The story so far

My new regalia as an active Provincial Grand Steward

I became a Freemason on the 5th November 2012, nearly 8 years in and I am still loving it. It has been a fantastic journey so far. My time working my way through the Lodge and completing the progressive offices was a great experience. I had many occasions thinking to myself “I can’t learn all of that!”, but I did! During these years I particularly enjoyed the roles of Junior and Senior Deacon. This enabled me to escort candidates around the Lodge throughout their ceremonies, a great experience for me and hopefully for the candidates. I will always remember the deacons for their part in my ceremonies. The next great moment was the year as Senior Warden. Apart from enjoying the role I had 12 months of looking at the Masters chair and counting the weeks down…. It soon came around.

The Grand finale was my installation as Worshipful Master of my Mother Lodge. I will never forget that night, a huge mix of excitement and emotion. I had many visitors and close to 100 attended. I was lucky to have my honoured guest the Provincial Grand Master attend. It was a fantastic evening, I often look at the photos and videos from the night. One vivid memory was the sudden emotion I felt when the members sang the masters song to me, that will stick with me forever.

My Installation as WM of The Old Sunning Lodge

I had a brilliant year as Master and as everyone said it flew by. I was able to initiate 2 new candidates and conducted the ceremonies of passing and raising with the very grateful help of the other members. During my year I was very lucky to be able to organise a ladies festival weekend, we had a fantastic weekend in Bournemouth with members of my lodge and many other guests attending.

Me and “The Lads” of The Old Sunning Lodge at my ladies festival weekend in Bournemouth.

My final task was to install my successor. This was another memorable moment because he was one of my candidates into Freemasonry. It was great to see him take the chair. During my year as the Immediate Past Master I can remember a friend telling me “you are not really out of the chair until you leave the chair of IPM”. By this he meant during your year as IPM you have to stand in for the master if he is unable to make a meeting. Due to work commitments of the master this happened and I had to conduct one of his ceremonies. Another great experience for me as it was for a candidate I initiated during my year.

I am just about to leave the IPM chair. The biggest surprise during my IPM year was to receive promotion in the Provincial Honours List 2020, I am delighted to be one of the six chosen to be promoted to Provincial Grand Steward. I will be wearing my new regalia (above) for the first time to my Lodges installation meeting in October. I am now an “active” Provincial Grand Officer, I’m not sure what the year will bring as due to the Covid-19 pandemic we are not visiting meetings but I will be make the most of it.

To sum up its been a brilliant 8 years so far and I have no doubt many more to come.

The Old Black Shoes

The Old Black Shoes

The old black shoes are looking glum
As I pass the lobby door,
“What’s wrong with you?” they seem to say,
“We’re going out no more.
We’ve taken not a single step,
Not third or even first,
And ne’er a sign we’ve seen you give,
Has Masonry been cursed?”
“It has”, I said, “by virus vile,
We have to stay at home
Until such time the plague has passed,
Then once more we can roam.
The Masons’ Halls are empty,
Regalia put away,
Gavels now stay silent,
DCs hold no sway.
Volumes of the Sacred Law
On pedestals redundant,
Now Brother Jim contacts his friends
By social posts abundant.
No handshake, word or secret sign,
No friendly Festive Board
No Tyler’s song to say Goodnight,
No organ’s well-loved chord.
“Black shoes,” I said, “do not despair,
Our Chain is firm and strong
Our flag of love remains unfurled
We’ll sing again our song.
And though our Brethren may have passed
To Grander Lodge Above,
We’ll look upon their memories
With everlasting Love;
And in their name, we’ll offer help
And soothe the burdened heart;
We’ll comfort those who are distressed,
Thus Masons play their part.
And when this crisis is resolved
We’ll sing the old refrain,
Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part,
Happy to meet again

So…. Why am I a Freemason

Every time I attend anything to do with Freemasonry I can honestly say that I am reminded of why I joined. This evening was a prime example.

I was due to attend a Lodge committee meeting. At the last minute my childcare arrangements fell through. I thought to myself what do I do?? Now the most important lesson taught to all Freemasons is that family comes a very long way before Freemasonry. I thought to myself what do I do now, the meeting was one that I really needed to attend and so I asked Hannah my daughter if she would like to come with me. She said yes!

I knew way before asking her that the guys would be ok with it and wouldn’t mind.

They had no idea she was coming, as soon as they met her they were absolutely lovely, they made her feel very welcome and gave her a tour of the lodge. By the end of the night they gave her a Berkshire visiting book so that she could get it signed when she returned.

This is just one of the reasons I am glad I became a Freemason. The guys I have met over the years are some of the nicest and most genuine people I have ever met. Hannah had a lovely time and I enjoyed the meeting.

Freemasonry is a family and the family includes every one of a Freemasons family. I am a very proud Freemason!!

Social Media and Freemasonry

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I have only been a Freemason for a short while (8 years), yes that is very short in Freemasonry!! When I joined there was very little use of Social Media in the organisation. I can remember mentioning Facebook, Twitter etc at a committee meeting of my Lodge, it received a very frosty reception from the members. When I mentioned us designing a website it was even more frosty!! After a very long discussion and many words of advice such as “be careful, watch what you say, do your homework and make sure you don’t get in trouble!” I was given the go ahead to start up the various pages. I did and then helped the other (older) members of the lodge to start their own personal pages. They now use it more than me!!

I posted quite a bit of Masonic information and details about what I had been up to in the hope that it would show non Masons what we are about. I developed this blog for people to read, hopefully some may find it interesting.

So what do I think about Social Media, well obviously I think it is a good idea as I am now the Provincial Social Media Officer for Berkshire. It is a good tool and can be beneficial for Provinces and Lodges but it must be used well. UGLE recently sent out guidance on its use, it is very important to read this fully before you start posting anything related to Freemasonry. To be honest most of the advice is common sense. As a Lodge using Facebook and Twitter is a great way to publicise your events and work. Facebook is great for detailed information, photos and events. Twitter is great for short information bursts,  I have been surprised at the number of Lodges and obviously Provinces that are on there. For fast up to date information Twitter is perfect, you can see lots of information in a short period of time. My advice for all Lodges would be to start off with Facebook and Twitter. Twitter spreads information very quickly.  If you think about the enough is enough campaign, UGLE could not have spread the word faster using any other means than social media. The #EnoughisEnough hashtag went “viral”.

Now there are those who think we shouldn’t be so public and we should still be exclusive and select people via our existing membership. I truly understand this and see your point but the reality is that this method doesn’t produce the number of new members we need to keep the craft going. It would be brilliant if it did but it just doesn’t so we need to explore other avenues. A saying I like is  if you always do what you have always done you will always get what you always got, this is true. If we don’t spread the word of what a great organisation we belong to and what a great time we have and the fantastic donations we are able to give to charity then the general public won’t have a clue. They will still think of a secretive organisation with funny handshakes etc etc. We are not like that anymore, we are fun, young and open to all!!

So give Social Media a go, what have you got to lose?? Be proud of your Lodge and province, show it off and tell everyone about it.

That is the only way Freemasonry will thrive!!

I look forward to reading your posts!!!!!!!

Twitter: My Twitter Link

Facebook: My Facebook Link

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Old Sunning Chapter

I enjoyed a lovely meeting of the Old Sunning Chapter last night. A great ceremony and lovely to see one of my fellow Old Sunning Lodge members join. The Chapter is doing really well now it has seen new members from the Lodge join.

At the December meeting I will be taking office as PS so my head will be in the red book learning the work for this. I do like a challege!!

I snapped the photo above as I really like the Chapter banner, a stunning piece of work.

How quick did that year go??

My year as Worshipful Master is now complete and last night I had the honour of installing my successor into the chair. I had a fantastic night and really enjoyed the ceremony, weirdly I felt the most relaxed at delivering the ritual than I have ever felt. The Lodge is in very safe hands with our new Master

I had a great year as Master, I enjoyed the challenge of learning the work. It certainly wasn’t easy but was well worth it, I had the support of a fantastic team and this made all the difference. During my year I was delighted to be able to initiate two candidates into Freemasonry, to be at the start of their Masonic journey is a real honour.

 

 

 

 

 

As Master of your lodge, you join what is known as the circuit. This is the regular visits you make to other Lodges Installation ceremonies, this is a very enjoyable experience as you get to see new Masters being installed, you also get to meet the other ruling Masters who are visiting. You soon get to know them and see them on a regular basis. I really enjoyed visiting other centres, although all Lodge rooms are all laid out in the same way, the style and decorations are very different. Some of the older Lodge rooms are stunning. Below are a few photos of some of the Lodges I was able to visit, more to follow…

 

 

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One of the highlights of my year was my Ladies Festival weekend in Bournemouth, my Lodge has not had a Ladies night or weekend for many years and to be able to organise one was fantastic. I am very grateful that so many people attended, It was a great opportunity for us to be able to socialise for the weekend

 

There is no doubt that as a Freemason you make so many, lifelong friends who you would never have met if you had not joined, Freemasonry is definitely the oldest social network and I have no doubt will outlast many others. The important message I would send to all new members is to have a perfect mixture of serious ceremonies and fun at the festive board and in the bar.

