Date :

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.

<< Back to search results

Date :

Barnard Castle Masonic Hall

The Masonic Hall at Barnard Castle in County Durham, England. The hall dates to 1877 and bears two of the symbols of Freemasonry, the Star of David and Square and Compasses.

facilities at Barnard Castle Masonic Hall


Masonic Hall, Newgate, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham, DL12 8NJ

Hall information

Directions Google Maps W3W ///worry.mural.happy Additional Information

Lodges that meet here


On Newgate. The blue line shows on street parking which doesn’t affect residents.


Main door access to the road.


Exits clearly marked.


Royal Arch Masons are judged on the content of their character, not any disability that they may have. We welcome everyone and we will always be ready to lend a helping hand when required.

Our meeting place was built before disabilities were fully considered; many have protected status making major adaptations difficult. But Freemasons in themselves will adapt and assist Companions, and visitors, to fully participate and enjoy the facilities.


Male and Female toilets.  An accessible toilet is not available.


The hall is small lending itself to a friendly and convivial evening amongst friends. The Chapter meeting room is on the ground level with 4 steps down to the dining area and facilities.



<< Back to search results

Date :

Nice One Cyril | Durham Freemasons

On Wednesday 22nd March the Provincial Grand Master, John Thompson, accompanied by his Director of Ceremonies Martin Rankin attended Surtees Lodge in Shildon to acknowledge Cyril Kell who at 92 years young celebrated 65 years continuous membership in the craft. John was welcomed into the lodge by the Master, Robert Taylor Watson.

John then addressed the lodge and gave an insight into the life of Cyril:-

Cyril was born in Eldon Lane; his father and grandfather were both prominent freemasons in Shildon and founder members of Byerley Lodge.  It transpired that Cyril at one point in his life lived in the Masonic Hall in Middleton Road as his mother and father occupied part of the building as the lodge caterer and caretaker, respectively.  It necessarily followed that Cyril would join the craft and he was proposed into Surtees Lodge in 1958 by his father.

Cyril began his working life at 14 years old and started his apprenticeship in the Blacksmith’s and Joiner’s shop before commencing his lifelong career as a Teacher of Mathematics and Engineering in Toft Hill, Witton Park and Barnard Castle.   Cyril served his country as part of his National Service in 1952/53 in Korea and Egypt, seeking active duty in both conflict zones.

Cyril found it difficult to attend his lodge regularly due to the selfless care he devoted to his late wife and daughter.  John reminded the brethren that by Cyril’s example we should always be mindful that “family comes first”.

The Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies then read the citation on the certificate, and this was then presented to Cyril to the delight of himself and the brethren assembled.

At the festive board Cyril responded to his toast by thanking the brethren for a wonderful night and finished by saying that he has always been proud to be a Freemason and he told John that he would save a space on his wall for a further certificate in five years’ time.

To add further to the night’s festivities in the lodge room, the lodge Senior Warden James Fredrick Forster rose to his feet to announce to the lodge that a Charity Event that had been supported by Surtees Lodge had come to a successful conclusion.  This was the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, where Jim’s grandson Olly Collins along with 3 of his friends had rowed across the Atlantic Ocean from La Gomera in Tenerife to Antigua.    Jim gave a wonderful presentation to the brethren regarding the challenge and read a diary entry which explained the monumental moment “the lads” completed their row into Antigua harbour.     The Provincial Grand Master along with Dennis Robinson presented a cheque to Jim for £2000 from Durham Benevolence. Jim had raised £1,000 from Surtees Lodge which had been match funded by Durham Benevolence to support the Atlantic Endeavour team take part in their epic crossing. In doing so they raised tens of thousands of pounds in memory of their friend Oli Hilsdon.  Oli was a friend to all of the team and a dearly loved member of the community they grew up in. He lost his fight to Glioblastoma Multiforme, an aggressive type of brain tumour, just days before his 27th birthday. Oli cared deeply for others, was wickedly funny and was brilliantly smart – he was an inspiration to all who knew him and set a true example of how to live life fully.

A rightly proud grandfather Jim, then thanked the brethren for their fundraising efforts and the Provincial Grand Master and Dennis for the cheque.  He has promised that his Grandson would be coming to the lodge at a future meeting to give a more detailed account of his voyage.   The “lads” set away on their “crazy idea” to row the Atlantic in 40 days…. they exceeded their own expectations and finished alongside professional teams IN 33 DAYS 23 HOURS AND 24 MINUTES.  What an amazing achievement.

To find out more about the challenge and their charitable exploits please visit the website below

Click Here for more information

All in all, a fabulous night at Surtees Lodge.

