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The Official Journal of the United Grand Lodge of England

Number 26 ~ Summer 2014


Number 26 ~ Summer 2014

MASTER OF TIDES Why ocean explorer and adventurer Pete Bray decided to start a lifelong journey as a Freemason p22



The making of our film, p26

Meet Standard Lodge, p36

Understanding the press, p46







any readers will know of the Royal Arch 2013 Bicentenary Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons. The final result has just been announced as £2.5 million. This is a fantastic sum and a great example of our philanthropy. As Secretary of the appeal, I know how much was done to achieve this impressive figure and that much of the praise is justly attributed to the Second Grand Principal as Chairman of the appeal. You will all be receiving a DVD copy of our latest short film with this issue of Freemasonry Today. It has been greeted with great acclaim and we hope you will show it to your family. It is different and exciting, designed specifically for family members to show them about our friendships, the importance of family and the good we do in our communities. In other words, Freemasonry is a great organisation of which to be a member, and one of which we should all be proud. Indeed, as we move towards our Tercentenary we should show our pride in being a member and look for people of quality who can join us to share in that pride. Interestingly, two of the Senior Insights in this issue of the magazine discuss recruitment and retention. HRH The Duke of Kent, our Grand Master, explains that these tasks are more important than ever and emphasises the role of the mentoring scheme in retaining members. The Pro Grand Master asks why so few members recruit and urges us to become

more active in this area. We encourage you to read both of these excellent articles. In this issue, we believe you will find a great deal to inspire you about Freemasonry. We profile Pete Bray, who, having survived two hurricanes and a sinking ship, is now embarking on a new journey as a Freemason. Paul Calderwood traces the Craft’s faltering relationship with the press throughout the twentieth century and provides some useful insight into how things have started to improve. Meanwhile, four members of a Salvation Army brass band explain why playing together is the perfect complement to being members of a lodge. For some, the community of Freemasons across England and Wales is a fantastic way of sharing a common interest or raising muchneeded money for good causes. For others, it provides a unique opportunity to bring people together. We find out how fighter pilot Len Thorne saw one of his squadron shot down during World War II; and how forty-five years later, at a Masonic Widows Friendship Club, Len discovered his colleague was still alive and living just eight miles down the road. Len is a fantastic example of the breadth of people who make up the Craft. I hope you enjoy reading his story and the many others in this issue. Nigel Brown Grand Secretary

‘In this issue of the magazine, we believe you will find a great deal to inspire you about Freemasonry.’



The Board of Grand Lodge Publications Ray Reed, Robin Furber, Graham Rudd



Publishing Director Nigel Brown Editorial Panel Karen Haigh, John Hamill, Susan Henderson, John Jackson, Siobhan McCarthy Editor Luke Turton Published by August Media Ltd for The United Grand Lodge of England, Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ

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Editorial Freemasonry Today, Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ Advertising contact Square7 Media Ltd, 3 More London Riverside, London SE1 2RE Mark Toland 020 3283 4056 Circulation 0844 879 4961 Masonic enquiries 020 7831 9811 Printed by Wyndeham Roche © Grand Lodge Publications Ltd 2014. The opinions herein are those of the authors or persons interviewed only and do not reflect the views of Grand Lodge Publications Ltd, the United Grand Lodge of England or August Media Ltd.







Paul Calderwood’s 2013 Prestonian Lecture investigates why Freemasonry and the national press went their separate ways in the 1980s, reports Andrew Gimson

Nigel Brown welcomes you to the summer issue

NEWS AND VIEWS The latest masonic news from around the country



HRH The Duke of Kent appeals to every mason, whatever their rank, to focus on the critical issues of membership retention and recruitment




John Hamill describes how two intrepid Freemasons managed to transport Cleopatra’s Needle from Egypt to England in the nineteenth century



Whether crossing the sea in a kayak for a good cause or attending a local masonic meeting, Pete Bray believes in looking after people

By introducing sensory gardens into its care homes across England and Wales, the RMBI is helping residents to engage with the outside world




Mounted on the cover of this issue, a new film about the Craft interviews members, explains its charity work and explores the organisation’s structure. Sarah Holmes finds out why it is different from anything seen before



Manager of Letchworth’s, Kevin Duffy reveals why the internet has been good for the shop at Freemasons’ Hall



Sophie Radice discovers why Freemasonry and playing in a Salvation Army band can be the perfect combination

ONE MAN IS AN ISLAND Cover image: Matt Thomas This page: Rex Features, Matt Thomas, Paul Stuart, Alun Callender




When Augustus John Smith took possession of the Isles of Scilly, he introduced an education system that would transform the lives of the islanders


As a pilot in World War II, Len Thorne was considered a safe pair of hands. Barry Griffin shows how he carried these traits into Freemasonry



How Freemasons are helping out around the UK



When Garibaldi came to Britain in 1864, he was greeted by crowds and celebrated by poetry in masonic magazines



Your opinions on the world of Freemasonry



The monetary value of masonic items may not be huge but their historic worth could be significant, says John Hamill



You can now keep up to date with all the latest news from around the country on our Twitter and Facebook pages @freemasonry2day @ugle_grandlodge @grandchapter FreemasonryToday UnitedGrandLodgeofEngland SupremeGrandChapter

GRAND MASTER’S HISTORIC VISIT TO GLOUCESTER CATHEDRAL Paying his first ever visit to Gloucester Cathedral, the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, was made welcome among local brethren at their annual church service. The Grand Master first lunched at the masonic hall in Stroud, accompanied by Dame Janet Trotter, Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, and the High Sheriff, the Hon Hugh Tollemache. They were hosted by Provincial Grand Master Adrian Davies and his wife Angela. Following a further civic engagement at Brockworth, the Duke arrived at the cathedral with the Mayor of Gloucester, together with county and civic leaders. The congregation was welcomed by the Dean, the Very Reverend Stephen Lake, and lessons were read by Deputy Provincial Grand Master Tim Henderson-Ross and the PGM. The Grand Master presented the Dean with a cheque for £20,000 towards the cathedral restoration fund, representing £10,000 each from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and Gloucestershire Freemasons.


Above left: The Grand Master enters Gloucester Cathedral Above: Cheque presentation to the Dean


SEVEN MARATHONS IN SEVEN DAYS Bristol Freemason Bill Doody ran seven



The spring edition of Freemasonry Today contained an article about the inventor of the life preserver, Francis Columbine Daniel. Shortly before its publication, a talk on the same topic was given in Royal Naval Lodge, No. 59, by Senior Warden Forbes Cutler. The talk was part of the celebrations held to mark the 275th anniversary of the lodge, of which Daniel was master for many years. The Metropolitan Grand Stewards Demonstration Team also performed, and a cheque to honour the anniversary was received on behalf of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution by Dr John Reuther.

During the Queen Mary 2 voyage from Southampton to Cape Town earlier this year, 18 masons and their partners entertained the ship’s master, Captain Kevin Oprey, in the Winter Gardens. Peter Elvey of Kenlis Lodge, No. 1267, Cumbria & Westmorland, acted as the charity steward and Jim Duggan of Mowbray Lodge, No. 2993, Western Cape, was host and speaker, presenting a donation on behalf of the brethren to Captain Oprey for the Seafarers UK charities.

Shown (l to r): Jim and Margaret Duggan, Captain Oprey, and Carolyn and Peter Elvey

marathons in seven days in support of the


Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF) and the NSPCC. Fundraising on behalf of the Province of Bristol’s 2019 Festival Appeal for the MSF, he covered more than 183 miles in one week. Bill began his incredible challenge by running from Bristol to London, finishing off with the London Marathon on 13 April. He visited several lodges and attended meetings at Wiltshire, Berkshire, West Kent and Freemasons’ Hall in London.


Go to for more information

Help has come for victims of the Somerset Levels floods

Inventor and Freemason Francis Columbine Daniel

Flooding in England and Wales caused widespread damage and disruption to many communities during the winter. Somerset masons, backed by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and other Provinces, came to the rescue with help for the Somerset Community Foundation. Grand Charity President Richard Hone, QC approved a £20,000 emergency grant for the British Red Cross in support of its UK flood relief efforts. The grant was backed by a special appeal among Somerset masons, who raised more than £175,000 for the Somerset Masonic Flood Recovery Fund, becoming one of the four main donors to the local appeal. Other Provinces also sent generous donations. The Grand Charity is working closely with masons in other affected areas of England and Wales to establish the best way to offer further support. In parallel with support for wider relief efforts, the charity will assist individual eligible masons who have been affected by events, and their dependants, by providing Masonic Relief Grants to relieve hardship. To find out more about how the Grand Charity is supporting flood victims, turn to p65



LODGE RAISES £10,000 FOR WEST WALES FESTIVAL A team of West Wales Provincial Officers took over Aeron Lodge, No. 7208, which meets at Aberaeron, with Provincial Grand Master Eric Mock leading and raising Nigel Jones in a ‘Cash for Ritual’ deal. But it was value for money – the lodge handed over £10,000 for the 2015 Festival on behalf of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity.

Devonshire Masonic Art Group members are helping charity

DEVONSHIRE ART GROUP SUCCESS An initiative by Devonshire mason Cyril Reed has drawn upon the wealth of artistic talent in Freemasonry, including widows of masons and those with close family ties. As a result, a group was formed to exhibit artworks, with profits going to charity. Several exhibitions have already been held, raising money for both masonic and non-masonic charities.

REACHING OUT IN HEREFORDSHIRE Megan Baker House at Moreton Eye near Leominster in Herefordshire is seen as a centre of excellence in conductive education for children and adults with neurological disorders. The charity is in the final year of its three-year REACH OUT project, which takes its services into schools and community centres for an ever-growing number of beneficiaries. Herefordshire masons, including Royal Edward Lodge, No. 892, in Leominster, have contributed, while Paul Beaumont recently donated £750 on behalf of Saint Peter’s Lodge, No. 7368, in Bromyard. Shown above: Richard James (l) and Paul Beaumont (r) of Saint Peter’s Lodge with (l to r) Megan Baker House lead conductor Judit Ziman, teaching assistants Zoe White and Vicky Martin, and students Isabelle and Chorley


Martyn Bolt is organising the Provincial Perimeter Pedal

TOUR DE YORKSHIRE Yorkshire is to host the start of this year’s Tour de France in July, so Martyn Bolt of Woodsmoke Lodge, No. 9317, suggested a cycle event navigating the boundary of the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding to raise funds for the 2017 RMBI Festival. In the style of the Tour de France, the 280-mile Provincial Perimeter Pedal will be broken into stages as the route takes in 23 masonic halls after setting out from Tapton Hall in Sheffield. The charity cycle will take place over the three days of the August bank holiday weekend, enabling many more riders to join the core group for part of the journey as they approach or leave a masonic hall. For more information, go to


MAKING WAVES FOR WATERAID Edward Williams, aged 27, a member of Lodge of Three Grand Principles, No. 441, Province of Cambridgeshire, is attempting to swim the 20 miles between Ireland and Scotland in August in support of WaterAid. In 2006 he swam solo across the English Channel, raising more than ÂŁ60,000 for prostate cancer research. The founder of coaching company Elite Swimming Academy, Edward is undertaking what is considered by many to be the most challenging channel swim in the world. Only 19 people have swum the North Channel before, and the current record time for the swim (set in 2013 by Michelle May of the USA) is nine hours, 35 minutes. Edward is aiming to complete the swim in less than 12 hours. Edward Williams trains for his challenge

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HELPING HAND FOR SPECIAL HORSE CHARITY Nyanza Lodge, No. 1197, in Ilminster, Somerset, has presented a cheque for £1,400 to the Horseshoes and Handprints charity, which provides sensory therapy and special riding for adults and children with behavioural and communication difficulties. Close contact with horses can relieve stress within people with conditions such as Asperger’s, autism and neurological disorders. Nyanza Lodge raised £700 from a charity lunch that attracted matched funding from the Charities Committee of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Somerset, with the total figure of £1,400 adorning the neck of one of the charity’s horses, Josh.

