Celebrating 300 years

Quarterly Communication

13 September 2017 
Order of Service to Masonry citation for W Bro Professor Aubrey Norris Newman, PJGD

Bro Aubrey Newman was made a mason in December 1967, just after his 40th birthday, in John of Gaunt Lodge No. 523, in Leicester, serving as its Master in 1981 (and again in 2000, after putting in a five year stint as Secretary from 1994 to 1999). In 1984 he joined Lodge of Research No. 2429, also in Leicester, becoming its Master in 1996. In 1990 he became a member of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, the Premier Lodge of Masonic Research, and was its Master in 1998. He was exalted into the Royal Arch in St. Martin’s Chapter No. 3431 in 1984, becoming its First Principal in 1990. He is a Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden, as well as a Past Provincial Grand Scribe N, of Leicestershire and Rutland. In 2004 he received the rank of Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies, and in 2016 was promoted to Past Junior Grand Deacon.

As a lecturer, and in due course Professor, in History at the University of Leicester, Bro Newman has had a distinguished academic career and is now an Emeritus Professor of the University. His particular specialities are the Eighteenth Century and British Jewish History up to the present day, in which connection he is a Vice-President (and former President) of the Jewish Historical Society of England. In 1990 he founded what is now the Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust Studies at Leicester – the oldest holocaust research centre at a British University – of which he remains as Honorary Associate Director. He has the additional distinction of having the annual Aubrey Newman Lecture, instituted in 2006, named after him.

As might be expected from his background, Bro Newman’s outstanding contribution to Freemasonry has been in the area of masonic research, covering such diverse matters as the history of the Provinces, and Jews in English Freemasonry. He was Prestonian Lecturer in 2003 (The contribution of the Provinces to the development of English Freemasonry) and for over ten years has chaired the Editorial Committee of Quatuor Coronati Lodge. Most recently, he was the joint organiser of the highly successful Tercentenary Conference in Queens’ College, Cambridge in September 2016, the proceedings at which have recently been published in a volume (running to over 700 pages) Reflections on 300 Years of Freemasonry. Though he is now in his ninetieth year, his researches continue.

Published in Speeches

Lodge of Research No. 2429, which meets in Leicester, has for the first time published online a full index of the papers included in their annual transactions covering from 1892 up to the present on their new website www.research2429.org.uk 

This index has been compiled by the Editor of the Transactions W Bro David Sharpe and show a wealth of historical masonic research both of a local, national and international interest.

Lodge of Research was consecrated in 1892 and over the years it has become well known over the whole word for its pioneering work in the field of masonic history.

The first Transactions, published in 1893, included papers on 'The Pompeii Mosaic' by W.H. Staynes, 'Extinct Leicestershire Lodges' by John T. Thorp, the internationally renowned literary and historical Masonic scholar, and 'Form and extent of a Freemasons Lodge' by Frederick W. Billson.

More contemporary papers in the latest issue from 2015 include the 'The Leicester Table' by Maxine Gilhuys Notarbartolo, 'The Holmes Temple Organ: It's Extensive History' by Carl Heslop and 'The 9th Earl Ferrers: a Provincial Grand Master we might have had?' by David Hughes.

Copies of the papers listed in the index are available from the Editor of Transactions and it is hoped that publishing the full index will allow the research conducted and presented in the papers to gain a wider exposure.

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.'

Masonry, Migrants and Mariners

At the meeting of the Lodge of Research No. 2429, held on 25th January 2016 at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, the lodge welcomed the Prestonian Lecturer for 2015, W Bro Roger Burt, who delivered his lecture Masonry, Migrants and Mariners in the 19th Century.

This lecture was a further development of his original lecture, Wherever Dispersed: The Travelling Mason in the 19th Century, showing that historical knowledge never stands still.

W Bro Burt based his findings on lodges in Canada and America, as well as England and Scotland, and showed how men were able to move around and benefit from Freemasonry Universal. He also showed how the less scrupulous abused the brotherly generosity. It also showed the pride that brothers had in masonry, and from slides showing the development of towns, the importance placed on the citing of the Masonic Hall. This talk, delivered without notes, was well received by all those present.

At the end of the lecture W Bro Burt was thanked by the Master, W Bro David Sharpe, and presented with copies of the last two editions of the lodge’s Transactions. Those present then showed their hearty appreciation for enabling everyone to make a great advancement in their masonic knowledge.

