8 March 2017
An address by VW Bro John Hamill, PGSwdB, Deputy Grand Chancellor and Diane Clements, Director of the Library and Museum of Freemasonry
Diane Clements: Ninety-nine years ago today, Charles Graham Robertson, a railway clerk from Dorking in Surrey, was fighting with the Royal Fusiliers on the Western Front. He realised that his position was being cut off so he sent two men to get reinforcements while he stayed at his post with one other man and a Lewis gun. He managed to kill 'large numbers of the enemy' but no reinforcements arrived and realising that he was now completely cut off he and his fellow soldier withdrew about ten yards. He stayed there for some considerable further time firing his Lewis gun but was again forced to withdraw. In this new position he climbed on top of a parapet with his comrade, mounted his gun in a shell hole and continued firing at the enemy who were pouring across the top of, and down, an adjacent trench. His comrade was killed and Robertson severely wounded but he managed to crawl back to the British line, bringing his gun with him. He could no longer fire it as he had exhausted all the ammunition. For his initiative and resource and magnificent fighting spirit which prevented the enemy making a more rapid advance, Robertson was awarded the Victoria Cross in April 1918. A few months later, after the end of the First World War, in February 1919, he was initiated in Deanery Lodge No. 3071 in London. He is one of over one hundred and seventy holders of the Victoria Cross who have been identified as freemasons, representing more than 13% of the total recipients.
John Hamill: The Victoria Cross was a product of the Crimea War. In many ways this was one of the first ‘modern wars’, reported from the battle field by newspaper journalists. The media, then as now, liked stories of heroes and villains, and it soon became apparent that there were many heroes but no award available to acknowledge the heroic actions of the ordinary British serviceman. Other European countries already had awards for their armed forces that did not discriminate according to class or rank. In 1856 with increasing public support, Queen Victoria ordered the War Office to strike a new medal which was made open to all ranks. The Victoria Cross is awarded for valour 'in the face of the enemy' to members of the British armed forces and to members of the armed forces of some Commonwealth countries and previous British Empire territories.
Many have been inspired by the stories of those such as Charles Graham Robertson but holders of the Victoria Cross were often modest men who didn’t make a fuss and many masonic researchers have worked hard to track down their masonic links, including the 2006 Prestonian lecturer, Granville Angell. Diane and I would like to acknowledge the efforts of all those researchers today.
The Victoria Cross was awarded 628 times for action in the First World War. Over 100 recipients have so far been identified as Freemasons of whom sixty-three were members of English Constitution lodges.
As many of you will know this building, now known as Freemasons’ Hall, was formally opened in 1933 as the Masonic Peace Memorial and it was, and is, a memorial to all those Freemasons who died in the First World War. Acknowledging this and as part of the Tercentenary celebrations, the United Grand Lodge is going to have a memorial pavement laid outside the Tower doors with details of all the English Freemasons awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War. The date we have chosen for the ceremony is 25th April.
DC: On 25th April 1915 a battalion of over 1,000 men from the Lancashire Fusiliers landed on a beach at Gallipoli. During the landing, the men were met by very heavy and effective fire from the Ottoman Empire troops defending the beach and lost over half their number. The survivors, however, rushed up and cut the wire entanglements and managed to gain the cliffs above the beach. Amongst them were Major Cuthbert Bromley, Lance Corporal John Grimshaw, Private William Kenealy, Sergeant Alfred Richards, Sergeant Frank Stubbs and Captain Richard Willis. The courage of these six men was recognised by the award of the Victoria Cross to each of them and the event was hailed in the Press as '6 VCs before breakfast'. Three of these men were Freemasons.