 

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So my main job now within the Lodge is to support the new Master and assist him with his ceremonies, I am very active within the province managing the Social Media of Craft, Chapter and The Mark. This will certainly keep me busy, the good news is that I will be getting a team of people to assist me with this. The next year for the Lodge is very exciting, I hear we have a new potential candidate and ceremonies to perform for our new members. As for my Freemasonry in general, it’s just brilliant and I love every second of it.

My Installation

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So I have been a Worshipful Master for the grand total of one week!! I had such a brilliant night. We had a huge number of visitors to the Lodge and I’m so grateful to everyone who attended. I was very nervous at the start of the meeting, the ceremony was brilliant and certainly one I will never forget. Jason the Installing Master did a fantastic job and as if by magic I was in the chair. As soon as I got in the chair the nerves seemed to go, this really shocked me. I was then up and running, I closed in all three degrees, invested my officers and the rest of the meeting flew by. Before I knew it the Lodge was closed and we were walking out.

 

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Worshipful Master of Old Sunning Lodge

I walked into the Festive Board with a huge applause and beaming smiles from the Brethren, I took my place with the Provincial Grand Master sat next to me. It was lovely to see everyone enjoying themselves. We had the usual toasts, wine takings and then the moment came for the Immediate Past Master to give a toast to me. I then gave my reply, I have to say there were moments of huge emotion and at times it was a struggle to get my words out. Then came the Masters song, I had heard it for many other WM’s over the years but the first time it is for you its another lump in the throat moment.

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Im really looking forward to the year ahead, we are lucky to have at least two candidates joining in my year so I will get chance to perform all three ceremonies. I have a Ladies festival weekend booked for June and a couple of other Lodge social events planned. Good times ahead, bring on the year!!

 

 

 

 

Goodbye to an old friend

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This evening I will wear this for the last time, it carries with it some amazing memories!!

Today is a day that always seemed so far away in the distance. After 7 years as a Freemason and holding all of the progressive offices within the lodge, I will be installed as the Worshipful Master of my Mother Lodge (Old Sunning Lodge No.5987). I will say goodbye to my Master Mason apron and wear an Installed Masters apron.

Over the last couple of days I have been reflecting over my journey so far in Freemasonry. I am so glad I joined, I have had so much fun and made true friends and met people who I would never have met before. My ability to learn my lines during ceremonies has improved as well as my confidence within the Lodge. I have laughed lots and spent many hours enjoying the company of other Masons. During my time I had the honour of being invited to join the provincial recruitment and communication teams, this gave me the opportunity to travel throughout the province, take part in our open days and meet the public. It was great to work with such a fun team, we really did have a blast!

It has been a great 7 years and I’m really excited about the years to come.

So tonight is my Installation, this involves a big ceremony with many people taking part. I have been learning my lines for a long time and hope to put on a good show. I am delighted that many of my friends throughout the province are attending as well as Freemasons from other areas. It will be the largest attendance for Old Sunning Lodge in a long time. I am so grateful to them all for attending and supporting the lodge.

So my lines are learnt (I hope!!!), my shoes are polished, my new suit is ready. I am full of nerves and excitement. I know that at times it will be quite an emotional evening but I’m really looking forward to it.

I hope to do a really good job as Master of the Lodge. I want to do the Lodge and Province proud. I will try to deliver the very best ceremonies that I can and am delighted that we have two new members joining during my year. I am keen to organise a great social calendar for our members and their families. We already have a weekend away in Bournemouth booked June 2019.

So to all who have been involved in my journey so far I thank each and every one of you. I’ve had the most amazing time and know there are many more great times ahead. To anyone thinking of becoming a Freemason, go for it!! I promise you will not regret it.

Worshipful Master Apron

The 3 Great Principles

The 3 Great Principles

For many years Freemasons have followed three great principles:

1. Brotherly Love
Every true Freemason will show tolerance and respect for the opinions of others and behave with kindness and understanding to his fellow creatures.

2. Relief
Freemasons are taught to practise charity and to care – not only for their own – but also for the community as a whole, both by charitable giving and by voluntary efforts and works as individuals.

3. Truth
Freemasons strive for truth, requiring high moral standards and aiming to achieve them in their own lives. Freemasons believe that these principles represent a way of achieving higher standards in life.

Charity
From its earliest days, Freemasonry has been concerned with the care of orphans, the sick and the aged. This work continues today, financial and practical help are given to national and local charities, to help those less fortunate or needy individuals or groups.
All monies raised have been freely given by Freemasons themselves and not by calling the on the public to subscribe to any such appeals.

Religion
Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. Freemasonry does not allow religion to be discussed at its meetings. One of its essential membership qualifications are that individuals have to have a belief in a Supreme being and expects each individual to continue to follow their own faith.

Freemasonry and Society
Freemasonry demands from its members a respect for the law of the country in which a man works and lives. Its principles do not in any way conflict with its members’ duties as citizens or of those owed to their families, but should strengthen them in fulfilling their public and private responsibilities. The use by a Freemason of his membership to promote his own or anyone else’s business, professional or personal interests is condemned, and is contrary to the conditions on which he sought admission to Freemasonry. His duty as a citizen must always prevail over any obligation to other Freemasons, and any attempt to shield a Freemason who has acted dishonourably or unlawfully is contrary to this prime duty.

Freemasonry Worldwide
Freemasonry is practised under a number of different independent Grand Lodges with standards similar to those set by the United Grand Lodge of England. Such Grand Lodges and other Masonic bodies that do not meet these standards, e.g., that do not require a belief in a Supreme Being, or that allow or encourage their members as such to participate in political matters, are not recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England as being Masonically regular, and Masonic contact with them is forbidden.

Conclusion

A Freemason is encouraged to do his duty first to his God (by whatever name he is known) through his faith and religious practice; and then, without detriment to his family and those dependent on him, to his neighbour through charity and service.

Enough is Enough

Enough is Enough

Over the past week, we have seen allegations made against our organisation. This prompted the above response from our HQ. Articles were published in various newspapers, the statements of which were proved to be false.

I think it is a real shame that those who really don’t know about our organisation and the members of it feel that they are in a position to make allegations that are false.

I for one am very proud to be a Freemason, I like what it stands for, what it does and what is involved in being a member. I agree from the outside that our ceremonies may seem strange, and have to say when I joined at first I still thought it was weird!! However, a comment that was made on the recent Sky news documentary about Freemasonry summed it up for me. “Once you are in it you get it”. This is so true. I enjoy the “ritual”, it doesn’t do anyone any harm, no one is hurt by it and in a way its a bit like Masonic amateur dramatics. It isn’t secret at all, anyone can go to a Masonic shop and buy a copy of our ritual book or even find it on the internet. If anyone were to ask me what happens during the ceremony I would happily tell them. However, I wouldn’t tell someone who was going to go through it as it would spoil the surprise.

As for all of the secret passwords and handshakes etc. You can also find these on the internet. The reason why a Mason will never tell you about them is that he or she has made a promise not to disclose them. Now let’s be honest these passwords are not the nuclear codes or the entry code to the bank of England. If I told you them nothing would happen, the world wouldn’t stop revolving and life would continue as normal. But the reason I won’t is simple. From my own personal point of view I take pride in my word and will always keep a promise (in this case not to reveal the passwords etc), but as I said you can find them all on the internet.

So why do we have them? Well if you go back to the people that started Freemasonry, they were stone masons, very highly skilled people. Most of them couldn’t read or write, so when they progressed through their training and gained their qualification, they couldn’t be given a certificate or PIN number. They were given a method of greeting a future employer, that was by way of a handshake, a password and a sign. As a mark of respect, we use these methods in our ceremonies and promise to keep them secret just like they did.

So does this give me an advantage over other people, definitely not!! Picture this…. Later on today I’m driving my car and go over the speed limit. I get stopped by the police and quite rightly so. The officer approaches the car, I get out and shake his hand and give him the grip of a Master Mason. I say a word to him he has probably never heard before, I start waving my arms about like a loony. What is he going to do?? He is going to say to me, “have you been drinking sir?”, blow into this machine. Is it going to get me off of the fine etc, no, even if he or she is a Freemason. He definitely isn’t going to say, great your a Mason carry on and do what you want!

So why am I a Freemason? I enjoy it, I love its ability to donate millions to charity, I really enjoy the company of the people I meet on my travels. I have met so many people from different backgrounds who I would never have met had I not joined.  I enjoy the laughs and banter we have at meetings, I love the food and occasionally the wine too!! Would I have joined if I thought it was corrupt, certainly not. Would I encourage my Sons to join an organisation like that? Definitely not!! But it isn’t like that so I would be delighted if they joined and would happily initiate them myself.

