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2023

Wednesday 20th December 2023:

 Kingston Chapter 1010

 Christmas Meeting

The KIngston Chapter Convocation at Beverley Road was well attended by contemporary standards; Companions from the Chapter of St Michael 7833, Hull Old Grammarians' 5129, Wyke Millennium 9696 and others were there, and the mood was amicable; as one of the Principals I was nervous as there was to be a discussion about the future of the Chapter, and I have no doubt this concern was shared by E Comps Neil Armstrong (MEZ) and Richard Bate (H). I was also nervous about the first part of the meeting; I'd been working hard on Neil's illustrated presentation, which required five distinct voice changes for the characters portrayed - but I'm getting ahead of myself, as usual.

 

Neil, Richard and I were urgently summoned by the Director of Ceremonies in a convenient room adjoining the Lodge a few minutes before the meeting convened. He had not been entirely happy, he informed us, at our entry at the last meeting, and wanted us to smarten up. He rehearsed us carefully, making us repeat the moves until a decent rhythm was established without any hesitation, then, while we were still going through the process in our heads, announced our arrival and ushered us into the Chapter, calling the Companions to order with great authority.

 

He had been correct, of course. Without a second's pause or hesitation, we filed in, arranged ourselves with geometric precision and were into the opening prayer. The symbolic sharing of the word was choreographed to a nicety and the dignified advance around the banners elegantly managed. Even the lifting of the sceptres was dignified and coordinated. I, for one, gave a silent sigh of relief and sent telepathic thanks to E Comp Watkinson for having created order out of chaos in so timely a manner as we took our places and Neil bid the Companions be seated.

 

Neil opened the Chapter without fuss, and a report announced that E Comp Steve Waudby, DC to the Representative requested admission. On entry, he informed the Companions that the Representative of the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent, E Comp Garry Sunley PGStB required entry. An escort was formed, and E Comp Sunley entered.

 

October's minutes were confirmed and signed (Mike Price, the Scribe E, exercises a similar puntiliousness to the paperwork as the DC enforces with the Companions) and then the MEZ announced the next item: "To receive an illustrated presentation, entitled Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol with a Masonic Twist, narrated by MEZ and J."

 

Neil had been working for some months on this presentation, which takes Dickens' familiar tale and looks at those aspects which might strike a chord with Freemasons - especially in the Third Degree. He had deftly interwoven the events of Victorian Hull into his narrative, superbly illustrated on Power Point (operated by Comp Gary Crossland, 1st Asst Soj) while Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge, Jacob Marley and the Spirits made their appearances in interleaved recitations of the author's text. 

 

Neil and I had rehearsed, of course, editing the presentation until it was a suitable length; Gary had followed the script (and its frequent changes during rehearsals) to change the pictures at precisely the right points (sometimes mid-sentence) and it all came together nicely. From the initial "Bah Humbug!" to Tiny Tim's words at the end it was better than I had expected. Knowing how much time and effort Neil had put into this - not only the research, the illustrations and the writing of the script, but the frequent amendments, erasures and inclusions that certainly enhanced my background knowledge as Neil spoke of notable benefactors in the City of Hull in the Victorian era, I felt proud to have worked with him on this. 

 

It went down well, and many of the Companions said afterwards how they'd enjoyed it. E Comp Derek Broderick, familiar with all known TV productions of "A Christmas Carol" and the intention of watching some of them again this Christmas, was silently reciting some of the text from memory as Marley pointed the ponderous chain Scrooge had forged for himself. "No pressure," I said to myself, adjusting my nightcap carefully.

 

Back in regalia, sceptre neatly cradled, I listened in admiration as Scribe E outlined the outcome of his survey following last month's meeting.  The Agenda item: As doing nothing is not a viable longer term option and there is no appetite for surrendering the Chapter's Warrant, the Chapter pursues all available options for recruitment whilst probing joint action with other Chapters placed similarly and ascertains the process for amalgamation should that prove necessary" was dealt with without any issues. We were somewhat closer to a solution, it now being ascertained that some who had hitherto expressed an interest had withdrawn, but there were other Chapters still keen to look at potential solutions, and it was now apparant what was not viable, usefully limiting the way ahead. E Comp Ramshawe wisely pointed out that a time factor be included in the eventual proposition. There were comodious comments from interested parties representing Sister Chapters. Watch this space.

 

The Chapter was closed and the Companions went to the dining room: E Comp Morgan had organised place settings - with Christmas crackers, and after a brief delay (E. Comp Steve Waudby, on call, sorted out a helicopter computer crisis using his laptop and prevented a major medical emergency without even breaking into a sweat) we all enjoyed Luke's superb cooking. E Comp Sunley spoke of the availability of electronic communications from the Province and urged the Luddites amongst us to be brave and go online. E Comp David Terry on behalf of the visitors remarked he'd witnessed a Dickens of a performance and commended Neil on his research.

 

I was tired when I arrived home, and delayed this report until the next day. One more performance this year, I noticed - the Lodge of St Michael 7833, to which I'd been asked to bring The Twelve Days of Christmas. As this will be the final performance of Five Gold Rings I'm looking forward to it.

 

[Photograph of E Comps R F Bate, Garry Sunley, Neil Armstrong and Eddie Wildman by E Comp M H Watkinson.]

 

Eddie Wildman, J.

 

 

Tuesday 19th December 2023:

 St Matthew Lodge Christmas meeting

 by Eddie

Bro Craig Morrison remarked as he drove us back from Barton-on-Humber that for a Lodge such a short distance away, there were substantial differences in ritual, and not just in the ritual alone. "I never realised how mnuch time is actually spent in perambulation," he said.

 

Currently the SD in Humber Lodge, he was particularly interested in seeing the Second Degree Ceremony, as the Senior Deacon does most of the work conducting the Candidate round the Lodge. (Humber Lodge will be having a Second Degree ceremony soon). In St Matthew Lodge 1447 Bro J McCague did a super job, particularly as the Candidate, Bro Edward Plazuik had a knee injury which rendered movement around the Lodge Room somewhat challenging, but he bravely persevered.

 

This was the first ceremony undertaken by the new WM, W Bro C B Allison following his installation and there was a lot of business to get through. Consequently the meeting began at six o' clock, not half an hour later - it was lucky we'd set off early to avoid rush hour. The Humber WM, Alan Todd was attending, and Craig and I were supporting him, but when the Barton Brethren heard I was coming, I was asked if I'd play the organ as well.

 

No problem - I checked the blog from 17th October (below) for the music they used and made sure I had it with me - plus some Christmas carols, of course.

 

The opening was fluent, Bro Plazuik was entrusted with the PW and grip for the 2° before retiring for preparation, and the Lodge opened on the Square. On re-entry Bro Plazuik was passed from being an Entered Apprentice to a Fellow Craft Freemason. The WM gave the obligation, and ritual differences from Humber working observed in the signs and secrets. I was fascinated by the careful explanation of the difference between the sign of fidelity and the sign of reverence, and the name "sign of petition" was new to me. The SW, Bro Nick Lumb invested the Candidate with the distinctive two rosette badge of a FCF, the Address at the SEC delivered after which the strong moral lesson of the 2° Working Tools was dilated upon by the WM.