Richard Willis had joined St John and St Paul Lodge No. 349 in Malta in 1901. He retired from the army in 1920 and took on an education role within the RAF before working as a teacher. Cuthbert Bromley, who had been a member of Invicta Lodge No. 2440 since 1909, was wounded during the landing and sustained further wounds over the next two months. He was evacuated to Egypt to recover and in August 1915, whilst returning to the Gallipoli peninsula aboard a troopship, he was killed when the ship was torpedoed. After the war John Grimshaw became a recruiting officer for the army. He joined Llangattock Lodge No. 2547 in 1928. Frank Stubbs died during the landing. William Kenealy was seriously wounded in a later battle on the Gallipoli peninsula and died in June 1915. As a result of a wound sustained in the action Alfred Richards had to have his leg amputated and was discharged from the army as unfit for further service. Despite this he served in the Home Guard during the Second World War.
JMH: Also as part of this year’s Tercentenary celebrations a Masonic Memorial Garden at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire will be unveiled next month on 18th April. Since planting began in 1997, the National Memorial Arboretum has become a special place honouring those who have served, and continue to serve, our nation in many different ways. It’s not a cemetery but covers 150 acres of trees and planting, a peaceful place of remembrance. There are more than 300 dedicated memorials on the site acknowledging the personal sacrifices made by the Armed Forces, the Police, and the Fire and Rescue and Ambulance services. The idea of a Masonic Memorial Garden was the millennium project of a group of Provinces led by Staffordshire. Realising the project was not without its difficulties but, assisted by additional finance from Grand Lodge, has now been fully realised. The garden is entered between two pillars, topped with globes, leading to a squared pavement on which are two large ashlars. The Province of Staffordshire held a service in the garden on Armistice Day last year.
DC: I am sure that many of those here today are familiar with the name of Toye, Kenning and Spencer, one of the country’s oldest companies still in operation and, of course, the manufacturer of masonic regalia and the Tercentenary Jewel. The company also has a long tradition of making military decorations although not the Victoria Cross. It may not be so widely known that the grandfather of W Bro Bryan Toye, Alfred Toye, was awarded the Victoria Cross, at the age of twenty for his actions on the Western Front in March 1918 when he established a post that had been captured by the enemy, fought his way through the enemy with one other officer and six men, led a counterattack and was able to re-establish the line. Continuing his military career after the war, Brigadier Toye, as he became, joined Freemasonry in Grecia Lodge No. 1105 in Egypt in 1930.
Following the Armistice on 11th November 1918 which ended most of the actual fighting, a series of peace treaties were negotiated between the two sides. The Treaty of Versailles with Germany was signed on 28th June 1919 and it was registered by the Secretariat of the newly formed League of Nations in October that year. The First World War had led to the fall of several empires in central and eastern Europe, the first of which was the Russian Empire overthrown in an internal revolution by Lenin and the Bolsheviks in 1917 and which led to civil war. Britain and her allies got caught up in this and were forced to send a Relief Force to North Russia in June 1919. Three men were awarded the Victoria Cross during this action. One of them was Royal Navy Commander Claude Dobson who led a motor boat flotilla to the entrance of Kronstadt harbour. In his 55 foot boat he passed through heavy machine gun fire to torpedo a Russian battleship. In 1925 Dobson joined Navy Lodge No. 2612. As the action in which he was involved falls within the period of the First World War and its treaties, he will be included on the memorial.
JMH: Armistice Day in November 1920 was a day of mellow sunshine. It was the second time that the Armistice had been marked but was to be especially significant as it was on that day that the King, George V, unveiled the cenotaph in Whitehall and also the day that the Unknown Warrior was interred in Westminster Abbey. The coffin carrying the Unknown Warrior was carried into the Abbey between two lines of men, who had been awarded the Victoria Cross during the war or otherwise distinguished themselves by special valour. They were known as the 'Bodyguard of Heroes'. Sixteen of this honour guard have been identified as Freemasons.
One of them was Captain Robert Gee who had been a member of Roll Call Lodge No. 2523 in London since 1907. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 30 November 1917 in France when an attack by the enemy captured his brigade headquarters and ammunition dump. Gee, finding himself a prisoner, managed to escape and organised a party of the brigade staff with which he attacked the enemy, closely followed by two companies of infantry. He cleared the locality and established a defensive flank, then finding an enemy machine-gun still in action, with a revolver in each hand he went forward and captured the gun, killing eight of the crew. He was wounded, but would not have his wound dressed until the defence was organised.
