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The New Craft Mentoring Guidebooks | Durham Freemasons

The new Craft Mentoring Guidebooks are now online and for download here and via the Team App and should now be used instead of all previous versions. The Royal Arch Guide has not been replaced and there are no immediate plans to do so therefore, you are able to continue using existing copies.

To view or download from the Website Click Here:

Instructions to on how download Team App Click Here:

The Guides are there to act as an initial source of information to the new members, providing a general summary of masonry, an explanation of the degree just completed and a signpost to further information.

The expectation is that the Guides should be printed-off by the Lodge/Chapter Mentor and presented to each new member at the Festive Board immediately after each of their respective degrees. This enables the Mentor to introduce himself and have visibility in the Lodge/Chapter when explaining his role, to the new member.

The Guides provide the Mentoring Co-Ordinator with his first opportunity to discuss mentoring with his new members. After asking if he enjoyed the previous ceremony etc he can say “how did you find the Guidebook”?  “was it useful”? “do you need me to elaborate on anything”?  etc and there begins the process of mentoring.

We hope you find the new Guides, attractive and useful documents conveying our message of Integrity, Friendship, Respect and Charity.


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Rush to join Royal Arch Boosts Membership | Durham Freemasons

On Wednesday 11 th January the Deputy Grand Superintendent, Michael Shaw, accompanied by the ProvGDC, Nigel Fallow, visited Dunelm Chapter in Darlington, to witness a double exaltation ceremony.

Due to the number of candidates for exaltation currently in the pipeline, the chapter had convened an emergency meeting.

The chapter was well attended and those present were treated to a well-worked ceremony.  The exaltees were Mervyn Balcombe of Marquess of Ripon Lodge and David Niman of the Lodge of Jurists.

Austin Field is the chapter’s First Principal, and on this occasion he found himself in the photograph rather than being the photographer in his role as a member of the Provincial communications team.

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50 years Chapter Celebration for David Railson

On the evening of Monday 19th December 2022, the companions of Elevation Chapter assembled at the Stanley Masonic Hall. This special meeting was of immense importance, it was a celebration of 50 years service to the Chapter for EComp Thomas William David Railson and the exhalation of Bro Hugh Dorans .

This evening started with the Provincial Grand Superintendent John Thompson being warmly welcomed into the Chapter Room and being introduced to the Companions.

The Companions of elevation Chapter then increased their numbers with a fine exhalation ceremony of Bro Dorans in which many members of the chapter and visitors took part.

The next business of the evening was for the Provincial Grand Superintendent to present the long service certificate to EComp David Railson. John did this in his usual style by inviting David to have a chat with him. Two chairs where placed and the companions took their seats.

David has been married to Christine in 1974 and has 3  daughters Fiona, Lynsey and Gemma….6 Grandchildren Elizabeth, Harrison, Grace, Hannah,, Jackson and Spencer aged 3

David’s  Education was at Newcastle upon Tyne Cathedral Choir of which he eventually became Head Chorister.

He Said “All I particularly wanted to do in those early years was to sing in the Choir and play Cricket.”

He later attended Newcastle Colleges on leaving School and decided  a Police Career was what I wanted to commit myself to as I had been interested in that for some time.

January 1964 saw him accepted into Newcastle upon Tyne City Police, after training was posted to West End Police Station where he met a myriad of characters all in a blue uniform.

After some years served in Divisional Administration ,Crime Intelligence and C.I.D. Promoted Sergeant 1978 …Stationed in Sunderland, Gateshead, Blaydon and Whickham from where I retired as Station Sergeant/ Custody Officer in 1993.

November1968 saw his initiation into Derwent Lodge No 4250 becoming W.M.1983.

His Royal Arch journey started in September 1972 with his exhalation  into Rowlands Gill Holy Royal Arch Chapter No 4694 becoming M.E.Z in 1987 going back to J. and H then M.E.Z. in 1990. After that in 1991 I took over as Scribe Ezra’a post I held for over 20years.

In 1992 received Provincial position of DepProvSwdB

Promotion. to DepProvGDC 1998-2000  and then ProvGDC  2000-2007.

During his  time as ProvGDC. there were many initiatives in which he was involved in organising provincial support for the second and third principals on official provincial visits and the introduction of the revised ritual into the Province, which was a major task.