 

As Bro Plazuik restored himself to his usual comforts, the Almoner, Bro Muse gave his report and the Charity Steward  proposed the disposition of funds from the Ladies Night to the WM's Charities.

 

On Bro Plazuik's return, Bro Muse delivered the Second Degree Charge - a challenging piece of ritual, managed with clarity and aplomb.

 

Back in the Ist Degree there was a successful ballot for two Candidates: next month will be a 1° ceremony.

 

W Bro Metcalfe PGStB presented a UGLE certificate to Bro S Dimbleby in an expert manner, in which the ritual became virtually conversational, easy listening yet at the same time compelling.

 

The Lodge was closed and the Brethren descended to the dining room for the Festive Board.

 

The meal was lamb - a pleasant surprise. I played "Good King Wenceslas" following the Lodge tradition while the Tyler, Bro M G Read PProvJGD paraded in a flaming Christmas pudding. Surprisingly, the dessert was Crumble, not Christmas pud. I asked the Tyler about this afterwards. "It's a tradition." he said, smiling, "It's still the same Christmas pudding we used twenty years ago." (I think he was joking.)

 

The cheese tradition (dating from the war years when Masonic Farmers had access to extra dairy products) required those Brethren who wanted cheese to go and ask for it from the Master. Craig and I went just for the novelty.

 

Bro Nick Lumb as SW proposed the visitors toast, and W Bro Gary Payne as one of the nine visitors responded. I had been pleased to stand with W Bro Todd and Craig to greet the WM as a member of Humber 57, with W Bro Simon Ramshaw and Bro Carl Procter as a member of Kingston 1010 and with W Bro Martin Clarke of the Ridings Tabler's Lodge 9586. I also gave  greetings as a member of Phoenix 9963. 

 

W Bro Dougie Farr led the singing in a couple of carols and "Jingle Bells", the Humber Brethren totally failed in winning the raffle, and it was time to return to the North Bank, reflecting that despite the many differences, the spirit of Freemasonry was as strong over the water as it was back home. Vive la difference.

 

Craig dropped me off home, (he has a great fund of stories and I'll tell you about those some other time) and we bade each other farewell, with "Merry Christmas" and "Happy New Year" on our lips. That reminded me - tomorrow Neil and I would be performing "Bah, humbug!" for Kingston Chapter. Better start learning my lines!

 

Eddie Wildman, visiting organist.

 

  

Wednesday 13th December 2023:

 Denison Chapter Installation

by Eddie Wildman, Rep.

Rain spattered the windscreen as we travelled to Scarborough; it was a cold, dank, dismal day and the light started to fade as Excellent Companion Craig Maurier drove along Beverley Road. I don't like night driving at the best of times, and on this gloomy afternoon, the lights of the queing cars ahead reflecting on the wet roads, it looked as though the trip to the North Yorkshire seaside town was going to be tedious. Fortunately, Craig was behind the wheel. Mr Google, monitoring the traffic flow kept revising our estimated arrival time - I was glad we'd set off early.

We were lucky with parking, finding a space on St Nicholas Cliff. The Grand Hotel was dramatically illuminated against the cloudy sky, and we hurried into the Masonic Hall opposite, wincing at the drop in temperature between the car and the venue. Other Companions were arriving too - we had half an hour before the Installation meeting of Denison Chapter 1248 at six o' clock, plenty of time to sign in, meet and greet. Craig was my DC; I was representing the Most Excellent Grand Principal. Craig familiarised himself with the Chapter Room - the last time he'd visited it had been as one of the Daggards in the Ancient Ceremony.

It was cold outside, but we were warmly welcomed. There were over a couple of dozen present, from the Denison Chapter 1248, Old Globe Chapter 200 and others, some of them very prestigious Grand Chapter Officers, which made me nervous. The opening, was literally a closed door to me, but I was honoured with an escort of Provincial Officers and took my place next to the MEZ, E Comp John White before the minutes of the last meeting were signed. There was a succesful ballot for a new member.

Consecrated in 1870 when HRH Albert Edward, Prince of Wales was Grand Master, the Chapter was celebrating its 147th installation, under the reign of five successive monarchs. The MEZ, E Comp John White, was well in command. The Third Principal, E Comp Debenham was unwell and had been advised not to attend, but the MEZ succesfully installed E Comp Barry Morrow as First Principal, and Comp Richard Abdy was installed as Third Principal; in the meantime, his place was taken by the Treasurer, E Comp David Grisdale.

E Comp Morrow appointed and invested his Officers for the coming year, and members of the Old Globe Chapter gave the addresses to the Principals, the Officers and the Companions, a nice touch, demonstrating the strong link between the Chapters. The DC, E Comp Tom Tomlinson, a well respected stalwart of the Chapter (and superb ritualist) relinquished his collar to E Comp Jamie Wallis and was invested as Principal Sojourner, a demanding role with which he is undoubtedly already familiar. The Chapter is in the happy position of having more Companions than Excellent Companions, though not all were present at the Installation.

 

The festive board was Vegetable Soup followed by Meat Pie; two courses only, which at 8:30 in the evening is an ample sufficiency - as Craig remarked on the way home "We only eat dessert because it's put in front of us."

I was pleased to pass on the greetings of the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent and to congratulate the Chapter as it moves forward. E Comp Wallis gavelled the toasts on with great facility and we were away just after 9:30.

The clouds had rolled away and the roads were mostly empty as we headed homewards. It was a beautiful clear night, and I persuaded Craig to stop in a layby in the middle of nowhere on the North York Moors. We got out of the car and looked at the sky which was ablaze with stars; I have never before witnessed the heavens as clearly as this in this country. Betelgeuse and Rigel, opposite corners of the Archer's trapezium were seperated by Orion's belt and the 24 light-year wide cloud nebula of the "sword handle" below the first star in Orion's belt (Alnitak) was the brightest I have ever seen it. Craig saw a shooting star (actually a meteor) in the Gemini constallation as we turned away - I missed it as I was still focussed on the south sky.

"It's clear why so many past civilizations have built stories round the stars," mused Craig, starting the car. He has delivered a number of lmasonic ectures on this subject. "When you see them like tonight it is awesome."

I agreed. Some of humanity's finest legends and myths derive from the progression of the night sky. As Freemasons, of course, we should not confuse the worship of Creation with the worship of the Creator, and I pondered on this as our journey continued. I was delighted to see an owl briefly illumated by the headlights as we sped past a copse of trees and turned my mind to the mysteries of Nature and of Science. I felt privileged to belong to a fraternity that values such things. Long may it continue.

I was tired when Craig dropped me off - he of course, would be journeying on over the Humber Bridge, and would get to bed considerably later than me. Thanks, Craig! I collected my tail-coat and case and unlocked my front door. It had been a delightful evening. 

[Photograph: E Comps David Grisdale (Stand in H), Barry Morrow, (MEZ) and Richard Adby (J)]

 Eddie Wildman, Representative

 

Wednesday 6th December 2023

 Congratulations to Bro Gary Crossland the New Worshipful Master of Kingston Lodge 1010.

 

The installation of a new Master is a sincere and significant event in the life of a Lodge. The ceremony is conducted annually to install the new Master into his position as leader of Kingston who is responsible for ensuring that the Lodge runs smoothly and efficiently.