One of the names to be marked on a paving stone outside is Eric Archibald McNair, who was initiated in Apollo University Lodge No. 357 in 1913. He was awarded the Victoria Cross at the age of just 21 in 1916. On 14 February 1916 on the Western Front in Belgium, Lieutenant McNair and a number of men were flung into the air when the enemy exploded a mine, several of them were buried. Although much shaken, the Lieutenant at once organised a party with a machine gun to man the near edge of the crater and opened rapid fire on the enemy who were advancing. They were driven back. Lieutenant McNair then ran back for reinforcements, but as the communication trench was blocked he went across open ground under heavy fire. His action undoubtedly saved a critical situation. Sadly Lieutenant McNair did not survive the war but died in August 1918. His name is amongst those included on the Roll of Honour that is been displayed at the Shrine in the vestibule outside the Grand Temple.
It seems fitting that, in this Tercentenary year, the building is adding a further memorial to those that fought in the First World War. It would also be fitting, I believe, to stand for a moment in remembrance of those sixty-three men of valour whose names will be a part of this building for so long as it shall stand.
UGLE invites young artists to explore Freemasonry during Tercentenary year
The United Grand Lodge of England will host an exhibition of emerging artists’ work this June, to mark this year’s Tercentenary celebrations. All artwork will be created on site at Freemasons’ Hall during the residency, with artists observing and capturing contemporary masonic life and being given unprecedented access to the building and organisation.
The initiative will be led by UGLE’s first ever officially appointed Artist in Residence, South African artist Jacques Viljoen, 28, who has a background in both classical painting and contemporary art.
The new works will capture some of the key initiatives taking place in 2017 and bring different perspectives of Freemasonry to life through a variety of artistic mediums and techniques.
Hosted in partnership with the Library and Museum, the Director Diane Clements commented: 'The residency is a unique and exciting initiative to mark this milestone year and open up the world of Freemasonry in an educational and creative way to young people and the wider public. We are proud to support young talent and are excited to see what the artists produce.'
Not to be frowned upon
Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes points to the enjoyment that can be found in masonic ritual
As you are well aware, Freemasons’ Hall is a peace memorial to all those who gave their lives for us during World War I. It is worth, therefore, drawing your attention to two events taking place next year.
The first is on 18 April 2017 at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, when the new Masonic Memorial Garden, built in memory of all those masons who gave their lives during conflict in the service of our country, will be opened.
The second is the unveiling of the Victoria Cross Memorial by the Grand Master on 25 April 2017. It will be placed on the pavement in front of the Tower Entrance of Freemasons’ Hall and will take the form of a number of paving stones, with the names of the 63 Victoria Cross holders who were awarded the military decoration in World War I and who were members of the United Grand Lodge of England. Of these, 17 were also companions in the Royal Arch.
Past and future
Companions, this seems to be an appropriate time to say a few words about Denis Beckett. He was a very remarkable man and I had the good fortune to know him well. Indeed, Beckett was President of the Committee of General Purposes when I joined it in 1987.
Beckett was a Craft mason for 71 years and a Royal Arch mason for 59 years. He was initiated immediately after World War II, in which he served with such distinction. He was awarded the DSO for his extraordinary courage during the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy – there were those who felt a Victoria Cross would have been more appropriate. We were privileged to have him as a member and particularly in that he presided over the Committee of General Purposes for seven years.
‘In the Royal Arch... our Exaltation Ceremony is one of the finest.’
While it is clearly important to remember the past, we must also look to the future. I am therefore very pleased that the successor to the Membership Focus Group, the Improvement Delivery Group, is composed of both Provincial Grand Masters and Grand Superintendents, with our Third Grand Principal, Gareth Jones, as its Deputy Chairman. It will be designing and delivering the future direction of both the Craft and Royal Arch.