Shown (l to r): Den Challis, Grand Superintendent Simon Rowe, Norman Minto and Stuart Burgess

BUGLER TRIO INSTALLED Of the four Armed Services, the Royal Marines is by far the smallest, and so the bugler branch of the Royal Marines Band Service is possibly the smallest branch of all. So it was a rare event when three former Royal Marine buglers were installed as the three Principals of Brent Chapter, No. 1284, in the Province of Devonshire. First Principal Norman Minto was a Corporal Bugler; Second Principal Den Challis, a Drum Major; and Third Principal Stuart Burgess, a Bugler. In addition, Scribe E of the Chapter, Martin Heskins, was also a Royal Marine Corporal Bugler. The trio in their days as Royal Marine Buglers

Shown (l to r): Charity treasurer Desi Fradgley with Nyanza Lodge WM Hall Smith and Barry Scott of the Somerset Masonic Charities Committee

TECHNOLOGY BOOST FOR THE BLIND Henshaws Society for Blind People has received a £50,000 grant from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity to support its assistive technology programme across its college and centres in Manchester, Merseyside, Harrogate, Knaresborough and Newcastle. The society gives expert support and training to anyone affected by sight loss and other disabilities, and the grant will help to provide a wireless network at its college, as well as broadband in the community houses. The funds will also subsidise the salary of the assistive technology coordinator over three years. Henshaws’ chief executive, Nick Marr, said, ‘The support committed by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity will make a huge difference to the lives of our college students.’ Sir David Trippier, East Lancashire Provincial Grand Master, said, ‘I am delighted that we are supporting Henshaws. It is a wonderful college.’


The training provided by Henshaws is aimed at building skills and independence



SUPPORT FOR MACMILLAN CHARITY Freemasons from Bromyard are championing Macmillan Cancer Support in Herefordshire by sponsoring the charity’s Not Alone campaign, which was launched just over a year ago. Paul Beaumont of Saint Peter’s Lodge, No. 7368, in Bromyard, together with Richard James, Lodge Charity Steward, presented £600 to Jenny Goddard, fundraising manager of the Herefordshire and Forest of Dean branch, with matched funding from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. The presentation took place in the Patient Garden Area of the Macmillan Renton Cancer Unit, Hereford.

In January, Provincial Grand Master Eric Mock and Andrew Wood of Cambrian Lodge, No. 464, attended Shalom House hospice in St Davids to present a plaque to senior nurse Alison Burrows. The plaque acknowledges the efforts of the brethren of Cambrian Lodge and the Provincial Charity Committee, who raised money for the purchase of a new bed – to which the plaque will be attached. Masonic support is particularly welcome, as the hospice receives no government funding. Shown above (l to r): PGM Eric Mock, nurse Alison Burrows and Andrew Wood

CUTTING CANCER TREATMENT WAITING TIMES The Peterborough Cancer Treatment Appeal is dedicated to fundraising for equipment used in the treatment and diagnosis of cancer for the Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Peterborough lodges in the Province of Northamptonshire & Huntingdonshire – led by Mervin Roberts, Charity Steward of Petriburg Lodge, No. 8767 – and the Provincial Grand Charity have raised £27,500 for the appeal. This tremendous sum has helped to cut cancer treatment waiting times in Peterborough and its districts.





A recent charity event held by the Province of Cornwall was attended by more than 100 people from 28 local charities – as well as many friends and volunteers – who received donations totalling more than £46,000. Provincial Grand Master Peter George said, ‘A joint event like this, with the national masonic Grand Charity and the Cornwall Masonic Benevolent Fund, allows us to make larger combined donations across a wide range of local charity groups.’ Shown above: PGM Peter George with charity representatives at Newquay

The Central London Masonic Centre has completed the sale of Old Sessions House (above) and is now the owner of the new Clerkenwell Centre. Stephen Ayres, Centre Chairman, said, ‘It should be less expensive on operating and maintenance costs, considerably more flexible for both masonic and commercial business and much more accessible, particularly for those with restricted mobility.’ Stephen explained, however, that there were some issues with the new building, and some reconfiguration may be needed to satisfy masonic needs. He added: ‘We have already put in hand some of the changes needed, which should answer the majority of the problems.’

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. A large audience attended the symposium

PHOENIX HALL RESTORERS One of England’s oldest purpose-built masonic temples, in Henden, Sunderland, is to be given a new lease of life. Students at Sunderland College are set to take on other local colleges in a competition to design a revival and extension scheme for Phoenix Hall, a Grade I listed building. The hall was the first to be purpose built by Freemasons to hold their meetings in 1785. Still in use today, Phoenix Hall is in need of an update and it is hoped that the winning project will be carried out with funding from Heritage Lottery Grants. The hall has many original features, including a pipe organ built by John Donaldson and an 18th-century organ, which sits in its own purpose-built gallery. The project has received help from local firm Precision Geomatics, which carried out a laser scan of the building, providing intricate details of the structure itself. Above: The Sunderland College team ready for the competition




Bubble football tests the players

Staffordshire Provincial Grand Master Sandy Stewart paid a visit to Katharine House Hospice in Stafford recently, and presented cheques totalling £2,443 to representatives of three of the hospices within the Province, all seven of which received grants. The funds were distributed by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity as part of its annual grants to hospices. A total of £600,000 has been distributed to the 239 hospices in England and Wales, £23,000 of which has been given to the hospices in Staffordshire. Katharine House Hospice chief executive Dr Richard Soulsby said, ‘This donation will make a real difference to the support we can provide to our patients.’


Shown (l to r): Lindsay Stewart (Acorns, Walsall), Dr Richard Soulsby, PGM Sandy Stewart, Lisa Courtney (Donna Louise, Stoke) and Kat Hindmarsh (Katharine House, Stafford)

It was an unusual way to raise money for charity when representatives of 28 lodges and 11 chapters from Slough joined in a game of bubble football. The eye-catching event, organised by Denver Lynn of Bucks masons, saw participants encase themselves in a large plastic cocoon before kicking for goal and raised £1,000. As a result, help will be provided for those who have fallen on hard times through redundancy, illness or bereavement.

SCOUTING AND MASONIC PARALLELS Mirfield Masonic Hall in West Yorkshire was packed to capacity when Woodsmoke Lodge, No. 9317, which is a member of the Kindred Lodges Association, hosted an additional presentation of the 2012 Prestonian Lecture by Tony Harvey. The lecture, ‘Scouting and Freemasonry: two parallel organisations?’, was adapted to allow non-masons to be present and among the audience of more than 100 were 40 non-masonic members of the Scout movement. Among those who attended the event were David Pratt, Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding and Mayor of Kirklees, and a Grand Officer, Cllr Martyn Bolt.



This set square and compass jewel sold for £3,000

International collectors converged on south London auctioneers Roseberys for a collection of masonic jewels, medals, ceramics, glass, books and ephemera belonging to the late Albert Edward Collins Nice, who died in 1969. Albert was a chemist, dental surgeon and a mason. He joined Globe Lodge, No. 23, in 1925, became a Grand Steward in 1935 and Past Grand Deacon in 1964. One artefact, a large masonic silver and paste set square and compass jewel, sold for £3,000. Set with multicolour paste, it had Scottish interest with the inscription: ‘To the Honorable Captain Jocelyn, from his friends in the Celtic Lodge, Edinburgh, 1845.’ The auction also included 35 masonic jewels by the pre-eminent 18th-century designer and maker, Thomas Harper. The book section saw several museums from around the world bidding. The highest price paid was £5,500, for a Scottish Rite album.

Tony Harvey gave the 2012 Prestonian Lecture To read about the 2013 Prestonian Lecture, turn to p46




The memorial tablet at St James’s Church in Piccadilly

On 5 March, the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB) held a church service to dedicate a memorial tablet in honour of its founder, Chevalier Bartholomew Ruspini, at his burial place, St James’s Church, Piccadilly. The service was attended by more than 100 people, including current and former trustees, staff from the masonic charities, and staff and pupils from the Royal Masonic School (RMS), established by Ruspini in 1788. David Williamson – at his final formal engagement as Assistant Grand Master – delivered the first of two readings, the other being read by RMS Headmistress Diana Rose. The main address was delivered by RMTGB President Mike Woodcock, who spoke about the world in which Ruspini lived and his pioneering contributions to dentistry and philanthropy. 

TRACING MASONIC ANCESTRY An article about tracing ancestry through Freemasonry has appeared in the March issue of the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? magazine. It was produced through a collaboration between St David’s Lodge, No. 393, Berwick-upon-Tweed; The King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB) Association Regimental Museum; and Berwick Record Office. ‘We get a lot of people researching family trees asking us about their masonic ancestry and we can trace Freemasonry in Berwick back to 1647,’ said Master of St David’s Lodge, Steve Newman. ‘The regiment had its own lodge,’ added KOSB Association secretary and lodge member Ed Swales. ‘Many soldiers joined St David’s Lodge when they were stationed here at the depot.’ King Rat Rick Wakeman does the double


Shown (l to r): Jim Herbert (Berwick Time Lines) and Linda Bankier (Berwick Record Office) with the 1874 order of service for the dedication of the masonic hall, and Steve Newman and Ed Swales with a copy of the BBC magazine


Keyboard legend and Chelsea Lodge Master Rick Wakeman has been elected King Rat of the showbiz Grand Order of Water Rats (GOWR), the first time that the same person has been at the helm of the two showbusiness fraternities. Formed in 1889, GOWR has a long association with Chelsea Lodge, No. 3098, which was founded in 1905. Many GOWR founders were masons and its rationale, centred on the lodge format with charity objectives, is based on Freemasonry. One reason for the formation of the Rats may be that in those days, as most entertainers were working when lodges were meeting, they formed a quasi-masonic body that met on Sundays – as they still do – the one night of the week when entertainers were at rest.


GOOD EXAMPLES HRH The Duke of Kent explains why recruitment and retention should be your responsibility, whatever your rank



hether you have been appointed to or promoted in Grand Rank, I want to emphasise that two of your key tasks are recruitment and retention. It has become clear from the research carried out by the Membership Focus Group, chaired by the Deputy President of the Board of General Purposes, that these tasks are more important than ever before. I am particularly concerned to hear that very few members recruit at all, and that there is an unacceptably high loss rate after each of the three degrees – and, indeed, during the first ten years of membership. The Membership Focus Group has been formed to analyse the statistics and to make proposals to stem the loss of members. It is already clear that the mentoring scheme will play a vital role going forward. It is therefore important that lodge mentors appoint appropriate personal mentors to look after each new candidate, rather than trying to do all the mentoring themselves. Naturally, I expect you will also be good examples to others, whatever their rank – not only in your good conduct and supportive approach but also by demonstrating your enjoyment of Freemasonry. I hosted a dinner for Provincial and District Grand Masters. The support of and direction from your respective Provincial and District Grand Masters is paramount and I am pleased to hear how closely they, in turn, are working with the centre at Freemasons’ Hall. This inclusive approach is core to the future of the English Constitution. I continue to hear of the good work done by the Provinces in their local communities and there is no better example than the help given to the victims of the recent floods, especially in the West Country. This good work was supported when I had the opportunity to visit two Provinces – in Gloucestershire, where I also attended their annual service in Gloucester Cathedral, and in Cornwall. I was impressed by the enthusiasm of the members I met in both.

‘The support of and direction from your Provincial and District Grand Masters is paramount and I am pleased to hear how closely they are working with the centre at Freemasons’ Hall.’



UNITED WE STAND Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes considers how the future of Freemasonry depends on every part of the organisation working together



or men of quality to join, the unity of the English Constitution is crucial to our survival as a relevant organisation in society. In particular, I want to emphasise the importance of all the component parts of our organisation working together. Enormous progress has been made in the liaison between the centre, London, the Provinces and Districts. The consistent approach from the centre is now very much a consultative one: working directly to seek views before making proposals for consensus approval. This is typically through the Grand Secretary; on behalf of the Rulers and Board of General Purposes; by direct contact or online surveys; or by Provincial Grand Masters championing or being members of committees looking into and ensuring the future of Freemasonry. This inclusive approach is working well and I am keen that it continues. This is an exciting time for Freemasonry, with several initiatives dealing with future recruitment and retention, as well as business effectiveness in running a large membership organisation. The brief of the newly formed Membership Focus Group is to advise the Board of General Purposes on how best Freemasonry can concentrate the minds of members, lodges, Provinces and Rulers to work in a collaborative, focused manner in stemming the decline in membership and meeting the long-term needs of the Craft. The Tercentenary Planning Committee is working with the Board of General Purposes looking at the overall plans for celebrations in 2017. Although there will be a final event in London towards the end of the year, I am determined that the Provinces and Districts run their own celebratory events throughout the year at times convenient to them. I have talked about Provincial Grand Masters being involved with helping to set the strategy as members of committees, but wider views are also sought with online

surveys that are quick and informative. For example, we ran a survey seeking opinions on communication strategies for the English Constitution. More recently, we had a survey on potential new branding as we move towards 2017. Let us not forget the Districts, which form an important part of the English Constitution. Last year, accompanied by the Grand Secretary, I attended business meetings with groups of District Grand Masters in Trinidad, Harare and Lagos, while the Deputy Grand Master attended the inaugural Asia Oceanic Conference of District Grand Lodges in Kuala Lumpur. In addition, I hold a dedicated meeting for all District Grand Masters who attend the Investitures in April. As a united English Constitution, we are working more closely together than at any other time in our history. At a strategic level, I believe that continuing to work together will not only stem the decline in membership but also start to increase it to ensure the future of Freemasonry. At an individual level, consider the fact that the more members there are, the better chance Grand Lodge has of keeping the dues down.