So to all the journalists that have given us bad press and people who still think we are trying to take over the world and are just trying to get privileges not available to non Masons, I say this. Come to our open days and ask lots of question and find out from the members. If it was up to me I would I would like you to be able to watch a meeting and see what we do, I would like you to be able to put microphones around the place and hidden cameras into the meetings of the executive etc. The reason I say this is I know you wouldn’t hear anything that is wrong, illegal or immoral. If you do I would be the first to resign.

So let us do what we do, it doesn’t hurt anyone or damage our planet. Yes, it may sound weird when you read it, but when you’re involved in it then you get it. We will continue to do what we do and raise the money we do. We will continue to provide large emergency donations as soon as disasters happen. Why do we do this? It’s not to get promoted in our jobs or to get off of a parking ticket. We do it because we are Freemasons and its what we do! Sadly that is the one secret we have kept really well for far too long!!!!

Bro Mark Davis

Senior Warden

Donation to West Berkshire Therapy Centre


As part of our Tercentenary celebrations, Berkshire Freemasons are donating £4,000 toWest Berkshire Therapy Centre helping towards their appeal raising funds for new buildings and equipment.

Opened in April 2014, West Berkshire Therapy Centre is a specialised therapy gym for people with disabilities in West Berkshire and surrounding areas. It is a not-for-profit organisation, supported by voluntary donations.


The Community Awards are a major part of Freemasonry’s 300th anniversary celebrations. The Masonic Charitable Foundation is distributing three million pounds to 300 charities across the country, with the public vote deciding on the range of Awards from £4,000 to £25,000. The £3million fund is being administered by the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which obtains all its funding from Freemasons, their families and friends.

Julian Pacey, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Berkshire Freemasons, visited the charity and presented the award to Irene Walters. Julian commented on the tremendous work the Trust does to provide therapy services to the disabled and infirm people in the Newbury area and that Berkshire Masons are delighted to help support this great project.

Irene Walters–Trustee said: “We are thrilled with this generous award from Berkshire Freemasons, it will help us in the delivery of our services to the people of Newbury and Thatcham as well as helping our appeal to purchase of the land for our gym. Exercise is key to help people recover from stroke, Parkinson’s and arthritis”

Martin Peters, Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire Freemasons said: “We are delighted to be able to celebrate three hundred years of Freemasonry by helping excellent local charities like the West Berkshire Therapy Centre. We’ve been active in charity work for all that time but this is the first occasion we’ve asked the public to help us decide how to spend our money. We are very pleased that so many people from Berkshire took part in the vote.”

The story so far

Senior Warden
Senior Warden of The Old Sunning Lodge

Time flies when you are a Freemason!! This week my Mother Lodge held its installation meeting. This is a special meeting to install a new Worshipful Master (WM) into the chair, it is also the time when new officers are promoted into their new offices. I was very pleased to become the Senior Warden. I now have a year before I become the WM (hopefully!). We have a great year ahead with lots of ceremonies planned.

I am excited about the next job, there is a lot to learn though. I am slowly learning the words of installing my officers. I always look at the amount to learn and have an initial thought of fear. I have to say it is surprising how much you have actually picked up by hearing it so much in the lodge. Learning the other ceremonies will be a challenge. I will probably ask other members of the Lodge to deliver parts of the ritual for me. I think it is important to enjoy your year in the chair and do as much as you can. If it becomes more stressful than fun then there is no point. I think young Masons today have very busy lives with work and family commitments and finding time to sit down with the book a learn is tricky.

My advice to new Freemasons would do the best you can and enjoy it. It isn’t the end of the world if you arent word perfect so long as you have tried!

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Presentation to the outgoing Worshipful Master

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This is a photo of our outgoing WM with Jason our new WM and James the Junior Warden. We presented Brian with a cross stitch of the Square and Compasses with the dates of Brians year in the Chair. Normally the WM receives a past masters jewel but as Brian already has one from his last time in the chair we thought we would give him something different. I can remember the evening of my initiation, Brian was the Junior Deacon and escorted me around the Lodge. It was lovely to be stood next to him as the Senior Warden.

My year in the chair will be made even more special as my two Wardens James and Simon were both my Candidates into Freemasonry. James was initiated a year after me and Simon the following year. It will be lovely to invest them both.

I know the next year will fly by, I hope it doesn’t go too quick!!

 

 

Reading WW1 VC recipient amongst 63 to be honoured

Reading WW1 VC recipient amongst 63 to be honoured

Reading World War One Victoria Cross recipient amongst 63 ‘Brothers in Arms’ to be honoured with new memorial

  • All 63 were Freemasons and members of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE)
  • Their medals represent one in 10 of all VCs awarded during World War One
  • The memorial at Freemasons’ Hall in London was unveiled by HRH The Duke of Kent as part of UGLE’s Tercentenary celebrations on Tuesday 25th April 2017
  • Frederick William Owen ‘Trooper’ Potts is among those being recognised. He was a Freemason and member of the Aldermaston Lodge that now meets at Sindlesham

The 63 Freemasons awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) during The Great War (WW1) will be honoured with special commemorative stones bearing their names to be laid outside the iconic Freemasons’ Hall building in Covent Garden, London. The building is one of the largest peace memorials of our time and was built in honour of every Freemason who fell in WW1. The new memorial was unveiled on Tuesday 25th April 2017. Highlights of the ceremony can be viewed here.

The ceremony is not only part of the celebrations to mark this year’s 300th anniversary of The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), but also looks ahead to the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1 in 2018.

The Victoria Cross is the highest award within the UK honours system that recognises ‘conspicuous bravery in the presence of the enemy’. It can be awarded to anyone serving with the Armed Forces with no distinction of rank or class, a value shared by Freemasons who come from all backgrounds and walks of life. The 63 being recognised include:

Frederick William Owen Potts, born Reading 1892 (died Reading 1943)

Potts was born on 18 December 1892, and first came to public notice in 1913, when he saved a five-year-old boy named Charles Rex from drowning in the River Thames. By 1915, he was 22 years old, and a private in the 1/1st Berkshire Yeomanry of the British Army. During the Gallipoli Campaign of the First World War the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 21 August 1915 in the attack on Hill 70, Potts (although wounded in the thigh) remained for over 48 hours under the Turkish trenches with another private from his regiment who was severely wounded, and unable to move. He finally fixed a shovel to the equipment of his wounded comrade and using this as a sledge, dragged the man back over 600 yards to safety, being under fire all the way. He became known as The Hero with the Shovel. He was feted on his return from Gallipoli, the press articles of the time can be seen on the Potts Trust website. In 1967 The Victor children’s magazine told the story very graphically on the front and back covers, it used to feature a story of bravery every week. This article has been used by the Memorial Trust to explain the story at local schools as the graphical presentation, being very much “of its time” appealed to children. The Berkshire Yeomanry Museum website explains the story.

Potts was born and raised on Edgehill Street in the Katesgrove area of Reading. After the war, during which he eventually achieved the rank of lance-corporal, he kept a tailor’s shop on the parallel Alpine Street. He was a Mason and in 1934 was Master of the Aldermaston Lodge. Potts died on 2 November 1943 at the age of 50. His grave is at Reading Crematorium, whilst his medals are held by the Imperial War Museum.

The man he saved at Gallipoli was a fellow Trooper of the Berkshire Yeomanry called Arthur Andrews who also came from Reading. Andrews lived until 1980, when he died at the age of 89. Charles Rex also survived until he was 87. In 2009, as the result of the production of a BBC Radio Berkshire documentary on Potts, a reunion occurred between the relatives of the two men at the Imperial War Museum.

During Prime Minister’s Questions on 20 January 2010, Martin Salter, Member of Parliament for Reading West, indicated that there were plans to provide a permanent memorial to Trooper Potts. It was announced in May 2014 that the memorial would be sited just outside Forbury Gardens, on the open paved area opposite the Crown Court / The Forbury Hotel.

The memorials were unveiled on 4 October 2015 by Chris Tarrant and the Lord-Lieutenant of Berkshire, Mr J Puxley. The Trust commissioned “Third Lens Films” to produce a film of the unveiling ceremony. The unveiling was attended by the Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire, Martin Peters, and members of the Aldermaston Lodge.

The Government’s Commemorative VC Paving Stone was set in the eastern corner of the 1920s War Memorial. It was unveiled in a small ceremony by Trooper Potts’ Granddaughter – Anne Ames – at 17:00 on 21 August 2015, the exact centenary of the Berkshire Yeomanry’s attack on Scimitar Hill.

On 21 March 2016 Greene King opened a new Pub/ Restaurant along the Basingstoke Road, to the south of Reading, called The Trooper Potts. It features two very large displays which tell the story of the rescue and Fred and Arthur’s lives and several smaller ones, including a snakes and ladders board of the cartoon characters “Pip,Squeak and Wilfred”.

During the Tercentenary year, the memorial will act as a further reminder of the founding principles of Freemasonry: Brotherly Love, Truth and Relief – UGLE is one of the largest contributors to charitable causes in the UK after the National Lottery. These principles were demonstrated in great abundance by the 63 ‘Brothers in Arms’, Freemasons from all four corners of the globe.