During all of his time in the Holy Royal Arch Chapter David wrote and delivered many Lectures in and out of this Province , his Church background seemed to just be a forerunner  to Freemasonry more particularly the Holy Royal Arch where the many Biblical references and stories were so familiar. Indeed this followed on into many other  Masonic Degrees.

However ,  in the following years his Masonic Career really took off and in all the many Degrees he is still  a member of, he  achieved Acting Grand Rank in every Degree bar one  He particularly  enjoyed was Dep. Grand EPISCOPUS (CHAPLAIN) in the Order of the Scarlet Cord where he was in that Office for 3 years and gave ‘ orations’ relative to Consecrations and Enthronements over much of the Country, Past P.G.M in The order of Athelstan 2012-17  in Northumbria …P.G.M. Royal Order of Scotland   2017–date in Durham…..  Grand Supt. of The Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests and The Order of Holy Wisdom in Northumberland and Durham .

On conclusion John invited the Provincial DC EComp Nigel Fallow to present the 50 year long service certificate

E Comp Thompson acknowledged his amazing service to many degrees and thanked him for the work he has done in Durham in promoting the craft and the Holy Royal Arch. John further Commented that many of the things we do today in our visits and deputations and the ritual will read has David’s hand in it somewhere along the line.

Chapter Photos were taken before the evening progressed to the festive board.

Following an enjoyable meal, John Thompson thanked the Chapter for a Wonderful evening and was grateful for the invitation to share in this  special  Celebration. The full room in attendance added to the occasion. John then spoke about everything that was happening around the province and to encourage everyone to go out and enjoy their freemasonry.

Toast followed with Ecomp Railson thanking EComp Thompson for his attendance and the companions and visitors for their support.

All enjoyed an excellent and entertaining evening.

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Claim your Free Tie | Durham Freemasons

We are delighted to be approaching our 700th Stack Team App registration… an early Christmas present we will be offering a free  Craft or Royal Arch Tie of your choice as a prize to one lucky member who downloads this fantastic application over the Christmas period.

What are you waiting for? Download Stack Team App Now!!!!

The Stack Team App once downloaded and registered to the Durham Freemasons site is a one stop catalogue for members which is continually updated to give up to the minute details and information which at one time required a telephone call or endless thumbing through books and catalogues.

The Communications Team will continue to develop the App as the first place to go to for a range of information’.

If you would like to download the App on your smartphone or desktop computer go to create an account then search for Durham Freemasons and then request access.

You are then ready to go with quick links to the Provincial website, yearbook files, Members information, Solomon, toast lists etc. etc.

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Raymond Gregory Snaith | Durham Freemasons

Raymond Gregory Snaith

(Died 24/11/2022)

I am sure it was with great sadness that we all learned of the death of Ray Snaith on Thursday 24 th November. He had not enjoyed good health for a few years but the previous week was reported to be very unwell in the hospital and due to be discharged home on palliative care. His funeral takes place Today 5 th December 2022 at 10.30 am at All Saints Church, Yarm Road, Eaglescliffe.

Ray was in the teaching profession and ended his career as deputy headmaster of Billingham Campus School.  He was married to Pat and had an adult family. He enjoyed helping his children and especially playing the role of doting grandparent. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this sad time.

I first got to know Ray in the early 2000s when with another he visited lodges throughout the Province, selling wooden laths to prop open securely the lids of masonic cases, thereby avoiding hand injuries, should the lid suddenly fall shut, the proceeds being for the then Festival. He had a splendid line in patter which convinced the most obdurate refusenik to part with cash for his wares!

What shone through then were two qualities which he possessed in great measure, a tremendous enthusiasm for Masonry and a keen sense of humour, of fun. Those qualities never left him. His enthusiasm for Masonry was matched by a great knowledge of it and his ability to deliver ritual in an exemplary fashion. It was hardly surprising that these qualities brought him to the notice of the rulers in various orders, and honours came his way, thick and fast.

In the Mark Master Masons Degree, he was a member and Past Master of Steadfast Lodge No 846 in Darlington, becoming Provincial Grand Registrar in 1999, Provincial Grand Senior Warden in 2002, and a Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 2004/5. In 2008 he was appointed to Grand rank as Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies. He was a Founder and Past Master of Indaba Lodge of MMM No 1936.