‘We are working more closely together than at any other time in our history.’



TAKING THE RIGHT APPROACH Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes emphasises the importance of making ritual enjoyable and marks the Royal Arch’s achievements



rand Rank does come with responsibilities. For example, you have a duty to be mindful of both recruitment and retention in the Order. On recruitment, I would first ask who among you does in fact recruit and, to those of you who do recruit new members, are you sensitive to the right time to approach each potential exaltee? This sensitivity is also a challenge to Royal Arch representatives in Craft lodges and emphasises the reason why this is such an important appointment. Those of you who do not recruit, why not? Recruiting to the Royal Arch is, after all, simply a matter of persuading someone to extend their knowledge about a subject of which they are already partly aware and enjoy. It is not introducing them to something completely alien. On retention, you can help by actively showing your enthusiasm for and enjoyment of the Order. Also, by guiding the new Companion through the various stages of his progression, making sure that, wherever possible, the work is shared, so that the ritual is enjoyed by him and does not become a burden to him. In October last year we celebrated the Bicentenary of the Holy Royal Arch. The First Grand Principal announced then

that the Royal Arch Masons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons had exceeded £2 million and that the appeal would remain open until the end of 2013. Companions, as you have already heard from the President of the Committee of General Purposes, the figure is now £2.5 million. This is a wonderful achievement and a great credit to the Royal Arch. I turn now to the Grand Temple organ restoration project, which is a Royal Arch initiative using existing funds. Designed and built by Henry Willis and Sons, the organ has been in place since Freemasons’ Hall was opened in 1933. It is possibly the largest complete, unaltered Willis instrument in full working order after eighty years. It is, however, in need of substantial restoration. English Heritage and Camden Council have agreed to the restoration plans with full completion in early 2015 – in good time for the Craft’s Tercentenary in 2017. Not only will this fine organ be restored, the Royal College of Organists will also be approached to investigate the possibility of encouraging young organists to use the Grand Temple Organ, as well as conducting organ recitals that are open to the public.

‘Those of you who do not recruit, why not? Recruiting to the Royal Arch is, after all, simply a matter of persuading someone to extend their knowledge…’


LIFE’ S ADVENTURE Whether it’s kayaking across the harshest seas or attending a masonic meeting, for Pete Bray life is all about helping other people. Caitlin Davies joins him for a paddle off the Liverpool coast




ecord-breaking British adventurer Pete Bray has completed seven major expeditions, survived a sinking boat and two hurricanes, and has a medal for bravery. Now the climber, marathon runner, cross-country skier and microlight pilot is embarking on a new journey: Freemasonry. Born in Plymouth in 1956, Pete counted polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton among his childhood heroes: ‘He taught me that if you plan, you succeed, and you live to fight another day.’ Pete learnt this the hard way when, at the age of eleven, he got his first kayak. Not content with splashing around in the sea, he set off from Torpoint in Cornwall wearing a World War I life jacket with virtually no knowledge about currents and tides. After reaching Cawsand, Pete decided on the way back to have a look at HMS Ark Royal in the Plymouth docks, at which point the Ministry of Defence (MOD) intervened. ‘They explained the tides and they picked me up and took me home. I got grounded by my dad for a week, but it was all very exciting.’ Perhaps it was this early brush with the MOD that led to Pete joining the army; he worked for twenty-four years as a soldier, including fifteen years in the SAS. ‘I loved to race while I was in the regiment,’ he explains, ‘and in 1984 I entered a seven-day race between Sweden and Finland. It was the first time I’d been in a racing kayak. Imagine ice skating for the first time; that’s what it was like: you get in, you tip straight out. When I arrived for the race they asked where my support team was and I replied, “You’re looking at him’.”

RISING TO CHALLENGES In 1996, Pete kayaked around Great Britain with Steve McDonald, a partially sighted friend, then in 2000 he set off to cross the Atlantic alone. But ‘the valve had been put in wrongly and so the boat sank’. He survived for thirty-seven hours in freezing waters before being picked up. It took him months to learn to walk again

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after suffering from cold-water injuries, but the next year Pete became the first person to kayak solo across the North Atlantic from west to east. This seventy-six-day expedition was documented in Pete’s book Kayak Across the Atlantic, and for ten years he held the world record for the longest open-water crossing undertaken by a kayaker. ‘I hate to fail,’ says the fifty-eight-year-old. ‘If something is in the way, it’s just a hurdle to overcome.’ Pete is clearly a determined man and has had to face many other hurdles along the way. In 2004 he was part of a four-man team attempting the fastest row crossing from Newfoundland to the Isles of Scilly. After thirty-nine days at sea, the boat was struck by Hurricane Alex and split in two. Having saved the lives of his crew, Pete was awarded a bronze medal by the Royal Humane Society in 2005. The same year, Pete and three others spent thirteen days kayaking around South Georgia, setting the record for the fastest circumnavigation of the island. Then in 2009, drama hit again during a solo row from Newfoundland to the Isles of Scilly. After fortytwo days he needed rescuing; faced with winds of one hundred and twenty-five miles per hour and twentyfoot waves, he was in the path of Hurricane Bill. For his next challenge, Pete has two ideas: a ‘paddle around Wales’ and ‘motorbiking to the twenty-eight capitals of the European Union with disabled soldiers’. And if all that isn’t enough to keep him busy, last year he branched out into previously uncharted waters, joining Phoenix Lodge, No. 3236, in Cheshire. Pete, who is the director of a security consultancy, Primarius, explains his decision: ‘My business partner Harry Glover asked if I wanted to join his lodge, and one of the attractions was the fundraising aspect of Freemasonry. Being a mason is all about looking after people, which I like, so it seemed logical to join.’

PADDLING FOR POUNDS Pete is also planning a sponsored kayak crossing of the Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska, just south of the Arctic Circle. He will be raising money for the Teddies for Loving Care Appeal, which gives teddy bears to children in hospitals, and the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB), which relieves childhood poverty and supports education. Ray Collings has been fundraising manager at the RMTGB for seven years and has worked with masons who have climbed Kilimanjaro, run marathons or


PREVIOUS PAGE: Pete Bray takes a break from kayaking off the coast of Liverpool

ABOVE AND RIGHT: Pete has been splashing about in his own kayak since the age of eleven; it’s this level of experience that has enabled him to accomplish so much – on and off the water

PETE BRAY’S TOP FIVE KAYAKING TIPS 1. Pick a boat for where you want to kayak (in rivers or the sea). There’s a wide range available and you need the right one. 2. Make sure you have the correct paddle; they come in all different shapes, sizes and lengths. 3. Choose a boat you like the colour of; you’re going to have to really want to be with it. My favourite colours are blues and reds. 4. Learn from a professional, like myself. 5. Enjoy it and do it for the right reasons. People say I should be sitting in an armchair but even now I’m still paddling! If you get off your backside, you can do something.


‘After saving the lives of his crew when they were struck by Hurricane Alex, Pete was awarded a medal by the Royal Humane Society.’

completed the National Three Peaks Challenge. But when Pete rang and told him his plan to kayak across the Bering Strait, ‘I thought he was joking,’ laughs Ray. ‘Then when I realised what he has done in the past, I saw it was almost normal for him. He’s always supported children’s charities and was keen to do something for a masonic charity. A lot of people do sponsored events, but there has never been anything as adventurous as this in my memory.’ The RMTGB gives its fundraisers advice, provides the paperwork and processes the donations, and Ray meets many of them at the end of their trip. This summer, for example, masons from Middlesex and Hertfordshire are cycling from Gibraltar to Southampton. ‘I’ll meet them at the finish,’ he says, ‘but I’m not sure if the Trust would allow me to meet Pete when he finishes! It’s a bit extreme for me to fly to Alaska.’ Pete, meanwhile, says he wouldn’t describe becoming a mason as an adventure: ‘It’s more of a learning curve. It’s about improvement and bettering yourself. An adventure is about getting from A to B and succeeding; becoming a Freemason is more of a lifelong journey.’

‘I hate to fail. If something is in the way, it’s just a hurdle to overcome.’ Pete Bray


GRAND PREMIERE Forget the box office. There’s a movie exclusive on the front cover of this issue of Freemasonry Today. Sarah Holmes goes behind the scenes of a new film about the Craft, and meets the cast and crew bringing it all to life




film crew is recording Sam Colling as he tears a Subaru Impreza around a muddy racetrack in Oxfordshire. Attempting a hairpin bend, Sam is in his element. While others might consider this a nightmarish experience, for thrill-seeking Sam – one of three Freemasons chosen to appear in the United Grand Lodge of England’s (UGLE’s) latest film – it’s a great way of unwinding. The short film, to be found on the front cover of this issue of Freemasonry Today, aims to convey to people outside of the Craft exactly what Freemasonry is all about by showcasing the diverse mix of people who enjoy it as a hobby. With his love of extreme sports, and a Navy career that sees him regularly navigating the stormy North Atlantic Sea, Sam isn’t what people may typically expect of a Freemason. Fortunately, London-based director Lee Cheney had no intention of playing to preconceptions when it came to casting the film. Part of visual communications specialist VisMedia, Cheney was commissioned by UGLE in May 2013 to create a modern portrayal of the masonic world, as told by the members themselves.


No stranger to movie-making, Freemasons’ Hall is one of the locations in the film. But the crew also captured masons in their element, from following Sam round a racetrack in Oxfordshire to joining Anthony for a walk in the park with his grandson



‘This film is very different from anything I’ve seen on Freemasonry before, and that is the real merit of it.’ Nigel Brown

A CHANGE OF SCENE It’s a step in a new direction for UGLE, which was eager to investigate the potential of rich media for expanding awareness of Freemasonry. As a nonmason, Cheney brought a fresh perspective that fitted perfectly with UGLE’s aim to nurture a more relevant, outward-facing perception of the Craft. ‘This film is very different from anything I’ve seen on Freemasonry before, and that is the real merit of it,’ says Grand Secretary Nigel Brown. ‘Lee immediately understood it should be angled from the perspective of the non-mason, and particularly that of the families.’ Nigel was keen that the film – funded by UGLE at a cost of just 20p per member – supported the families of masons. ‘It needed to give them an understanding of what Freemasonry is and show them that their nearest and dearest are part of a fine community.’ Cheney’s brief was to demonstrate Freemasonry’s compatibility with a modern, balanced lifestyle – one that prioritises family and work over lodge meetings and dinners. So it’s no coincidence that Sam, Alastair Chambers and Anthony Henderson were chosen to provide a glimpse into the life of a Freemason. ‘We were concerned about presenting Freemasonry in an honest way, so it was paramount that we cast real, everyday people,’ explains Cheney. ‘Sam, Alastair and Anthony were ideal examples. They are just three interesting, friendly guys from completely different backgrounds who share a great set of values.’ The national response to the casting note was overwhelming, and a UGLE panel was tasked with the job of whittling down the one hundred and fifty applicants to a shortlist of thirty. After interviewing candidates on camera, the panel finally decided on these three. So began a busy winter of filming, which saw the crew trailing the length of the country to capture the starring masons and their families at home, at work, and even in the local pub. The sets ranged from a living room in Bedfordshire to a windy rugby field in Gloucester. And although the project was storyboarded, Cheney reveals that ‘it was completely unscripted; our masons provided all of the content, which was then brought to life by the fantastic crew’. The improvised dynamic was something that Anthony, a Freemason of thirty-one years, found particularly challenging: ‘I was apprehensive,’



FROM TOP: One of the film’s stars, Alastair at home with his young family; the Library and Museum in London is open to visitors, who can also take a tour of the Hall itself


‘We were concerned about presenting Freemasonry in an honest way, so it was paramount that we cast real, everyday people.’ Lee Cheney

he recalls, ‘but Freemasonry has given me so much over the years, I’m just glad I could finally give something back.’ Giving back is a key feature of masonic life. With The Freemasons’ Grand Charity donating more than £100 million to a wide range of causes since 1981, the film shines a light on the Craft’s enduring history of charitable initiatives. We meet Ian Simpson, the founder of one such venture, Teddies for Loving Care – a charity that gives teddy bears to children visiting A&E. And we hear from nurses and families who explain the therapeutic effect a teddy bear can have. While it’s unsurprising that charity is important to a society where kindness, honesty, tolerance and fairness are core values, myths continue to abound about Freemasonry. ‘The truth is, it’s open to everyone,’ says Sam. ‘It’s not a closed door society – anyone can visit the lodges.’ As the film shows, even Freemasons’ Hall in London plays host to a wealth of external events, including the catwalks of London Fashion Week. In its quest to challenge preconceptions, the film shows masonic life to be more multifaceted than many could have imagined. It presents a community that is all at once passionate and accommodating, modern yet historical – and always welcoming.