He is the embodiment of the values of Freemasonry and is a shining example of what it means to be a Mason. The officers appointed by the Worshipful Master are equally important, as they play a vital role in the success of the lodge. The Installation ceremony is conducted in a formal setting, with everyone dressed in their best bib and tucker.

As the winter darkness wrapped its cloak over the City centre, it seemed to incite the traffic gremlins to do their worst, resulting in some members to arrive late at the Lodge. Even so, the Installing Master Marcus Whereat got the proceedings off to a prompt start at 5:30pm with the Lodge stalwarts and supportive visitors rallying round to fill the temporary gaps.

Provincial Grand Steward Gary Shores (accompanied by an escort of Provincial Officers) led the Representative of the RW Provincial Grand Master W Bro Ian Syddall into the Lodge room reverberating to the magnificent musical flourish played by Maestro Eddie Wildman. His musical prowess would continue throughout, enhancing the proceedings.

The Master Elect was presented to the Installing Master as a Fellow Craft, and he acknowledged the necessary qualifications for the Master’s Chair read out by Bro Secretary. He undertook a solemn obligation as regards his duties as Master.

W Bro Michael Price undertook the challenging role of Installing Director of Ceremonies with a reassuring presence as he guided the proceedings.

Those below the rank of an Installed Master retired from the Lodge while a Board of Installed Masters was declared, and newly obligated Master Elect Crossland was soundly placed into the Chair, having the honour of now presiding over his Lodge, managing its affairs, and representing Kingston both Masonically and in the local community.

He was heartily congratulated by the Installed Masters present, then the Inner Workings closed allowing the Master Masons to be readmitted including some late arrivals.

The Working Tools were explained by Bro Wayne Walker. The 2o Working Tools were delivered by W Bro Eric Dibnah, followed on by the Working Tools in the 1o presented by Bro Carl Proctor.

The new Worshipful Master (WM) thanked his Installing Officers and Brethren for all their hard work in making it a most unforgettable evening for him.

The remaining business of the Lodge was conducted with a pleasing demeanour by the new WM. Then it was time for him to have a quick breather as W Bro Mike Price sang the Masonic Anthem.

As is customary, we sat down at the Festive Board to full Christmas fare, expertly prepared by Chef Luke Pyrah and his team, they well deserved the warm acclamation given by the Brethren. Even the heartiest trencher was sated, as witnessed by the number of waistcoat buttons being undone!

W Bro Syddall remarked in his response that although Kingston Lodge was small in number, he and his DC had received a warm welcome and that it was indeed a friendly Lodge.

The various toasts followed, congratulating WM Crossland on his Installation, and wishing him a successful and rewarding year as the Worshipful Master of Kingston Lodge.

the Immediate Past Master, Marcus Whereat was also thanked for his admirable service and dedication to the Lodge during a difficult and challenging year, both commending him for his accomplishments, and for his continued support as a Past Master.

As the glasses clinked for the final toast (just before 10pm), the importance of brotherhood filled the room, that harmony of fellowship shone as bright as the lights on the Lodge Christmas tree.

Our new Master remarked to me as we were putting the Lodge silverware away, ‘I’ve had a most memorable and enjoyable night.’

A job well done I thought, Congratulations everyone!

[Photographs: Gary Shores, Ian Syddall and Gary Crossland; Gary Crossland and Marcus Whereat.]

 Neil Armstrong, Secretary

 

 

Monday 4th December 2023:

Humber Installed Masters Christmas Lodge 

Worshipful Brother Philip Harry Daniels PPSGW, Worshipful Master opened this eminent 130 year-old Lodge with dignity and authority; noticing that the regular Senior Deacon was not in attendance, he asked that the post might be filled before proceeding and the Right Worshipful Past Provincial Grand Master, W Bro Jeffrey Gillyon meekly left his place on the dais and donned the appropriate collar. Salutations were extended to him and to the Very Worshipful Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Jonathon Mark Mitchell Smith, and to the plethora of UGLE Officers; there was a healthy turn-out on this dank evening, and many of the Brethren had brought their wives who would join them in the Lodge Room at the close of the meeting.

 The main business was the declaration of W Bro William Glanville as Master Elect and other officers and was conducted with the careful business management one would expect from the Chairman of Dove House Hospice. Philip congratulated those who have recently received honours, promotions and reappointments. 

After the risings, the SW, W Bro Neil Armstrong gave hearty greetings on behalf of the Brethren and the Lodge was closed.

The Wedding Belles, an all female choir who sing at weddings and local charity events, set up for their performance as the ladies and visitors arrived and and entertained the assembly with songs for weddings and other items including You Raise Me Up and invited the audience to join in a couple of Christmas numbers.

 

  

The Festive Board was splendid with perfectly cooked fare and good company. As it had been my birthday on Saturday, I took my cake and asked the Chef if he'd mind cutting it up so everyone had a slice. It had been made by my neighbour Nina and was excellent.

W Bro Daniels presented a cheque to Mr Christopher Sadler, Chief Executive of Dove House Hospice in Hull, who was in attendance with his wife Laura, Head of Fund Raising. Mr Sadler spoke briefly about the work done by this centre of excellence assisting not only patients but their families and friends and gave a sincere thank you on behalf of them all.

 We sang a few Christmas songs downstairs, followed by The Twelve Days of Christmas which is a firm favourite and the raffle was drawn before the closing words and John Chapman's moving rendition of Happy to Meet Again, after which we parted full not only of Luke's lovely food, but the seasonal spirit of goodwill.  A delightful evening.

[Photographs: Bill Glanville and Phil Daniels; Chris Sadler, Laura Sadler and Phil Daniels.]

 Eddie Wildman, organist

 

 

Monday 27th November 2023:

Juno, 2 X 3

by Marcus Whereat

I made my final Lodge visit as master of Kingston 1010 visiting the Juno Lodge 10001 at Dagger Lane. I attended a very interesting second degree ceremony. Why so interesting? This was a triple passing of Brothers Timothy Roberts, David Emerton and Romeo Atta. All the ceremony was done as one unified whole, with the Deacons assisting the Wardens in communicating the secrets. The ceremony was completed by the second degree tracing board lecture given by W Bro Martin Clark, IPM of the Ridings Tablers' Lodge 9586, all from memory and word perfect. An excellent evening.

[Photograph: Bro Tim Roberts, Bro Romeo Atta, W Bro Ben Rose, WM, Bro David Emerton.]

Marcus Whereat, WM
.

 

Friday, 24th November 2023

De La Pole Chapter 1605

by Neil Armstrong

For many like me, the Royal Arch is a crucial step, and I consider it the continuation of my Craft Freemasonry. We are called Companions and meet in Chapters. It is a further opportunity for Masons to come together.

This being the De La Pole Chapter Installation I was paying a fraternal visit as Kingston Chapter’s MEZ.

As I pulled into the Beverley Road carpark I involuntary shuddered as a black ice warning popped upon my dashboard. The temperature outside was freezing, the possibility of a winter storm lingered in the air as I entered the building.

Inside, a storm of a different nature was unfurling, several key Companions had been rendered ill and unable to attend, including the Installing Director of Ceremonies.

I empathised greatly, as this is not what you wish for, as the ceremony of Installing the three Principals is a significant event in the life of a Chapter, a reminder of the importance of leadership, and the responsibility that comes with it. As one of his last duties, E Comp Yvon Martin (the retiring MEZ) ensured that the De La Pole Companions rallied to fill the gaps and ready the Chapter.