You may have seen that, after my Quarterly Communications address in June, I have been accused in the national media of suggesting that masons are all grumpy and boring – a misrepresentation, companions. I said that if an amusing incident occurs at one of our meetings, it should not be frowned upon as had sometimes been the case in the past.
It is not a capital offence to smile during meetings. While I was not suggesting we should turn our meetings into a pantomime, there is no harm in us being seen to enjoy ourselves. I believe this to be particularly so in the Royal Arch, as our Exaltation Ceremony is one of the finest and, in my experience, candidates derive great enjoyment from it. I think this is particularly so when the new format of the ritual is used, which involves more of the companions and has the benefit of changing the voice that the candidate hears, which I always feel refreshes his interest.
The stories we tell
Now in its third year, Letters Live returns to Freemasons’ Hall in a sell-out run. Emilee Tombs takes notes
A hush falls over the crowd inside the main chamber of Freemasons’ Hall in Covent Garden, London. The anticipation is palpable as actor Toby Jones takes to the stage and grabs the microphone to speak. ‘Letters cast powerful spells,’ he starts. ‘They take the reader to places familiar and strange.’
It was with this thought that Letters Live, now in its third year, was conceived. Based on the blog and then best-selling book series Letters of Note by Shaun Usher, and Simon Garfield’s book To the Letter, the event is the reading aloud of a collection of the world’s most entertaining, inspiring and unusual letters ever written. What makes it more compelling is that the acts who read the letters during the week-long event are a secret until they appear on stage.
From Virginia Woolf’s heartbreaking suicide letter, to Queen Elizabeth II’s recipe for drop scones sent to President Eisenhower, and Iggy Pop’s beautiful letter of advice to a troubled young fan, Letters Live celebrates the power of written correspondence and its ability to capture the humour, pathos, anger and wisdom of its authors. Supporting charities First Story, Ministry of Stories and Help Refugees, Letters Live this year enjoyed a sell-out run.
‘Someday find my [son] Karl, and tell him about his father. Tell him what times were like when we [were] not separated by war…’ Luz Long, writing to Jesse Owens
Politics and power
‘The great thing about a letter,’ says actor Nick Moran, standing opposite fellow actor Colin Salmon, ‘is that it invites a response.’ What follows is a hilarious exchange from 1676 between the Zaporozhian Cossacks and Turkish sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire, in which the sultan (read by Salmon) bombastically lists his successes and personal affiliation to God, and demands: ‘I command you, the Zaporozhian Cossacks, to submit to me voluntarily and without any resistance, and to desist from troubling me with your attacks.’
To this, the Zaporozhian Cossacks (read by Moran) reply with a barrage of Monty Python-worthy insults: ‘O sultan, Turkish devil and damned devil’s kith and kin, secretary to Lucifer himself. What the devil kind of knight are you, that can’t slay a hedgehog with your naked arse?’
Later in the evening, letters from readers of The Guardian on the subject of ‘The dog’s politics’ also elicit laughter from the audience. ‘There will always be some dogs who are corrupted, misled and – like Stalin – born to the left but end up on the fascistic right. Just as there must be rare examples of cats who have abandoned their life of comfort – Che Guevara comes to mind – and given their lives to the betterment of others (though I am yet to meet one). Which brings us to the one undeniable truth shared by anyone, of any political persuasion, who has ever canvassed door-to-door: dogs vote Labour, cats vote Conservative.’
Throughout the five-day run, audiences are treated to readings by Sanjeev Bhaskar, John Bishop, Edith Bowman, Jarvis Cocker, Julian Clary, Jamie Cullum, Sophie Dahl, Simon Day, Omid Djalili, Mariella Frostrup, Miriam Margolyes, Michael Palin, Nicholas Parsons and Robert Rinder.
On the third night, Gillian Anderson reads a letter from an old Irish lady in a nursing home, describing to her family how she got her own back on the mean women she shares a room with.
