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The Provincial Grand Chapter of Durham Royal Arch Festival Month

The Provincial Grand Chapter of Durham is holding a Royal Arch Festival month from mid-March until mid-April 2024.

A fantastic number of events are being held across the Province, with a view to promoting the Royal Arch and its direct link to Craft Masonry.

These events include:

The Keystone Connection

The Grand Superintendent of the Provincial Grand Chapter of Durham and the Provincial Grand Master of the Mark talk about the Royal Arch and the Mark Degree.

The Ceremony of the Veils

A Presentation to be given by The Provincial Grand Chapter of Durham and the Companions of Tees Chapter No. 509. This ancient ceremony is seldom seen in English Chapters, and it is a year since it was last presented in Durham.  ‘The Ceremony of Passing the Veils’ was an integral part of the Royal Arch ceremony and was practised as a preliminary to the Exaltation ceremony. In 1834 the basis of the current ceremonies was established and agreed by Supreme Grand Chapter and the ‘Ceremony of the Veils’ stopped being practised thereafter. The ceremony can be demonstrated once annually by a Province, so this is a rare opportunity to witness something that at one time was an integral part of our Masonic Heritage.

Talking Heads

A couplet play between a new Master Mason and a Royal Arch Companion explaining the Royal Arch in the ante room whilst getting ready for their Lodge meeting.

Royal Arch Roadshows

A presentation by the Provincial team about the origins of the Royal Arch and the splendour of its ceremonies.

Adding More Theatre to the Principal Sojourner’s Story

The Provincial team act out in more detail the Principal Sojourner’s journey in the Royal Arch ceremony.

Discover More

An event for prospective members interested in joining the Royal Arch.

Please check the events page for further details and how to book your place.

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Lodge of Philanthropy L940

Philanthropy L940

Who are we?

The Lodge of Philanthropy, which was formed in 1863, is a group of Freemasons who meet in Stockton Masonic Hall. The Lodge has a strong tradition of integrity, friendship, respect, and charity. We also pride ourselves on our membership being from many different walks of life.  Our members are of varying age, ranging from their twenties to eighty. 

What we do

Most of our meetings include one of many masonic ceremonies and in February of each year we install a new Worshipful Master to manage our lodge during the coming masonic year. 

Every mason who joins our lodge will eventually be given the opportunity of becoming Worshipful Master in due course. New Masons are of course encouraged to become involved in the activities of the lodge.

Lodge meetings usually start at 7pm, though the installation meeting starts earlier. After we have met in the lodge room, usually about 8.30pm, we meet in our dining hall where supper is served, and our bar is open. Whilst there are some formalities at “The Festive Board”, the main objective is to enjoy good company and good food. 

In addition to our main lodge night, we organise our own social events and attend events and meetings organised by our sister lodges, who are also based in the Stockton Masonic Hall.

Why join us?

Freemasonry is an amazing organisation that enables like-minded men of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy the membership of an organisation that is worldwide. Freemasons enjoy what often become lifelong friendships and can share their strong beliefs in community and charitable service. 

When we meet

Third Thursday in September to May (7pm Start). Installation February.


Joining fee: £5

Lodge subscriptions: £165

Typical dining fee: £12.50

facilities at Stockton Masonic Hall


Wellington Street, Stockton-on-Tees, TS18 1RD

Hall information

Directions Google Maps Hall ///hungry.parsnips.released Additional information

Lodges that meet here


There is a large car park and on street parking plus use of a school car park adjacent to the building.


From the car park there is a large entrance with a roller shutter door. This doubles as an entrance for people with disabilities. Carry on past this and turn left into Wellington Street, there is a front door with two steps up. A door bell is also placed here with intercom communication.


Blue Door on Wellington street (keep ringing the buzzer – someone will eventually let you in).


Emergency exits are well sign posted.


Only obstacle is 3 small steps into the temple. 


Just inside the roller shutter entrance is a large reception area. This includes Ladies, Gents and Disabled toilets. There is a further Gent’s toilet just off the main reception area near the staircase and lift.


The temple is large well decorated and has a permanent chequered pavement. Some of the furniture dates back to the eighteenth century.

Recent repairs and improvement to the various roofs have made the building warm and welcoming. There are ladies, gents and disabled toilets in the Wellington Suite and a separate gent’s toilet off the main entrance hall.