I offered to help them set up the Festive Board before putting on my regalia, where I unexpectedly met our Third Principal E Comp Eddie Wildman, so Kingston was well represented. (See his scurrillous account on the St Michael website for this date.) We went upstairs to take our places in the Chapter.

As we walked into the room, E Comp Jimmie ‘2Kilts’ Kerr asked Eddie to function as Janitor,  which he unhesitatingly undertook to do.

The ceremony was an opportunity for the members of the Chapter to come together and celebrate the new Principals. This was done with dignity and sincerity of feeling despite the shortfall of Companions.

E Comp Kerr stepped in as Installing DC, a role he undertook for the first time; this was in addition to being Scribe Ezra.

With the three Principals duly installed, they received the explanation of their respective robes.

All been observed by the Representative of the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent E Comp Howard Newton and his DC E Comp Steven Waudby. No pressure there then!

An interesting presentation of an Immediate Past Zerubbabel (IPZ) jewel was made to E Comp Yvon Martin; the jewel had been rediscovered in New Zealand and returned to the Chapter in 2020. It is known as the Tom Moxley jewel and is now presented annually to the IPZ.

I gave greetings on behalf of Kingston Chapter supported by E Comp Eddie Wildman. 

The atmosphere down at the Festive Board was convivial and among the other visitors, we discussed a wide range of topics from obnoxious swimmers to manic spaniels!

The food was first rate as always, Chef Luke Pyrah excelled himself with a main course of succulent braised beef. I was glad to stand up and shake the food down as I responded to the Visitors toast.

As I took my leave walking across the carpark, pulling my overcoat collar up against the freezing temperature, I realised I was comfortably warm internally, and not just from Luke's excellent repast. I reflected that Royal Arch is indeed an opportunity to come together and I’d just witnessed a very warm, practical and enjoyable demonstration of fraternal companionship.

 [Photo E Comp Eddie Wildman.]

Neil Armstrong MEZ

 

 Friday 24th November 2023:

Wyke Millennium Chapter 9696

by Michael Price

It was a thoroughly pleasant way to spend a Friday morning.  It is always interesting to see the variations which occur in Masonic ritual, some intentional, others less so (we’ve all been there!) The highlight of the meeting was the Exaltation of W Bro Robert Edward Gwatkin, a Master Mason of the Lord Bolton Lodge. 

This was a sincere, enjoyable (and possibly unique) ceremony, based upon the Domatic Ritual, with part conducted in almost total darkness (taking dim lighting to new level). I particularly liked the lifeline, which given its diameter would have had to be made of Kevlar had it been required to discharge its stated function (perhaps taking symbolism a little far). 

This simply made the ceremony more enjoyable for this visitor (and from the conversation at lunch, all visitors). To use a musical analogy, this was perhaps Emerald City by the Seekers rather than An Die Freude by the Los Angeles Philharmonic – but who cares, it was an excellent way to spend a morning in the convivial company of other Companions of the Holy Royal Arch.  And the buffet lunch lived up to its reputation! I gave greetings from the Kingston Chapter, supported by Eddie Wildman who played the organ for the occasion. His report can be found on this date on the Humber website.

[Photograph L to R: E Comp Graham Ives, H; E Comp Craig Maurier MEZ, Comp Rob Gwatkin; E Comp Alexander Hoggard, J by ERW.]

Mike Price

 

 

Thursday 23rd November 2023:

Craig and Eddie at Burlington Royal Arch Chapter

I travelled with E Comp Craig Maurier to Bridlington for the Burlington Royal Arch Chapter 3975 Installation and we enjoyed a friendly meeting; there were familiar faces present amongst the couple of dozen present, but most of the Companions were from the East Coast of TN&ER.

I was representing the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent; Craig was my DC, and we were welcolmed into the Masonic Hall at St John's Avenue Bridlington. I was particularly pleased to see the Chapter Treasurer, E Comp David Baker there, as his wife was unwell. He'd nonetheless gone to ensure all was in place beforehand, and left to look after his wife as the Chapter meeting began - such commitment is an example to us all. LIkewise the Secretary, who had supplied me with the minutes of the last year of meetings: he was still recovering from an operation, but took pains to check all was well with Craig and me - thank you, too, W Bro Emmerson!

Many of the members are around the three score years and ten mark (with a few exeptions) but this didn't impact on the quality of the ritual. There was a comfortable, relaxed quality to the procedure. The opening was led by E Comp Anthony Randle who relinquished the MEZ's Chair to E Comp Peter Shawcross; E Comp David Knowles moved up from J to H (having taken the latter at short notice when E Comp Jeffrey Harden became seriously ill) and E Comp  Harden, now again in rude health, was placed in the Chair of Joshua.

Anthony Randle's gesture of triumphant relief having succesfully installed his successor will doubtless be remembered by all the Companions for many years to come.

There is no need to dilate on each individual bit of the ritual; it was a most enjoyable meeting, matched by a convivial Festive Board. After extending the best wishes of the MEGS in response to the fifth toast and speaking briefly about his mantra about Change being the Order of the Day, it was a pleasure to compliment the Chapter on its 382nd regular convocation since its consecration in 1945, and to wish all the Companions and visitors well for the future.

[Photo: David Knowles (H), Eddie Wildman (Rep), Peter Shawcross (Z) and William Emmerson (J) by Chris Randle.]

 Eddie Wildman

 

Sunday 12th November 2023:

Remembrance Sunday

by Marcus Whereat

This morning as WM I braved the first cold blasts of the year to attend in the city for the remembrance service and parade. As has been the norm, for some ten years now, I met W Bro Carl Cross of the Humber Lodge No 57. The service was presided over by The vicar of Hull Minster Rev Dominic Black and the Bishop of Hull the Rt Rev Dr Eleanor Sanderson. The parade consisted of the armed forces, cadet forces, emergency services, various organisations and veterans, not forgetting a large crowd of the general public all paying their respects. The morning was completed by the march past of all the services and veterans to hearty applause.

Marcus Whereat, WM.

 

 

Saturday 11th November 2023

Lord Bolton Installation

A Time-Honoured Tradition

 

Freemasonry, with its rich history and intricate rituals, has captivated the curious minds of many, including myself. Among its significant ceremonies, a Masters Installation stands out as a pivotal moment.

When I arrived at Beverley Road, there was a harsh chill in the air, but that was quickly replaced by the warmth of the welcome I received.

Lord Boltons’ Assistant DC Alan Shand had kindly invited me to attend, and he would acting as the Installing DC, a pivotal role in orchestrating this Installation Meeting, marking the transition of leadership within the Lodge.

Provincial Visitors were W Bro Ian Syddall ProvGChStwd representing the RW Provincial Grand Master, accompanied by W Bro Jimmie ‘2 kilts’ Kerr acting as his Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies (ProvGDC). Who were admitted with an escort of Provincial Officers.

Bro Secretary W Bro Eric Healand read out from the Book of Constitutions, “No Master or Warden is chosen by seniority, but for his merit.”

After which, the Installation ceremony unfolded. The outgoing Installing Master (IM) W Bro Martin Tompkins executed the ceremony with utmost care, delivering a sincere performance, handing over the gavel to the incoming Master, Bro Robert Gwatkin, symbolizing continuity, and the passing of responsibility.

