marinas and hosting social events at sailing clubs to raise both its own profile and that of Freemasonry in 2017.

Best foot forward

In the north-west of England, we meet a 54-strong group of Freemasons, their families and friends who trekked across Morecambe Bay. Cumberland & Westmorland Provincial Grand Master Norman Thompson and his intrepid travellers not only raised money to help victims of the Cumbria floods, but also showed how Freemasonry is connecting with local communities. The team joined some 1,000 walkers at Arnside Promenade to brave the wet and puddled sands for a memorable day that is now an annual event in the Provincial calendar.

The opportunities for Freemasonry are not just in the face we show the world, but are also in our governance, our leadership, our retention and our management of masonic halls. The Chairman of the Improvement Delivery Group, David Wootton, reports on how he and his team are leading the implementation and delivery of our agreed strategy for Freemasonry to 2020. As David notes, there is much to do but also much to enjoy.

Willie Shackell
Grand Secretary

‘We need to use this year to show ourselves as vibrant and relevant’

Published in UGLE

Transmission date of unprecedented documentary on Freemasonry revealed

Very excited to officially announce that the first episode of the forthcoming Sky 1 documentary series ‘Inside the Freemasons’ will air on the 17th April at 8pm

Emporium Productions, who were commissioned by Sky to produce the series, have this to say on their website: 'Welcome to one of the oldest social networking organisations in the world; a fraternal order that welcomes members regardless of their status, creed or political persuasion – Freemasonry.

'With unique and unprecedented access to the Freemasons, ‘Inside the Freemasons’ asks who are Freemasons and what do they do? As the United Grand Lodge of England celebrates its tercentenary in 2017, we go beyond the myth and legend to discover what it means to be a Freemason today through the words and lives of Freemasons themselves.

'While most of us are familiar with the concept of Freemasons, few can describe who they are and what they do with any confidence or accuracy. What has motivated generations of men to join its ranks? What does the symbolism mean? How does public perception differ to reality? And what does Freemasonry have to offer men and society in the 21st Century?'

Published in UGLE
Wednesday, 14 December 2016 09:18

Pro Grand Master's address - December 2016

Quarterly Communication

14 December 2016 
An address by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

Brethren, our December meeting is always one of the best attended and I am really encouraged to see so many of you here today. In particular well done to Lincolnshire with over 100 members travelling here; 40 from Wiltshire; 20 all the way from Yorkshire, West Riding and, I believe, that there are 16 newly installed Masters from Oxfordshire. Since we changed the rules to allow Master Masons to attend Grand Lodge we have had an excellent display of light blue aprons and they are very much in evidence again today. Bearing in mind work commitments and the eccentricities of our transport system it is a tremendous effort.

I have recently received a copy of the Report of the New and Young Masons Clubs’ Conference and was delighted to learn just how well the clubs are progressing with over 30 established across London and the Provinces. This is a fantastic achievement and I would encourage those new masons in Provinces without such a club to consider setting one up. You would have our full support and I am sure you would be greatly encouraged by your Provincial hierarchy. Indeed, I have asked RW Bro Gareth Jones, Provincial Grand Master for South Wales and Third Grand Principal to act as the focal point here for the movement. It really is a splendid initiative and I congratulate all those involved.

We have heard a lot about charity during the course of today and I have frequently said how proud we should be of all our charities, and not just the big four. They all do tremendous work. You have already heard that during the course of this year the astonishing sum of £14.5m was raised through the hard work of our brethren. The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Festival total of nearly £7.75m is the highest total ever. I can’t believe, brethren, that it was all down to me having moved into Hampshire last year. I suspect that is purely coincidental. Across the board the money raised per capita by all four Provinces in Festival during 2016 was extraordinary and of a similar level. Brethren, your generosity is not taken for granted and is greatly appreciated.

You have also heard from the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) about their scheme to give to your local charities £3m next year in recognition of both their own formation and, of course, our Tercentenary. This not only shows your generosity but is also aimed at promoting our involvement in the community.

Brethren, I know that some of you have become frustrated at not being able to get hold of a Tercentenary Jewel. Please be assured that there are now plenty available in the Letchworth’s shop. Unfortunately, initial demand far outstripped supply. In spite of your frustration, may I ask you to beware of cheap imitations. Sadly they do exist and are being offered at a very reduced price, but they are unauthorised and unlawful copies. We are working closely with the Provinces to get them all removed.