FROM TOP: Freemasons’ Hall hosts catwalk shows for London Fashion Week; Teddies for Loving Care is one of the many charity initiatives set up by masons

MEET THE STARS Sam Colling, twenty-three, joined Portus Felix Lodge, No. 6712, in Yorkshire three years ago. When he’s not away at sea working as a Merchant Naval Officer he counts snowboarding and scuba diving among his many hobbies. ‘Freemasonry is relevant to anyone who wants to become a better person and be able to help others. It’s that simple.’


Alastair Chambers, thirty-two, joined Via Lucis Lodge, No. 9443, in Gloucester two years ago. He is a father of five, runs a construction company, is partner of a recruitment firm and manages a prison rehabilitation scheme. ‘Although we might all come from different walks of life and have different interests, we all share the understanding that everyone in the lodge is equal. No matter who you are, you will fit in.’

Anthony Henderson, fifty-seven, joined Russell Lodge, No. 4413, in Bedfordshire thirty-one years ago. As official babysitter for his grandson Finley, Anthony is a master Scalextric racer, although he intersperses track time with a career as a European business manager in the healthcare sector. ‘In the eighties, Freemasonry was surrounded by taboo. Now, thanks to films like this, I hope people will realise it’s nothing more than a social club that’s open to everyone, regardless of age or background.’


With Freemasons from across the world flocking through its high-arched doors, Letchworth’s is proving to be a popular draw for visitors. Manager Kevin Duffy reveals why the shop at Freemasons’ Hall offers so much more than souvenirs

ATTENTION TO RETAIL What attracted you to the position of shop manager? I applied to work in Letchworth’s eleven years ago. I’d managed high street stores before; I’m not a mason myself, but the idea of working for Freemasonry was intriguing. The shop was much smaller then, perhaps twelve foot by twelve foot with some cabinets and a till. There was nothing there really, but Diane Clements (Director of the Library and Museum) handed me the keys and said, ‘Off you go.’ It was the perfect challenge.

How has the internet affected sales? Some people see it as a threat, but for Letchworth’s it’s been a massive advantage as so many members live outside London. Ever since we launched the website eight years ago, the number of overseas visitors has also grown tremendously. It’s been a fantastic resource for spreading the Letchworth’s name, as well as bringing in sales of its own. In 2007, online accounted for twenty per cent of all sales, but today it brings in just under half when combined with mail order. It’s fantastic when you get visitors from the other side of the world coming in and saying they wish they had something like this where they come from. They also spend more than the British customers; average spend for overseas masons is from £70 to £80, but for UK Freemasons it’s from £20 to £30.

How have things changed in the shop? For one thing, it’s three times bigger! We’ve just completed our third refit to include a clothing section and a jewellery counter. What started as a modest collection of Grand Lodge publications has expanded into nine different product ranges, including regalia, homeware, audio and the usual quirky gifts like teddy bears, book lights and heraldic shields. Why has the shop been so successful? The shop wouldn’t be anything without the knowledge of the Freemasons in this building. With so many products, it’s impossible to know everything about all of them, so I rely on the expertise of the people around me. Whether it’s a London Grand Rank Association volunteer relaying customer requests or somebody from the Library and Museum giving me advice about regalia, I listen to what they have to say. All that has come together to produce the incredible shop we have now; it’s been a communal effort to get to where we are.


Kevin Duffy heads up the shop at Freemasons’ Hall, with the help of staff and volunteers from the London Grand Rank Association

Is there competition in the world of masonic retail? There’s a friendly rivalry with the external masonic shops, especially those based across the road from us. We all want Freemasonry to be a good experience. All the profits that we make in Letchworth’s are giftaided to support the work of the Library and Museum. Are masonic items always high quality? There are always some companies out there who try to get involved in any market in the cheapest way possible. You can tell in an instant if it’s a poor product, and we won’t touch it. If you stock bad-quality products, word will spread – one customer will tell ten others and then your business goes backwards. On the




‘The shop wouldn’t be anything without the knowledge of the Freemasons in this building... it’s been a communal effort to get to where we are.’ flip side, if you provide good products and great service, it cements a good reputation. How has Freemasonry changed over the past decade? Freemasons’ Hall has become much busier, and that’s had a direct impact on the shop. Seven years ago, the building had maybe six lodge meetings on a Saturday; now there can be up to twenty-nine. There’s also a more open feel about the Hall. That’s probably down to the public tours and an increased international interest in Freemasonry. What’s your favourite part of working at the shop? I love working here, but it’s the people who really make it. The camaraderie is what helps drive the business forward. I rely so much on the input of my staff and volunteers, especially when it comes to expanding the range. My performance as a manager is very much tied up with theirs, and fortunately we have a dynamic team. What does the future hold? My ultimate goal is to keep developing the shop. You’ve always got to keep moving forward in business, and that’s what I strive to do by challenging the staff, volunteers and United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) to keep coming up with new ideas. We could easily fill a shop three times the size of what it is now. But we wouldn’t fill it with any old product; it would have to have good-quality stock that I would be proud to sell.


Letchworth’s has recently completed a refit to accommodate an ever-growing range of products

HOW IT ALL BEGAN Past Junior Grand Deacon and longtime member of the UGLE team, Ken Garrett recalls Letchworth’s early days Our first purchases were very modest and in line with items that could be found in most museums and buildings open to the public – key rings, coasters and a set of postcards of sites within the building. We were able to back these up with the Grand Lodge publication Freemasons’ Hall, which had colour slides and an explanation of most of the photos. We recruited sufficient brethren from the London Grand Rank Association to man the shop full-time, then we waited to see what the outcome would be. After a slow start the shop got accepted, first by visitors and then – somewhat reluctantly, it seemed – by members, who usually only made a quick visit before going to a meeting. We steadily increased the number of items for sale as demand arose. From small beginnings, Letchworth’s has blossomed into a major shop and I trust fulfilled the hopes of all who recall its birth.



SPECIAL INTEREST LODGE A band of brethren (l to r): Russell Crosby, trombone; Colin Crosby, tuba; David Mortlock, baritone horn; and Alex Mitchell, trombone

BRASS STANDARDS What do you get if you cross two trombones, a baritone horn and a tuba? For four Freemasons, playing in a Salvation Army brass band is the perfect complement to being a member of Standard Lodge





tanding in The Salvation Army’s Reading premises on a fresh spring morning, Colin Crosby, David Mortlock, Alex Mitchell and Russell Crosby are chuckling as they try and come up with different ways of posing with their musical instruments. The four players belong to the Reading Central band of The Salvation Army and can be found performing in the town’s main thoroughfare most Fridays. They are also members of Standard Lodge, No. 6820, London, which believes that Freemasonry and The Salvation Army share core fraternal and charitable values. Founded in 1949, Standard Lodge’s invitation letter stated that it was desired that the founders and future initiates should be members of The Salvation Army or associates. It was to be a strictly temperance lodge and is one of three such lodges originally founded by Salvationists, the other two being Lodge of Constant Trust, No. 7347, and Jubilate Lodge, No. 8561. The strong musical tradition of The Salvation Army means that many members of Standard Lodge have also played, or currently play, in a Salvation Army brass band. Colin Crosby joined Standard Lodge in the sixties and says that of the three lodges founded by the Salvationists, Standard is the only one that




‘The great thing about a brass band is that it can be very rousing and uplifting but it can also be very subtle and moving.’ Colin Crosby

has kept to the strict Salvationist ethos of no alcohol, no smoking and no gambling. ‘That means that we can’t have raffles to raise money so we have to think of other ways of fundraising.’ Colin’s son Russell, an engineer by profession, feels strongly that The Salvation Army and the Freemasons have much in common. ‘There is a great deal of misunderstanding about Freemasonry. I see it as my personal mission to put things right and point out that there is a strong morality within Freemasonry,’ he says. ‘Like The Salvation Army, there is a great tradition of charitable giving and consideration for the well-being of others. I have talked about this with many of my fellow Salvationists – I think it really helps with the understanding of Freemasonry if all aspects of it are discussed openly.’ Colin plays the tuba and switches between the E-flat and the B-flat, while David plays baritone horn and Alex plays the trombone. Explaining his choice of instrument, Colin says: ‘I like to be in the engine room of the band, which is what I consider the tuba to be.’ Russell used to play tenor horn but switched to the trombone: ‘The opportunity came up because the band was short of trombone players and although I had to learn from scratch, I saw it as a challenge and managed to pick it up. I think I have a fairly decent tone now.’

CROWD PLEASERS The Reading Central Salvation Army band has played on many auspicious occasions, including at the Royal Military Academy. The band has performed in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace to celebrate its one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary and has also played at the annual carol service in Grand Lodge for a number of years, as well as many other engagements up and down the country. In 1994 they toured, playing in the Republic of Korea and Hong Kong, while 2007 took them to Ontario, Canada. The band plays a wide range of music, from hymn tune arrangements (many of which were composed specifically for The Salvation Army) through to popular film scores. ‘We mix up classical music with well-known tunes from films like The Great Escape or The Wizard of Oz,’ explains Colin. ‘Just as the audience are relaxing into it, we hit them with a nice oldfashioned hymn or classical song. That’s the great


ABOVE: Russell Crosby, previously a tenor horn player, switched to trombone, learning the instrument from scratch. RIGHT: Retired music teacher Alex Mitchell helps to train up younger members of the Salvation Army band


SPECIAL INTEREST LODGE thing about a brass band; it can be very rousing and uplifting but it can also be very subtle and moving.’ David Mortlock joined Standard Lodge in 1987. Also an engineer, he lived in the United States and India for many years. Although he used to be a bandmaster, David now plays the baritone horn. He misses conducting and echoes Colin’s pride in the range of music played by the Salvation Army band: ‘Music is such a powerful tool and can be used for inspiration, praise and worship, as well as meditative prayer.’ Many of the most well-known brass players in the country have come out of The Salvation Army band tradition. ‘Philip Cobb is the principal trumpet player with the London Symphony Orchestra,’ explains David. ‘Dudley Bright, who is principal trombonist for the London Symphony Orchestra, has also composed a number of pieces of music for The Salvation Army. His most recent composition, “The Cost of Freedom”, was given its first performance by The International Staff Band of The Salvation Army at the Sage Gateshead in May 2008.’ Alex Mitchell is a highly qualified musician outside of the brass band world, too. And as a retired school music teacher, he uses his teaching skills with the young people of the junior band and as a pianoforte and brass teacher. All four men describe the feeling of fraternal companionship both in the band and in the Freemasons. ‘In both situations there is a feeling of solid friendship and moral support if you need it,’ says Alex. ‘In that way, Standard Lodge members are very lucky because they have both.’

NOTES IN A BRASS BAND TROMBONE Invented in the 1500s, it wasn’t until the eighteenth century that the trombone became popular in England. Composers such as Beethoven described the trombone as the ‘voice of God’ because it has the ability to achieve perfect intonation at all times.


ABOVE: Colin Crosby plays tuba, an instrument he considers to be ‘the engine room of the band’. RIGHT: David Mortlock, an ex-bandmaster, joined Standard Lodge in 1987


The marching band perennial was first invented in the 1700s, when it was played by stroking the instrument’s glass rods. Not to be confused with the euphonium, the baritone has three valves and less tubing in the horn.

TUBA Since its introduction into symphony orchestras in the mid-nineteenth century, the tuba is considered the anchor of the orchestra’s brass section. It comes in a range of pitches, from the deep bass of the subcontrabass to the much higher pitch of the tenor tuba.