In the Craft, he was a Past Master of Darlington Lodge No 6158 and was appointed Past Provincial Grand Registrar in 2000, Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 2005 (W Bro Denny Wilson was the Senior Warden), and promoted to Past Provincial Senior Warden in 2007 and had been appointed in Grand Lodge to Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 2005. He became a member of Indaba Lodge No 9454.

In the Royal Arch, he was a Past First Principal of Chapter of Vigilance No 111 and was appointed Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals in 2003 and Deputy Grand Superintendent in 2006, consequent to that office he was appointed Past Grand Sword Bearer in Supreme Grand Chapter. He remained Deputy Grand Superintendent till 2009. He had also joined Indaba Chapter No 9454 and was its First Principal in 2004.

Ray was also in Knights Templar in Tees Preceptory No 316 and was its Preceptor in 2011, he was appointed Provincial Almoner in 2012 and Provincial Sub-Prior in 2013. In 2014 he was appointed Past Great Standard Bearer (B) in Great Priory.

He was perfected into Mount Grace Rose Croix Preceptory No 849 (North Yorkshire), was a member of the higher degrees and subsequently joined Tees Chapter Rose Croix No 374.

I got to know Ray very well in the years 2006 to 2009, through the Royal Arch, as I was the Provincial Third Grand Principal with Derek Warneford being the Second Grand Principal and of course, the late Derek Richmond as Grand Superintendent. We were charged with raising the profile of the Royal Arch and thereby increasing its membership in the Province, as well as having oversight of its running. I found Ray to be innovative in his approach and ever-ready with ideas as to how we could achieve our objectives. Executive meetings were always friendly, and Ray would always give a fair hearing to all opinions even if he did not hold with them. Ray was the driving force behind the Chapter Roadshow, a successful recruiting tool. When Derek Richmond died in February 2008, Ray became the Deputy Grand Superintendent in Charge until the investiture of E Comp Eric Heaviside later in that year. Ray conducted the Provincial Annual Chapter meeting in 2008. At that meeting, I delivered this prayer for Derek which is so totally appropriate for Ray: –

“O True and Living God Most High, we bless thy holy name for all who have completed their earthly course in thy faith and fear and are now at rest. We remember before thee this day thy servant Raymond Gregory Snaith, rendering thanks to thee for the gift of his friendship and for his life of service and devotion. And we beseech thee, in thy loving wisdom and almighty power, work in him, as in us, all the good purpose of thy holy will.

So mote it be.”


Peter Athen Smith

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Planning is the Key | Durham Freemasons

It was a foggy, frosty night on 29 November when The Chapter of Concord, which meets in Durham Masonic Hall, had the pleasure of receiving the ME Grand Superintendent, John Paul Thompson, accompanied by a large deputation of Provincial Officers.

Once the formal introductions had taken place, John rose and introduced the Provincial 3rd Grand Principal, Dr Rakesh Bhalla.

Rak delivered an extremely thought-provoking PowerPoint on the need for Chapters, no matter how successful, to produce a plan. Rak explained that any such plan must include all Chapter members, not just the ‘old guard’.

The discussion points on the plan ranged from when to join the Royal Arch, the ritual, the historical aspect of the Chapter and the festive board.

In summary, the assembled Companions all agreed that planning is the only way forward.

The discussion on the points raised in the Chapter room continued over a superb 3 course Christmas meal and delicious hot mince pies.

The Chapter presented John with a generous cheque for Durham Benevolence. In his reply to the toast, John made special reference to this, stating that Durham Benevolence is the Jewel in the Crown of the Province.

Overall, the planning for a particularly good night paid off.

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Diamond Jubilee | Durham Freemasons

At St Andrew’s Lodge in Stanley, Selwyn Smith Beattie celebrated his 60th anniversary as a Freemason on 1st November 2022.

The commemorative Certificate was presented by the Provincial Grand Master, John Paul Thompson and at the festive board which followed Selwyn received a gift of a special whisky and glasses.

As well as holding Grand Rank for 30 of his 60 year’s service, Selwyn holds grand rank in the Royal Arch Chapter and most of the Progressive Orders including Mark, RAM, KT, KM, RCC, OSM, SC, AMD and KBHC with the highest in the Royal and Select Masters as the first District Grand Master of Durham for a period of AAA14 years from 1997 to 2011 and became a member of the Ninth Arch in 2016.

