It’s been 300 years since the well-known story of four London lodges who came together on St John’s Day, 24th June 1717 and founded the world’s first Grand Lodge
To commemorate the Tercentenary of this date, a commemorative stone has been unveiled outside the Tower Entrance of Freemasons’ Hall.
Three of the four lodges who made this vital contribution to Freemasonry are still active today – Lodge of Antiquity No.2, Royal Somerset House and Inverness Lodge No.IV, and Fortitude and Old Cumberland Lodge No.12. They are referred to as Time Immemorial lodges and have the unique distinctions of being allowed to operate without the requirement of a warrant, and of having a band of dark blue in their lodge officers' collars.
The occasion was marked by a joint meeting at Mansion House where the United Grand Lodge of England’s Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, was proclaimed as the Master of all three lodges.
Next time you walk past Freemasons’ Hall, make sure to cast your eyes over this commemorative stone and its history of four lodges coming together to found the Premier Grand Lodge.
Canterbury Cathedral hosted a Tercentenary Thanksgiving service in recognition of its long-standing relationship with Freemasonry
More than 1,500 masons and their families came from across the Provinces of East Kent, West Kent, Surrey and Sussex to attend a service in celebration of 300 years of the United Grand Lodge of England.
The event was held on 18 February in the presence of the Grand Master HRH The Duke of Kent, the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Kent and the Lord Mayor of Canterbury, and was led by the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, the Very Reverend Dr Robert Willis.
During his sermon, Dr Willis thanked the Duke of Kent for his long-standing support of the cathedral. He recalled how the Royal Family helped when the cathedral was damaged by bombing during World War II. He also paid tribute to the generous support of the masonic community, whose relationship with the cathedral dates back more than 100 years.
Canterbury Cathedral is currently undergoing the largest restoration project in its history. The interior and exterior are covered in scaffolding to allow the ancient building to be restored to as close to its original condition as possible. A donation of £300,000 from the Freemasons of Kent, Surrey and Sussex has funded repairs to the North West Transept, including new tower pinnacles and a spiral stone staircase.
East Kent Provincial Grand Master Geoffrey Dearing said: ‘The existence of Freemasonry for over 300 years bears witness to the fact that the idea of men from all walks of life coming together to make society a better place is one that has stood the test of time and inspired successive generations.’
Brethen of Valour
Special paving stones outside Freemasons’ Hall pay tribute to English Freemasons awarded the Victoria Cross in World War I
A set of paving stones commemorating the 64 English Freemasons who were awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) during World War I was unveiled outside Freemasons’ Hall on 25 April.
The VC is the highest award for gallantry that can be conferred on a member of the Armed Forces regardless of rank or status – and almost one in six of the 633 VC recipients during the First World War were Freemasons.
Of these, 64 were under UGLE and 43 were under other Grand Lodges in the British Empire. Freemasons’ Hall itself is a memorial to the 3,000-plus English Freemasons who gave their lives in World War I.
The Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, attended the ceremony for the stones’ unveiling and blessing, together with Lord Dannatt, a Deputy Lieutenant for Greater London; the Mayor of Camden; senior officers from the military services; a group of Chelsea Pensioners; and representatives from the VC and George Cross Association as well as some of the regiments in which the VC holders had served. Specially invited were the families of those who were being commemorated.
The event was open to the public, with Great Queen Street and Wild Street closed to traffic. The crowd included representatives from many of the service lodges as well as passers-by.
Music was provided by the Band of the Grenadier Guards and the North London Military Wives Choir. Radio and television presenter Katie Derham narrated the first part of the ceremony, which opened with Chelsea Pensioner Ray Pearson reading an extract from AE Housman’s A Shropshire Lad, followed by the President of the Board of General Purposes, Anthony Wilson, welcoming those attending.
Derham set the scene at the outbreak of war in 1914 with the aid of archive film showing how young men ‘flocked to the flag’ in the expectation that the war would be over by Christmas – and how the reality set in that it was not to be a short war but one that would affect every community in the country.
Simon Dean OBE paid tribute to his grandfather Donald John Dean, who, at the age of 21, was awarded the VC in 1918. Col Brian Lees LVO OBE, chairman of the Rifles, Light Infantry and KOYLI Regimental Association, and Lt Col Matt Baker, Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion, The Rifles, paid tribute to Oliver Watson, who was posthumously awarded a VC in 1918.
The horrors of the war were brought vividly to life by Sebastian Cator, a pupil at Harrow School. He read extracts from the diaries of Major Richard Willis, who had also been a pupil at Harrow, in which he described the carnage resulting from landing his men on W Beach at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. For his part in that action he was one of the famous ‘six VCs before breakfast’ of the Gallipoli landings.