The bar area and Cooper Room are well decorated and comfortable. The Cooper Room is used for smaller Festive Boards, events and meetings. The main dining hall is a grand room capable of seating over one hundred comfortably. Doors lead directly into the well equipped 5 star rated kitchen.


There is a large grand staircase from the main reception area. A lift is situated just off the main reception area.

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Three On The Square At Universities | Durham Freemasons

A special occasion at the Lodge of Fraternity no 1418 at Stockton-on-Tees last night, where under the expert guidance of Worshipful Master Richard Barlow 2 initiates Bro Darren Muldowney and Endurance Osaivbie began their masonic journeys.

Also present were the Worshipful Masters of Mowbray Lodge 5373, Gabriel Petre, and Universities Lodge 2352 Amir Atapour. The first time the 3 Masters of the Universities Scheme lodges in the Province of Durham have met on the square since the visit of RtW Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton before the pandemic. A splendid University Scheme evening in great company!

#StrongerTogether #Freemasons #oneorganisaton

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ALF 999 | Durham Freemasons

On Friday 5th May 2023, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Michael Graham, was thrilled to present a 60 Years’ Service certificate to 94-year-old Alfred Charlton. Michael explained to the members and visitors that due to the lock down during Covid, some certificate presentations had been delayed. Alf has achieved 63 years continuous service in masonry, therefore Diamond Celebration (plus 3)!

In 1945 Alf left school and joined the Durham Police cadets. Two years later he carried out National service in the Army as a Bombardier serving at Brancepeth Castle then at seven other camps in the UK.

On completion of his National Service, he re-joined Durham Police as a Constable serving for 35 years until retiring in 1984. During his time, he was stationed at Aycliffe, Houghton, Shotton Colliery, Stockton, Darlington and Durham.

Alf progressed through the ranks finishing as Chief Superintendent and receiving a Magistrate’s Commendation, four Chief Constable Commendations and in 1955 a Queen’s Commendation for brave conduct. After being promoted to Chief Superintendent he moved to the Force Headquarters.

In 1955 Alf married Joan and they spent 64 happy years together until Joan sadly passed away four years ago. He lived at Whitesmocks, Durham City for 52 years, this was the first house he owned after having lived in nine Police houses in 16 years.  Alf And Joan had two children, Geoff and Gillian, known as Gill.

His current main interests are first and foremost gardening, closely followed by his love of classic cars of which he had six during his membership of the Jaguar Owner’s Club for 50 years. His last was an E-Type. with the number plate ALF 999.

After retiring from the Force Alf and Joan started enjoying holidays, visiting Jamaica and China. He later returned to work and worked in South Korea, Jordan, Kuwait and Ghana.

It was Joan’s Father Norman Coulthard who proposed Alf into the Earl of Durham Lodge in 1958. Alf recalls on the night of his initiation he was on night shift so had to leave straight after the ceremony to go to work.

During the discussion in open lodge, Alf said because of work commitments, he had only managed to attend around half of his lodge meetings over the years. However, he said he was incredibly pleased, honored and privileged to have enjoyed the immense pleasure he has obtained from freemasonry. That was when he managed to escape to ‘the sanctuary of the lodge from, the hurly-burly world of police work’. Alf was presented with his 60-year certificate, decorated with his lapel badge, before receiving salutations from all in the lodge room, led by Michael Graham.

The lodge went on to pass Jack Levi Wyatt to his second degree before retiring to the festive board where ample provisions had been provided.

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Andrew’s Story | Durham Freemasons

The Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Andrew Foster had special reason to visit the Great North Air Ambulance Service headquarters at Progress House in Eaglescliffe, Stockton. Andrew along with his wife Angela was accompanied by the Provincial Grand Master John Thompson, and Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Watts, armed with a cheque for £5025.00 as a donation to this brilliant service which is entirely funded by charity.

So why would this visit be special to Andrew Foster you may ask? The answer is in his moving story below, told in his own words: –

“On Thursday the 9th of December 2021, I played golf at Blackwell Grange Golf club with my friends as usual. After a coffee in the Clubhouse, I set off for the short journey home. 