In the unavoidable absence of the current District Grand Master Michael Graham the Royal and Select Masters were represented by the District Principal Conductor of the Work, Bryan Kennedy; Red Cross of Constantine and Scarlet Cord represented by the Deputy Intendant General and Deputy Provincial Grand Summus Gary D Taylor while Knights Templar by the Provincial Sub Prior John D Watts also present as craft Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the North West Durham area.

Selwyn is a skilled banner maker with his handiwork not only evident in his mother lodge but on many other unit and provincial banners throughout the region.

In his response to a generous toast at the festive board Selwyn thanked everyone for the support he’s received and that he is looking forward to receiving his 60th certificate presentation from Mark Masonry in only 6 years time and thereafter, the many other Progressive Orders which have given him so much pleasure.

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Royal Arch Membership and Communications Working Party | Durham Freemasons

How can we ensure the Royal Arch thrives in these challenging times?

Supreme Grand Chapter is proud to announce the new Royal Arch Membership and Communications Working Party – a team set up to help develop the Royal Arch as it moves into its third century!

Read more about this fascinating new development here

You can help too. Speak to the Royal Arch representative in your lodge and share your views on what makes it so special!

#Freemasons #RoyalArch

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Bernard Gilpin Chapter Centenary | Durham Freemasons

Tuesday 4th October 2022 saw the companions of Bernard Gilpin Chapter, who meet at the masonic hall in Hetton-le-Hole, celebrate 100 years of Royal Arch Masonry.  The chapter received a team visit by the Grand Superintendent John Thompson and a Deputation of Provincial Officers. E Comp Ron Smith delivered a very detailed and informative talk on Bernard Gilpin “the Man and the Chapter” which was well received by everyone. At the Festive board the companions each received a plaque, lapel pin badge as well as a booklet on Bernard Gilpin “the man and the Royal Arch Chapter”. A great night was enjoyed by all and a fitting way to celebrate Bernard Gilpin’s contribution to the community and the chapter.

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Harte Chapter Centenary Celebrations | Durham Freemasons

Monday the 26th of September was a night of special celebration for the members & visitors of Harte Chapter 4217, who meet at the Masonic Hall at Raby Road in Hartlepool.  A lot of preparation had been invested in advance by a number of companions to make sure everything was in place to celebrate Harte Chapter centenary, having been founded in 1922.

John Thompson, Grand Superintendent, welcomed the Provincial Team (led by David Hanson, Second Provincial Grand Principal) in his capacity of Zerubbabel of Harte Chapter.  The companions were treated to a rich & detailed history of Harte Chapter that was prepared & delivered by Darren Bethell, Scribe Ezra, where appreciation was shown by all companions in a manner usual among Royal Arch Masons.

Companion David Kirwan took the floor & presented John with a trophy for the centenary of Harte Chapter.  The trophy being very detailed demonstrated that a lot of time & effort had been put in by David to craft it by his own hands.  David explained that he had joined Harte Chapter as a joining member where he was warmly welcomed by the members, which he very much appreciated.  David has never found the opportunity progress in office due to busy work commitments but has enjoyed every minute of being a member & wanted to give something to the chapter as a thank you & also something that can be looked after & displayed for many years ahead.  John commented on how wonderful he thought the trophy was & thanked David for his kind gift.  David also pointed out that there is a secret door on the back of the trophy.

A facsimile of the centenary charter was read out by Tom Gittins, Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra, who advised that the official charter is delayed due to a shortage of materials.  Tom also advised the companions that he is sure that the Grand Superintendent would be happy to visit in the future to officially present it when it arrives.  David Hanson presented the facsimile to John on behalf of the Province.

John presented David Hanson with two cheques from Harte Chapter; one for £100 towards Durham Benevolence & the other also for £100 towards TLC teddies.  David thanked John & the members of Harte Chapter for their kind generosity.

After the business was concluded upstairs the companions enjoyed a fantastic festive board & each others company downstairs as well as a raffle with many prizes.  The raffle raised the grand sum of £561.75!

Click Here For Lodge History

We are Stronger Together

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