The Grand Secretary, Brigadier Willie Shackell CBE, gave an exhortation that was followed by the last post, a one-minute silence and reveille. The memorial stones were then unveiled and blessed by the Grand Chaplain, Canon Michael Wilson. The Grand Master and Lord Dannatt then inspected the stones, after which family members and other invited guests had an opportunity to view them before entering Freemasons’ Hall for a reception in the Grand Temple vestibule area.
You can watch highlights of the unveiling of the memorial to Freemasons awarded the Victoria Cross during the Great War here
A special commemorative programme for the ceremony, including portraits and brief details of the 64 brethren of valour, can also be viewed here
The Isle of Man Post Office is marking the Tercentenary with a set of six stamps hiding a surprise that can only be revealed under a special light
As English Freemasonry celebrates 300 years of Grand Lodge, a collection of six stamps has been issued, with illustrative designs that feature badges of office for senior lodge members, as well as architectural elements inspired by the lodges of England and the Isle of Man.
Filled with masonic references, the stamps were designed by Freemason Ben Glazier of Barbican Lodge, No. 8494, which meets in London. Paying respect to the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, now in his 50th year in office, was key: a subtle ribbon of the repeating letters ‘HRHDOKGM50’ runs around the edge of each stamp, commemorating the milestone.
The designs also include GPS references to places that are important to Freemasonry, and the official logo of the Tercentenary – only visible under ultraviolet light. Officially approved for use, the logo becomes visible during the postal system process, as items are scanned.
Commenting on the collection, UGLE Grand Secretary Willie Shackell said: ‘The United Grand Lodge of England is delighted to be celebrating its Tercentenary by working with the Isle of Man Post Office and the Province of the Isle of Man to present this very special set of stamps.’
While proud of its 300 years of history, Shackell explained that UGLE is now looking forward to the next three centuries, which is symbolically reflected in this innovative stamp issue. ‘Freemasonry is rightly proud of its contribution to family and in the community over the centuries. It is this very same contribution to the community which United Grand Lodge of England shares with Isle of Man Post Office.’
Isle of Man Stamps and Coins general manager Maxine Cannon saluted the efforts of the United Grand Lodge of England, in particular Mike Baker, Director of Communications, and on the Isle of Man, Keith Dalrymple and Alex Downie, who provided a wealth of material: ‘We thank them for their time, knowledge and assistance in making this such an interesting project.’
View the Freemasonry stamp issue here
Berkshire Freemasons Family Fun Day and the start of the Classic 300
As well as the start of the Classic 300, there was a bear hunt and teddy bears picnic, a 300 mile walk to the Copper Horse, displays from over 20 charities together with the Berkshire Masonic Charity and the Masonic Charitable Foundation, a ‘time tunnel’ explaining the history of Freemasonry and the Egham Brass Band who made sure the day went with a swing.
UGLE's Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, started the Classic 300 at 2pm having first viewed the cars, talking to their owners and visiting VIPs. Oliver Lodge, Grand Director of Ceremonies, introduced HRH The Duke of Kent to the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Cllr Sayonara Luxton, Martin Peters, the Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire, Colin Hayes, Past Deputy Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire and Chairman of the organising committee for the event, and other dignitaries including Provincial Grand Masters from other Provinces and members of the Classic 300.
Over 100 classic vehicles of all types - car, motorcycles, commercial vehicles and even a six-wheeled Range Rover fire engine - turned up for the occasion and made for a spectacular sight in the sunshine, as HRH The Duke of Kent flagged them off for the start of the Classic 300, an 18 mile drive around Great Windsor Park.
Elsewhere, the 300 mile challenge for 300 people to walk one mile each to the Copper Horse along the Long Walk was easily achieved with over 400 people taking part. In fact, over 800 miles were walked as they realised that it was a mile back to the show ground as well!
The bear hunt was also a great success with many proud new owners enjoying a picnic with their TLC bears.
Martin Peters, the Provincial Grand Master of the Berkshire Freemasons, said: 'It has been a wonderful day, with a really good turnout and it is quite clear that everyone enjoyed themselves.'
Rachel Jones from the Masonic Charitable Foundation commented: 'We all very much enjoyed the event – what a fantastic way to celebrate the Tercentenary year and raise awareness of Freemasonry.'
This was the national start of the Classic 300. Over many weekend dates between now and October 1st the series continues all over the UK, with separate runs to the Isle of Man, the Lakeland Motor Museum, Thruxton Race Circuit, MFest300 in the Midlands, the Shelsley Walsh hill climb, Ashton Gate rugby and football stadium, Brands Hatch race circuit, Beaulieu Motor Museum and many more famous motoring venues. The national final will take place at Brooklands Circuit in Surrey on Sunday October 1st.
