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A Wonderful Evening Spent Celebrating Denny’s 50 years | Durham Freemasons

The Provincial Grand Master, John Paul Thompson along with the Deputy Provincial Master, Michael Graham, two Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, Andrew Moule and John Watts, along with a Provincial Deputation attended Palatine Lodge at Wearside Masonic Hall in Sunderland.

The reason for this visit was to ‘Mark’ a very special occasion for 50 years of Freemasonry for Denovan “Denny” Keith Wilson.

To help celebrate his achievement, many distinguished brethren, heads of Orders, friends and in addition for the Mark, the Deputy Grand Master, Francis Spencer attented. With 130 in the Lodge room, additional seats were required to accommodate the huge numbers for the evening.

After the Lodge being opened, Denny gave an illustrated talk on Palatines’ Lodge Warrant, which is the first ever issued by Premier Grand Lodge, and by extension the United Grand Lodge of England, being dated 14th January 1757.

It was then the turn for the most important part of the evening, two chairs were sited just in front of the pedestal in a ‘Parkinson’ style layout. John Thompson then discussed Denny’s 50 years of membership with him, after which the Deputy Provincial Secretary, Mike Davies was then called to read out the long service award.

After the Lodge was closed and the Deputation had paraded out, over 100 brethren then retired for to dine. They were greeted by a string quartet playing throughout, an excellent five course meal and a huge raffle to benefit the charity of Denny Wilson’s choice. This was certainly going to be a night to remember.

John Thompson responded to his toast, again by thanking Denny for his 50 years service to this Province and highlighting the importance of the connection between Craft and Mark freemasonry.

A thoughtful and insightful response from Denny in his reply to his toast so typical of him, given in a most eloquent way. ‘’Thank you to all at Palatine Lodge and Province for making the arrangements for what turned out to be a great night for all and one that will linger in our memories’’.

In addition to a unique presentation of the Lodge number in pounds for Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham charity. The Chairman of Durham Benevolence and Durham 2029 MBF Festival, John Watts, was very grateful when each benefited 50% of the over £500 raised by the raffle that evening.

Such a wonderful occasion to celebrate 50 years of service to Craft Freemasonry, for a true and respected gentleman that is “Denny” Keith Wilson.

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New Learning and Development Initiative | Durham Freemasons

The Provincial Grand Master is pleased to announce the launch of a new Learning and Development initiative.

David Hay, the Provincial Learning and Development Officer, together with David Frew, Head of Learning and Development for the Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge, have worked closely to provide a series of masonic “Nuggets”, sometimes known as “Solomon Shorts”. These are short but fascinating pieces of masonic information which can be inserted into a ceremony easily to entertain and inform Brethren, without detriment to the length or quality of ritual.

When delivered properly, they always prove to be a genuine enhancement to a masonic evening. Each “Nugget” is derived from UGLE’s Solomon, can be printed on simple cue-cards, and each takes about a minute to deliver.

For example, have you ever wondered what the four tassels at the corners of a lodge floor or carpet mean? Do you know why a Candidate strikes the shoulder of the Wardens before the Wardens speak during the initiation ceremony?

A team of Provincial Grand Stewards, under the direction of David Frew, has been formed to deliver these “Nuggets” on request by lodges. In due course, it is hoped and intended that new members will wish to deliver them on their own within their own lodges, thereby encouraging their engagement, building their confidence , and enlarging the scope of their masonic knowledge.

If you would like to learn more about this new initiative, or to invite one of the Provincial Stewards to come to your lodge to deliver some “Nuggets”

Please contact: David Frew, Provincial Grand Steward at


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The Ceremony of the Veils | Durham Freemasons

On 8 th March 2023 Norman Royal Arch Chapter hosted a presentation of ‘The Ceremony of the Veils’. The lodge members, along with 51 guests packed the Temple in Durham Masonic Hall to be intrigued and enthralled by the presentation of this ancient ceremony by The Provincial Grand Chapter of Durham and the Companions of Norman Chapter.

Following a review by Supreme Grand Chapter back in 1834, this ancient ceremony was stopped and is seldom seen in English Chapters. Therefore consequently, it is no longer regularly practiced outside the Province of Bristol. The Ceremony of the Veils used to be a preliminary to the Exaltation and an integral part of the Royal Arch ceremony but can now only be practiced annually by a Province.