THE WELFARE ESTATE When Augustus John Smith signed a lease to run the Isles of Scilly, he created an infrastructure that would transform living conditions for the poor. Richard Larn OBE charts the life of this enthusiastic Freemason and philanthropist




hile the Victorian era produced countless well-educated young men from wealthy British families, Augustus John Smith stood out. Provincial Grand Master and Chapter member of both Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Smith saved the five off-islands of Scilly from starvation. The Smith family originated from Nottingham, where grandfather Smith had made his fortune in textiles. His son James took over the business before moving into banking and property investment, purchasing Ashlyn’s Hall in Berkhamstead, where Augustus was raised. The young Smith was at Harrow when his mother Mary died while visiting Paris. Graduating from Christchurch College, Oxford, Smith greatly missed his mother and her guidance. Her love of horticulture encouraged him to later create the now world-famous Tresco Abbey Garden on the Isles of Scilly. However, his great passion in life was education and improving the lot of the working class. While in his twenties, Smith’s father gave him a very large sum of money. With such serious funds in a bank account, many young men would have embarked on the Grand Tour, seen Europe end to end and thoroughly enjoyed themselves, but not Smith. A studious and serious young man, he toured Britain, studying the working class – their living conditions, employment, finances and education. At his own expense, Smith established two schools in his home town where ‘the three Rs’ were taught alongside instruction in industry. He suffered abuse from his peers for his support of the poor, with wealthy industrialists fearing that education would make workers unwilling to slave for the pittance they were paid. It was this opposition to progress that caused him to seek pastures new, somewhere he could turn his dream of reformation into reality. Smith

toured England and Ireland looking for such a place before setting his heart on Scilly. The needs of the islands, owned by the Duchy of Cornwall and deemed ‘unprofitable’ by their previous tenant, were summed up in a Duchy Report that stated: ‘No corner of Great Britain stood in greater need of help than Scilly.’ A similar comment was voiced by the Rev George ‘Bosun’ Smith, who stated in 1818, ‘Oh, that some of our wealthy and benevolent countrymen, whose hearts are as generous as their means are ample, could but witness these things.’

DEVOTED TO REFORM The reverend was referring to the conditions he found during a tour of the off-islands, which revealed men, women and children in the depths of poverty. He wrote in his journal: ‘What strength could they have from limpets and dried leaves off the hedge, which they mix with hot water? ... Scarcely any clothes and no shoes, the woman frequently goes out at twelve at night to any family who can hire her, and stands washing till the next night for four pence and a little food.’ After signing a lease for ninety-nine years at an annual rent of £40, Augustus Smith was asked by the owners to pay a fine of £20,000 – a refundable surety, he was told. The five off-islands were in a deplorable state; the Duchy wasn’t prepared to invest in its own property, yet still it demanded this sum. Smith also had to promise to spend £5,000 building a new quay, and a further £3,400 on the parish church. Any lesser man would have walked away – but not Smith. He arrived on Scilly in 1835 as Lord Proprietor and embarked on a huge construction plan, offering employment and paying wages out of his own pocket. Smith set out a policy that cut to the quick of the old Scillonian ways. In future, every child would


‘A studious and serious young man, Smith toured Britain, studying the working class – their employment, finances, living conditions and education.’



‘Smith set out a policy that cut to the quick of the old Scillonian ways... and upset a lot of people who were reluctant to change.’

attend school until the age of thirteen. New dwellings went up, quays and roads were repaired, and new ones created, all at his own expense. He banned smuggling, introduced a magistrates’ court and upset a lot of people who were reluctant to change. With no property on Scilly sufficiently large enough for his personal needs, Smith built Tresco Abbey as his private residence, overlooking two lakes in the grounds of the old St Nicholas Priory.



PREVIOUS PAGE: An aerial view of Tresco, the second-largest of the Isles of Scilly; a portrait of Augustus Smith

THIS PAGE, FROM TOP: Tresco Abbey, first built as Smith’s private residence; the sub-tropical Abbey Garden is home to thousands of exotic plants

EXOTIC SPECIES Tresco is the second-largest of the Scilly Isles. Exceptional hours of sunshine and a mild winter climate mean that Tresco Abbey Garden can welcome plants collected from around the world. Many of the exotic species cannot be grown outdoors anywhere else in the UK, not even on the Cornish mainland, a mere twenty-eight miles away.


One of Smith’s great passions was Freemasonry. He was initiated into the brotherhood in Watford Lodge, No. 404, in London in 1832 at the age of twentyseven, and later became a member of numerous other lodges. In 1855, aged fifty-one, the Phoenix Lodge in Truro sponsored his election as Deputy Provincial Grand Master; by 1863 he was chosen as the sixth Provincial Grand Master of Cornwall. Just when Smith joined Dolphin Lodge, No. 7790, Isles of Scilly, is uncertain. There had been a lodge on the island from 1755, but in 1783 it changed its name to Godolphin Lodge, possibly out of respect for the family who held the tenancy of the islands for centuries. In 1851, for reasons unknown, the lodge surrendered its warrant and closed. While this could have been due to a lack of support, it does not seem likely. With shipbuilding on the main island of St Mary’s at its peak, the island was packed with workers and countless ships’ captains, many of whom were masons. There is a possibility that Smith initiated its closure, since as a mason he was morally obliged to support the lodge and attend its meetings, but his role as Lord Proprietor placed him in an impossible position. We shall never know. In 1872, Smith died aged sixty-seven from gangrene of the lungs in Plymouth. He was buried in St Buryan, Cornwall, choosing that location over the islands as a death-bed protest against the Duchy of Cornwall, which he felt had treated him badly. Smith had worked tirelessly for the benefit of Scilly. He got the post office to connect the islands to the mainland by telegraph cable, established a regular packet service, mail collection and delivery, and encouraged new enterprise including the island’s burgeoning flower industry.




PRESSING MATTERS In his Prestonian Lecture, Paul Calderwood traces Freemasonry’s faltering relationship with the press throughout the twentieth century. Andrew Gimson finds out why things have started to improve


hy did Freemasonry’s public image change so much for the worse during the twentieth century? This question struck Paul Calderwood many years before he delivered the 2013 Prestonian Lecture on the subject. He became a Freemason in the early 1970s and towards the end of that decade began to notice the declining tone of newspaper coverage: ‘By the 1980s, it was pretty dire. I was amazed at the things I read in newspapers. These reports didn’t match my experience.’ On investigating the image of Freemasonry, Paul found that it had ‘a very positive profile in newspapers in the late nineteenth century. It was very much part of the public sphere’. How and why did things go wrong? On retiring from business, Paul decided to conduct a scholarly inquiry into this question, and enrolled at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he researched and wrote a doctoral thesis, which has now been published. ‘Throughout 1900-1940, the largest part of the fraternity’s press profile was derived from the strong involvement of the Royal Family, which played a key role in the administration of the Order,’ explains Paul. ‘Three

of the four kings of twentieth-century Britain were Past Grand Masters of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) – as were kings of Sweden and Denmark. They provided Freemasonry with publicity on a lavish scale.’ Thanks to its royal favour, Freemasonry drew eminent people from many different walks of life. Archbishops, aristocrats, government ministers, judges and mayors flocked to become Freemasons, commending the fraternity as ‘the key to model citizenship’. But Paul has identified another, less obvious factor that contributed to the positive image: the openness of Freemasonry itself. ‘There can be little doubt that the raised masonic profile between 1916 and 1936 was directed by the most senior members of UGLE,’ says Paul. ‘The nature of the press coverage – its detail, frequency and, above all, volume – are clear indications that the in-trays of the leaders of the Order were being officially scanned on a daily basis for news items.’ During those twenty years, the number of masonic articles in the national press increased fourfold. Indeed, there were times when as many as four articles appeared on the same day in the same newspaper.


‘Throughout 1900-1940, the largest part of the fraternity’s press profile was derived from the strong involvement of the Royal Family.’ Paul Calderwood

47 33


‘Many members of the public saw a secretive organisation that did nothing to rebut the conspiracy theories that multiplied around it.’

News outlets including the Press Association, The Times and The Daily Telegraph employed masonic correspondents. Lord Ampthill, who in 1908 became Pro Grand Master of UGLE, had a high opinion of journalism, while Alfred Robbins, who in 1913 became President of the Board of General Purposes, was a wellknown journalist. Robbins knew exactly what journalists needed, and he had a network of contacts through whom it could be supplied. Freemasonry in these years did not fear the press; it embraced it. Paul, who himself worked in public relations, sees UGLE as a pioneer of these methods that we now take for granted.

A STEP BACKWARDS So what went wrong? Robbins died in 1931, but his network continued to function for a few years. Ampthill’s death in 1935 led to the decisive change: ‘There was a change in leadership at Grand Lodge, to people with a very different attitude to communications, and they effectively withdrew from the public sphere.’ The abdication in 1936 of King Edward VIII showed that publicity ‘can be a two-edged sword’. The high profile of Freemasonry had been maintained by his active participation during his years as an immensely popular Prince of Wales, and now, in Paul’s words, ‘his reputation went into free-fall, and an asset proved more of a liability’. The rise of fascism on continental Europe, with Freemasons facing persecution, was taken in England as confirmation of the wisdom of keeping a low profile. In the years after World War II, Freemasonry in England continued to grow substantially in numbers, only levelling off in the late 1970s and then, in common with most membership organisations, going into decline. But the press no longer carried masonic stories. Paul observes that news values had changed; editors were less interested in printing reports about such bastions of the establishment as Freemasonry. Some of the churches, too, having once welcomed Freemasonry as an ally, now began to see the Order as a rival. But the greatest single factor in the decline


in coverage was the decision by Freemasonry itself not to make news available, and to be an organisation that jealously guarded its privacy.

ADDRESSING THE DAMAGE Even when Freemasonry came under attack, no reply was made. ‘Critics had the field to themselves,’ explains Paul. ‘They were able to fill the vacuum with their insinuations.’ In the 1980s, a ‘witch-hunt’ developed, and for a long time no attempt was made to counter these stories. As Paul explains, the attitude of many Freemasons was: ‘Let them think what they want. We know we’re right.’ The problem with taking the high road was that many members of the public saw a secretive organisation that did nothing to rebut the conspiracy theories that multiplied around it. At length, the need for a policy of greater openness was seen. According to Paul, this was ‘quite controversial’, even though it was a return to the greater openness of 1916-1936. With so little material published about Freemasonry in the twentieth century, Paul has broken new ground both with his book and his lecture – which he has now given about thirty-six times in England and Wales: ‘There is a lot of interest in the subject of our public image and what can be done to improve it.’ Provinces in England and Wales have appointed publicity officers, who are trying to communicate better with the media, and many are also successfully using social media. As a young man, Paul read history at the University of Leicester before qualifying as a journalist and working for a short time on local newspapers. He understands journalism and, from his days in public relations, has absorbed the lesson that ‘the prelude to understanding is communication’. What a pity it is that having learnt this lesson earlier than many other organisations, Freemasonry then forgot it for half a century. To order a copy of the 2013 Prestonian Lecture, ‘As we were seen: The Press & Freemasonry’, from Amazon, visit



Paul Calderwood’s 2013 Prestonian Lecture explores the shift from Freemasonry being viewed as the model of citizenship to being seen as a secretive society



FROM THE NILE TO THE THAMES One Freemason proposed the idea of presenting Cleopatra’s Needle as a gift to the British government. John Hamill explains how its eventual arrival in London was organised and paid for by another


ike St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower and Big Ben, Cleopatra’s Needle is one of London’s most recognisable landmarks. It was presented to the British government in 1819 by the ruler of Egypt and Sudan to commemorate the victories of Lord Nelson at the Battle of the Nile and Sir Ralph Abercromby at the Battle of Alexandria. But it was to lie in the sands outside Alexandria for nearly sixty years because successive British governments refused to pay the enormous costs of transporting it to London. Giovanni Battista Belzoni (1778-1823) was born in Padua. After various adventures in Italy, Prussia and Holland he arrived in England in 1803 and made his living as an entertainer. At six feet seven inches in height and with enormous strength, he was often billed as the ‘Patagonian Samson’. Belzoni came into contact with some of the small circle who were to become the advisers to HRH The Duke of Sussex when he became Grand Master. It is not known where Belzoni was initiated, but he entered the Royal Arch in Cambridge and the Knights Templar in Norwich. His splendid Royal Arch jewel is worn today by First Principals of the Chapter of St James, No. 2.

