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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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Triple Celebration | Durham Freemasons

On Wed. 14 September the Lodge once again opened its doors to welcome a Provincial Deputation, members and visitors to celebrate the Centennial celebration of the founding of the Lodge.

Attending was the Provincial Grand Master, John Paul Thompson, with his Deputation of fourteen Officers, twelve Officers of the United Grand Lodge of England, 28 Members of the Lodge and 28 visitors.

“The Willington Lodge 4028” was consecrated on 14 th April 1920 at Durham Masonic Hall by the Provincial Grand Master, The Right Honourable The Lord Ravensworth and Bishop Weldon, the Dean of Durham. At first the Lodge met in St. Stephen’s Parish Hall and in 1932 purchased the Albert Hall building and 2 shops for the total cost of £720. The Lodge has remained here having undergone various alterations and upgrades.

Since founding there have been 538 members, 97 different Worshipful Masters with three of whom having served for two years.

The Lodge was opened, and its first business was for the Provincial Canon, Julian Ward, to consecrate a new Lodge Banner and a new Lodge Bible. The Banner, having been presented by Billy Archer was created by Mrs Angela Hall and the Bible was presented by Bill Wyllie, the two brethren celebrating 50 years in Freemasonry.

John Thomson then sat with the two recipients and chatted about their personal lives and their history in Freemasonry.   William (Billy) Archer was born and lived in Hunwick. He was apprenticed as a joiner and went on to establish his business as a builder. He has three children although his wife, Pat is sadly deceased.

William Thompson Archer (Billy) joined Willington Lodge in 1971 and very quickly began to take an active part in the work of the Lodge. He took the Chair in 1985 and became DC in 1998, the year, that his son Phillip took the Chair. He is still active in the Lodge and was a founding Member of the Weardale Lodge of Installed Masters.

He was promoted to Acting Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works in 1994 and was promoted to Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 1999

In Willington Chapter he took the chair in 1990 and was promoted to the Provincial rank of Past Provincial Grand Scribe N in 1995.

William Henry Wyllie (Bill) was born in Willington and studied at Durham University for a degree in Philosophy and Politics. He went from there and Joined the British Army and was commissioned   serving for 17 years. During his career he has visited or lived in 46 countries working in the field of Intelligence, the Dubai police , and various consultancy positions including Chief Security Advisor to Baron George of St. Trudy the then Governor of the Bank of England .He is Chairman of Emeritus of the Security Institute and clearly has a busy retirement. This career clearly made it difficult to follow a Masonic career or attend his Lodge and for 49 years he has submitted his apologies. He has been Senior Deacon in 6 Lodges and currently is Junior Warden in Zetland Lodge 537 in the Province of Cheshire.  He is a member of Centenarian Chapter. is First Assistant Sojourner. He is also Junior Warden of St. Hilary Mark Lodge and has held various positions in the Rose Croix.

Bill is married and lives in the Wirral with his wife Annette and between them they have 5 children.

On conclusion both recipients were presented with a certificate by John the Provincial Grand Master

This was followed by Geoff Dunn reading out the first minutes of the Lodge and with the Provincial Secretary, Tom Gittens reading out the Warrant of the Lodge.

Each member of the Lodge then received their Centennial Jewel, which may only be worn by members of the Lodge and the Lodge presented John with a cheque for £500 for Durham benevolence, which as John stated,” Is our Charity”.

Everyone then retired to the festive Board where a very enjoyable meal was presented and all diners were able to use the commemorative Linen serviettes, again made by Mrs. Angela Hall.

Both recipients were then invited to say a few words. Billy Archer responded by saying “There was a very strong bond in the Lodge of friendship and companionship” and Bill Wyllie said that “He had forgotten how beautiful the Lodge was”, and reminded all present that,” The Willington Lodge was his Lodge”.

In his closing remarks John drew our attention that the history of Lodge was part of our Provincial history, and we should attempt to make Freemasonry appealing and attractive to the members.

The evening closing many Brethren remained to chat and enjoy the companionship and friendship which we have all missed due to the Pandemic

More pics here

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London Calling | Durham Freemasons

What a fabulous turnout of Durham brethren who supported the Provincial Grand Master in attending United Grand Lodge of England, Great Queen Street, London to witness the Installation of a new Pro Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master and Assistant Grand Master.

The mass exodus of  Durham Freemasons to the Capital City was of course tinged with sadness as London was full to the brim with people paying their last respects to Queen Elizabeth II who was lying in state at Westminster Hall in the Palace of Westminster.

The meeting in Grand Lodge was a spectacle to see and was performed with meticulous attention to detail and for many brethren who had never attended this magnificent Lodge , it will leave a lasting impression on their minds.

At the conclusion of the meeting the Durham brethren made their way to Covent Garden to dine at St Martin’s House Restaurant which had been booked weeks beforehand and this proved to be a wise choice of venue. The meal was first class and matched by the quality of service of the staff. The Provincial Grand Master concluded by paying respect to our late Queen Elizabeth II and finally toasting the King and the Craft.

Click here for more photos

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55 Years for the Grand Master – A Concert Celebration | Durham Freemasons

HRH The Duke of Kent, KG was Installed as Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England on 27 June 1967 at the Royal Albert Hall, during the special 250th Anniversary Meeting of Grand Lodge held on that day.

Brethren under the United Grand Lodge of England, together with their wives, partners, family and friends, are invited to a celebration of His Royal Highness’s 55 years as our Grand Master at a concert in the Grand Temple on the evening of Tuesday, 18th October. The invitation is also being extended on a similar basis to members of other organisations of which His Royal Highness is President or Patron.

The concert will feature a wide selection of musicians ranging from those still at one of the Music Conservatoires, (including Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, of which His Royal Highness is Patron); those establishing themselves in the early years of their careers as performers and those at the peak of their careers, such as Rick Wakeman and Christopher Stokes, the Grand Organist.

The concert will feature music by Coates, Fauré, Debussy and Mendelssohn (His Royal Highness is Patron of the UK Friends of the Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Foundation) amongst others. The second half will consist of a performance of Saint Saëns’ “Carnival of the Animals”, featuring specially-written verses linked to each featured animal being read by senior Freemasons well-known to us all.

Starting at 19:00, the concert is expected to be over by 21:15, although the bar/café area will be open until 22:00 for those that wish to stay. Brethren will note that the concert will not be a Masonic meeting and formal dress is not required, but in the presence of the Grand Master those attending will wish to be smartly dressed.

An exhibition of material associated with the celebration will be shown in the Library and Museum and will be open later than normal, until the start of the concert.

The concert will be free to attend and is expected to be heavily subscribed, so an early response is recommended. The link for tickets is given here for your information.

Register for tickets.

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