On leaving the carpark I felt unwell, stopped the car, removed my seat belt, and tried to open the door. At this point I lost consciousness and as a consequence I pressed the accelerator which took the car down the drive demolishing a lamp post and then colliding with a tree. I was projected against the steering column and my head went through the windscreen. The first person to the scene was a retired GP from Darlington, Dr. Roger James, who upon assessing the situation and injuries called for the ambulance. Had it not been for his insistence for immediate care I might not have survived. John Zissler, another golfing friend, called my wife to inform her of the accident and advised her not to attend. Angela asked our daughter to attend the scene and she also telephoned our son who travelled up immediately from Bishops Stortford. My daughter arrived just before the Air Ambulance and stopped the Paramedics before they treated me saying that she needed to inform them of a condition. They thought that this was to be some medication information but when she said her dad did not like needles, they took one look at me and said to her that he had better get used to them! 

I can remember gaining consciousness and looking up at a helicopter coming in to land and thought who was this important person coming to play golf in such a method of transport.

The car was embedded into the tree and there was a fear that it was about to set fire and I was trapped. The fire brigade cut the side of the car open while the crew from the GNAAS attended to me. I could not remember too much but can recall feeling totally comforted by the calm and professional manner in which they applied immediate medical care to make me as comfortable as possible.

I was transferred to James Cook hospital in Middlesbrough where I was kept in the critical care unit for 24 hours before undergoing an operation and a week’s treatment. This was during the covid pandemic and patients were unable to receive any visitors, but the hospital allowed our daughter to be with me throughout the initial treatment and this dispensation was transferred to our son when he arrived.

The treatment for a dislocated and broken hip, broken ribs and 58 facial stitches was brilliantly administered, and I am extremely happy to say that after 12 months recuperation i was discharged from all treatment and I have made a full and complete recovery.

To mark the gratitude that I have for the GNAAS I decided with my family and friends to try to raise funds for this amazing service which is provided totally by charitable giving. We held a fund-raising event at Darlington Cricket club and raised an incredible £1,564 and also opened a Just giving page which raised £704. I am also incredibly grateful to the Freemasons of Durham, my other great passion who, through Durham Benevolence agreed to round the total cheque to £5,025.

Through the generosity of all my family and friends I am delighted to be able to present this magnificent amount to the GNAAS and I am sure that they will put it to great use.”

Andrew and the visiting party were given a full tour of the facilities and met some of the brilliant staff who provide such an important service to the Northeast of England and the surrounding areas. An incredibly special moment for Andrew was to personally thank Marcus the paramedic primarily involved in his care and a big hug from him provided an emotional thank you to him and his staff for saving his life.

The large cheque which had been expertly written by Angela was presented to the GNAAS beside the helicopter involved.

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Total Respect | Durham Freemasons

John Robert Brown (Bob), a well-respected Stockton Freemason died on 10 th February at the age of 103.  He was a member of the Lodge of Philanthropy and the Chapter of Philanthropy for well over 40 years.

In a recent visit to the Chapter of Philanthropy the Provincial Grand Master, John Thompson spoke about his passing and the fact that the Second World war veteran was held a prisoner of war for four years after surviving being shot down when his Wellington bomber was attacked on a night raid.

In honour of his wartime service, at precisely 11am an RAF Eurofighter Typhoon made a fly-past over his funeral, organized by his great-nephew who is in training in the RAF Squadron.

Bob featured in Issue 38 of our Gazette to celebrate his 100 th birthday.

Rest in Peace Bob

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Armed Forces Covenant Signing Reaffirms Our Commitment | Durham Freemasons

We as Freemasons have reaffirmed our commitment to the armed forces community by re-signing the Armed Forces Covenant, undertaken by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Michael Graham on behalf of the Provincial Grand Master John Paul Thompson and the Freemasons of Durham.

The partnership aims to support members of the Armed Forces community and ensure they have the same access to government as well as commercial services and products as any other citizen.

The Armed Forces Covenant as signed by the Duke of Kent has been replicated across the county by Provinces with Durham recommitting their pledge at Stockton Riverside College on Thursday 16 th February in the presence of His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant Mrs Sue Snowdon.

The Signing on behalf of our Provincial Grand Master John Paul Thompson by Michael Graham Jnr Deputy Provincial Grand Master who’s own son is serving with the Royal Navy was made a little extra special by the arrangement for Durham Freemason Lt Col John Henry being allowed to sign on behalf of the Army in his capacity as a Serving Officer.