W Bro Burt has kindly agreed that the lodge can publish his paper in the next edition of the Transactions, which will be issued in October 2016.

On 30th November 2015, the Leicestershire and Rutland Lodge of Installed Masters No. 7896, which meets at Freemasons’s Hall, Leicester, received a lecture on the ‘Masonic Echoes in Gilbert and Sullivan’ by W Bro David Hughes.

W Bro David is someone rather well qualified to deliver it as not only is he a well known masonic researcher and current Master of the Lodge of Research No. 2429, but he has a long 'performing pedigree' in the Savoy Operas having commenced his on-stage life with them in 1961 at his school in Dudley. He subsequently went on to be a leading member of both the Liverpool and Cambridge University G and S Societies, and later becoming a regular stage director of the Operas in Leicester.

W Bro Hughes began by outlining the masonic careers of both Gilbert and Sullivan. Gilbert originally joined a masonic lodge in Scotland while he was a volunteer officer in Aberdeen, while Sullivan was initiated most appropriately into the Lodge of Harmony No. 255. Both were subsequently exalted into the Royal Arch and perfected in the Ancient and Accepted Rite.

Sadly, the masonic influence on the works of "G and S" have been neglected by their biographers, though most recently the tide seems to have turned in this respect, especially with regard to Sullivan where it is increasingly accepted that his membership of the Craft had an influence on all his output, and certainly assisted in moulding his character and conduct. It must also be remembered that Sullivan was a unique figure in English Freemasonry, being the only holder of Grand Rank as a Rosette appointment – but he did have friends in very high places in the person of the MW Grand Master His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.

W Bro Hughes demonstrated that there are explicit masonic references in The Grand Duke of 1896, where one character states 'we are all tiled here'. Then in the Song of the Sausage Roll, reference is made to the giving and receiving of signs whereby one brother learns he may fully trust another.

However, it is rather through Gilbert's use of Topsy-Turvey arguments that the allusions become more plain. Gilbert used a dramatic method whereby everything is turned on its head so that it becomes its own opposite. Thus good is bad, bad is good, day is night and night is day, vice is virtue and virtue is vice and so on. By this means Gilbert constructs his satires. In The Grand Duke the Masonic satire hinges on a touring company of actors planning to overthrow a minor German prince. Thus Freemasonry which is most certainly not about the seizure of political power and the advancement of the private interests of its members is turned on its head to become exactly the opposite of itself.

Similarly in Ruddigore of 1887, masonic ritual is parodied both in words and music in telling the tale of a man who is condemned by an ancient curse to commit a crime each day or perish in agony which 'gets worse by degrees', inflicted on him by his ghostly ancestors who form a mock lodge for the purpose of making him make, not a daily advancement in masonic knowledge, but a daily descent into a life of crime and wrongdoing. Once again our beneficial and moral order is turned on its head to become its exact opposite for the purposes of satire.

At the close of the meeting, the Master of the lodge, W Bro Ian Johnson, thanked W Bro Hughes for an enlightening and entertaining talk.

VC Grave Concern charity receives £500 donation

At the Installation meeting of Leicestershire and Rutland Lodge of Installed Masters No. 7896 on Friday 10th April 2015 at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, the new Master, W Bro Ian Johnson presented £500 to guest speaker W Bro Granville Angell in support of his charity, VC Grave Concern, which restores and maintains the graves of holders of the Victoria Cross.

W Bro Ian Johnson was Installed by W Bro David Bull and continues the long line of distinguished brethren as Master of this prestigious lodge. At the meeting, the lodge was honoured to welcome W Bro Barrie Percival, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master, PSGD, as the representative from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Leicestershire and Rutland.

W Bro Ian was initiated into Lodge Semper Eadem No. 3091 in 1995 and became Master in its Centenary year in 2004. He served as Secretary for five years and is presently Director of Ceremonies. He was appointed Provincial Grand Mentor in 2009 and elected Provincial Grand Treasurer in 2011.

W Bro Ian joined the Leicestershire and Rutland Lodge of Installed Masters No. 7896 in 2005 and was appointed Junior Deacon in 2011. Having been a member of the Correspondence Circle since 1998, W Bro Ian became a full member of the Lodge of Research No. 2429 in 2011 and is presently Junior Deacon.