Michael Shaw and David Hanson led the evening and were accompanied by The Deputy Grand Superintendent of Yorkshire North and East Ridings Patrick Gambage.

The ceremony performed on the evening is very much part of the Royal Arch system in Ireland, the United States of America and in Scotland where it is known as the Excellent Master Degree. Early descriptions state that the ceremony took place in a room adjacent to the Chapter Room to seek admission.

At the time that the passing the Veils ceremony was in use in England the qualification for admission to the Royal Arch was that of being an Installed Master in the Craft. At the beginning of the ceremony the 4 veils are closed, and the candidate is challenged, between veils, before the opening of the next veil for a masonic sign and password. If successful, the candidate progresses through the first 3 Veils with the Principal Sojourner and is shown various artifacts on the way. During the progression, portions of holy scripture are read aloud by the Chapter Reader. In this ceremony, the final white veil is drawn back to reveal to the success full candidate the Chapter room as we would expect it to be today.

At the festive board Michael Shaw informed those present that he hopes The Province of Durham will be able to perform this interesting Ceremony again soon.

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Durham Commemorating The 1723 Constitutions | Durham Freemasons

Durham Freemasons enjoy  fantastic day at the United Grand Lodge of England  Especial meeting to commemorate the Tercentenary of the ‘Andersons Constitutions,’  published in 1723.

The 1723 Constitutions are a radical statement of Enlightenment-era beliefs.

At the meeting, a video was shown to the 1600 attendees, depicting a re-enactment of the events 300 years a leading to the publication of our  1723 Constitutions.

Watch the video on the UGLE YouTube channel here:

Dr Ric Berman then gave a presentation on the importance of the 1723 constitutions, followed by as a quite inspirational oration from W Bro Akram R. Elias  Provincial Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, and Prestonian Lecturer 2023 whose paper is entitled:

‘The 1723 Constitutions: The Indispensable Trowel; Cementing America’s Foundations’.

To Learn more about the 1723 Constitutions go to the dedicated Webpage here:

#InventingTheFuture #Freemasons #18thCentury #BritishHistory #FreeMuseumLondon #Freedom #Durhamfreemasons #Strongertogether

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University Scheme in Full Swing | Durham Freemasons

The Assistant Provincial Grand Master Clinton Leeks paid a visit to Porta Episcopi Lodge in Freemasons Hall, Great Queen Street, London just before Christmas last year to witness an incredibly special event, 3” alumni” of Universities Lodge in the province of Durham were installed/invested as the 3 principal officers of the Lodge.

Louis Richardson who was initiated into Universities Lodge in 2013 was installed as the Master. Louis then invested Andrew Lloyd, initiated in 2014 as his Senior Warden and George Jackson, initiated in 2017 as his Junior Warden. All 3 were former University of Durham students and are a testament to the success of the scheme, set up by the United Grand Lodge of England.

This is a terrific example of how University students who participate in the scheme can continue their masonic journey in the future and at a new location, retaining interest and the connections made during their studies.

The photos show Louis, Andrew, and George in one, and Louis with his grandfather in the other.

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The Ugle Strategy 2022 and Beyond. | Durham Freemasons

The Quarterly Communication in December was the launch of the UGLE strategy 2022 and beyond. The Pro Grand Master Jonathan Spence pleased explained it has been something of a journey for the Strategy Working Group in formulating and designing the Strategy for Freemasonry, 2022 and beyond. Its purpose is clear: to ensure that Freemasonry under the United Grand Lodge of England continues to thrive and to strengthen it for the future.

This journey has not been one undertaken by the Strategy Working Group in isolation. There have been presentations to all Metropolitan, District and Provincial Grand Masters and Grand Superintendents and we have benefitted from their advice and recommendations, many of which have been incorporated into the strategy being launched today.

Our Very own ProvGM John Thompson was invited to take part in a panel discussion and his comments and that of the fellow contributors can been see Here:

John Commented “ We all want our organisation to thrive especially here in Durham, our Executive will be launching our regional strategy in the coming weeks”.

The pro Grand Master full address is here

Pro Grand Master’s address – Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge – December 2022 | United Grand Lodge of England (

Photo left to right: Adrian March ( Grand Secretary ) Henry Cunnington,  Ben Gait, Brody Swain, John Paul Thompson.

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On This Day In History two Grand Lodges in England united | Durham Freemasons

On this day, in 1813, the two Grand Lodges in England united to form the @UnitedGrandLodgeofEngland.