There’s also a letter from director Michael Powell to his friend Martin Scorsese, congratulating him on the script of Goodfellas, read – with awe – by Danny Boyle.
Beyond the words
One letter, penned during World War II by German Olympian Luz Long to American Olympian Jesse Owens, is a tear-jerker. The pair met during a tense 1936 Olympics hosted by Adolf Hitler and became firm friends and pen pals even through the war that followed. Writing from North Africa, where he was stationed with the German army and later killed in action, Long implores Owens: ‘Someday find my [son] Karl, and tell him about his father. Tell him, Jesse, what times were like when we [were] not separated by war. I am saying – tell him how things can be between men on this earth.’
What makes this and many other readings at the event so special is that the audience is privy to background information, researched by the Letters Live team. In this instance, we learn that Owens did in fact travel to Germany some years later to meet Long’s son, and that the pair remained friends until Owens’ death in 1980.
Towards the end of the evening, a letter written by a former slave to his old master almost brings Colin Salmon to tears, and not – as we learn later – under the guise of his character. It goes to show that such a strong message, even one sent decades ago, cannot be underestimated. As the audience exits Freemasons’ Hall, it is heartening to think that even in an age of emails, texts and Facebook updates, the art of letter writing still has the power to capture our imaginations.
The grand tour
Each year, Library and Museum staff show more than 30,000 people around Freemasons’ Hall on daily tours. Have you been?
A tour of Freemasons’ Hall reveals a building rich in history and architectural detail. Visitors – whether they are members of the public or Freemasons – can explore the Hall’s impressive ceremonial areas, from the Grand Officers’ Robing Room to the Shrine and the Grand Temple on the first floor. The tour also offers an opportunity to see some of the Grand Lodge’s collection of portraits of royalty associated with Freemasonry, including George VI.
A visit to the Roll of Honour at the Shrine is always a highlight. Many visitors also do not realise beforehand that the interior of Freemasons’ Hall is richly decorated; the stained-glass windows and extensive use of marble often draw gasps of admiration. When the tour arrives at the Grand Temple, there is time to sit down and ask the guides questions about Freemasonry, then listen to the music of the Grand Temple organ, following its recent refurbishment.
If you haven’t been to look around, why not organise a trip in 2017? Tours are available Monday to Saturday. Or visit on an Open Day – the next London Open House event will be on Sunday, 18 September 2016 from 10am to 5pm.
The Library and Museum is now open from Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm
Freemasons’ Hall organ concerts
The next in the series of organ concerts on the newly inaugurated Willis organ in the Grand Temple of Freemasons' Hall is being given by international concert organist, Jane Parker-Smith.
She will be playing works by Elgar, Vierne, Langlais, Cochereau, Bowen and César Franck.
14th December 2016, 5pm
60 Great Queen Street
Book your free tickets now at: http://bit.do/TempleConcert
Jane Parker-Smith biography
Described as ‘the Martha Argerich of the organ’ (Paul Driver, The Sunday Times), Jane Parker-Smith is internationally recognised by the critics and public alike for her musicianship, virtuosity, entertaining programmes and electrifying performances. An innate interpretative ability, prodigious technique and flair for tonal colour are the hallmarks that make Jane Parker-Smith one of the most sought-after organists in the world.
Her studies at the Royal College of Music in London were crowned with a number of prizes and scholarships, including the Walford Davies Prize for organ performance. After a further period of work with the eminent concert organist Nicolas Kynaston, a French government scholarship enabled her to complete her studies in Paris with the legendary blind organist Jean Langlais, perfecting the knowledge and understanding of twentieth-century French organ music for which she is today internationally renowned.
She made her London debut at Westminster Cathedral at the age of twenty, and two years later made her first solo appearance at the BBC Promenade Concerts in the Royal Albert Hall. She has since performed in concert halls, cathedrals and churches throughout the world.