The Freemasons being recognised represent an astonishing 1 in 10 of all VCs awarded during The Great War, and that figure becomes 1 in 6 when including those awarded to Freemasons who were members of other Grand Lodges globally. Remarkably, these include three of the famous ‘Six VCs Before Breakfast’ awarded to members of the 1st Battalion, The Lancashire Fusiliers during their capture of ‘W’ Beach at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.

HRH The Duke of Kent, Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, will be officially unveiling the commemorative stones as part of its Tercentenary celebrations, marking the 300-year anniversary of four London lodges coming together to form the first Grand Lodge in 1717.

HRH The Duke of Kent attended RMA Sandhurst, was commissioned into The Royal Scots Greys (2nd Dragoons) and subsequently served in Northern Ireland, Cyprus and Hong Kong. He retired from the Army in 1976 and was promoted to Field Marshall in 1993. He has been a Freemason for 53 years and in June will celebrate his 50th anniversary as Grand Master of UGLE.

The laying of the memorial stones is part of the Victoria Cross commemorative paving stones programme – a nationwide initiative led by the Department of Communities and Local Government in which every one of the VC recipients of the First World War is commemorated. The initiative aims to honour their bravery, provide a lasting legacy of local heroes within communities and to enable residents and visitors to understand how a community contributed to The Great War effort.

Brigadier Willie Shackell, Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England, said:
“To be awarded the Victoria Cross is the highest honour for bravery and we are immensely proud and inspired to remember our 63 brethren who exemplify the best in men.
“It is also appropriate that this event is taking place during our Tercentenary year when much of the activity is about highlighting the values of Freemasonry that we all hold dear – fraternity, charity and integrity. Camaraderie, new friendships and support are some of the main reasons people join Freemasonry, and numerous servicemen have been Masons since our founding 300 years ago.”

Peter Norton GC, Chairman of The VC and GC Association, said:
“That so many recipients of the Victoria Cross from the First World War are being honoured today is a remarkable achievement. These men, from all walks of life, were part of an extraordinary group of people recognised for their outstanding bravery. I am proud to represent them.”

Magical Start to Christmas for 500 Children

Its events like this that make me proud to be a Berkshire Freemason.

Magical Start to Christmas for 500 Children

500  children were given a magical start to the Christmas season by the Freemasons of Berkshire with a visit to the Theatre Royal Windsor on Tuesday 6th December to watch Jack and The Beanstalk. Coach loads of excited children arrived with parents and carers, to be greeted by Father Christmas in the lobby and handed a ‘goody bag’ filled with fun items, the glow sticks being a particular success.


Martin Peters, the head of the Berkshire Freemasons, met the guests of honour from Daisy’s DreamWindsor Family FriendsThe Dash CharityVariety at Work and the Sebastian’s Action Trust together with children from Pathway Special Needs, Addington School, Bourne End Academy and Stony Dean School, Amersham. They all had a great time assisted by the less than elfin ‘Elves’ and willing helpers made up from Freemasons across Berkshire who were directing the children to their seats and dishing out goodies.

The cast of Anther Turner as the Fairy, Timmy Mallet as the King, Jason Gardiner as the Giant’s Henchman were joined by Stephen Blakely as Dame Trot and Kevin Cruise as Simple Simon with Luke Harley and Anna Campkin as Jack and Jill. The children provided a great audience, putting as much into the performance as the cast and the noise they made was wondrous to hear! Ice cream for all added to the festive fun and as usual the end of show singing and malarkey was a big hit!

Michael Brown, the organiser of the Panto Project said: “The Berkshire Freemasons Panto Project is enjoying its 12th consecutive year. The aim is to give a magical day out for children who are terminally ill, disabled, under privileged, or with educational difficulties. We buy all 600 seats in the theatre and distribute the tickets to the various organisations. The project is funded through the Berkshire Masonic Charity, with help from The Maidenhead Advertiser Louis Baylis Trust, and individual Masonic Lodges and Freemasons from across Berkshire. Mike continued…“We do all the preparation so that all the organisations have to do is get the children here and we all ensure that they have a great time”.

Social Media and Freemasonry


No matter how long you have been involved in Freemasonry you will have noticed many changes happening within our organisation. Freemasonry is almost going through a rebrand. We are now very much open to the public and people are becoming more and more aware of our charitable donations and also what we do during our meetings.

One method of communication that has really taken off is the use of Social Media, namely Facebook and Twitter. I am a keen user of both and manage the accounts of my two craft lodges. I also post on the Berkshire Provincial accounts. I would encourage all lodges and members to use both of these, they are very easy to use and will really help your lodge to gain publicity and hopefully recruit new members. My Mother Lodge (Old Sunning) is a great example of how members and the lodge can benefit. When I joined the lodge many of the members were not used to I.T and certainly not in to social media. The lodge didn’t have a website either. The Lodge had gone through a patch of decline and was almost going to surrender its warrant. The lodge managed to gain two new members who in turn brought many new members to the lodge, I am pleased to say Old Sunning is now doing really well.

I mentioned at a committee meeting about social media and a lodge website. At first some of the members were understandably unsure and a bit hesitant about starting any of it. After a bit of discussion it was agreed we would “give it a go”. It has all worked really well and raised the lodges profile and has also produced an easy booking system for visitors to the lodge. Many of our senior members have now joined Facebook and are loving it, I have to say they post more photos and updates than me!! UGLE has produced guidelines on using social media and are encouraging members and lodges to do so. Why not give it a go?? Below is some information about using Facebook and Twitter….

Facebook: www.facebook.com

Facebook is probably the most used and well-known form of social media, it is very simple to use and gives you the ability to share your news, photos, videos to friends and family. You can be as public or as private as you like and you can choose who is able to see your information. You can set up a personal page and then separate pages for your lodges or other interests. Again lodge pages can be public, you can also set up private pages for lodge members only if you wish. Below is a YouTube video on the basics of Facebook.

I would suggest you attempt this first initially you can be more productive with this than Twitter

Twitterwww.twitter.com

Twitter has become increasingly popular with lodges and members. Twitter enables you to post short information bursts to your followers of 140 characters per message. Once you get used to it you will be surprised how much information you can get over to your followers. If you have ever watched the news, weather and wondered what the @ symbol before a name, it is a twitter “name” and you can follow that persons tweets. Once you have joined you can search for people you are interested in and follow them. This applies to lodges and provinces.  Here is another video on using Twitter

I hope you find the information useful, you have nothing to lose and if you don’t enjoy it you can just delete your profile and that will be the end of it. Once you get into it feel free to follow me!! I can be found on Twitter using @Berks_Mason and @MarkTheMedic or Facebook.com/BerksFreemason or Facebook.com/MarkTheMedic

Enjoy!!

Junior Warden


The time in Freemasonry does fly past!! At the last meeting of my Mother Lodge (Old Sunning Lodge) I was invested as The Junior Warden of the Lodge. The Junior Warden (JW) is one of the three principle officers within the lodge. As you can see it is a “desk job” with the added bonus of a gavel. It now means I have three years before I go into “The Chair” as Worshipful Master (WM). Its nice to be JW, the amount of ritual to learn isn’t too much actually. This is good as I am now trying to get my head around the WM work. Two years in Freemasonry goes very quick!! 

Learning the Masters work isn’t easy. I have taken lots of advice from various people on how to tackle it. Im getting familiar with the installation work at the moment and investing the officers. I will then work on the other ceremonies. I am looking forward to a trip to Grand Lodge with the WM and the Senior warden to represent the lodge. I have been once before as a Master Mason, will be nice to go as a Warden. 

Last night was my first Lodge of Instruction as JW. We went through the work for the next meeting, this will be a Second degree or a Passing as it is also known. I do enjoy our LOI’s, it gives us a chance to practice the work. We have a great balance or learning and fun and of course a catchup with the lads in the bar afterwards is always great!!

So now im off to do a bit more reading, catch you soon!!

A Mason and a Man

A MASON AND A MAN

My Brother, Masonry means much more,
than the wearing of a pin.
Or carrying a paid-up dues receipt,
So the Lodge will let you in.

You wear an emblem on your coat,
from your finger flash a ring.
But if you’re not sincere at heart
this does not mean a thing.

It’s merely an outward sign to show,
the world that you belong.
to this great fraternal brotherhood,
That teaches right from wrong.

What really counts lies buried deep,
within the human breast.
The Masonic teachings brings it out,
and puts it to the test.

If you practice out of Lodge,
the things you learn within.
Be just and upright to yourself,
and your fellowmen.

Console a brother when he’s sick,
and assist him when in need.
Without thought of personal reward,
for any act or deed.

Walk and act is such a way,
that the world without can see.
That only the best can meet the test,
laid down by Masonry.

Be faithful to your trust,
and do the best you can –
Then you can proudly tell the world,
your’re a Mason and a Man.

This poem was penned by a Brother C. E. Reynolds and thought I’d share.

Rose Croix

Rose Croix Collar

I have joined another Masonic Order. 1st June I joined an order known as Rose Croix. Its official title is Supreme Council 33° of the Ancient and Accepted Rite for England and Wales.