UNCOVERING THE ANCIENT In 1815, Belzoni was persuaded by the agent of Egypt’s Turkish ruler, Pasha Mohammed Ali, to go there to try and help restore that country’s prosperity. Arriving in Cairo, he became fascinated by ancient Egypt and from 1816 to 1820 carried out excavations at Abu Simbel, Thebes, Philae, the Valley of the Kings and Fayum. Belzoni made many discoveries, not least the tomb of Pharaoh Seti I, making careful notes and extensive drawings of the temples, tombs and wall decorations that he discovered. He is rightly considered to be the father of modern Egyptology, but modern archaeologists would abhor his practice of removing statues, wall paintings and artefacts from his discoveries.


In 1821, Belzoni exhibited his Egyptian treasures in Piccadilly, to huge public acclaim. A narrative of his activities, published in the previous year, quickly went through three printings and was translated into French, German and Italian, while his collections were later auctioned off and bought by the British Museum. It was Belzoni who suggested to Pasha Mohammed Ali that the obelisk now known as Cleopatra’s Needle be presented to the British government. Belzoni organised its transportation to Alexandria but did not have the finance to move it any further.

MASONIC INTERVENTION It was not until 1877 that the interest of another Freemason, Sir William James Erasmus Wilson (1809-1884), led to the obelisk finally making its journey to England. Wilson was a surgeon who made his name and fortune by specialising in dermatology. One of the first in this field, he wrote a number of works that became the standard textbooks on the subject. He is credited with introducing the idea that a daily bath was a simple way of remaining healthy, and was involved in the movement to provide local bath and wash houses to promote hygiene and public health. Elected Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Wilson served on many of its committees and was its president in 1881. He was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and knighted for his services to medical science and his extensive philanthropy. Wilson was much involved in Freemasonry in London and Kent. Having heard of the obelisk, Wilson began to plan for its transportation. On the advice of engineers, it was encased in an iron tube around which a pontoon was built, complete with rudder and sails. It was to be towed by a merchant vessel, with a small crew steering it from a covered ‘bridge’ built over the tube.

FROM TOP: Portraits of Italian adventurer Giovanni Battista Belzoni and Londonborn surgeon and Freemason Sir William James Erasmus Wilson

OPPOSITE PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: A cylinder is constructed to encase the obelisk on its journey to London; in position in Westminster, circa 1878-1882; workmen raise Cleopatra’s Needle on the Embankment; a plan of the method for transporting the monument


‘The whole exercise of transporting Cleopatra’s Needle and organising its final resting place in London cost Wilson almost £10,000.’ THE FINAL CHAPTER


The journey from Cairo through the Mediterranean and out into the Atlantic was largely uneventful. However, disaster struck on entering the Bay of Biscay on 14 October 1877. A sudden storm almost overturned the pontoon, the tow lines broke and it was at the mercy of high seas. The small crew was rescued but in the attempts to retake control of the pontoon, several sailors perished. Eventually the pontoon drifted to the coast of France from where it was salvaged and reconstructed at a cost of £2,000. The Needle was eventually towed up the Thames, and the wrangling then began as to where it should be erected. Initially it had been planned to stand the obelisk near the Houses of Parliament, but both Houses objected. Finally it was agreed that it should be erected on the new Victoria Embankment, then being constructed as a river road linking Westminster and the City of London. Wilson engaged architects to design a plinth and surroundings, to include two sphinxes, to display the obelisk. The foundation stone of the plinth was laid with masonic ceremonies and on 12 September 1878 the obelisk was raised. The whole exercise of transporting Cleopatra’s Needle and organising its final resting place in London cost Wilson almost £10,000.




SENSES A blossoming sensory garden initiative by the RMBI is helping to both lift the spirits of care home residents and connect with their past, as Sarah Holmes discovers




hile gardens are a source of pleasure during the summer months, imagine if an uneven paving stone was enough to limit your enjoyment of a flower bed in full bloom. For the older generation, the great outdoors can sometimes feel like a hazardous place, with the security of indoors often seeming a far more sensible option. Forty-one per cent of adults over the age of seventy take a twenty-minute walk less than once a year, according to statistics published by the British Heart Foundation National Centre for Physical Activity and Health in 2012. In care homes, the figures are more worrying still, with seventy-eight per cent of men and eighty-six per cent of women classified as inactive. At Queen Elizabeth Court in Llandudno, however, the scene could not be more different. The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) care home is set in an acre of sprawling lawns that play host to an award-winning patchwork of raised flower beds and vegetable plots. And thanks to a network of pathways, the garden is completely accessible to its residents. But it is the home’s sensory garden, funded primarily by local Freemasons and volunteers from its Association of Friends, that’s the real pièce de résistance. One of the four central masonic charities, the RMBI is dedicated to looking after Freemasons and their dependants in retirement, and sensory gardens are its latest initiative to improve the lives of residents in its care homes. Designed to stimulate all five senses, the gardens are especially therapeutic for people with dementia. ‘We want all of our residents’ lives to be as fulfilling as possible,’ explains Debra Keeling, Dementia Care Advisor at the RMBI. ‘The sensory gardens are fine-tuned to provide a safe, stimulating space that benefits all residents, including those with dementia.’ Working with landscaping specialist Ward Associates, which has links with the University of Stirling’s leading dementia centre, the RMBI developed a sensory garden blueprint in 2011 that could be used in its homes, with the help of grants. In a sensory garden, colours, shapes and special features are introduced to assist visual impairment. Wind chimes and water features aid hearing, with specially surfaced paths creating noise when residents walk on them. Plants with different textures are grown so that people can touch and enjoy the variety, while cultivating herbs and vegetables means the residents can taste fresh, home-grown produce.



‘We want all of our residents’ lives to be as fulfilling as possible. Sensory gardens provide a safe, stimulating space that benefits all residents, including those with dementia.’ Debra Keeling

her favourite geraniums or engrossed in a gardening book. When she was moved to the dementia wing during the last four years of her life, the sensory garden provided a great source of comfort. ‘Val was a lovely lady,’ recalls Roberts. ‘The garden really helped in the last few years. It reminded her of when she used to garden with her son. We always made sure there was a vase of geraniums in her room.’ It’s the willingness of staff like Carr and Roberts to go the extra mile, combined with the RMBI’s strategic sensitivity to evidence-based innovation, that allows the care homes to excel in the field of dementia care. ‘We are experts in this area, and the sensory gardens are a key part of our offering for people with dementia,’ says Keeling. ‘It’s all about facilitating people’s interests, and the great thing is that the gardens can be enjoyed by everyone. All RMBI care homes with specialist dementia units already benefit from sensory gardens, so the next step is to introduce them to our other homes. It’s something that we will continue to develop to give real quality of life to our residents every day.’

With an expanding dementia support unit, Queen Elizabeth Court was a natural candidate for a grant, and its sensory garden helped the RMBI home take second place in the 2013 Llandudno in Bloom awards – adding to its roster of wins. While his work may be award winning, for Alan Roberts, the horticulturalist at Queen Elizabeth Court, outstanding resident care is the only priority when it comes to maintaining the garden. ‘It’s nice to win awards, but at the end of the day it’s the residents’ garden,’ he says. ‘It’s here to benefit them.’ Roberts acknowledges that without the RMBI’s investment and expertise, the sensory garden would never have happened. From flower beds raised to wheelchair height through to sheltered seating areas, the garden is an accessible and engaging space for all. Plants and flowers that appeal to the senses are particularly important for residents with dementia, for whom the smell of lavender or the sight of a daffodil is enough to reinvigorate a host of comforting memories.


ENCOURAGING INVOLVEMENT There are plans for more improvements, too. ‘We’ve decided to create a water feature to get the residents out more, and eventually we’ll have decking with more raised flower beds outside the dementia wing, so it’s easy to access,’ Roberts explains. At present, the home has eleven raised beds where residents plant their own produce, such as tomatoes, lettuce and strawberries – and it is up to the residents to nurture everything through to harvest, when it will go straight to the kitchens, then onto their plates. ‘It’s a great confidence booster,’ says Gary Carr, Activity Coordinator at Queen Elizabeth Court. ‘Our residents’ faces light up when somebody compliments them on something they’ve grown.’ Although it can be difficult to entice people out of their rooms, Carr and Roberts are never deterred. They regularly organise sessions to make hanging baskets and sunflower-growing competitions. ‘It’s an incredibly useful space,’ says Carr. ‘It adds another level of engagement to the activities, and is a great source of stimulation for residents in the dementia wing.’ By high summer, many residents will be visiting the garden at least once a week – some even two or three times a day. One resident in particular, Valerie Morris, adored the garden. Having been a keen gardener throughout her life, Val could often be found planting


LEFT: In an RMBI sensory garden, colours and shapes help with visual impairment, wind chimes and water features aid hearing, while plants with different textures and scents appeal to touch and smell

In addition to central funding from the RMBI, each care home has a dedicated volunteer group known as the Association of Friends. Their activities support care home provisions, such as the sensory gardens, and members also volunteer as companions for residents. Every year, their efforts culminate in a big outdoor event. This year, Queen Elizabeth Court will be gearing up for its annual summer fete, which will see more than twenty lodges and local businesses arrive to peddle their wares from marquees. Last year’s attractions included artisan cheeses and charcuterie, a dog display, the West Mercia Lodge brass band and a residents’ strawberry stall. To find out more, visit pages/association-of-friends.html







or a couple of years before his death, my father-in-law Len Thorne had been working on memoirs based on his World War II pilot’s logbook as a front-line fighter and his time as a test pilot in the Air Fighting Development Unit (AFDU). His daughter, my wife Gill, promised Len that we would try to complete his book and have it published. The following extract not only gives a breathtaking account of mid-air battle, but also reveals how important Freemasonry can be in bringing people together:

When fighter pilot Len Thorne saw one of his squadron shot down in World War II, little did he think that more than forty-five years later he would meet that pilot again thanks to his Freemasonry. Barry Griffin, Len’s son-in-law, explains the chance encounter

‘On a “sweep” operation on 12 October 1941, I flew as Yellow three, sub-section leader on the port side of the leading section and slightly above it. We swept south from Gravelines to Hardelot, inland ten to fifteen miles from the French coast. Blue section, off to our right and slightly below us, were attacked by a group of 109s just as we made a starboard turn to leave France. The rest of us were immediately involved in several brief individual combats, and for a few moments, the sky seemed full of aircraft. ‘In a momentary lull I saw Blue four off to my right spinning down, with the Spitfire completely engulfed in flames. I broke violently to port to avoid an attacker and became separated from the somewhat scattered squadron, so joined up with one of the “Keyhole” (452 Australian) Squadron boys and got home safely. We later learned that Blue four was Sergeant Ted Meredith of B Flight and, at that time, he was believed to have perished in his flaming aircraft. ‘In March 1987, over forty-five years later, my wife was helping at a masonic meeting of the Warwickshire Masonic Widows Friendship Club. I was waiting for her with the husband of another of the helpers in an anteroom. We chatted as one does and he noticed my RAF Association lapel badge and asked what I did in the RAF. Learning that I had been a fighter pilot, he told me of a friend of his named Ted Meredith, who had also been a fighter pilot, and wondered whether I knew him. I said that I had known a Ted Meredith but it could not be the same chap, as I saw him shot down in flames. ‘A quick phone call revealed that it was, indeed, the man I had known; not only was he alive and well but lived only eight miles away in Bromsgrove! Ted was also a Freemason and we agreed to meet at the next meeting of his lodge. A mutual friend tipped off a reporter of the local newspaper. The story not only appeared in the local papers, but also made headlines in the Daily Express. A few days later we were interviewed by a team from the BBC Six O’Clock News and were featured in the television news that evening. Instant fame!’




OPENING PAGES: The AFDU in 1944, pictured in front of a Tempest THIS PAGE, FROM TOP: Flight Lieutenant Len Thorne in 1944 with his ME109, which crashed on the runway; Len and Estelle on their wedding day in September 1941; the flight logbook

‘In a momentary lull I saw Blue four off to my right spinning down, with the Spitfire completely engulfed in flames.’ Their Freemasonry had brought Len and Ted together and the two pilots remained firm friends until Ted passed away in 1996. Len’s involvement in the Craft was a natural accompaniment to his military and civilian career. As a pilot, he was considered a safe and careful pair of hands; he wanted to complete his mission, concentrate on his security and that of his colleagues and return home to a safe landing. In his Freemasonry he showed similar traits; he did not take chances but made sure that thorough preparation enabled him to perform to the best of his ability.