I reflected on the fact that the only lodge Officer who wears his collar continually on the night of Installation is the Installing Worshipful Master, because as the Installation ceremony progresses, the IWM passes the Master’s collar onto the Master Elect.

The explanation of the Working Tools to the Master were delivered with confidence and clarity by junior members of the Lodge

The Lodge Officers being duly invested, ensured the lodge’s continuity for another year which signified the end of the Installation ceremony as we returned to the normal business on the summons.  I gave greetings on behalf of Kingston Lodge accompanied by W Bro Eddie Wildman, who had stepped in as Organist, entertaining us all with his musical prowess throughout the ceremony.

Senior Warden Colin Bird sang the Masonic Ode and the Masters Song for the first time, and I applaud him, well done Brother!

At the Festive Board as is customary we relished Chef Luke's culinary skills, as the tightness of my waistcoat bears witness, although it didn’t stop me sneaking an extra chocolate mint with my coffee!

There were local Brethren together with those from further afield; Richmond North Yorkshire, “down south “as in London and ‘viva entente cordial’ a Parisian Brother. With so many visitors it made for a very convivial evening.

I discovered that the Lodge has three sets of Lewises (Sons of Masons), which is quite an achievement. Like many lodges, Lord Bolton has suffered from the doldrums, but with a recent infusion of new young members it has a vibrancy which Worshipful Master Gwatkin is keen to promote.

After the parting toast the lateness of the hour meant that myself and many other were keen to get home. But it had been a most enjoyable evening. 

                                                                                                                                                     [Photo taken by Eddie Wildman]

For Eddie Wildman's account of this evening see Humber blogpage  

 Neil Armstrong

 

Monday 6th November.

Community Engagement at Local Lifeboat Station 

 

On a wet and windy evening Neil Armstrong and I, in our capacities as Kingston Lodge's WM and Kingston Chapter's MEZ, attended the Boat House of Humber Rescue on Hessle Foreshore.

Humber Rescue supplies fast response search and rescue operations on the Humber Estuary, one of the most unpredictable stretches of water in the world.

However, our function there that evening was not so much water as land related. We (that is to say, the Kingston Lodge and Chapter) were funding a defibrillator for the Foreshore Community, in an area where such an emergency item is very much needed.

At the Boat House we  presented Humber Rescue Chairman Dave Robert (incidently a member of St Cuthbert's Lodge 630) with two £500 cheques. The collective sum has been matched by the FCYNER (Freemasons Charity Yorkshire North and East Ridings) resulting in an impressive total of £2000. 

Arrangements are being made for the installation of this life-saving equipment, which will back up the work of the Humber Rescue Team - whose activities are funded entirely by donations.

Once the defibrillator's installation is complete the Kingston Brethren and Companions will be invited to attend its unveiling. Neil and I are very grateful to all those who have given so generously - thank you very much! We'll keep you informed. Watch this space! 

Marcus Whereat.

 

Wednesday 1st October 2023:

Kingston Lodge's November meeting fell on what the Mexicans and others call the Day of the Dead. It followed Halloween, when the veil between the living and the dead is said to be at its thinnest, marking the day before the Western Christian feast of All Saints, or All Hallows. 

This month is traditional for remembering those who gave their lives during the World Wars, especially those of the Kingston Lodge, and a chair was draped with the union flag to the remind the Brethren. Consequently the mood was sombre as we took our seats. The Worshipful Master, W Bro Marcus Whereat opened the Lodge solemnly, and W Bro Simon Ramshaw gave a brief but poignant eulogy for W Bro Bryan Everatt who died last month, speaking of his practical commitment to both the Lodge and the building. "He was a breath of fresh air for Kingston," he said. The Brethren stood in silence to mark his passing.

This was followed by a brief ceremony for the fallen, which concluded with another silent tribute. I reflected on those other Kingston Brethren lost so unexpectedly this year, W Bros Paul Goldthorpe and Peter Adamson.

However, I reminded myself that the halloween tradition also had pagan roots. The festival of Samhain marked a pivotal time of year as the seasons changed and was a preparation for times ahead. The Hindu Divali Festival of Lights occurs around the same time (November 12th this year) - there are possible roots in antiquity. I reminded myself that this symbolises the spiritual victory of light over darkness, of good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance, and felt a little happier.

The Lodge Secretary, W Bro Neil Armstrong read a portion of the Ancient Charge regarding the progression of Brethren by merit, the minutes were approved, and then the WM declared Bro Gary Crossland as Master Elect for the ensuing year, and W Bro Malcolm Watkinson as Treasurer. Time for a fanfare! Both stood to acknowledge the acclaim of the Brethren and promised to apply themselves to the tasks ahead.

There was a successful ballot for a rejoining member.

The Treasurer's report was followed by a suggestion that the fees for a new member be lowered for the initial year; this was proposed, seconded, and agreed by the fifteen Brethren present. W Bro Watkinson reported on the Chapter meeting outlined below (October 18th.) I gave greetings for Humber 57 as the Lodge was closed in due form. I managed to take a somewhat blurry snapshot of the outgoing and incoming Masters before all the Brethren escaped to the bar.

Downstairs places were laid for the Fallen Four, and after an excellent meal (I love Luke's Yorkshire puddings) there were only two toasts, so the evening at Beverley Road was a short one. I took the opportunity to thank Marcus for his work during the year; next month there will be formal toasts and celebrations, but this evening's meeting was strictly "in-house."

I came home with a positive feeling; this is a time of change, a preparation for a new beginning. Time to look ahead.

Eddie Wildman

 

Saturday 28th October 2023

Murder and Mystery at Beverley Road

by Mrs Becky Whereat

The evening was hosted by the Technical Lodge 5666, presenting the Quirky Nothern Theatre Company in an evening of entertainment and a three course meal. 

Our table consisted of WM Marcus Whereat and Becky Whereat (me), Bro Roger Watkinson and Barbara Watkinson, W Bro Neil Armstrong, W Bro Eddie Wildman, and from Bridlington, St John’s Lodge 4434, W Bro Ronnie Hunter and his wife Jacqueline. Our team name was Kingston Cops. 

The idea of the evening was: we were given clues throughout  which we had to solve and fill-in on a sheet of paper. The first letter of each answer was part of an anagram clue and hopefully by the end of the night, along with all the visual and spoken clues, we would establish who had "done it!"

There were a variety of players in the play; these were mother of the groom, lady Norma, the groom, Rupert, his best man Barry, bride Chardonnay and the butler. Also, as part of the entertainment a singer from the theatre company performed while we were eating.

We were served with tomato and basil soup, chicken in mushroom sauce with vegetables and roast potatoes; dessert was profiteroles.

The players mingled with all the tables and we were asking questions we hoped would give us the best chance of gaining an advantage into solving the crime although, at this time, we didn't know who the victim would be. We clung on with anticipation until the finale in which the murder was committed. 

It has to be said Lady Normanton took a shine to one member of our table and even presented him with a signed photograph which we hope he will cherish for evermore: Eddie Wildman, you were her favourite! 

The butler thought himself a bit of an artist with caricatures of Barbara and Eddie. Neil and Marcus thought this particularly funny that the tables had turned, as Eddie is usually the caricature artist at Lodge festive boards. (Eddie's comments are on the Humber blog page for this date.)