In 2015, W Bro Ian was appointed as a Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in the United Grand Lodge of England. He is also active in many side degrees, including the Royal Arch and Mark Master Masons.

Installing Master, W Bro David Bull said: 'W Bro Ian brings a wealth of masonic experience to this office and I am sure that under his leadership the lodge will have another rewarding year.'

W Bro Ian was pleased to appoint W Bros John Pebderdy and Anthony Wood as his Senior and Junior Wardens respectively.

After the Installation, W Bro Granville Angell, PAGPurs, who was the Prestonian Lecturer in 2006, gave a very interesting talk entitled Lest We Forget, encapsulating the courage, bravery and resolute self sacrifice with which Freemasons risked their lives in the service of king and country, focusing on those brethren who received the Victoria Cross.

His talk was based on his book The Great War 1914-1918 – Victoria Cross Freemasons which reveals the unique deeds of outstanding valour of the 91 Freemasons gathered by the author's meticulous research in over 17 countries uncovering previously unknown facts.

Lodge of Research No. 2429, which meets at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, was the scene for a unique event: the first time it had been addressed by a female researcher after their meeting on 23rd March 2015

The guest speaker was Maxine Gilhuys Notarbartolo from Florence. She was no stranger to Leicester having attended the 2014 symposium the lodge organised to celebrate the union of the two rival Grand Lodges in 1813. It was at that symposium that the speaker first saw the masonic marble table which graces the Leicestershire and Rutland Masonic Library and Museum, and that artefact set her research pulses going!

The Master of the Lodge, W Bro David Hughes, introduced the speaker as a true citizen of the world who, having been born in Guyana, was educated in Birmingham, and then worked for various international organisations in Geneva, Zurich and New York. Subsequent studies at the Universities of Bologna and Leiden continued the cosmopolitan nature of the speaker's life. Currently based in Florence she has developed a strong interest in the history of Freemasonry.

Maxine proceeded to hold the attention of all present with a wonderfully illustrated address on the history and provenance of the marble table. She showed how it was not Florentine work, but that its roots lay in the Pietre Dure tradition which had been imported into Malta from the Italian mainland by the Knights of St John.

Freemasonry flourished in this Knightly Order in the eighteenth century, and so it was natural that there should be a crossover between the rituals of the knights and that of the Craft. The octagonal form of the table was especially important in this respect. The octagon is an important form in church architecture and its eight sides have a special number significance in the Christian tradition. It seems the Knights of Malta used octagonal tables for some of their meetings and our marble table continues that tradition by being some form of tracing board or other instructional device.

It seems the table, known to be one of a small number, may have been commissioned by English masons resident on Malta with either the army, navy, mercantile or government in the early years of the nineteenth century. It was then shipped to England where it was fitted with its current base. It was then probably part of the furnishings of a stately home. Quite how it then passed to a suburban house in Nuneaton where it was until sold to us via an auction sale still remains a mystery. However, the speaker promised to continue her researches with a view to finding out more about the table’s ‘hidden years’ if at all possible.

Maxine’s interesting paper will be printed in the Transactions of the Lodge of Research, and will be available for purchase from the Lodge Secretary or the Editor of the Transactions in October 2015.

The history of the Holmes Lodge Room organ in Freemasons' Hall, Leicester

Lodge of Research No. 2429 was recently treated to Bro Carl Heslop, a young member of Highcross Lodge No. 4835, giving a presentation on the history of the organ in the Holmes Lodge Room in Freemasons' Hall, Leicester, and its current versatility following the extensive restoration it underwent over the summer of 2014.

W Bro David Hughes, the current Master of the Lodge of Research and who has also been involved with the restoration, introduced the speaker and stated that he had commenced playing the organ at the age of 8. He had then become much involved in the theatre organ world, before being apprenticed to the world famous firm of organ builders, Harrison and Harrison of Durham.

Bro Heslop, who is now working for another most prestigious organ builder, Peter Collins of Melton Mowbray, then proceeded to give the assembled audience a most illuminating lecture on the arcane mysteries of organ building, by showing how various types of traditional organ pipes are made and can be combined to produce a very wide range of sounds and differing volumes.

He then brought the science and art of organ building into the 21st century by introducing the modern system of digital sound production, with which the Holmes Temple organ is now equipped, in addition to its older traditional wood and metal pipes.