After nearly 63 years, the two Grand Lodges in England united on 27 December 1813 to form the United Grand Lodge of England. This union led to a great deal of standardisation of ritual, procedures, and regalia.

Operating under the core values of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth – now expressed in the guiding principles of Integrity, Respect, Friendship and Charity – English Freemasonry attracted people from all walks of life and spread around the globe. In the times before a welfare state, it created charities to look after the wellbeing of members and their families, but over time it has evolved into a major supporter of charities and causes beyond Freemasonry throughout local communities across the country.

Stronger Together


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“Peter Stracey House” 30 years on | Durham Freemasons

On Thursday 24 th November 2022, the Chairman of Durham Benevolence, John D Watts accompanied by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Michael Graham and members of the Durham Benevolence General Purposes Committee joined with the residents of Peter Stracey House to celebrate 30 years since its opening.

In 1992 the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham was honored by a visit of a Royal personage when the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, KG, formally opened Peter Stracey House, situated in Fulwell Sunderland.

It was the first sheltered accommodation owned and managed by Durham Benevolence on behalf of the Freemasons of the Province of Durham.

The building is named after former Durham Freemason Peter Stracey who was born in 1918 and died in 2011 age 93. Peter was honored in many ways, holding the rank of Past Grand Sword Bearer in the United Grand Lodge of England. His greatest achievement was masterminding the project which resulted in the development of Peter Stracey house which on completion cost some 4 million pounds.

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Gateshead Fell Celebrate | Durham Freemasons

On Tuesday 15th November the members of Gateshead Fell Lodge gathered at the Masonic Centre, Alexandra Rd, Gateshead to celebrate their 100th Anniversary. An event of such importance was recognized with a full Provincial Team visit led by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Michael Graham. Over 70 brethren were in attendance.

Neil Walker delivered a concise history of the lodge, explaining how the years immediately after the First World War saw enormous social change in the United Kingdom as communities in towns such as Gateshead on Tyne tried to recover from the upheaval and loss caused by 4 years of war and destruction.

Freemasonry experienced a surge of interest in the post-war years as men looked to re-create that sense of camaraderie and brotherhood they had found in the armed forces. In the years 1919 to 1921 18 new lodges were consecrated in the Province of Durham. By 1st January 1922 4 more Lodges had been granted Warrants awaiting their consecration. One of the 4 was Gateshead Fell Lodge No.4349, whose Warrant was granted on 7th September 1921. Gateshead Fell was one of six Lodges whose Warrants were granted on the same day, whose numbers were 4345 to 4360 inclusive and all in the Province of Durham.

The Lodge was consecrated on Saturday, 3rd June 1922 at 2:00pm at the Industry Masonic Hall, Jackson Street, by the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master the Right Hon., The Lord Ravensworth. There was twenty founder members of the Lodge, 8 from Shipcote Lodge, 6 from Saltwell Lodge, 3 from Borough Lodge and 3 from St. Peter’s Lodge in the Province of Northumberland. The first Master of the Lodge was James Scott a Past Master of Shipcote Lodge. The initial fees were a Founders’ Fee of 2 guineas (£350) and an Annual Subscription of 3 guineas (£525). In 1922 a decent weekly wage was around 40 shillings (£2) per week, so founding a new Lodge was not an inexpensive undertaking.

Throughout its 100 years the lodge had the pleasure of admitting an average of just over 3 new members every year, many of them progressed and honoured in various capacities and offices including 2 current members having received Grand Rank and 5 brethren with Acting Provincial Ranks. A further 2 brethren received certificates in recognition of 50 years of continuous membership.

At its peak in the 1950’s Gateshead Fell Lodge had 100 members. Today the membership is a strong 36, under the supervision of the current and most experienced Past Master Trevor Forster Baker. Trevor first took the chair of Gateshead Fell in 1974 serving further terms in ’85, ’99, 09. Trevor was Junior Warden for the 50th and 75th celebrations and had the distinction of being Worshipful Master in the Centenary year, achievements few other brethren can emulate.

To read full history click here:

Lodge proceedings were brought to a close, before which, Mike Davis the Provincial Deputy Secretary read out the Centenary Warrant, which was then presented to the lodge by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, who also presented the brethren of the lodge with their Centenary jewels.