The final act of the evening saw lady Norma fall very dramatically to the floor saying she'd been poisoned.

But by whom?

After much debate on our team it was decided the person who had most to gain from her death was the murderer. This decision made we submitted our findings and waited with bated breath to find out if our decision was correct.

We had in fact guessed correctly but just in case you  get the chance to see the Quirky performance elsewhere, I'm not telling you the answer!

If you have the opportunity to see this wonderful company you can work out all the reasons for yourself.

I will add that other teams had correctly guessed the result, so in order to get an overall winner a game was needed! Neil bravely volunteered to represent our team not knowing what he'd let himself for.

The players were given a chocolate mint each and had without the use of their hands to get said mint from their foreheads into their mouths.

It would seem this is a skill Neil does not possess; even after trying twice he sadly failed but we commended his effort nonetheless as he returned to the table to wipe smears of chocolate from his brow. 

 

We were very lucky to win three prizes in the raffle which raised funds of £330 for the building maintenance fund. 

Overall it was a wonderful evening with wonderful company and one which I would happily repeat.

 Rebecca Whereat

 

 

Friday 27th October 2023:

Chapter Tracing Boards

report by Eddie Wildman

I hadn't told anyone I was going to visit the Wyke Millennium Chapter 9696 as I wasn't sure my schedule would permit it, but I turned up at at Beverley Road Masonic Hall at half-past ten ay em to be greeted by the MEZ E Comp Craig Maurier who asked if I'd play the organ seeing as I was there.

That didn't pose a problem, of course, but Craig insisted I stayed for lunch - not that I needed much persuading as Luke the Chef was preparing a buffet. "Zero calories," I told myself.

After the dignified Chapter opening there was a knock at the door from the Rep's DC, E Comp Steven Waudby, ProvGStwd, who informed us that E Comp Nigel Weightman, PAGSoj, Past Second Provincial Grand Principal requested admission; an escort was formed and E Comp Weightman entered and greeted the Three Principals, E Comps Maurier, Ives and Hoggard before taking his seat.

The illustrated lecture "An Introduction to Chapter Tracing Boards" prepared by the Principal Sojourner, E Comp Bazza Longstaff, was an interesting reflection on the development of the Boards, the supervision and involvement of Supreme Grand Chapter in the official explanations thereof, the removal of overtly Christian elements in the ritual and a stunning collection of images of unique Tracing Boards. The narrative was shared between several Companions (with varying degrees of audibility) which, as the Rep remarked in response to the fifth toast, later, was a jolly good idea.

Three ballots were taken collectively and succesfully, and after propositions, correspondance and apologies, the Chapter was closed.

The buffet was delicious!

Excellent Companion Nigel Weightman, unaware that some wicked doodler was drawing a caricature of him on the tablecloth, complimented the Chapter on its good work and commended those who had taken part in the presentation. A keen historian, he spoke of the value of exploring the background to the Chapter stories, remarking that the Book of Ezra lent an interesting insight into the some of the matters touched upon during the presentation. It had been an enlightening lunchtime - thank you, Wyke Millennium Chapter!

Eddie Wildman, guest organist.

 

 

Thursday 26th October 2023:

St Cuthbert’s Lodge 630 Installation

Report by Marcus Whereat

 

This afternoon I attended the St Cuthbert’s Lodge Installation, not as WM of the Kingston Lodge, but in my capacity of Provincial Grand Steward as Director of Ceremonies for the Representative of the Provincial Grand Master.

On my journey to Howden I was accompanied by W Bro Eddie Wildman and W Bro Michael De Villiers Roberts, the Representative of the PGM. Our journey was a rather wet affair reflecting the meteorological inclemency of the last few days.

The installation of W Bro Keith Philip Renouf commenced at 4.15pm. After the Lodge was opened, I was announced and entered the Lodge to W Bro Wildman playing 2001 a Space Odyssey. I smiled to myself thinking, “Space Odyssey for a Lodge Oddity.” I thanked Eddie for the excellent introduction and proceeded to introduce the Representative as usual. Eddie’s music throughout the ceremony and specifically at the investitures of Lodge Officers was an enjoyable amusement for the Brethren, who appreciated his expertise (something they usually go without, not having a regular Lodge Organist.)


The outgoing Master, W Bro Chris Luty presided over the ceremony of installation as per the Lodge ritual. At the point in the ceremony where Master Masons, Fellowcrafts and Entered Apprentices re-enter the Lodge and parade before the newly installed Master, it was superb to see so many light blue and white aprons. The parade stretched the full length of the North and West sides of the Lodge which is very unusual these days (and has been the case for a long time, alas.)

The Lodge was closed and we were guests to an excellent three course meal of pate, roast pork or chicken with seasonal veg and roast potatoes followed by fruit crumble and custard. On completion of the  festivities our evening ended on a rather foggy return to the city but with interesting discussion on the afternoon and evening.

For Eddie's account of the day see the Humber website blogpage for this date.

[Photograph: Marcus Whereat, Rep's DC; Bro Antony Clark, JW; W Bro Michael de Villamar Roberts, Representative of the RWPGM; W Bro Keith Renouf, WM; and Bro Niall McDonald, SW. The focus is slightly blurred - some have said this is for the best.]

Marcus Whereat

 

 

Wednesday 25th October 2023:

Double Exaltation at Beverley Road

by Richard Bate

This was my first visit to the Chapter of St Andrew 4683 and my first witnessing  of a double Exaltation. It was a wet and windy evening, but fortunately the carpark is just outside the Lodge building.
 
I found myself familiar with several visiting Companions, four others from our own Chapter: MEZ Neil Armstrong,  MEJ Eddie Wildman, E Comp Mike Price Sc E and E Comp Anthony Cadle. In addition E Comps Mike Graham and Brian Daragon I knew from another Order and I also recognised several of the other visiting Companions, and a few members of C 4683. This made me feel quite welcome and at ease with those Companions I didn't know.

Upstairs, I arrived slightly late and sneaked in during the first moments of the MEZ's opening ritual. E Comp Mike Graham (MEZ) was unfazed; no-one said anything untoward and I enjoyed the opening. The whole ceremony was markedly different from our own or any other I had seen. It was still however obviously Chapter ritual. The preambulations were notable for their differences and creativity. I especially liked the idea of moving the Candidates across difficult terrain and precipices. The Companions are to be congratulated as several key offices were absent, although I didn't realise this until we went downstairs; this shows how the Chapter was able to adapt and perform despite having large holes.

Downstairs, the festive board was good value for money and nicely laid out. I had agreeable company: the St Andrew Chapter is known for its friendliness. The two new Companions, Craig Eastburn and Philip Beadle, although somewhat bewildered appeared to have a jovial evening and shared their first impressions freely. Speeches and toasts were short and to the point, whilst being sincere and humorous as required. 

The Companions all did superbly: it clearly was a team effort.
 
One of the new Companions was Dave Eastburn the old chef's son, so I passed on my regards to his dad, who is doing well.

It was soon time to go home. I'd forgotten the foul autumnal weather - but the evening had been well worth the drive. Thank you, St Andrew's Chapter!

See Eddie Wildman's report on the St Michael Chapter blog.

[Photo: Craig Eastburn, Brian Daragon and Philip Beadle; three Sojourners.]