Rose Croix is a Christian order. The ceremony was beautiful and every member who took part in the put in so much effort to learning the ritual. I joined The Thames Chapter in the province of Oxfordshire (It actually meets at Caversham) with the aim of being able to venture out my main province of Berkshire. The chapter is a very friendly and relaxed. I had a great night ending with a very fun and informal meal. I am looking forward to visiting other Chapters and progressing through the degrees.

A reprint of an article published in Freemasonry Today

Issue 17, Summer 2001

© Grand Lodge Publications Ltd 1997-2010

Matthew Christmas explains the 18th Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Rite

Of all the many orders and degrees outside the Craft and the Royal Arch, there is no doubt that for many the pinnacle of their Freemasonry is membership of the Ancient and Accepted Rite. The 18º is the one ‘beyond’ the Craft that they would be most reluctant to lose. It is very rare to hear any member speak lightly about the Rose Croix. They are right to value it so highly.

Christian Degrees

The degrees beyond the Craft are many and varied. Whilst there are ways of classifying and grouping them together, there are those referred to as Christian Orders, in that they restrict their membership to those avowing the Christian faith. These include the Knights Templar, the Red Cross of Constantine, Knight Templar Priests and the Royal Order of Scotland. Perhaps the most well known is the Ancient and Accepted Rite of 33 Degrees working under the Supreme Council 33º, based at 10 Duke Street St James, London. It is the 18º, ‘Knight of the Pelican and Eagle and Sovereign Prince Rose Croix’, or simply Rose Croix, which is the most spoken of and while masons outside the Order may know little else of it, they appreciate that it is highly prized.

I must, however, caution masons from rushing into the 18º or claiming to be a Trinitarian Christian if they do not fully understand that doctrine. Being an occasional churchgoer will simply not give that comprehension. The Rose Croix is not a badge to be collected, nor indeed are any such Orders; Rose Croix Chapters choose their candidates with great care. The ceremony demands real thought and Christian understanding before undertaking it; thus for good reason, membership of the A & A Rite should ideally be by invitation. However, rank in the Craft or other degrees should also have no bearing; a mason’s self-awareness and Christian faith is not measured by the size or ornamentation of his apron.

History and Origins

The History of the Rose Croix and its antecedents is complex. Any summary such as here will leave out an enormous amount of detail! The Rite was allegedly constituted by Frederick II (the Great) of Prussia in 1762, but there was certainly some form of Rose Croix – encompassing a whole host of prior influences from the Renaissance, Kabbalah, Rosicrucianism, and Enlightenment thought – being conferred in France by the 1760s. Variants of the degree arrived in England in different forms and by the 1770s the Rosae Crucis degree was being conferred in Knight Templar Encampments – now called Preceptories. The superbly named Dr. Crucefix, a mason with a considerable interest in degrees outside the Craft, obtained a patent from America backdated to October 1845 and he, along with other Knights Templar, formed an English Supreme Council. The story from there on is one of this Supreme Council taking control of the Rose Croix and persuading the Knights Templar to give up their Rosae Crucis ceremony along with another form of the degree now called the Knight Kadosh (the current 30º), then often referred to as ‘Ne Plus Ultra’ (‘nothing higher’), while at the same time warranting chapters of its own. My own Chapter – then Metropolitan and now Grand Metropolitan – was formed very shortly after the patent issued to Supreme Council and for some considerable time was used directly by Supreme Council to induct suitable brethren on its behalf with members of Supreme Council actively involved in these ceremonies and in the day-to-day business of the Chapter.

The Supreme Council

England’s Supreme Council today has come a long way from that early ‘Scottish’ or ‘Ecossais Masonry’ (hence in the USA and elsewhere these degrees are often referred to as the Scottish Rite) in the politically charged Europe of the Eighteenth Century. Of the 33 degrees, only five – 18º, 30º, 31º, 32º and 33º – are conferred in full on candidates with the latter four being reserved for those Princes (the word for 18º masons) who have served the Order with distinction.

The first three degrees of the Rite are considered to be equal to those of Craft masonry and so prior to being ‘perfected’ in the 18º, the ‘Intermediate Degrees’ from 4º to 17º are conferred on candidates by name; the same happening with the 19º – 29º before receiving the overtly templar Kadosh 30º. One or two of these degrees are staged annually as demonstrations and very interesting they are.

However, the fact that there are degrees numbered ‘above’ the 3º of Master Mason should not lead one to see any of them as ‘higher’ than the Craft. They have little bearing on the 18º itself, except in tracing the candidate’s progress from symbolic, Old Testament masonry to that of the New Testament era and the New Covenant which is at the heart of Rose Croix. For such masons, the level of thought has moved on to encompass the life and message of Christ, but one should not think in terms of higher degrees or, worse still, of greater rank or promotion.

Emblems of the Order

Although no fan of regalia myself – so often the jewels, sashes, aprons, and collarettes seem with their emphasis on rank and status to get in the way of what the degree is really about – the rose-pink collar of 18º is not only beautiful, but conveys many of the lessons of the degree. Embroidered with key symbols – the Rose, the Pelican in its Piety, the Crown of Thorns, the Serpent – it serves the ‘perfected mason’ as a wonderful aid in the teaching of Rose Croix and is used as such in the ritual. Many regret the passing of the beautiful aprons with the tetragrammaton within a blazing triangle and, once again, the pelican’s mythical vulning of itself to feed its young with its blood in allusion to the ultimate sacrifice of Christ himself. As to the abolition of the aprons in 1978, some cite their expense, others the inappropriateness of knights of a Christian Order clothed in aprons originating in the Operative past. However, one cannot but envy the Baldwyn Encampment stationed at Bristol who still proudly wear them.

Why Seek Perfection?

The collars and former aprons add to this most visual and Christian of degrees. So why Rose Croix? The Cross needs no explanation, while the Red Rose alludes both to the Precious Blood and to the Rose of Sharon, mystically identified with Christ. There is also a link with Rosicrucian thought, despite some members being keen to downplay it.

In the ceremony the Candidate is taken from room to room figuratively through his spiritual and masonic life from Solomonic Masonry, through despair, to a Rose Croix Chapter and the discovery of the Lost Word. At the start, he is figuratively but a 17º mason, a Knight of the East and West, of symbolic age, coming – as the ritual explains – at a time of dire calamity with but incomplete pre-Christian knowledge. Following perfection, the ensuing “feast of fraternal affection” is a wonderful moment of shared Freemasonry all too often lost in other degrees. That this 18º is special is not in doubt for those on whom it has been conferred. In Bristol, the members of Baldwyn have their own version as the pinnacle of their unique Rite of Seven Degrees.

Rose Croix, like Freemasonry as a whole, is not a religion. It does, however, serve to point the way. It is this which makes Rose Croix masonically so important, encompassing all we seek, while pointing us clearly to the Trinitarian Christian Faith.

© Grand Lodge Publications Ltd 1997-2010

New Air Ambulance for London

£2 MILLION FROM LONDON FREEMASONS FOR SECOND EMERGENCY HELICOPTER

£2 Million from London Freemasons for second Emergency Helicopter
Posted on 20.11.2015

London Freemasons are donating £2 million pounds towards the ‘Your London, Your Helicopter’ campaign of London’s Air Ambulance which aims to provide a second emergency medical helicopter for use by London’s Air Ambulance advanced trauma team. The aim of the second helicopter is to extend daylight flying hours, thus providing an even more effective emergency service to London.

Graham Hodgkin, CEO of London’s Air Ambulance, said “We are blown away by the generosity of London Freemasons which brings us significantly closer to our aim of having a second emergency medical helicopter up and running by this summer. For many years, London Freemasons have been regular supporters of our work and we thank all those Freemasons across the Metropolitan area who will be working tirelessly to raise the two million pounds”

The Freemasons’ fund-raising campaign kicked off with the presentation of a cheque for £250,000 at Freemasons’ Hall on Thursday, 5th March 2015 to Neil Jeffers, Chief Pilot of LAA, by the Metropolitan Grand Master, Russell J. Race, DL. Russell Race commented, “Freemasons both in London and all over the country have been donating to Air Ambulances for many years. We at the Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London are delighted however to have an opportunity to specifically assist in the provision of this vital second helicopter for London”.
This first instalment was followed by a further £750,000, which was handed over by Sir Michael Snyder, the new Metropolitan Grand Master, on Thursday 5th November 2015. London has now reached the half-way mark in the appeal after just 8 months.

As you can see below, The Freemasons of London achieved their goal and this week the new Air Ambulance became operational. This is an amazing achievement by London Freemasons, well done to all!!!

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The Old Sunning Lodge No. 5987

Old Sunning Lodge Room

The Old Sunning Lodge is my Mother Lodge. This means it is the Lodge I was initiated into when I became a Freemason. The lodge has a long history.

The Old Sunning Lodge No. 5987.

The Old Sunning Lodge was consecrated by RW Bro CRI Nicholl, Provincial Grand Master on October 4th 1944.