<< Back to search results

Date :

John Bowes | Durham Freemasons

On Monday 27 th February Alan Farrar, as Chairman and on the instruction of the Premises Committee of Barnard Castle Masonic Hall, presented to Dr Jane Whittaker, Collections Manager at the Bowes Museum, a framed copy of a lithograph print of John Bowes, the Museum’s founder.

Produced by local photographer David Williams from the print displayed in Barnard Castle’s Masonic Hall in Newgate and which had been ‘borrowed’ by the Museum for a recent display at Glamis Castle; it represents Bowes in later life. Amongst his many other titles, John Bowes had been Durham’s “Provincial Grand Master who never was,” having been appointed in 1845 but never invested! He was also a founder member of the Barnard Lodge of Freemasons in 1868 and made a very generous donation of £100 towards the total cost of £720 for building the Masonic Hall. The builder of both the Museum and the Masonic Hall was Joseph Kyle, whose name is commemorated by “Kyle’s Yard,” a housing development in the town.

Accompanying Alan and Jane is Ian Kirkbride, a prominent member of the Strathmore Lodge, who facilitated the arrangements for the presentation of the gift from the Freemasons to the Museum.

<< Back to search results

Date :

Stronger Communities | Durham Freemasons

Durham Freemason Denis Slater was extremely pleased, not only to be nominated for, but to be presented with a stronger communities award for his contribution to sports 2022.  Denis, formerly of Darlington Lodge and now a member of Strathmore, who meet in Barnard Castle is chief instructor at Kyosho Karate club who train at Hurworth primary school.

The Hurworth Kyosho Karate club was founded in 1982 with Denis being one of the founder members.  The Hurworth club is one of two not-for-profit clubs with the other Kyosho Karate club meeting at Barrow-in-Furness.  Denis is a 4 th Dan black belt in karate and is currently attempting to attain his 5 th Dan with Karate International in Leeds.

Denis could not be more dedicated and has volunteered his evenings twice a week for the past 40 years teaching students from the age of 5 up to adults with specialised classes to suit different ages.  Denis inspires confidence in children with low self-esteem, orchestrates and directs his assistant instructors and brings a fun and safe place for many.  Denis’ dedication does not just sit with the 2 classes per week, Denis can be seen taking time out of his personal life to transport, coach and develop students at competitions around the UK, training a team to win several medals at the European Open in Manchester in 2016.

Denis personifies what it takes to be a local volunteer delivering a local community club to adults and children, providing his students with a positive and safe environment to build lifelong friendships and sense of community spirit with a real sense of family in the club.

Denis was nominated for the award by his son Michael Slater who had the following to say:

“Over 40 years ago my late uncle Stuart walked into my Mam and Dad’s house and said to my Dad, get your shoes on we are going to try karate and off they went. Little did Dad know this would be a journey he would dedicate most of his life to. My Dad, for a long time, has taken time out to teach, train and inspire individuals and deserves some recognition. I’m proud as punch to say that he was nominated for contribution to sport at the Darlington Stronger Communities Awards, and I’m even prouder to say he won.

Congratulations Dad.”

1st photo     Denis presented with award by Barry Thompson on behalf of Darlington FC

2nd photo    Members of the Kyosho karate family.  Left to right: Michael Skingley,  Darren Taylor (a member of County Lodge Darlington and Chief instructor at Barrow Kyosho Karate Club), James Reese, Denis Slater, Michael Slater (Denis’ son who nominated him), George Skingley.  All are instructors at Hurworth Kyosho Karate Club

<< Back to search results

Date :

Town Crier Ian’s Day In The Sun With Robson | Durham Freemasons

TV star Robson Green was in Barnard Castle on 22 nd June for his latest TV programme to be shown on BBC2 about local market towns, of which Barnard Castle is considered one of the best the Northeast has to offer.

Robson was treated to a guided tour of ‘Barney’ by none other than Town crier and Freemason Ian Kirkbride.

It’s been quite a busy year already for Barnard Castle’s Town Crier, Ian who also happens to be Secretary of the Nevill Lodge of Installed Masters in Darlington.

In this the Queens Jubilee Year his hectic schedule has included “Proclamations, Beacon lighting” duties and accompanying the Town Mayor during the annual “Meet Parade” celebrations’

This celebrity encounter coincided with the hottest day ever recorded in the UK so Ian was, in his words, “pretty warm under that cloak” and grateful that his outfit will be more appropriately suited to the ‘switch-on’ of the Town’s Christmas lights.

Ian Kirkbride a Freemason truly engaging with his community, should any Durham member have a similar story to tell, we would be delighted to hear your story please contact us at: or

Stronger Together

<< Back to search results