Scroll through the gallery at the top to view some of the classic vehicles on display
Revving up for the Tercentenary
Celebration of the United Grand Lodge of England’s Tercentenary year will continue this Sunday when the Masonic Classic Vehicle Club launch the Classic 300 at Windsor Great Park – the first in a series of individual classic vehicle runs
A large gathering is expected as UGLE’s current Grand Master, His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent will be in attendance and will be officially starting the event.
Fans of classic cars will certainly be in their element, with a vast array of vehicles set to be displayed on the Review Ground, a large grassed area, from 10 am before proceeding on a short symbolic run at 2:30 pm.
The Classic 300 has 18 national classic car runs taking place across England and Wales this year at famous venues including the Isle of Man’s TT, Brands Hatch and the Brooklands motor circuit in Surrey. The runs are open to Freemasons and those with an interest in Freemasonry and classic or future classic cars.
The Provincial Grand Lodge of Berkshire will also be holding a number of Tercentenary events on Sunday at Windsor Great Park including a 300 mile walk, which refers to 300 people walking one mile, and a teddy bears’ picnic. Everyone who takes part in the mile walk will receive a commemorative certificate to celebrate the Tercentenary.
Entrance to Windsor Great Park is free and parking is available for everyone.
You can find out more about the Classic 300 here
Stamps of approval
To commemorate the Tercentenary celebrations of United Grand Lodge of England and 300 years of English Freemasonry, we are delighted to present a set of six exclusive postage stamps
Printed in gold foil, each stamp is filled with discreet symbols and architectural elements from the lodges of England, as well as GPS references to places important to Freemasonry and a subtle ribbon honouring the 50th year of office of our current Grand Master, His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent.
As an added touch, each of the stamps also contains a hidden logo only visible under UV light. Once placed under this light, the official logo of the United Grand Lodge of England Tercentenary will appear.
The main features of each stamp though are the badges of office of the senior officers within the lodge.
The first of these is the 20p stamp which bears the jewel of the Steward, a cornucopia on a background of geometric patterns containing a bright star and concentric rings. The first class stamp illustrates the jewel of the Inner Guard, with two swords in saltire against a backdrop of Art Deco lines.
The 50p stamp depicts a stylised version of the Junior and Senior Deacons’ jewel, a dove bearing an olive branch, with the design for these taken directly from the celling of the Great Hall at Grand Lodge.
The £1.30 stamp portrays the jewel of the Junior Warden, a plumb rule on an Art Deco-inspired pattern. This is then followed by the £1.74 stamp containing the jewel of the Senior Warden, a level, with a background inspired by the windows of the Freemasons' Hall in the Isle of Man.
The last stamp in the collection is the £3.40 stamp, showcasing the jewel of the Worshipful Master, which is a square represented by an overlaid tiled pattern of right angles.
Brig Willie Shackell, Grand Secretary of the UGLE, commented: 'United Grand Lodge of England is delighted to be celebrating its Tercentenary by working with Isle of Man Post and the Province of the Isle of Man to present this unique and very special set of commemorative stamps.
'Whilst rightly proud of its 300 years of history, the United Grand Lodge of England is now looking forward to the next three centuries, which is symbolically reflected in this innovative and creative stamp issue.'
You can order this innovative set of stamps here
Annual Investiture of Supreme Grand Chapter
27 April 2017
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes
Companions, may I start by congratulating all those whom I have invested today and remind you that, whilst it recognises all that you have done so far, there is an expectation placed upon you for further endeavours to promote our Holy Royal Arch, thus ensuring its continued success in the future.
You can be forgiven for thinking that this year is all about the Craft – it is its Tercentenary year – but I am sure you all recognise that, the more successful the Craft is in attracting new members, so the greater is our opportunity for capitalising on this success for the benefit of the Royal Arch. It is not all that long ago that we seemed satisfied with 30% of Craft masons joining the Royal Arch. This never seemed anywhere near sufficient and we should be aiming for nearer 50%. We are undoubtedly making progress in that respect. It is a unique opportunity so let us all enjoy the year and use it to promote our Order.
For us in the Royal Arch it is the 50th anniversary of our First Grand Principal, HRH The Duke of Kent being installed as such and he has asked me to let you know that, in recognition of this milestone, he wishes to award a number of extra Grand Ranks. The details of how these will be awarded will be made known in due course but we very much hope that His Royal Highness will be able to carry out that Investiture in November this year.
Companions, we all know that our Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team are very accomplished at organising these events but on your behalf I must congratulate them on another splendid performance. Similarly, our Grand Scribe Ezra and his staff have once again put a tremendous effort into ensuring that you all enjoy the proceedings and so well done to them.
Finally, my sincere thanks to you all for coming along to support your friends who I have invested today.
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.
Highlights of today's unveiling of the memorial to Freemasons awarded the Victoria Cross during The Great War 1914 - 1918.