TAKING TO THE SKY Len was born in Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire. After his grammar school education he went to work as a junior clerk for High Duty Alloys (HDA) in Slough, moving to Redditch when HDA opened a new factory in 1938. But World War II intervened and in 1940 Len joined the Royal Air Force (RAF). He flew with many of the top ‘aces’ of the war and talks with clear affection in his memoirs about Al Deere, Brendan ‘Paddy’ Finucane, TS ‘Wimpy’ Wade and James ‘One-Armed Mac’ MacLachlan. After two tours of duty as a fighter pilot, Len was seconded to the AFDU, which tested, under extreme conditions, new Allied aircraft and captured




‘A quick phone call revealed that it was, indeed, the man I had known; not only was he alive and well but lived only eight miles away in Bromsgrove!’ enemy planes. Len flew the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in simulated combat and was nearly shot down by his own side. He briefly flew the Messerschmitt Bf 109, which crashed on the runway. He also test-flew the P-51 Mustang and was part of the team to suggest the modifications that turned it into a war winner.

A NEW PATH Len left the RAF in September 1948 and returned to HDA in Slough. The following month he was initiated into Industria Lodge, No. 5214, in the Province of Buckinghamshire. Returning to Redditch, Len became a regular visitor to Ipsley Lodge, No. 6491, becoming a joining member in 1959. Len was installed in the Chair in 1972, which was when he initiated me into the lodge, and in 1998 received his fifty-year certificate. Len was a very good ritualist and a good organiser. He regularly performed the Mystical Lecture in Royal Arch, was happy to take the Chair for any ceremony, and raised substantial funds for masonic charities. In early 2008, he was offered a promotion to Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden, but did not accept it as by then he was feeling his age. Len passed away on 6 June 2008, the anniversary of D-Day, just before he was due to receive his sixty-year certificate.


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Len leads an ATC lecture on combat manoeuvres in Southwark; in 1944 with a P-51 Mustang, a plane he tested as part of the AFDU; and in 1990, by which time he had been reunited with Blue four, Ted Meredith

HISTORY PRESERVED Len Thorne’s diary and logbook, A Very Unusual Air War, is available from The History Press (£16.99). All authors’ royalties will go to the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund and the British Legion, in line with Len’s wishes.



COMING TO THE RESCUE IN FLOODED AREAS Working with the Provinces, the Grand Charity has been providing help to those in need following winter floods


he start of 2014 saw the wettest January reported since records began, and the severe weather continued into February, causing widespread damage. Entire villages were cut off and thousands of people had to abandon their homes and businesses. It is estimated that more than five thousand properties were flooded, with many underwater for up to six weeks. Richard Hone, QC, President of the Grand Charity, said: ‘The thousands of people whose homes were flooded have had their lives turned upside down. Not only do they face financial hardship as a result, they also face tremendous emotional difficulties as so much of what they held close to their hearts may have been lost. Months of living in temporary accommodation while they coordinate repairs to their homes will take a tremendous toll on their well-being. We should not forget how damaging the floods have been to people’s lives, and why it is so important that we help.’


PROVINCIAL NETWORK The Freemasons’ Grand Charity liaised with Provinces in affected regions to work out the best way to deliver support. Provincial funding efforts in Somerset, Berkshire, Devonshire and West Wales were matched with grants totalling £12,500. In addition, two emergency grants were issued in February 2014. The first, for £25,000, was donated to the Somerset Community Foundation via the Provincial Grand Lodge of Somerset. A second grant of £20,000 was awarded to the British Red Cross to help fund its relief efforts across England and Wales. In addition, Freemasons across the country rallied together and generously contributed to fundraising efforts in the Provinces of Essex and Somerset, whose appeals have so far raised more than £185,000.

ABOVE: British Red Cross volunteers at a landslip on the Isle of Wight

THE SUPPORTING ROLE OF THE FREEMASONS’ GRAND CHARITY The charity’s grants are given to assist communities in desperate need of help due to disasters such as the major earthquake in New Zealand in 2011, the typhoon in the Philippines in 2013 and monsoon flooding in India in 2013. The Grand Charity has also consistently supported relief efforts for flood victims with emergency grants, while hundreds of thousands of pounds have been donated through the Relief Chest Scheme thanks to additional support from Freemasons nationwide. To find out more about emergency grants for disaster relief, go to

60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ Tel: 020 7395 9261 Fax: 020 7395 9295 Email: Facebook: TheFreemasonsGrandCharity Twitter: @TheGrandCharity



MASONIC SAMARITAN FUND COUNSELLING CARELINE DEMAND The MSF Counselling Careline was launched in January 2013 in order to help people negotiate change in their lives and proactively deal with problems. Following a bereavement, or perhaps retirement, redundancy or family breakdown, the MSF Counselling Careline can connect callers with a qualified and experienced counsellor. The MSF Counselling Careline offers up to six face-to-face or telephone counselling sessions. Since the launch, two hundred and forty-four people have had access to this vital support line at a total cost of £151,808. Freemasons, their wives, partners, widows and dependants can access the free and confidential helpline by calling the Grants Team on 020 7404 1550, who will issue callers with an individual reference number and access to the Careline.

Hugh Stubbs helped those in need

A TRIBUTE TO HUGH STUBBS CONSULTATION AND ASSESSMENT GRANTS During 2013, the MSF announced that small grants are available to fund initial consultations and occupational therapist assessments for those waiting in excess of eight weeks on the NHS or local authority. Since then, two hundred and thirty-two people have received a consultation and assessment grant at a total cost of more than £92,000. Applying for a grant is simple, with no forms to complete or financial assessment required. Enquiries can be made by calling Grants Team Administrator Hema Chouhan (pictured right) on 020 7404 1550

60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ Tel: 020 7404 1550 Fax: 020 7404 1544 Email: Facebook: Twitter: @MS_Fund




t is with great sadness that the Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF) reports the passing of Hugh Stubbs. Following a short illness, he passed away on 31 January 2014. Hugh was first appointed to the Board of the MSF in September 1996. For five years, he was Chairman of the Grants Committee and spent three years on the Board of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. Hugh then returned to the MSF in 2007, where he served for six years as President of the Board of Trustees until his retirement in April 2013. During his fourteen years with the Fund, Hugh dedicated his time, energy and experience on behalf of those in need. He was instrumental in many of the changes that have seen the Fund continue to develop to meet the evolving needs of its beneficiaries. The MSF Counselling Careline is the most recent initiative introduced under his enthusiastic leadership. Hugh will be sadly missed by all those who had the privilege to know and work with him.



HAPPY WITH OUR HOMES After canvassing the opinions of residents and their families, the RMBI has revealed the results from its 2013 Satisfaction Surveys


onducted among residents and their relatives across its seventeen care homes in England and Wales, the RMBI’s Satisfaction Surveys are a key indicator of the charity’s performance each year. They help to ensure that its services continue to meet the needs and expectations of those using them.  Encouragingly, RMBI residents’ overall satisfaction levels remain consistent at 96%; 67% of whom are very satisfied – an increase from 61% in 2012. Relatives’ overall satisfaction levels also increased, from 92% to 96%. The RMBI gathered relatives’ opinions through its own independent survey, but the residents’ surveys were, for the first time, conducted through a new care sector initiative, Your Care Rating (YCR).

Launched in 2012, YCR is an independent survey representing the views of residents from one thousand and fifty-five homes across more than thirty service providers. YCR provides service users and care homes with comparable data to inform decisions and is shared with the public and authorities. RMBI’s Satisfaction Surveys cover key topics such as home environment, staff, food and drink, help and support, and communication and complaints. Overall, the RMBI saw year-on-year improvements in many areas. Asked about their home environment, 93% of RMBI residents said that overall they are happy living there – slightly above the average score indicated by YCR. Relatives were also positive, with 94% reporting they are happy

with the welcome they receive as visitors. Both groups agree that staff treat them with dignity and kindness; the statement is supported by 97% of residents and 96% of relatives. In addition, 96% of residents are happy with the care and support provided, which is in line with YCR, and 91% say they are happy with their access to healthcare professionals. There was a notable increase in the number of residents agreeing that they have a say in how staff provide care and support – 81% in 2013 compared to 71% in 2012. Likewise, relatives gave more positive responses this year. The RMBI would like to thank all residents and relatives who participated in the surveys; this input is vital in helping to ensure that the charity continues to deliver excellent care.

AWARD RECOGNITION FOR JAMES TERRY COURT Staff at James Terry Court in Croydon welcomed judges of the Pinders Healthcare Design Awards earlier this year, following the home’s nomination for 2014 Best Care Complex. Following a threeyear, £12 million redevelopment, the site now boasts a purpose-built state-of-the-art care home and thirteen independent living flats in an attractive ‘old-meets-new’ design. At the awards ceremony in London, the care home was named a national finalist in the category along with one other home, narrowly missing out on first place.

In 2013, recognition for the RMBI spanned its staffing, employment, catering and care initiatives. Accolades included winning the Ancillary Worker Award (North East) and becoming a finalist for the Care Employer Award (London) at The Great British Care Awards; the Outstanding WhiteOaks Contract for Scarbrough Court; and for the Recipes and Reminiscences cookbook, the UK Gourmand Award for Best Charity & Fundraising Cookbook, as well as a commendation at the Nursing & Residential Care Awards.

60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ Tel: 020 7596 2400 Fax: 020 7404 0742 Email: Facebook: thermbi Twitter: @thermbi






ABOVE: Lloyd and Pernelle in action during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. RIGHT: The pair in the Sochi Olympic Village



During the past twelve years, the financial support the RMTGB has provided to young people with career ambitions in sport, music or the performing arts has enabled many to realise their potential. All applicants enter a competitive process and undergo a financial test, with around fifty receiving support each year. Successful applicants can expect to receive contributions towards the cost of equipment, travel or coaching expenses. For more details, go to

Children love the school holidays, but for many families the long summer break can be a financial struggle. That’s why, each summer, the RMTGB provides grants of up to £175 to children from masonic families with particularly low incomes. On average, around two hundred children under the care of the RMTGB receive a summer grant to help their family pay for essential costs – which often increase during the holiday months – and to provide them with the opportunity to enjoy a few days out together. The grants may be small but they make a big difference to the well-being of the children supported by the RMTGB, many of whom have experienced tragedy and distress in their early years.

60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ Tel: 020 7405 2644 Fax: 020 7831 4094 Email: Facebook: rmtgb Twitter: @rmtgb



arlier this year, the impact of the RMTGB’s TalentAid scheme was demonstrated when Lloyd Jones – a former beneficiary – took part in the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games mixed ice dancing with his partner Pernelle Carron. Lloyd has been ice skating since the age of five. During the first few years he had weekly coaching sessions, and by age nine he was skating six days a week and competing – and winning – nationwide. At junior level, it became clear that Lloyd could develop his talent into a successful career; indeed, he was compared to Christopher Dean and received praise from leading figures in skating such as Robin Cousins, now a judge on ITV’s Dancing on Ice. At the age of sixteen, Lloyd took the decision to leave school and concentrate on his ice-dancing career. His family were keen to support him, but the costs of training, equipment and travel began to increase. His grandfather, a Freemason, provided some assistance and Lloyd received limited funding from various sports and skating organisations, but it was not enough to cover his essential costs. Lloyd began receiving support from the RMTGB in 2006, and for four years he received assistance towards coaching, skates, clothing and travel to ensure he could attend competitions and continue his career development. Once an established professional, Lloyd moved to France to partner with Pernelle and within a few years realised one of his ambitions by participating in Sochi. Lloyd said, ‘I want to thank the Trust for the support I received when I was younger. It really helped me achieve my dream of competing at the Olympic Games.’


GARIBALDI IN LONDON To mark the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Garibaldi’s trip to London, the Library and Museum explores his extraordinary impact on Victorian society

I ABOVE: Contemporary picture of Garibaldi. RIGHT: A poem published in honour of Garibaldi in The Freemasons’ Magazine and Masonic Mirror, September 1862

n April 1864 the Italian patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi arrived in Britain. His leadership of the Expedition of the Thousand in southern Italy in 1860 had already captivated public opinion. On his arrival Garibaldi was greeted by vast crowds, met the Prince of Wales and dined with the nobility. The Italian also met with exiled revolutionaries, working men and those who had fought alongside him in the struggle for Italian unification. Garibaldi was ruler of the Supreme Council Grand Orient of Italy based in Palermo, so English and Scottish Freemasons also responded to his visit. He received a deputation from Polish National Lodge, No. 534, led by its Master, the artist Sigismund Rosenthal, and the lodge presented him with one of its distinctive lodge jewels. While Garibaldi was at the theatre, one of his entourage, Giuseppe Basile, attended a meeting of Salisbury Lodge, No. 435, in Soho. He relayed Garibaldi’s request for membership of the lodge, which was agreed. Towards the end of his trip, Garibaldi also visited Colonel John Whitehead Peard, known as ‘Garibaldi’s Englishman’ and a member of Fowey Lodge, No. 977. Garibaldi’s ‘celebrity’ was marked in contemporary media and through souvenirs. The summer exhibition at the Library and Museum will include many of the items associated with him, including one of his swords, now in the possession of an English lodge, Italia Lodge, No. 2687.