Richard Bate, Most Excellent Joshua.

 

 

Tuesday 24th October 2023

Beverley Road Masonic Hall AGM

 

Last night, Bro Gary Crossland and I attended the Beverley Road Masonic Hall AGM as Kingston’s representatives. A dozen or so brave souls had braved the cold and dank evening to hear the Board of Directors deliver their respective reports. Discussion took place regarding the upkeep and future of the Hall. Various schemes were put forward for increased use of the building/carpark.

A key consideration is considering diversifying into weddings, to obtain a licence to hold a civil marriage or civil partnership in the Hall. The revenue from such weddings/receptions would enable other remedial and improvement work to keep moving forward.

As we walked across the car-park Gary and I agreed that the future looked brighter, which could be more than said for the wintery drizzle falling on our heads!

Neil Armstrong

 

 Wednesday 18th October 2023:

Should we Abandon Ship?

Kingston Chapter considers the Future

After appointing and investing those Kingston Chapter Companions who were unable to attend the Installation (The Principal Sojourner and his first assistant, and the Almoner} the MEZ, E Comp Neil Armstrong invited the Chapter Mentor, E Comp Simon Ramshaw, to present a Supreme Grand Chapter Certificate to Companion Gary Crossland. This was done in an exemplary fashion, features of the certificate which are peculiarly Royal Arch differentiated from those belonging to the Craft, pointing out the indissoluble link between Blue Masonry and the Chapter when the different elements combine.

Next there was an open discussion regarding the future of the Chapter. Falling numbers, an aging population and what seems to be a lack of commitment are problems besetting many Chapters in and beyond the Province. The ideas mooted included "We're dying, let's give in gracefully" and "With a well-organised recruitment drive, the Chapter could begin to thrive again." The possibility of amalgamation was discussed - and further details regarding what might be involved if the Chapter chose to go in this direction were called for (Scribe E was kept busy making notes.) Reflections on the demands on the time of young people led to the suggestion that more mature men would be preferable targets - those established in work and home routines, and a senior member realistically said that while he loved the Chapter, he and other members in their eighties could not reasonably commit to the future. "Enjoyment is the key," suggested another. "People are not going to come if they're bored and not involved." Even the visitors were invited to participate, and they provided useful thoughts.

While a definitive decision was not immediately forthcoming, it was a useful meeting for consolidating ideas and formulating a proposition for the next meeting regarding the future, and the MEZ was industriously sounding out Brethren with a view to working parties to explore various targets.

E Comp Armstrong closed the Chapter with the assistance of his co-principals, E Comps Richard Bate as H and Eddie Wildman as J and the Companions went to dine. 

An early night, after a stimulating and fruitful discussion; I for one went home a little more hopeful. We have weathered stormy times before - there is no need to abandon ship just yet!

[Photo: Comp Crossland in Chapter regalia.]

Eddie Wildman, J

 

Tuesday 17th October 2023:

St Matthew Lodge No 1447 Barton upon Humber 150th  celebration

by Marcus Whereat


As Master of the Kingston Lodge I was cordially invited to attend the auspicious occasion celebrating 150 years since the consecration of the Lodge of St Matthew on the 20th October 1873 at the Volunteers Hall in Barton upon Humber.

The meeting was well attended by Lodge members and visiting Masters and Brethren from Lincolnshire and Yorkshire North and East Riding, including the Minerva Lodge No 250, St Matthew's mother Lodge, and our very own W Bro Eddie Wildman stepping in at the last minute to provide musical accompaniment. The meeting was also attended by the Provincial Grand Master of Lincolnshire, RWPGM David Malcolm Wheeler and his Deputy, VWDPGM John Barry Crutchley.

The meeting was opened in due form and firstly a 50 year certificate was presented by the PGM.

We were then given a Lodge history presentation by Bro Nick Lumb. We were informed that the story of the St Matthew Lodge began in 1786 with the appointment of a new schoolmaster, Matthew Barnett, at the St Mary’s Church School. Having moving from County Durham to Barton, Matthew was already a Freemason and was eager to continue. But at that time there were no lodges in Lincolnshire. There had been three established in the county but by 1755 all three had closed. So Matthew and three local men travelled across river to Hull and to the Minerva Lodge No 250 where the three were initiated, passed and raised in the same day before returning to the South Bank.

They successfully petitioned Premier Grand Lodge to form a Lodge in Barton. A warrant was granted on the 20th of March 1787 and St Matthew Lodge No 497 was consecrated on the 21st September 1787 (St Matthew’s day and perhaps coincidentally the birthday of Matthew Barnett.)

“But hold on a minute” I hear you say, “1787? That’s more than 150 years!” Well in 1812 there was a sudden and unexpected collapse of the North Lincolnshire Bank. Although a well-run bank unfortunately it was brought to ruin by its London agents. As a result many found themselves bankrupt or impoverished including many Brethren from St Matthew. Some were able to continue their fees but alas the Lodge eventually ceased in 1851 and was removed from the register of United Grand Lodge.

Twenty years later the second St Matthew Lodge (No 1447) came into being. It was issued with its warrant on the 31st July 1873 and consecrated on the 20th October the same year, by Bro W H Smythe, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Lincolnshire and in the presence of representatives from ten Lodges from North and South of the river including Kingston 1010 and Humber 57. The Lodge met at the Volunteers Hall until 1875 when new premises were sought. On 19th May 1875 the foundation stone was laid in the North East Corner of the current Lodge building watched by one hundred plus Brethren including representatives from Kingston Lodge and the Minerva Lodge.

In the following years many gifts were presented to the Lodge including a collar and silver jewel for the Chaplain, presented by Bro Sissons of Kingston 1010.

At their 70th anniversary meeting on  20th October 1943, the Lodge Secretary reported that an engraved silver trowel had been picked up in the street in Ross on Wye. It was identified as that presented at the laying of the lSt Matthew Lodge foundation stone and was returned to where it now has Pride of Place in the dining room.

There was of course more to the Lodge history but too much to include here, but it was all extremely interesting. The Lodge was duly closed and we were provided with an excellent festive board followed by speeches and song, the St Matthew song lyrics being composed by Bro Nick Lumb, the Junior Warden.

All of which rounded off a very enjoyable evening.

Marcus Whereat

Monday 16th October 2023:

That Bright Morning Star

 Neil Armstrong's Holderness Lecture

 

Holderness Lodge 3563 was let down by the intended visiting lecturer but W Bro Neil Armstrong PPGSwdB (a member of the Daggards) obliged at very short notice with a custom-built PowerPoint presentation with a stunning talk on "Venus, that Bright Morning Star" which features on several occasions in Masonic ritual. After the sun and moon, the planet Venus (known by the Ancient Greeks as Phosphorus and by the Romans as Lucifer) is the brightest celestial body in the night sky. "It is often confused with the Dog Star," Neil told me. "You cannot be Sirius," I replied.

The WM, W Bro Darren Wiseman opened the Beverley Rd Lodge promptly at 6:30 and after confirming the minutes of the previous meeting, invited Neil to speak. We listened as he dilated on the orbital curiousity of the second planet from the sun: Earth and Venus have a near orbital resonance of 13:8 (Earth orbits eight times for every 13 orbits of Venus). Therefore they approach each other and reach inferior conjunction in synodic periods of 584 days, on average. The path that Venus makes in relation to Earth viewed geocentrically draws a pentagram over five synodic periods, shifting every period by 144°. This pentagram of Venus is sometimes referred to as the petals of Venus due to the path's visual similarity to a flower. which is in the strange relationship of 5:8 with the Earth. 