The Lodge owes its origin to W. Bro Jolly Middleton, a Past Master of Kennet Lodge No. 4414 and the residents of Sonning who, with others, saw the need of a new lodge to serve that area.

The lodge banner (seen below) was designed by W. Bro T L J Chamberlain, is based on the lodge emblem conceived  by W. Bro S Clayey. The Outstanding  feature is the 18th century brick Sonning Bridge with eleven arches (seen below). The tower of the church of St Andrew is included to commemorate the association and devotion of the vicar, W Bro  The Rev Canon Groves. The motto “Fraternitas Flumen Sempiternum” translates “Brotherhood flowing eternally”.

Old Sunning Banner

Sonning Bridge

As you can see our history and traditions go back to 1944, we pride ourselves in sticking to our Blue Book ritual. We take our ceremonial work seriously but have lots of fun learning it.

Our meetings are lighthearted and fun. Many of our guests comment on the warm welcome and relaxed atmosphere they enjoy whilst visiting, this results in many of our visitors returning on a regular basis.

As a Lodge we have a lively and very busy social side. We organise many social activities for our members, families and guests. As a Lodge we are keen for our members family and friends to join us and also get involved with our Lodge social activities. If you would like to be part of our lodge, get in touch. We would be delighted to see you.

To find out more visit The Old Sunning Lodge website:

www.oldsunninglodge.org.uk

Visit The Old Sunning Lodge Facebook Page:
http://www.facebook.com/OldSunningLodge

Follow Old Sunning on Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/OldSunningLodge

Im now a Companion

Comp Mark Davis

So October the 9th has been and gone and I am now a Companion of the Holy Royal Arch of Jerusalem or Chapter as it is known.

Joining a Chapter (Exaltation)  is an extension of your Master Mason degree, some consider it the natural progression for Master Masons.

I joined Old Sunning Chapter No 5987 in Berkshire. The Chapter is attached to my Mother Lodge, Old Sunning Lodge (The first lodge I joined) . It was great to join this Chapter as it meant I would already know a few of its members. I also got to meet new people.

As with most things Masonic you don’t really know what is going to happen when you join. I will now tell you a bit about my experience but of course I wont be giving away details of the ceremony as it would spoil it for other people.

I arrived at Sindlesham for 5pm. It was a weird feeling, as normally I turn up at Sindlesham as a Master Mason attending my lodge or visiting another, I then know what I’m doing and feel comfortable. This night I had the same feelings as when I was Initiated. I was the new boy again!!

I made my way to the lounge to grab a coffee and met up with members of the Chapter. I already knew a few of the members so sat down and had a chat. It was great, they were all wishing me well with the ceremony and were very encouraging. I did relax a bit after that! I met up with the Secretary of the Chapter, there was a bit of paperwork to do. The time came for the members to go in to the Lodge, I then had a few minutes on my own finishing my coffee. This is the moment when the excitement/nerves set in a bit. A little while later the Janitor (A member of the Chapter for prepares new members) came out to see me and took me to the lodge room. He had received confirmation all was well and the ceremony could begin. I put on my Master Mason regalia and was then greeted by another member of the Chapter.

I had to prove that I was a Master Mason, it is a requirement that you are a Master Mason before you can join. The ceremony started. The ceremony was very different from the ceremony of Initiation when you join. It is more of a story/play. I was told by many people that the ceremony was Colourful, I didn’t quite understand this. All I can say without spoiling it is that the meaning of Colourful will be understood when you join. It was a beautiful ceremony and a memory/picture that will stay with me for a long time. Many members took part in the ceremony and it was very obvious that they had put a lot of work into preparing for the evening. I absolutely loved it!! It was a really special evening that I will always remember. The atmosphere in the Chapter was incredible. I am so glad I joined.

When I became a Mason my proposer said to me “you will always remember your initiation”. I would totally agree with this! My Exaltation (Joining the Chapter) feels as special to me for various reasons as my initiation. Knowing that many of my friends who had come to visit and watch me joining, were as excited about my joining as I was made the evening even more special.

I would encourage any Mason to join a Chapter. I would also repeat the advice I received and that was not to join until you feel you are ready and understand your Craft work first. My Chapter is very happy to let me progress slowly through the Chapter. I requested this as I want to concentrate on my work in my craft lodges first. Once I have been through the Masters Chair of my Craft Loge I will then look to progress through Chapter. Trying to learn too much can get very confusing.

So all in all I’m really glad I joined. I’m looking forward to visiting other Chapters and meeting lots of Companions I have not had chance to meet yet. As always with Freemasonry, lots of good times ahead!!……

My next Masonic step

2000px-Triple_tau

October 9th I will be joining a new order of Freemasonry called The Holy Royal Arch (or Chapter as it is also known). As soon as you have been a Master Mason for 4 weeks you are able to join The HRA. I will be joining The Old Sunning Chapter, this is attached to my Mother Lodge.

Im really looking forward to joining the Chapter and learning more about this degree. I will certainly be doing quite a bit of visiting of other Chapters.

Info on HRA taken from http://www.berkshireprovincialgrandchapter.org.uk

Within the English Constitution, after four weeks as a Master Mason, a Freemason is entitled to join the Holy Royal Arch of Jerusalem, more familiarly known as the Holy Royal Arch.
The Holy Royal Arch whilst being an integral part of Freemasonry is organised as a separate Order. It is variously described as the “essence of Freemasonry”, the “foundation and keystone of the whole Masonic structure”, and as “the root, heart and marrow of freemasonry”. Every Master Mason has, and should take, the opportunity of discovering these qualities for himself by joining the Holy Royal Arch.
As with other Masonic Degrees, the ritual takes the form of allegory but the Holy Royal Arch is concerned with encouraging the spiritual aspects of life without compromising or encroaching on an individual’s belief or religion.
The ceremony in the Holy Royal Arch is colourful, thought provoking and uplifting. It is based on the legend of the rebuilding of King Solomon’s Temple and invokes simultaneously sensations of humility and our dependence on our unseen Creator.
We meet in Chapters and our meetings are known as Convocations. Members are known as Companions. As with Craft Masonry, each Chapter is organised individually and is normally attached to a Craft Lodge.
Whilst the Holy Royal Arch is similar in some respects to Craft Masonry, it is different in many aspects and, indeed, it is most interesting in its differences. For example we wear an apron but of a different design and colours, crimson and dark blue, together with a sash and a jewel. The jewel should be worn by Companions at Craft Meetings to emphasise the connection between the Craft and the Holy Royal Arch. We have three Principals who preside over the Chapter. They, and other Officers, are changed annually at the Installation Convocation.
There is a Holy Royal Arch Representative in each Craft Lodge in Berkshire who is there to give guidance and provide Master Masons with information on the Holy Royal Arch.
Supreme Grand Chapter controls the Holy Royal Arch at the national level and is organised similarly to Grand Lodge. The First Grand Principal is HRH the Duke of Kent. Likewise, Provincial Grand Chapter administers the Province, and is headed by the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent.

Past Master takes Chair after 25 years to perform triple Raising

THE WYGGESTON LODGE No.3448

WBro Robert Hutchinson, who was Master of the Wyggeston Lodge in 1990, took the Master’s Chair once again at our meeting held on Friday 17th April 2015 by kind invitation of our current Master who was unable to attend.

Bros. Tom Grant, Ian Player and Jacob-Charles Diegel, who all joined Freemasonry through the United Grand Lodge of England Universities’ Scheme as Leicester University students, were Raised to the degree of a Master Mason in a superb triple ceremony assisted by many Brethren of the Lodge.

We were also delighted to welcome back to the Lodge the Provincial Liaison Officer for the Universities’ Scheme VWBro Peter Kinder who is also the Assistant Provincial Grand Master of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Leicestershire and Rutland.

This was our last regular meeting of the Lodge before the summer break and concludes a busy winter session with 8 Initiations, 9 Passings and 9 Raisings.

IMG_1018 Three…

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Berkshire Freemasons Open Day

image

The Berkshire Freemason HQ is opening its doors to the public on the 25th April. All are welcome to attend and for those interested in joining its a perfect opportunity to have a look around and ask all the questions you want. I will be showing people around the lodge room and explaining what happens in the Lodge. There will also be displays from various lodges and other talks about Freemasonry. See you there!!!

Why Twitter is like Commercial Radio

Hungerford Freemasons

When people first attempt to explain Twitter to the uninitiated, they use the analogy of text messaging but that leads to misunderstandings. The analogy is based on the fact that both SMS text messaging and tweets are limited to roughly the same number of characters and that Twitter was originally designed to allow tweets to be submitted by SMS. Using this analogy leads new users to assume that you can tweet people in the same way as they might text their family members.

Twitter is actually a lot closer to running a commercial radio station than text messaging. Bear with me and I will explain.

Tweeting is a broadcast medium

imageYou put your tweets out there and hope somebody will listen to/read them. You can use Direct Messages (DM) but most people only use this to exchange email addresses before moving the private conversation to email.