The exhibition at the Library and Museum runs until 29 August 2014, Monday-Friday. Admission is free

Library and Museum of Freemasonry Freemasons’ Hall 60 Great Queen Street London WC2B 5AZ Tel: 020 7395 9257 Email: Shop:




Write to: The Editor, Freemasonry Today, Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ Email: Letters emailed to the editor should not be sent as attachments. Please include a home address and telephone number. An S.A.E. should accompany any photographs to be returned. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Grand Lodge of England.

MEN OF HONOUR Sir, My grandfather was initiated on 9 November 1908 into Royal Rose Lodge, No. 2565, a military lodge formed by officers from the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). He appears on the masonic roll of honour. Charles Arthur Murray was a volunteer soldier who fought in the Boer War for the Royal Fusiliers and subsequently in the Great War, where he was killed in 1915. Apart from his campaign medals, he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal just before he was killed by shrapnel. This was awarded as a result of his actions in preventing the slaughter of German troops who had surrendered when his battalion engulfed a German trench. As a result of an email discussion with my cousin (sharing the same grandfather), we visited his grave last June. As part of the tour we had a personal trip to his marked grave in Windy Corner, Cuinchy, the Guards Cemetery in Northern France and we laid a wreath. We think we were the first family members to do so. It was very moving, as you can imagine. This trip to France stimulated me to make further enquiries and I contacted the very helpful Secretary of Royal Rose Lodge, Colin Woodcock. His records also produced my grandfather’s brother, Henry Murray, who I discovered had been initiated and passed on the same dates as his brother, and who became Master in 1922. Colin Woodcock invited me to attend Royal Rose, which I did on 13 November in the company of eight members of my lodge, Sunbury Lodge, No. 1733. What a special occasion that was – to make the link going back over ninety years. A wonderful welcome was given to all of us by Royal Rose, which subsequently granted me the great privilege of honorary membership. My request to give the visitor’s speech was granted, as I wanted the opportunity to record how Freemasonry benefited me.

Most of us had never experienced an informal meeting like this. To break the ice, we decided to introduce ourselves by name, rank and Province, and found that there were members from London, Devon, Dorset, Monmouthshire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Essex, East Kent, Cumberland, Leicestershire, Middlesex, Durham and Surrey. Someone suggested we could do something for our ladies. A meal was not really appropriate as we had food aplenty, so a light afternoon tea with some drinks was arranged for fifteen brethren and their partners, plus two widows. We had a raffle that raised £145 for the ship’s charity, and we gave a toast to the Queen. We are still in contact, which is great, considering it sprung from a mention in the ship’s bulletin. This is Freemasonry at its best – being happy and spreading happiness. John Banks, The Friends’ Lodge, No. 9789, Surbiton, Surrey

SURPRISE VISITOR As a result of my grandfather being a Freemason, his three sons were enrolled in the masonic school and received a good education. This enabled them to become professionals in their employment and, in turn, give their own sons a good start in life. I would not be in a good position today if it were not for that. We at Sunbury hope to welcome brethren of Royal Rose to our April meeting, where they will be gladly received. John Murray, Sunbury Lodge, No. 1733, Staines, Middlesex

Sir, While on a cruise from the UK to the Adriatic, my wife noticed an item in the ship’s daily bulletin, referring to a proposed meeting of Freemasons on board. Being between meals and excursions, I went along and found various groups of men chatting in the bar.

Sir, A word of warning for younger Freemasons: be careful what you wish for! Eighteen months ago as part of the annual visit made by the masons of the southern area of the Province of East Lancashire, one of the younger visitors, Steve Stanley, was making his first visit. He was the Junior Warden of the Lodge of Union, No. 268, from Ashton-under-Lyne. During luncheon, the Deputy Grand Master, Jonathan Spence, spent some time chatting to every brother who was present. When Steve took his turn to have a few words with such an eminent guest, he didn’t miss the chance to ask, ‘Would you like to attend my installation on 16 January?’ There was a pause before the Deputy Grand Master responded, ‘We’ll have to see what is possible.’ And that was that. The Deputy Grand Master must get similar requests all the time and the other members of the lodge had to work on Steve to



LETTERS LEFT: Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence surprised a young Freemason at his installation

Sir, Thank you for your great publication, which I always look forward to receiving. After falling ill in November, I was recovering from a lifethreatening illness but my spirits were lifted when my lodge, Lodge of Hope, No. 2153, came to my rescue. The number of calls, visits and emails I received from the members was fantastic. Should anyone doubt the good that our fraternity does, they should join and they will see the true meaning of friendship and brotherly love. Andrew George, Lodge of Hope, No. 2153, Waterlooville, Hampshire and Isle of Wight


syllables that demonstrated that he understood what was about to happen. The Deputy Grand Master entered with a small retinue, and as he walked past, he gave the Master Elect a clear and definite wink. Nor did the surprise end there. Right Worshipful Brother Spence accepted the gavel, took the Chair and performed the whole ceremony in a brisk, exact and perfect way that demonstrated to seventy-eight other masons just how it could be done. Steve was well and truly installed. The rest of us saw a ceremony that will not soon be forgotten. Kevin Hall, Lodge of Union, No. 268, Ashton-under-Lyne, East Lancashire

Paul Huggins, Norman Moore Lodge, No. 7976, Harrow, Middlesex

HELPING OUT Sir, While I was at the University of Surrey I spent a year working as an intern at publishing companies in London. It was thanks to the Freemasons and to Freemasonry Today that

‘A wonderful welcome was given to us by Royal Rose, which granted me the great privilege of honorary membership. My request to give the visitor’s speech was granted, as I wanted the opportunity to record how Freemasonry benefited me.’ John Murray 74


convince him that there was little, if any, chance of his actually receiving a visit from such an august Freemason. However, some sixteen months later it became clear to one or two members of the Lodge of Union that there was a distinct possibility that something special might just be about to happen. On the evening of 16 January, after Steve was presented, it was announced that the Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies sought entry into our lodge! When he announced that Jonathan Spence, the Deputy Grand Master, demanded to be admitted you could have heard a pin drop. Steve looked up and I saw him mouth a few

Sir, One of the most welcome changes in Middlesex Freemasonry since I was initiated in 1982 is the increasing inclusion of first names on summonses. As it was customary back in 1982 to use initials only, rather than first names on summonses, it took a couple of years before I learnt the majority of first names of the brethren of my mother lodge. Some years ago, a recommendation was sent out by the Province of Middlesex suggesting that first names be included on the summonses of its lodges and chapters to promote friendliness. It has subsequently caught on and there are now very few summonses issued with just the initials of members. Perhaps encouragement could be given to London and other Provinces to adopt this practice? Obviously, this should only be a recommendation, and not a directive.


‘By learning, practicing and performing ritual, we reinforce the principles of masonry in ourselves and, hopefully, encourage others to take up those principles.’ Alan Booth

this was possible. My ambition is to work in the field of publishing, but as almost all publishing houses are in London and I live in Dorset, I was becoming despondent. I knew I could not afford to take up offers of unpaid internships in London, but then my Grandad read, in his Freemasonry Today magazine, an article about Ruspini House and about the help given to the children and grandchildren of Freemasons. I was given a grant and accommodation in Ruspini House several times during that year whilst completing internships at different publishing companies. I was so grateful for the help of the Freemasons and went on to complete my course and gain a BA Hons in English Literature. How surprised and delighted I was to be given my degree by HRH The Duke of Kent, who I know is also Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England. So, thank you Grandad and Freemasons everywhere.

RIGHT: The RMTGB’s Ruspini House in central London provides accommodation for students

Hollie Graham

INDIAN DEGREES Sir, In an item on the Oklahoma Masonic Indian Degree Team you quoted a comment, ‘No one has ever seen anything like it in England.’ I can advise you that one such display was received with enthusiastic acclamation in my own lodge, and I understand the team have demonstrated their unique ritual to lodges throughout the country. Norman Speed, Lodge of Equity and Appleton, No. 1384, Widnes, West Lancashire

WORD MATTERS Sir, I’ve always considered one of the most important aspects of ritual was to inculcate the brethren in the principles of masonry, and the word is repeated often in ritual and lectures. I do not believe that ‘inculcation’ occurs simply by reading the rituals.

‘Inculcate’ is defined as ‘to instil by forceful and insistent repetition’. By learning, practicing and performing ritual, we reinforce the principles of masonry in ourselves and, hopefully, encourage others to take up those principles. I think it follows that, no matter how good or bad a brother may be at ritual, every effort is made to encourage him in the effort and if bringing some of the language of masonry into the twenty-first century encourages this, so much the better. Alan Booth, Earl of Chester Lodge, No. 1565, Lymm, Cheshire

Sir, Regarding the ongoing controversy about the pronunciation of the word ‘hele’, in our ceremonies. Surely the country folk in Devon have the correct pronunciation of the word? I have only ever heard all the farms called ‘... Hele’ down here in Devon referred to as ‘... heel’. The three at the end of the village are known as ‘... heel’ for sure, and I used to live in one. Bruce Brown, Lechmere Volunteer Lodge, No. 1874, Birmingham, Worcestershire



WHAT’S HERITAGE WORTH? While historic masonic items may not have huge monetary value, Director of Special Projects John Hamill explains why they are still national treasures


few years ago the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, with incredible assistance from a dedicated team of brethren in the Provinces, conducted one of the largest national archive surveys that has ever taken place in this country. The result was a formidable database of all the lodge and chapter records in masonic hands in this country. It will be a veritable gold mine for future researchers into English and Welsh masonic history and is also proving to be a major source for local historians. The survey was limited to ‘words on paper’ and, partly because of time constraints, did not include regalia, furniture, masonic equipment or artefacts. That leads me to one of my hobby horses: that masonic historians in the past have primarily depended on only the written records that are available and have largely ignored what can be learnt from non-documentary items. During the twenty-eight years I was involved in the Library and Museum, I was privileged on many occasions to be invited to speak in the Provinces. I soon developed a habit of arriving early, if visiting a masonic hall I had not previously attended, in order to have a look at what they might have hanging on their walls or in, often dusty, display cases. I soon began to appreciate the wealth of material that still survived and began to keep notes of anything unusual or rare. I also began to realise that very few of those running the halls were aware of the treasures in their custody, or that some of them had a monetary value. Happily, that neglect and ignorance has been changing since the late 1990s with the creation of the Masonic Libraries and Museum Group, which is formed of dedicated volunteers with a love of masonic history. The group has gradually persuaded

their respective Provinces that they have collections of importance, which should be properly catalogued and looked after because they form an important part of our heritage – and in many cases, include items that are irreplaceable.

HISTORY FOR SALE A recent auction sale in south London illustrates the value certain masonic objects can have. The first part of the sale was probably the last major collection of masonic jewels and artefacts in private hands in this country. Formed by Albert Edward Collins Nice between the 1930s and his death in 1969, it was rich in eighteenth- and nineteenthcentury jewels, which, in addition to having masonic importance, were superb examples of the jeweller and silversmith arts. Competition was fierce and some surprising prices were paid for the star items. The Antiques Roadshow and its many spin-offs have given the public a false sense that because something is old it must be worth money. Monetary value, however, is not everything. Particularly in a specialist area, an item can have very little monetary value to the outside world but be of major importance to the history of the organisation concerned. In my early days in the museum, people would wander in with an item and ask what it was and if we would be interested in having it. Today, thanks to antique-valuing programmes on television, they ask what it is and what it is worth! We live in an age in which the importance of our heritage in all parts of our lives is being increasingly recognised. We took the major step of finding out, and taking steps to preserve, our archival heritage in Freemasonry. Perhaps now is the time to take the same steps in relation to the treasures, in the widest sense of that word, that rest in our buildings.

‘An item can have very little monetary value to the outside world but be of major importance to the history of the organisation concerned.’


Freemasonry Today - Summer 2014 - Issue 26  
Freemasonry Today - Summer 2014 - Issue 26