Following an invitation from the Provincial Grand Master for Surrey, Ian Chandler; nearly 200 Masons from across the Province, made the short trip to Freemasons Hall in Covent Garden, ensuring that Surrey had the largest contingent of Brethren at the meeting.
Quarterly Communications is held four times a year and is where the activities of UGLE are undertaken, representing the 200,000 Freemasons and their 7,000 Lodges in England and Wales.
The Pro Grand Master, Peter Lowndes addressed the meeting, recognising the vital contribution Freemasonry’s members have made in the 300th year of Grand Lodge. This was followed by an informative presentation by the Assistant Grand Master, Sir David Wooton.
Following the meeting, the members of Crescamus Lodge in Croydon were privileged to be invited to dine with the Surrey Grand Officer’s Mess at the Kingsway Hotel where a fabulous time was had by all.
Today saw a memorial to Freemasons who were awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War unveiled.
The Victoria Cross was awarded 628 times for in the First World War. Over 100 recipients have so far been identified as Freemasons of whom sixty-three were members of English Constitution lodges.
Masonic Peace Memorial
In 1933, Freemasons Hall was opened as the Masonic Peace Memorial. It stands as a memorial to all those Freemasons who died in the First World War. Now a new memorial has been laid dedicated to all the English Freemasons awarded the VC during the Great War.
Charles Graham Robertson VC – Man of Valour
One of the recipients of the Victoria Cross was a Freemason from Surrey, Charles Graham Robertson. Before the war, he was a railway clerk from Dorking. He volunteered to fight and served with the Royal Fusiliers on the Western Front.
Realising his position was being cut off, Charles Graham Robertson, sent two men to get reinforcements. He stayed at his post with one other man and a Lewis gun. He managed to kill ‘large numbers of the enemy” but when no reinforcements arrived and realising that he was now completely cut off, he and his fellow soldier withdrew about ten yards. Robertson stayed there for some considerable time firing his machine gun but was again forced to withdraw. In this new position, he climbed on top of a parapet with his comrade, mounted his gun in a shell hole and continued firing at the enemy. His comrade was killed and Robertson was severely wounded but he managed to crawl back to the British line, bringing his gun with him. He could no longer fire it as he had exhausted all the ammunition.
For his initiative and resource and magnificent fighting spirit which prevented the enemy making a more rapid advance, Charles Graham Robertson was awarded the Victoria Cross in April 1918.
A few months after the end of the First World War, in February 1919, he was initiated in Deanery Lodge No. 3071. He is one of over one hundred and seventy holders of the Victoria Cross who have been identified as freemasons, representing more than 13% of the total recipients.
Tercentenary of Grand Lodge
In this, the Tercentenary year of Grand Lodge, it is fitting that an additional memorial to those recipients of the Victoria Cross in the First World War has been added, to those sixty-three men of valour.
Freemasonry is one of the oldest and largest non-religious, non-political and charitable organisations. Its members, Freemasons are from all walks of life and meet as equals, whatever their race, religion or place in society.
In England and Wales, there are 250,000 Freemasons belonging to 8,000 Lodges. Worldwide that figure rises to 6 Million members.
Freemasonry provides a unique environment for people from all backgrounds to learn new skills. Make lasting friendships, meet their potential and above all have fun.
United Grand Lodge of England
The United Grand Lodge of England is the governing body of Freemasonry in England Wales and the Channel Islands. Built in 1933 Freemasons Hall is the headquarters of the Grand Lodge and is a classic example of art deco architecture in the heart of London’s Covent Garden. It was seen in the BBC spy drama ‘Spooks’ as their HQ. Grand Lodge is open to the public. With Hollywood blockbusters and landmark TV shows, Freemasons Hall welcomes over 100,000 visitors every year.
Freemasons and Society
Freemasonry is more relevant and important to society today than ever. It encompasses and embraces all the fundamental principles of good citizenship. Many of these are learnt through traditional ceremonies that take the form of one-act plays, leading to increased self-esteem and confidence. Every Freemason embarks on his own journey of self-discovery when he enters the organisation.
Saturday 18 February saw Masons from across Surrey, Sussex, and East and West Kent attend a Canterbury Cathedral Service. The event was held to mark the Tercentenary of United Grand Lodge.
R.W. Bro. Ian Chandler Provincial Grand Master of Surrey spoke after the event
It was a delight to join with so many of our Surrey Brethren attending today’s service in Canterbury Cathedral marking three hundred years since the founding of the first ever Grand Lodge.
Surrey Masons raised over £50,000, together with similar donations from East and West Kent and Sussex Masonic Provinces, to help finance the restoration of the North-West transept, which was a magnificent effort.
My sincere thanks to all those Brethren who raised funds and contributed – over and above our other charity work which continues at full steam.
The service made me proud not only of our Province but of what Freemasonry itself has become since those four lodges met at the Goose and Gridiron Tavern and elected Anthony Sayer as the first ever Grand Master in June 1717.
From those relatively humble beginnings, what became the United Grand Lodge of England now has over 200,000 members from all walks of life, all parts of the globe and a wide variety of backgrounds.
Sitting with so many colleagues and friends in Canterbury Cathedral, looking back at how we’ve grown and the incredible things we’ve achieved together made me very proud.
It’s important to celebrate our heritage, and of course we’re doing this by running numerous celebratory events during 2017, all of which can be found on our Provincial website.