The Deputy Grand Master mentioned that the Sky documentary titled Inside Freemasonry would be shown in January. However this has been put back to the Spring. I have seen three of these so far – there are five in all – and have been most encouraged at the sensitive way that we have been portrayed by Emporium, the makers of the film. I would like to thank those Provinces, lodges and, perhaps most of all, those individuals who have so willingly participated.

This gives us a great opportunity in the early part of the year to capitalise on the publicity being generated and we anticipate that other high profile events throughout the year will keep us in the public eye and produce some really positive results. These are exciting times and let us celebrate in style by showing our pride in and talking about our membership. I am absolutely certain that we will all enjoy a splendid year in 2017.

In the meantime, I thank you all for what you have done for Freemasonry in preparing for next year. Keep the enthusiasm going and have a very happy Christmas.

Published in Speeches

The test of time

Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence discusses how the tenets of Freemasonry have provided a firm foundation over the past 300 years

Many of you will be aware of the excellent work undertaken by the Membership Focus Group (MFG) over the past two-and-a-half years. I hope that you are all still referring to the UGLE strategy, which was a significant development resulting from the group’s work. 

We have now moved on to ensuring the timely implementation of the strategy and the MFG has been superseded by the Improvement Delivery Group (IDG). This group will, rather like a well-known wood treatment product, do ‘exactly what it says on the tin’.

The IDG’s remit is to facilitate the delivery of change in order to secure a successful future for Freemasonry by meeting the needs of modern man while retaining our traditional standards. It is chaired by the Assistant Grand Master, the Third Grand Principal is Deputy Chairman, and membership is drawn from London and all the regional groups of Provinces. The IDG will be reporting to Grand Lodge at the Quarterly Communication in September 2017. There is a considerable amount of work to do and we wish them all well in their endeavours.

‘The principles of the Craft are as relevant today as they were then.’

Marking a milestone

The Tercentenary celebrations have already begun and I am very pleased to see the variety and breadth of events that are planned to mark this significant milestone in our history. Events are being planned throughout the English Constitution. 

So far, well over 100 events are scheduled, ranging from cathedral services, race meetings, classic car rallies, family fun weekends and supporting youth activities through to dinners and balls. This includes The Grand Ball, which will take place in Freemasons’ Hall next September and will see the Grand Temple converted into one of the largest dance floors in London.

As the premier Grand Lodge, it is appropriate we also celebrate this achievement with the other Sovereign Grand Lodges around the world, which we will do with the event at the Royal Albert Hall. I very much hope there will be a full cross section of our membership, including Master masons, from London, Provinces and Districts and elsewhere overseas attending.

As you are all aware, 2017 will start with the broadcast in February of the Sky observational documentary. I have been fortunate enough to have been part of the small group who have seen all the programmes and while, for confidential reasons, I am unable to say more about their content, I can assure you our privacy has been respected entirely for those matters that ought to remain private for our members.

Uncertain times

It has become very noticeable that the times in which we live are described by some as ‘uncertain’. This word is used to describe many aspects of our national life, almost as a default mechanism. In many ways our predecessors, who were there at the foundation of the Grand Lodge, would have felt a certain affinity and seen possible parallels with their own time, although they would probably have used the word ‘turbulent’ to describe the second decade of the 18th century.

In their case, the uncertain times included a new ruling dynasty following the accession of King George I in 1714, a significant rebellion from supporters of the old dynasty defeated in 1715, and an incipient share scandal with the South Sea Bubble. In those and the intervening uncertain times of the subsequent 300 years, the principles of the Craft have withstood the test of time and are as relevant today as they were then. We may now restate them in more modern language as integrity, honesty, fairness, kindness and tolerance, but their essence is unchanged and we should all be justly proud of them and, needless to say, act in accordance with them. 

To finish, I quote King Frederick II, or The Great, of Prussia who said his support of the Craft came from its objectives being ‘the intellectual elevation of men as members of society and making them more virtuous and more charitable’. I do not think that his view can be bettered. 

Published in UGLE
Monday, 12 December 2016 14:45

Grand Secretary's column - Winter 2016

From the Grand Secretary

It does not seem possible that I have already completed my first six months as Grand Secretary. I am extremely grateful for the first-rate support I have received from all the staff at the United Grand Lodge of England and the encouragement I have been given from all those who provide such tremendous support in their own time to make Freemasonry such a vibrant and relevant organisation.