The evenings celebrations concluded at the Festive Board, where the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Michael Graham responding to his toast, expressed his gratitude to the lodge for their planning of this momentous occasion in the lodge’s history. He went on to thank the brethren for the generous donations given in the lodge room earlier of £1,500 to the Freemasons Grand Charity.

The Master Trevor Baker, in the reply to the lodge toast went on to thank the members of Gateshead Fell Lodge for their unequivocal support and the privilege of electing him to serve the lodge as their Master on this, their Centenary celebration year.

The response to the provincial toast was given by Jamie Matthew Rielly, the Provincial Junior Warden who proposed a toast to Gateshead Fell Lodge in recognition of the Lodges achievement, thanking the members for the warmth of the welcome shown to the team.

The raffle with 20 fabulous prizes raised over £500 and the first number drawn out by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master was claimed by his father, Michael Graham Senior who was part of the Provincial Team in the capacity of Comms Officer. Lighthearted whispers of “it’s a fiddle” echoed around the room.

More photos on Flickr here

A most enjoyable and memorable evening was had by all.

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Freemasons’ annual report reveals 50% increase in membership enquiries | Durham Freemasons

The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) has launched its 2021 annual report, which shows an increase in the number of membership enquiries from 12,000 in 2020 to 18,000 in 2021, reflecting its commitment to modernisation and transparency.

There has also been a significant increase in the number of visitors to the UGLE website, up from 65,000 in 2020 to 83,000 in 2021, representing a rise of almost 30%.

In 2021, UGLE launched its first National Digital Marketing Campaign (NDMC). The campaign aimed to modernise communication channels with the public and send a clear message about the world of Freemasonry and what being a member has to offer.

Results from the campaign have already started to be seen. Currently, UGLE has a waiting list of 6,000 people expecting to become members, while more than 8,800 membership enquiries were received in less than three months (78% higher than the initial target). Recent research also showed that one in four people would consider joining the Freemasons today, compared to just one in ten when the same survey was conducted in 2018.

HRH The Duke of Kent, Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, said: “Freemasonry has had a profound effect on its members, drawing people together and celebrating the very best of humanity. I am enormously proud of the efforts of our organisation and its members. I hope that, having read this report, you will agree that we are a unique institution and, more than that, a real force for good in society.”

The annual report also highlights that Freemasons were busier than ever in 2021 in their local communities, looking after and supporting the vulnerable. They donated three million soft-toys for Teddies for Loving Care, while more than 33,000 adult, young and parent carers were supported by a donation of more than £715,000 from Freemasons. The funds helped to provide crisis support, guidance, advice and information.

Elsewhere, Freemasons donated more than £550,000 to help individuals experiencing mental health issues across the UK.

The Armed Forces and Freemasonry have always been inextricably linked, so this combined and illustrious history made the signing of the Armed Forces Covenant a perfect fit for the UGLE and its Provinces. The signing took place during an event at Freemasons’ Hall in October 2021 and demonstrated the UGLE’s support for members of the Armed Forces in several areas, including education, family wellbeing, getting a home, starting a new career, access to healthcare, financial assistance and discounted services.

Looking forward, the annual report also gives a glimpse of the UGLE’s new seven-year strategy known as the Strategic Roadmap. The project is being led by Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence and his strategic team. Mr Spence is currently travelling to present the roadmap in greater detail to each region.

The strategy aims to ensure the UGLE is a thriving organisation that members enjoy and are proud of being part of, and which positively impacts communities and supports wider society.

Regarding the Strategic Roadmap, Mr Spence said: “Sustainability of membership is not just concerned with securing new members from across all age groups and backgrounds, but also about motivating and engaging our current membership.”

In 2023, Freemasons will celebrate the 300-year anniversary of the publication in London of The Constitutions of the Freemasons – known as the 1723 Constitutions – which would set a pattern for Freemasonry throughout the world. Understanding their context helps to explain the origins of modern Freemasonry and shed light on the relationship between Freemasonry and society today.

Freemasonry is a unique members’ organisation that has thrived for more than 300 years. Having no political or religious affiliations, we comprise members of all ages, races, religions, cultures and backgrounds. Freemasons gather in their individual Lodges throughout the country, where they have ceremonial traditions that encourage members to be more tolerant and respectful, and actively fulfil civic and charitable responsibilities. They also make time to eat, drink and meet together, often forming lifelong friendships.

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