She has recorded a wide range of solo repertoire for RCA, Classics for Pleasure, L’Oiseau Lyre, EMI, ASV, Collins Classics, Motette and AVIE. In addition, she has collaborated with the renowned Maurice André in a duo recording of music for trumpet and organ. She has performed numerous times on radio and television with special feature programmes on the BBC, German and Swiss television.
Highlights in her concert career have been performances in major venues and international festivals such as Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, Royal Festival Hall; Royal Albert Hall, London (both solo and concerto performances); Three Choirs Festival, City of London Festival, Bath Festival and Blenheim Palace (Winston Churchill Memorial Concert) in the UK; Jyväskylä Festival, Finland; Stockholm Concert Hall, Sweden; Hong Kong Arts Festival; Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto, Canada; Festival Paris Quartier D’Été, France; Festival Cicio El Organo en la Iglesia, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Festival Internationale di Musica Organistica Magadino, Switzerland; Cube Concert Hall, Shiroishi, Japan; Athens Organ Festival, Greece; Severance Hall, Cleveland, Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco and Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, USA; Sejong Cultural Centre, Seoul, Korea; Esplanade Concert Hall, Singapore, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, UK; Mariinsky Concert Hall, St. Petersburg, Russia and ZK Matthews Hall, University of South Africa, Pretoria.
In 1996 she gave four solo concerts at the American Guild of Organists National Centennial Convention in New York City. She was also a featured artist for the AGO National Convention in Philadelphia in 2002, for the AGO Region II Convention in New York City and the AGO Region V Convention in Columbus, Ohio in 2007, for the AGO National Convention in Nashville in 2012 and most recently for the AGO Regional Convention in Fort Worth, Texas in 2015.
Jane Parker-Smith’s extensive concerto repertoire has brought her performances with many leading orchestras, including the BBC Symphony and the BBC Concert Orchestras, the London Symphony, the London Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras, the Philharmonia, the City of Birmingham Symphony, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Athens State Orchestra and the Prague Chamber Orchestra. She has worked with conductors of the stature of Sir Simon Rattle, Serge Baudo, Carl Davis, Vernon Handley, Matthias Bamert and Richard Hickox.
Miss Parker-Smith is an Honorary Fellow of the Guild of Musicians and Singers and a member of the Incorporated Society of Musicians. She is listed in the World Who’s Who and the International Who’s Who in Music and in 2014 was chosen as one of ‘The 1000 Most Influential Londoners’ by the London Evening Standard newspaper.
Tickets for Tercentenary Grand Ball to go on sale in September
Dear Sir and Brother,
We are writing to inform you of a most exciting event planned for the celebrations of the Tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England in 2017: The Grand Ball. On Saturday 30th September 2017, our home, Freemasons’ Hall in Great Queen Street, London, will be transformed into the venue for The Grand Ball.
This will be the highlight of the social calendar for the Tercentenary celebrations, but will also be an opportunity for brethren of any rank, and from all Provinces and Districts, to be present at one of the official UGLE celebrations with their families and friends.
The evening will commence at 8.30pm with a Champagne reception, and finish with bacon sandwiches for the survivors at 3am! It will be a suitably grand event to befit the 300th anniversary of the institution, and is being generously supported and subsidised by UGLE, enabling our iconic building to be beautifully prepared, and food and drinks to be available throughout the night – all included in the ticket price of £160 per person.
Various entertainments will be placed in several different areas of the building, including the Grand Temple, which will be transformed into one of the largest raised dance floors in London. There will be considerable variety, including a big band, a jazz group, a ceilidh, discos (both ‘silent’ and noisy), and quieter rooms to enjoy a glass of wine and chat to your guests.
Although there will be plentiful and varied food available throughout the night, there is not a formal dinner. However, we will be looking into offering deals at local restaurants for those brethren who wish to dine beforehand with their guests. We are also attempting to arrange deals in nearby hotels, so that you are able to spend what is left of the night (or weekend) in comfortable surroundings.