Bro Heslop revealed that the origins of the organ can be traced back to the early years of the 19th century, when it started life as a small chamber instrument built by the famous London craftsman William Gray.

By some unknown process this had made its way to Leicester and was utilised by the local organ builders Taylor and Co. as the basis of the instrument installed in the old Masonic Hall in Halford Street in 1903. This was moved to the present Hall in 1910 and was extended by Taylors in memory of W Bro Billson in the 1940s.

After many years of faithful service the old instrument fell into disrepair and silence until being rescued by Bro Heslop, who volunteered his services shortly after attending an open evening meeting at London Road – where he was invited to become an initiate in Highcross Lodge, the lodge of our current Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro David Hagger.

The lecturer then became the recitalist and demonstrated with great virtuosity the amazing versatility the organ now has in its new 'hybrid' form, which places it at the vanguard of organ building technology and gives us one of the finest instruments available to Freemasonry.

Bro Heslop showed how the organ can produce sounds in the English cathedral tradition, those of the north German and French Baroque styles and then by simply pressing a few switches he transported the entire company present to the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool with a recreation of the sounds of 'the Mighty Wurlitzer' school of organs.

It was subsequently pointed out that the world renowned Reginald Dixon, for so many years the organist of the Tower Ballroom and who was known as 'Mr Blackpool', was a prominent mason in Lancashire.

Following the recital, Bro Heslop answered questions and was then thanked and congratulated by the Provincial Grand Master, who pointed out that the selfless devotion of this young mason had saved the Province a very considerable sum of money while giving us an instrument of which we may be truly proud.

Bro Heslop was then thanked by W Bro David Hughes, who presented him with a copy of the Transactions of the Lodge of Research for the current year as a token of the lodge's thanks for his efforts. Bro Heslop responded by presenting W Bro Hughes with a redundant pipe from the organ which prompted the response that the Master of the Lodge of Research would now be able to blow his own trumpet!

It can honestly be said that this event was historic in that it was the first combined lecture and recital to be given to the Lodge of Research, and it was most enthusiastically received by all those who were present.

Leicester's War Memorial

On the north side of the Holmes Lodge Room in Leicester's Freemasons’ Hall stands a war memorial tablet which details the names of the brethren who served in the Great War (WW1), and the seven Leicestershire and Rutland brethren who gave their lives in that conflict. Often the brethren attending meetings in that fine space give it scarcely a second glance, but how did it come to be there and what can we find out about those seven brethren?

An appeal was launched in 1919 for subscriptions towards a Freemasons’ War Memorial which 'should take the form of a substantial fund for the Leicester Royal Infirmary (LRI) and a memorial of some kind in connection with the Masonic Temple'.

The appeal raised over £5,500 (equivalent to £750,000 in today's money) of which £5,000 was for the LRI (new Orthopaedic Department) and the remainder for a memorial tablet to record the names of the seven brethren who fell in the war, plus those brethren who served in His Majesty’s Regular and Territorial Forces.

A question has been raised whether there are other Leicestershire and Rutland masons who died in action or as a result of wounds, who are missing from the memorial. The problem is that many of the records were bombed in the Second World War – many being totally destroyed and what remains at Kew are referred to as 'the burnt records'.

So next time you are in Freemasons’ Hall, please do go into the Holmes Lodge Room and look at the memorial tablet, and spare a thought for those brethren in general who served their country 100 years ago.

A detailed paper has been written about the tablet in the Holmes Lodge Room (with detailed notes on the seven brethren) by W Bro Jonathan Varley and has been published in the 2012-13 Transactions of the Lodge of Research No. 2429, which are available from the lodge secretary.

The Lodge of Research seeks to exchange opinions with Freemasons throughout the world, and to attract and interest brethren by means of papers on the historical and symbolic aspects of masonry. It meets on the fourth Monday in November, January and March at London Road. Contact the secretary for further details of membership or visiting.

 Symposium for UGLE  bicentenary

Lodge of Research, No. 2429, in the Province of Leicestershire & Rutland, has marked the 200th anniversary of the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England by organising a symposium and dinner at one of its regular meetings. 

There were both masonic and non-masonic visitors, including the then Assistant Grand Master David Williamson and Provincial Grand Master David Hagger, who heard a number of papers delivered by prominent masonic historians, including Professor Andrew Prescott. Among other guests was Philippa Faulks, publishing manager at Lewis Masonic, which sponsored the event.

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