To target a particular…

View original post 336 more words

The Old Sunning Lodge No 5987 & The Constante Fidélité Lodge No 19 Mechelen Belgium

Old Sunning Lodge Guests

 

By W Bro Irwin C Jewell BEM, PPSGW.

I was Initiated into The Old Sunning Lodge on the first Monday in November 1975, where I soon learnt of the affiliation between the two Lodges which had already been in existence for many years.
It was started by one our members WBro Cyril Johnson who lived at Caversham, his work took him all over Europe and apparently he had to visit Brussels University, where he met Dr Maurice Verbist and they soon discovered they both had one thing in common- Freemasonry! From that meeting Cyril arranged his visits to coincide with a visit to the Lodge in Mechelen and other Lodges and Chapters in the area.
It wasn’t very long before Cyril started to take members of Old Sunning Lodge to the Belgium Lodge  and
The Brethren from Belgium were regular visitors to Sindlesham.
After I was raised in March 1976, I soon was invited to make my first visit to Mechelen
In I977 the Regular Grand Lodge of Belgium was excluded from the United Grand Lodge of England and as a protest against their own Grand Lodge about six of their members joined Old Sunning Lodge and made even more visits to us, after a while the Grand Lodge of Belgium was reunited with the United Grand Lodge of England and all of the Belgium Masons rejoined their old Lodge except WBro Dr Maurice Verbist who stayed a member of Old Sunning!
When I was installed into the Chair of Old Sunning in October 1985 many members from Belgium came over to the Ceremony,  I took a party over to their Lodge during my year of office and our affiliation continued for many years
until WBro Cyril Johnson moved away and I  became the coordinator of the visits between our two Lodges. Unfortunately a year or so later WBro Dr Maurice Verbist passed away and it wasn’t until I went into the Chair of Old Sunning Lodge again in 2001 I decided we should make another visit to Belgium. However, by then our Lodge was getting much smaller and I sought other Masons in Berkshire to see if they were interested in the visit which resulted in me taking a Coach over to Belgium, I have done this annually ever since. WBro Dr Maurice Verbist’s widow, Angela is still included in the list of Old Sunning widows and receives an annual cheque and Christmas card from the Lodge.
This year we have something really special happening, firstly 1st of May the Worshipful Master and the Brethren of The Constante Fidelite Lodge are coming over to Sindlesham to give a demonstration of their Spring Equinox Ceremony, which will be followed by a White Table Dinner together with the Belgium brethren and our Ladies, and we extend a very hearty welcome to any Brother and his Lady who would like to see this very different Ceremony to come and join us.
We have had a offer from Greta Palmer who will give a Illustrated talk to the Ladies entitled “Dressed to Impress” whilst the Masons are in the Ceremony in the Berkshire Temple. The interest shown already indicates this will be very well attended.
Secondly on June 18Th to the 22ND I am running our visit to Mechelen, we stay in the Novotel Hotel in the Centre of the City for 4 nights and apart from our visit to their Lodge to witness The Summer Equinox Ceremony we are going to Waterloo on the Saturday to celebrate the 200Th Anniversary of The Battle of Waterloo where they are having a re-enactment of the Battle with 5000 troops taking part!! We still have 4 spaces available, If you are interested in joining us please email: irwin.jewell@btopenworld.com
My deepest wish is that in my 87th year I cannot continue to be  the coordinator of the affiliation of our two Lodges and someone else will take it over! If anyone is interested in taking this role on please feel free to talk to me.

A Triple Raising Ceremony is conducted by the Wyggeston Lodge

THE WYGGESTON LODGE No.3448

The three new Master Masons of Wyggeston Lodge along with the Master (left) The three new Master Masons of Wyggeston Lodge along with the Master (left)

Congratulations to our three newest Master Masons who were Raised at our meeting on Friday 16th January 2915 at Freemasons Hall, Leicester.

Once again, the Wyggeston Lodge has continued to rewrite their history by conducting their first ever Triple Raising Ceremony in their 104 years of existence. The Candidates, Bros Tartacuta, Radoja and Carter, were all excellent and were part of a superb Ceremony performed by all the Brethren who took part. Bro Peter Clarke, who is also a member of the Royal Yorkshire Lodge No.265, treated the Brethren to the ‘Yorkshire’ version of the Working Tools in his own inimitable and entertaining style.

The meeting concluded with a wonderful Festive Board where the Brethren and visitors enjoyed the social side of Freemasonry and were additionally entertained by WBro Kelvin Johnson who acted as a very…

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Becoming a Freemason

I couldn’t agree more with this Blog from Hungerford Lodge.

Hungerford Freemasons

Turning the key

Most people think you become a Freemason by going through an initiation ceremony and to some extent they are correct. However, long before a man is initiated, he will need to have become a Freemason in his heart. The ceremony of initiation simply confirms that transition.

Candidates for Freemasonry are typically looking to make themselves better men by being more useful to society in general and are already volunteering or involved in charitable activities. For example, there is a strong association between the Scouting movement and Freemasonry. The values instilled into young people during their time in the Scouts mirror those valued by Freemasons. There are several Lodges, such as the Be Prepared Lodge no 9845, for whom this bond is part of the reason they exist.

Freemasonry nurtures an inherent desire to be more than an individual, to serve the community and to grow as a person. Scouts learn…

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Timing is everything – Tweet when your audience is listening

Hungerford Freemasons

Turning the key Turning the key

Twitter and Facebook are like a rolling news service that never stops. They are sometimes likened to a river or waterfall, referring to the cascade of tweets/posts flowing down your screen. As a reader, it can sometimes feel like you are trying to drink from a fire hose, so few people try to read every tweet or post. As a result, anyone posting to achieve an outcome, needs to find ways to increase the likelihood of their tweet/post being read. This author has a clear intention to encourage more people (men and women) to better understand Freemasonry in the hope that others will wish to join.

As it is going to become tedious reading “tweet/post” every time let’s assume that the term “content” refers to either.

There are several challenges involved in getting the timing correct:

  1. Finding a way to deliver content at the best time
  2. Solving…

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The Last Supper – Hungerford Lodge Leaves Home After Almost 90 Years

A great shame that Hungerford Lodge has had to relocate. Here is their story.

The Last Supper – Hungerford Lodge Leaves Home After Almost 90 Years

After almost 90 years at the heart of the Hungerford community, the Hungerford Lodge is to move to the Newbury Masonic Centre. The Lodge has used the Town Hall and Corn Exchange for its meetings since 1925 but this association has come to an end due to the changing business needs of the Hungerford Town & Manor. This is a source of great disappointment to the members who have always been very proud to call themselves Hungerford Freemasons, and support local Hungerford charities, including funding the disabled access lift for the Town Hall.

Traditionally a celebration of the best of Freemasonry, the meeting and Festive Board held on December 9th 2014, was tinged with sadness. It was the last meeting of the Hungerford Lodge in Hungerford. Every year the Lodge celebrates Christmas with a legendary meal accompanied by the Hungerford Town Band playing Carols – who knew that Land of Hope and Glory was a Carol?

After the meal, the Lodge runs its Christmas auction. Over the years, this auction has raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity through the generosity of the Hungerford and visiting Freemasons. The money raised supports the activities of the Lodge Benevolent Association, which is a registered charity, and since 2009 they have donated over £25,000 to local and national charities including:

The members of the Lodge formed a steering group which was tasked with investigating the alternatives within Hungerford and the surrounding areas. Although every effort was made to remain within Hungerford, no suitable accommodation was found which necessitated a move away from the Lodge’s traditional home. It was therefore decided to approach the Newbury Masonic Centre to host them for the future. This will bring the Hungerford Craft, Chapter and Mark Lodges all back under one roof again.

To maintain a link with Hungerford, the Lodge will hold its support meetings (General Purposes Committee, Lodge of Instruction and rehearsals) in the Cygnet Room of the Three Swans Hotel. The Lodge has also chosen to hold its Festive Board in Hungerford. The steering group will continue to take feedback from the members as to what is working and what needs to change as we adjust to our new home.

The Lodge wishes to thank the management committee at the Newbury Masonic Centre as well as the Berkshire Freemasons Executive team for their advice and guidance during this difficult time.

Windsor Freemasons’ Throw Open Their Doors

Windsor Lodge Open Day Poster

Open-Day-Windsor-Poster

Freemasonry – What’s It All About?

On Saturday 31st January 2015 Windsor Freemasons’ will be throwing open their doors at:

The Windsor Masonic Hall, Church Lane, Windsor SL4 1PA from 11am – 4pm

Entry Is Free and Refreshments Will Be Provided

The Freemasons of Berkshire are throwing open their doors to the local community in Windsor at an Open Day on 31st January 2015. We want to give the public an opportunity find out what the Freemasons’ really do as opposed to the myths.

We are offering the opportunity to tour this superb, spectacular, historical building right next door to Windsor Castle, and much, much more.

Come and find out about what Freemasonry has to offer :

• A great place to make new friends
• Opportunity for Individual Development
• Thriving social scene
• Charitable works in the Community
• Ceremonial symbolism (yes we will really tell you what this all means!)