We can promise all those who attend a fabulous night, and are hoping to welcome brethren and guests from across the country, and from other countries. We would therefore be grateful if you could distribute this as widely as possible across your Provinces and Districts, and encourage all those that can attend to do so.
Tickets will go on sale via the website (www.thegrandball.uk) at 9am on Friday 30th September 2016 (exactly a year before the Ball), and will be sold on a first-come-first-served basis so that everyone has an opportunity to buy tickets. Even though there will be up to 1,500 tickets available, we expect demand to be high – so early booking will be essential.
Please do encourage brethren to sign up to our mailing list via the website to ensure they are kept up to date with all our planning and preparation in the coming months – and so they don’t miss out when ticket sales commence! There is also a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/thegrandball) and a Twitter account (www.twitter.com/grandball2017) which you can like and follow for updates.
We look forward to seeing you at the Ball!
Yours sincerely and fraternally,
The Grand Ball Committee
Building of the year
Influenced by architecture in the Netherlands and the US, the Royal Masonic Hospital won an award for its modern design in 1933
The 1930s saw several significant new masonic buildings in and around London. Freemasons’ Hall on Great Queen Street was under construction from 1928 with its formal opening in 1933. The foundation stone of the Royal Masonic School for Girls at Rickmansworth was laid in 1930 and the building itself opened by Queen Mary four years later.
Architecturally the most significant of these buildings was the Freemasons’ Hospital and Nursing Home, opened at Ravenscourt Park in July 1933 by King George V and Queen Mary and then renamed the Royal Masonic Hospital.
The hospital was designed by the leading architectural partnership of Sir John Burnet, Tait & Lorne, with Thomas Smith Tait as the lead architect. His design was modern, influenced by trends in the US and the Netherlands, and it won the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Gold Medal for the best building of the year in 1933. The same firm designed the Nurses’ Home on an adjacent site, which was opened in 1938.
The current exhibition at the Library and Museum, Healing Through Kindness, marks the centenary of the formation of a masonic hospital, and includes pictures and more details about the award-winning building
Retirement dinner for George Francis
After 10 years as Second Grand Principal, George Francis has retired. To mark his retirement a dinner was held at Freemasons’ Hall in London for those Grand Superintendents that he had installed. Also present was his successor as Second Grand Principal, Russell Race.
The 50th anniversary meeting of Falcon Lodge No. 8062 took place on Monday, 8th February 2016 at Freemasons' Hall
W Bro Paul Norton, PAGDC, a Founder of the lodge, was installed as Worshipful Master and W Bro Philip Belchak, PGStB, the only other living founder and an honorary member acted as Senior Warden for the meeting. Honorary members, Assistant Metropolitan Grand Master VW Bro David Wilkinson, PGSwdB, and VW Bro David Taylor, PGSuptWks, attended the meeting which was officiated by Metropolitan Grand Inspector VW Bro Stratton Richey.
The lodge presented a donation to the MMC Air Ambulance Appeal for £5,000 which was gratefully accepted by Bro Richey on behalf of Metropolitan Grand Lodge. The lodge, already a Grand Patron of the RMBI, presented a further donation of £500 to VW Bro James Newman, President of the RMBI, who was also in attendance.
A lecture on the history of the lodge, written by the Lodge Mentor, W Bro Neil Mills, PAGPurs, was delivered by a new Master Mason in the lodge. The history highlighted the lodge's origination from the 'Arts and Circles' Class of Instruction held on Sunday mornings at the Albion, Ludgate Circus which provided a school of instruction for members of the theatrical profession whose only free day was a Sunday.
Following the lecture, Bro Richey presented two Grand Lodge certificates to new members after which Assistant Metropolitan Grand Master VW Bro Stephen Fenton, PGSwdB, presented a letter of congratulations, signed by the Metropolitan Grand Master RW Bro Sir Michael Snyder, to the Worshipful Master.
More than 100 members and their guests dined afterwards at the Grand Connaught Rooms. All attending received a pair of white masonic gloves, suitably inscribed, as a gift.