We are in the process of preparing a comprehensive Communications Plan to ensure that we capitalise on the unique opportunity presented by our Tercentenary celebrations.

We start 2017 with the five-part Sky television documentary Inside The Freemasons. We then have a vast number of events planned throughout the Metropolitan, Provincial and District areas, indicating the tremendous enthusiasm that this milestone has generated.

Sense of continuity

In this issue of Freemasonry Today, Keith Gilbert discusses the precision planning going into the Royal Albert Hall and Battersea events that will be part of the central Tercentenary celebrations, with a 2017 calendar giving a flavour of the many activities taking place at a local level. Also marking our 300th year, we report on the opening of the Library and Museum of Freemasonry’s newest gallery, which explores three centuries of masonic history to show how our values of sociability, inclusivity, charity and integrity have stood the test of time.

With Sir Thomas Lipton best known as the man who brought tea to the British masses, our piece on this famous Freemason explores how he improved the lives of the tea blenders and pickers with increased wages. We find out why Lipton set sail in his steam yacht during World War I to report on the devastation wrought by the typhus epidemic in Serbia and how he helped to set up
a trust to provide meals to the poor of London.

Our profile of Wayne Ingram illustrates how the core masonic values typified by the likes of Sir Thomas Lipton are still alive and well. From organising charity football matches in a war zone through to a 13-year crusade to give a boy life-changing facial surgery, Wayne is a serial fundraiser who thinks nothing of putting other people’s welfare before his own. ‘I don’t really think about my involvement,’ he says of the many causes he’s supported. ‘I’m just glad it happened.’

As a new generation takes Freemasonry forward, we meet 26-year-old Alex Rhys, who has just conducted his first initiation. While keen to explore new ways of recruiting and retaining members, Alex believes that it is the sense of continuity found in Freemasonry that appeals to younger masons, who enjoy tapping into a tradition that stretches back to 1717.

I hope you enjoy our winter edition and wish you and your families a wonderful festive season.

Willie Shackell
Grand Secretary

‘I am extremely grateful for the first-rate support I have received from staff at UGLE.’

Published in UGLE

Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge

14 September 2016 
Report of the Board of General Purposes 

Board of General Purposes Meetings 2017

In accordance with Rule 225 Book of Constitutions, the dates when the Board of General Purposes will meet in 2017 are: 7 February, 21 March, 16 May, 18 July and 19 September.

Television Documentary

By the time that Grand Lodge meets, filming for the documentary Inside the Freemasons will have been completed. The series, made by Emporium Productions for Sky, is likely to be broadcast in January 2017.

The Board wishes to emphasise the point made by the MW Pro Grand Master at the June Quarterly Communication that both at that meeting and elsewhere some things had been filmed in order to give a representative picture of Freemasonry which should not be seen as precedents to be followed by individual lodges in future.

Questions as to what might properly be filmed arose regularly during the filming for the series, and not every member of the Craft might agree with the decisions which were made – often under significant pressure of time – but the Board trusts that the Grand Lodge will take the view that the decisions taken were justified in the interests of the Craft as a whole.

Attendance at Lodges under the English Constitution by Brethren from other Grand Lodges

The Board considers it appropriate to draw attention to Rule 125 (b), Book of Constitutions, and the list of Grand Lodges recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England, which is published in the Masonic Year Book, copies of which are sent to secretaries of lodges. 

Attendance at Lodges Overseas

The continuing growth in overseas travel brings with it an increase in visits by our Brethren to lodges of other jurisdictions, and the Board welcomes this trend. Brethren are, however, reminded that they are permitted to visit lodges overseas only if they come under a jurisdiction which is recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England.

A list of recognised Grand Lodges is published annually, but as the situation does change from time to time, Brethren should not attempt to make any masonic contact overseas without having first checked (preferably in writing) with the Grand Secretary’s Office at Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ, that there is recognised Freemasonry in the country concerned and, if so, whether there is any particular point which should be watched.

Recognition of a Foreign Grand Lodge

The Grand Lodge of the State of Rio Grande do Sul was formed in 1928 by four lodges regularly constituted by the Grand Orient of Brazil and which, because of internal problems, broke away from their parent to form a separate Grand Lodge within the territorial limits of the State of Rio Grande do Sul.