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Well Done Jim | Durham Freemasons

Jim Cowan of Agricola Lodge decided that instead of having a small family party to celebrate his 70 th birthday, he would hold a larger event in aid of charity. Covid restrictions had delayed the planning and when it eventually took place Jim felt that the recipient should be the NHS., specifically the Great North Children’s Hospital Foundation, RVI Newcastle.

The Great North Children’s Hospital (GNCH) is one of the four largest Children’s hospitals in the UK. They provide a full range of tailored children’s health services to children from across the north of England and beyond. It has special wards, operating theatres, outpatients, day case suites and an A & E department all tailored to children, their families, and carers.

Jim held the event at his farm near Long Newton in Stockton, where he invited the great and the good that he has met over his 70 eventful years including members from the horse racing community, Neighbours and his other passion, freemasonry.

The event was an enormous success, with over 160 people in attendance where a 3-course luncheon was served and enjoyed by all present. Jim concluded the event with a charitable auction which raised £5,800.00 including gift aid.

Jim approached Durham Benevolence with the proceeds of his special celebration where on behalf of all Durham freemasons they agreed to add a further donation of £4,200.00 from the community support fund, giving a magnificent total of £10,000.

Jim, armed with the donation visited the hospital accompanied by John Watts the Benevolent Chairman and Andrew Thompson the Provincial Charity representative to meet up with Emma McQuitty, the Fundraising Coordinator of the Newcastle Hospitals Charity. Emma was most thankful to receive the donation and gave a brief outline of the way in which it would benefit the children involved. Restrictions on the day prevented a full tour of the facilities available but Emma assured all that they would be welcome to return on a future occasion should they so desire.

Any Lodge holding a fundraising event should consider processing the total raised through Durham Benevolence, where the sum may be increased with help from the community support fund so that the lodge and Durham Benevolence are clearly recognised for the excellent contributions they make to the local community.

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Lifelites Magic | Durham Freemasons

Each year the “Lifelites” charity raises funds to provide cutting-edge technology for children using hospice services right across the British Isles. The freemasons are huge supporters of this charity and the Province of Durham more than plays its part.

The bespoke packages of technology depend on a tailored assessment of the needs of each hospice.  Each package is worth around £46,000.00 and has a lifespan of 4 years. Lifelites returns to each hospice every 4 years with a brand new package of the latest technology.

A representation of Durham freemasons were invited to Butterwick House Hospice in Stockton to view first hand the joy that Lifelites donated technology brings to the children and also where a new package of technology was due.

John Watts the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, who was accompanied by Andrew Thompson and Duncan Maw, arrived at the Hospice, where they were warmly welcomed by Sam and Jo, who conducted them around the hi tech Childrens facilities and introduced them to the amazing staff who look after the children.

A heart warming experience by all present.

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John And Red Ted Visit Locomotion | Durham Freemasons

On the morning of Wednesday 20th, July 2022 Ted visited Locomotion, the National Railway Museum in Shildon with the PGM John Thompson and members of the provincial TLC team led by Duncan Maw. Ted took pride of place on some of the most iconic engines currently on display in the museum, including “Locomotion No1”, “Rocket”, the prototype “Deltic” and the “Black Five”.

The PGM soon got into character, dispensed with his jacket, rolled up his sleeves and sporting a driver’s cap for the photo shoot accompanied Ted on his tour of the exhibits. Both particularly enjoyed their time on the footplate of the Black Five pretending to drive this popular engine.

After they were dragged off the Black Five, the party was treated to cuppas and bacon butties supplied by the cafe, which was much appreciated by all concerned.

Charlie Walton from the Friends of Locomotion gave a brief history of the museum and the plans for the new hall to be opened late next year in readiness for the 2025 bicentenary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. The new gallery will accommodate approximately an extra 50 vehicles bringing the total on site to around 120. This will mean that Locomotion will house the largest collection of heritage rail vehicles under cover for the public to enjoy in the world. And remember, entry to the museum is free!

The Friends, in addition to regularly cleaning the exhibits and raising funds for the museum, provide access to cabs and organise tours of the collection. Tours can be arranged out of hours by request for parties of up to 30 people.

Freemasonry and Locomotion have very similar objectives in terms of reaching out to the community and promoting what they do.  Collaboration between like-minded organisations is a commendable and enjoyable way forward benefitting all concerned in these less than certain times. I’m sure Ted would heartily agree!

Many thanks to Pam Porter and Geoff Cale at Locomotion for their friendly support of this event.


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