We are extending a warm welcome to all to come and meet us – what have you got to lose? Just pop in anytime between 11am and 4pm on Saturday 31st January 2015. We are The Red Door at the top of Church St, Windsor, SL4 1PA.

Two interesting Masonic days

The last two days have been great. Yesterday I attended the consecration of a new lodge in Berkshire. A consecration is where a Lodge is made a Lodge and receives its warrant. The main lodge room at Sindlesham was full. It was a great ceremony to watch. The new lodge is called The Combined Services Lodge and is the first Military Lodge in Berkshire. It was great to see some adaptions to give the lodge a Military feel.

The day ended with the Festive Board. This is the more relaxed side of Freemasonry, we have a nice meal, a good chat and a few laughs along the way.

A few weeks ago I was invited to join a new recruitment team for Berkshire, today I attended the first meeting of the new team. There are 27 of us on the team and we are looking to expand the membership. It’s a really exciting project. One of our aims is to become a more open organisation. One of our concerns is that we have always been seen as a secretive organisation and one that was quite difficult to join. This is not the case, we welcome new members.

So why become a Freemason?
Everyone has their own reasons for joining. For me I enjoy both the work that is done in the Lodge and the very big social side of being a member. The lodge work is a bit like learning your lines in a show. I enjoy the challenge. Every job in the lodge requires you to learn lines for certain parts of what is traditionally called the ritual. At first I thought I would never be able to learn it all, I have actually been surprised at what I have been able to learn so far for the various jobs I have done. The social side of Freemasonry is great. After every meeting we have a meal and a drink in the bar. We have a good chat and plenty of laughs during the evening. I always leave thinking I can’t wait for the next meeting. As a Mason you can also visit other lodges, this is great! It gives you a chance to make new friends and watch how other lodges work. The old thing about Freemasonry is that you are in control of how much time you want to spend out at meetings. There are always meetings and event happening so you are never short of things to do.

One side of Freemasonry that is never publicised is donations to charity. Lodges and provinces donate huge sums of money throughout the year, we also provide emergency donations in times of crisis. This is the main aim of our organisation and something we can be proud of. If this all sounds good get in touch with your local province, they will be very happy to welcome you.

Our new recruitment team will be holding lots of open days at various Lodges throughout Berkshire, our next one is on the 31st January at the Masonic Lodge in Windsor. We will have displays and information packs available, we will be giving tours of the Lodge, you will be given a full talk on what we do in the lodge and what everything means in the lodge. You can also attend a presentation on Freemasonry by one of our team. Following the tour and presentation you can have some refreshments and a chat the team. Even if you don’t want to join you are most welcome to come and have a look around. See you there!!

Nine Reasons to join Freemasonry

A fantastic blog by Hungerford Lodge

Hungerford Freemasons

If you ask five Freemasons why they joined, you will get at least five different answers. Each person has their own reasons. (I say “person” because there are female freemasons, albeit not as part of the United Grand Lodge of England) These reasons can be intensely personal and for many there is not a single reason.

Turning the key Turning the key

Some of the reasons people give include:

  • Family
  • Curiosity
  • Wanting to join an organisation
  • To meet other people
  • Looking for a new challenge
  • Charity
  • Camaraderie
  • To have fun
  • To learn new skills

Family

For me this is a very significant reason. My father, grandfathers and great-uncle were all masons at points in their lives. It has been part of my consciousness from an early age and I had always wanted to join.

This is not unusual; many masons are brought in by blood or in-law relations. It is wonderful to see how Freemasonry can reunite families who…

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Regalia

To non Masons the regalia we wear may seem a bit strange but as with everything in Freemasonry it is all symbolic and has lots of history / tradition attached to it. The main part of our regalia and the bit that most people know about or comment on is the Apron. A full history can be found here http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/aqc/apron.html

Masonic Aprons

The apron denotes the level you are within Freemasonry. There are whats known as the three degrees when you become a Mason. Your 1st degree is Entered Apprentice. When you join you wear a plain white apron. You then progress to becoming a Fellow Craft and wear a white apron with two blue rosettes at the bottom, you then progress further to become a Master Mason. This is a white apron with a blue border, three rosettes and tassels. It took 12 month for me to become a Master Mason. Each degree has a different ceremony that you go through. Each ceremony teaches you more about Freemasonry, you never stop learning!!

Now I’m sure you’re wondering about the secret stuff!! Well, people say that we are a secret society, we are not. If we were I wouldn’t be writing this blog. Freemasonry is a club, a hobby, nothing more than that. The main purpose is to raise money for charity. There are elements of what we have that we don’t publicise. Yes you can call them secret but they are kept secret really by tradition. If you go back to Freemasons started. They were Stone Masons, highly skilled people. Most of them could not read and write. This posed a problem with their training, if we gain a qualification today we get a certificate. Back in their day they couldn’t issue certificates because very few people could read them, so they had to invent a way of proving how qualified they were. They developed a system of passwords, signs and “handshakes” to let potential employers know what level of training they had. These were obviously kept secret and only revealed to Masons when they became qualified. As a mark of respect we don’t disclose these either. Everything else we are free to discuss. So I know it’s probably a bit of a let down but that’s it I’m afraid. No big secrets!!!

As a society we are very open, you can visit lodge open days and have a good look around. You can ask whatever questions you like and you will get a very honest answer. All Freemasons are encouraged to speak about their membership and will gladly help you to join.

Welcome to my Masonic Blog

This is me as the Junior Deacon of my lodge.
This is me as the Junior Deacon of my lodge.

Hi to all and welcome to my blog. As you know I am a freemason, this blog is all about my “Masonic Career”. I hope you find it interesting and I hope by reading  this you will join me in learning more about Freemasonry. Throughout my blog I will keep you up to date with what I am doing and what its like to be a Mason. I am not going to mention anything that may spoil the experience of people wanting to become a Freemason but I will certainly tell you as much as I can about it.

I have always been very curious about Freemasonry and wanted to find out more. For some reason it was something that I felt I wanted to join but like most people didn’t really know why. Lots of people had said it was a secret society and I have heard lots of rumors about secret handshakes, passwords and ceremonies. This all seemed a bit strange to me but I was curious to find out more. I studied many websites and was very impressed with the donations made to charity by various lodges, I also liked the social aspect of Freemasonry. So my enthusiasm to find out more grew! It was after this during a shift on an Ambulance response car (my day job!) I got talking to a colleague who I was working with for the first time. During the conversation he mentioned to me that he was a Freemason, what an opportunity!! We were together for 12hrs and now I had plenty of time to find out more and ask questions. At the end of the shift I was sure it was something I wanted to do, my colleague and new friend invited me to look around his lodge and meet a few other Masons. I went for the visit and filled out the application form.

What struck me was how friendly and welcoming everyone was. I was shown around the various lodge rooms and had a look around the archives. The various lodges were very impressive, full of symbols, pictures, banners and lots of things that obviously meant something. I got a sense of how “complex” freemasonry is  and that there would be lots to learn and understand. I have to say some of the explanation to the meaning of objects in the lodge seemed a bit strange, now that I understand what they mean it all makes sense. My first visit was great, I spoke to lots of people who were very encouraging and I went home excited about the prospect of joining.

A while later I returned to the lodge to have an official meeting with members of the lodge I was going to join. They told me about the lodge and what was involved. One of the comments that really impressed me was the fact that Family and work must always come before Freemasonry. They also wanted to make sure I had the support of my Wife and family. A little while later I received a letter inviting me to attend my first meeting or my “initiation”. This is where I started to wonder what was going to happen, the term “initiation” is not a term you use every day. Again it did seem a bit weird because no one tells you what happens when you are initiated. I have to say I had a mixed feeling of curiosity and nerves about the whole thing. So eventually the evening arrived of my initiation. Everyone I had spoken to said it was going to be a brilliant evening and night I would never forget. I can honestly say I can remember it as if it happened yesterday. As a candidate you are made to feel as though you are the star of the show. During the ceremony you are told about Freemasonry and what you are joining. Different people tell you about the history and the origins of Freemasonry. Its was a great experience and I’m glad no one told me what was going to happen because it would definitely spoil the surprise. I went through the ceremony and all of a sudden I was a Freemason and yes I was wearing an apron.

I was taken to a seat and sat down in the meeting as a Mason, it was a strange feeling. The meeting continued just like any other committee type meeting. The meeting ended and we went down to the bar and had a drink. I had a constant flow of people shaking my hand and congratulating me. We then had a meal together. Following every lodge meeting you sit down and have a meal, it is called the Festive Board. As I was the new initiate I got to sit on the top table with the Master of the lodge. It was a great night of speeches and welcoming messages. I will always remember the date at it was November 5th, I walked out of the lodge surrounded by fireworks going off. I know they were not for me but they did add to the experience.

It was a brilliant night, I had only known these people for a few hours, when I left it was if I had known them for years. I had never been made to feel as welcome anywhere as I did that night, I knew there were many good times to come.

Here is the official Youtube clip giving you more info of Freemasonry.

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