In 1961 and again in 2005 the Grand Orient of Brazil entered into treaties with the Grand Lodge of the State of Rio Grande do Sul by which each party recognised the other as regular and allowed inter-visitation between their members. 

The Grand Registrar has advised that by signing those treaties the Grand Orient agreed to share its territory with the State Grand Lodge and it is not therefore necessary for this Grand Lodge formally to seek the agreement of the Grand Orient to its recognising the State Grand Lodge of Rio Grande do Sul.

The State Grand Lodge having shown that it both conforms to the Basic Principles for Grand Lodge Recognition and has worked regularly since 1928, the Board has no reason to believe that it will not maintain a regular path and recommends that the State Grand Lodge of Rio Grande do Sul be recognised. A Resolution to this affect was approved.

Social Media

The Board had considered the question of social media and had agreed a policy, which is available from the Grand Secretary’s office or online at www.ugle.org.uk. The Board recommended the policy to Grand Lodge which was approved.

Erasure of Lodges

Board has received a report that eleven lodges have closed and have surrendered their Warrants. They are: Wickham Lodge, No. 1924 (London), Barnato Lodge, No. 2265 (London), St Chad Lodge, No. 3115 (Essex), Hanslip Ward Lodge, No. 3399 (Essex), Baron Egerton Lodge, No. 3513 (Cheshire), Selsey Lodge, No. 3571 (Sussex), Barham and Watling Lodge, No. 6004 (Hertfordshire), Geomatic Lodge, No. 6214 (London), Waterways Lodge, No. 7913 (London), Lodge of Tolerance, No. 7998 (London) and Bacchus Lodge, No. 9068 (Staffordshire). A Resolution that they be erased was approved. 

Expulsions

Seven members of the Craft were expelled as required by Rule 277 (a) (i) (B), Book of Constitutions.

Report of Library and Museum Trust

The Board had received a report from the Library and Museum Charitable Trust.

The Library and Museum spent much of 2015 preparing to open a major new exhibition, Three Centuries of English Freemasonry, located in additional gallery space on the first floor. The exhibition breaks new ground in seeking to explain both Freemasonry’s values of sociability, inclusivity, charity and integrity and its history and development. 

This is the first exhibition for which the Library and Museum team has worked with exhibition designers and external contractors for the design, build and installation. Preparation of material for display has also involved conservation of a number of objects, books and documents and the creation of cataloguing records.

The exhibition opened to the public in April 2016. A series of gallery talks and other events are being prepared for later this year. Following the opening of the new exhibition gallery, the Library and Museum extended its opening hours to include Saturdays. The Library and Museum also launched itself on social media as an additional means of engaging with users, visitors and members. For a copy of the full Annual Report and Accounts please write to the Director.

From Concept to Reality: Creating an Exhibition about Three Centuries of English Freemasonry

A talk was given by Diane Clements, Director of The Library and Museum of Freemasonry and Stephen Greenberg, Founder and Director, Metaphor.

List of New Lodges for which Warrants Have Been Granted

Date of Warrant, Location Area and No. and Name of Lodge:

28 April 2016

9927 Cambridgeshire Lodge of Provincial Grand Stewards (Cambridgeshire)

8 June 2016

9928 Santa Catarina Lodge (South America, Northern Division)
9929 Lodge of Friendship (South America, Northern Division)
9930 Lodge of True Aim (Hertfordshire)
9931 Sportsman’s Lodge of Suffolk (Suffolk)
9932 Spinnaker Lodge (Hampshire and Isle of Wight)
9933 Fenland Farmers’ Lodge (Cambridgeshire)
9934 St Hubertus Lodge (Yorkshire, West Riding)

Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge

A Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge is held on the second Wednesday in March, June, September and December. The next will be at noon on Wednesday, 14 December 2016. Subsequent Communications will be held: 8 March 2017, 14 June 2017; 13 September 2017 and 13 December 2017. The Annual Investiture of Grand Officers takes place on the last Wednesday in April (the next is on 26 April 2017), and admission is by ticket only. A few tickets are allocated by ballot after provision has been made for those automatically entitled to attend. Full details will be given in the Paper of Business for December Grand Lodge.

Convocations of Supreme Grand Chapter

Convocations of Supreme Grand Chapter are held on the second Wednesday in November and the day following the Annual Investiture of Grand Lodge. Future Convocations will be held: 9 November 2016, 27 April 2017 and 8 November 2017.

Published in UGLE

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