The pentagram featured in some of Neil's presentation (I was still trying to work out the maths in my head) and the predictable accuracy of this figuration, he said, can be represented by the five-pointed star which may be seen in the Lodge. He mentioned Stonehenge incorporating the orbit of this essentially female heavenly body (hence Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus) and speculated that in the 3° every Master Mason is raised in her symbolic light.

The lecture was short, but packed with information regarding portents, the rise and fall of a  forgotten Phoenician city and its connection with the Israelites, the 1° Tracing Board, and the Knights Templar. (I was still musing on how much Neil had found in relation to a glance at the evening sky when I arrived home.)

There were reports from the Charity Steward, the Almoner, the Mentor and the Royal Arch Representative before W Bro Wiseman rose for greetings. These were extended from visitors from Kingston Lodge 1010, Minerva Lodge 250 and Humber 57. The Master closed the Lodge in due form and we headed downstairs for the evening meal. W Bro Bob Wallace gave me a lift home, which was very welcome as the night was very cold. The sky, however, was full of stars. Venus was shining brightly within the constellation of Leo, and I gave her little nod of recognition before unlocking my door and composing this report on my laptop. It had been a most interesting evening: thanks, Neil!

[Photo of Neil Armstrong by Eddie Wildman.]

 

Eddie Wildman, Guest Organist.

 

Friday 13th October 2023:

De la Pole 1605

 

Kingston Lodge was well represented at the Masonic Hall, Beverley Road for the Installation ceremony of Bro Peter Clark when he became Worshipful Master of the de la Pole Lodge 1605, by W Bro Simon Ramshaw, Bro Carl Proctor and myself. This was Carl's fifth visit; as a Fellow Craft he was able to see the Master Elect take his first obligation in that role. Simon gave greetings for L10101 and also responded eloquently on behalf of the visitors at the Festive Board afterwards. For a full write-up of the event, and the Iron Duke Sea Cadets serving at the Festive Board, please see this date on the Humber website blog page.

Eddie Wildman

 

 

Wednesday 11th October 2023:

Minerva Chapter Installation

 

While Installations frequently start at an earlier hour than normal, Minerva Chapter 250 began at 6:30 as usual with the entry of the three Principals: MEZ, E Comp Tadeusz Krawczyk; H, E Comp Mark Hartley; and J, E Comp Ben Kelly. The triumvirate opened the Chapter in due form, the organist softly playing Cwm Rhonnda as the triple triangle was formed. An alarm announced that the Provincial DC, E Comp Jim Kerr requested admission; he in turn announced the presence of E Comp Trevor Collinson, Assistant to the Three Grand Principals with a team of Active Provincial Officers. (E Comp Collinson later explained that his accompaniment of a Provincial Team was to underline the close connection with the status of the APGMs in the Craft.) This impressive array of Provincial rank having taken their places the MEZ welcomed everybody. The minutes were signed and the Installation proceeded.

Under the direction of E Comp Richard Theaker ProvGSwdB as Installing DC and E Comp Danny Betts as Installing Chaplain, Companion Kevin Marshall was presented and charged to accept the precepts of the Order dictated by E Comp Kelly, to all of which he agreed. After a prayer for his welfare he took a solemn obligation regarding the duties of the Third Chair of the Order. A similar process was practised for Ben Kelly and Mark Hartley.

Companions below the rank of First Grand Principal retired and E Comp Hartley was entrusted with the OT readings, invested and installed as MEZ, E Comp Kelly was similarly installed as H and Comp Marshall as J. The Companions were admitted and the three Principals were proclaimed. The Warrant was presented with the rules and regulations of Supreme Grand Chapter and various bylaws, after which the Officers were invested. Companion Kurt Crawford gave an excellent rendition of the Scarlet robe. The address to the Companions was given by E Comp Ogram PPGSwdB. I gave greetings as an Officer of Supreme Grand Chapteras well as a member of Kingston Chapter 1010. Greetings were given from the fine array of Provincial Officers and visitors including C294, and C7833 before the Chapter was closed in due form. The Principal Sojourner, Companion Antonio Ramirez was word perfect. I managed to take a photograph before everyone hastened to the dining room below.

 

 

Tomato and Basil soup, Braised Steak and Eton mess - a substantial meal, but the Companions did it justice. The fifth toast was preceded by E Comp Hartley's grief account of E Comp Collinson's naval and police career and his sailing on the west coast of Scotland and appreciating the single malt whiskies available around there. E Comp Collinson in response gave greetings from the MEGS, congratulated E Comps Cox and Theaker for their Provincial honours awarded at the recent Chapter convocation, and congratulated the Chapter on the average age of its members, mentioning new initiatives being put into place to address the decline of membership over the Province. The parting toast was given by Danny Betts.

 

Eddie Wildman.

 Wednesday 4th October 2023:

Kingston Lodge 

Neil’s St Crispin’s Day Speech

 

St Crispin’s Day normally falls on the 25th of this month yet it seemed it had arrived early at Kingston’s meeting.

As Henry V said on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt, “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers”.

A warm embracing sense of esprit de corps that it is hard to find elsewhere was present in the Lodge, as Fellowcraft Carl Proctor impressively delivered his first piece of ritual acting as Senior Deacon.

Marcus Whereat, the Worshipful Master, conducted Kingston’s business of the evening, which included an explanation of the 2° Tracing Board. This was undertaken by the WM, W Bros Mike Price, Malcolm Watkinson, and Bro Gary Crossland

Unlike some Lodges who place their Tracing Boards on the floor, ours are hung on the wall, one being uncovered in each degree, so we gathered around in the main body of the Lodge to listen to this concise address.

This was followed by a short PowerPoint presentation regarding the setting up of our new and exciting website. It was delivered by W Bro Eddie Wildman, in his own ineffable style with myself acting as techie for the slides.

Downstairs at the Festive board there was an atmosphere of jollity and friendly banter. At the Junior Warden’s table, the conversation evolved around teachers who had made lasting impressions on us all. It was remarkable how swiftly names were recalled, a legacy to those teachers whose skills helped form the people we are today.

Now, singing is not unknown in Freemasonry, but it has to be a first at Kingston for a guest to reply to the Visitors Toast by singing (a cappella) his response! Which was precisely what Bro Nick Lumb of St. Matthews Lodge1447 did, and for which he received a standing ovation.

It had been a splendid evening, and I thank my fellow Brothers for providing such a good time for everyone.

We were indeed, “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers”.

[Photo: of Nick Lumb by Neil Armstrong.] 

Neil Armstrong, Secretary

 

 

 Tuesday 3rd October 2023:

Technical Royal Arch Chapter 5666

by Eddie Wildman

 

The regular organist was unable to attend due to a family bereavement. Bill Turner-Bone is also the Almoner for Technical Chapter 5666 and a superb ritualist. While he was greatly missed, however, I managed to stand-in as the keyboard, and E Comp Steven Hastings from the Ridings Tablers Chapter gave a perfect rendition of the Secrets, Bill's designated task.

Technical RAC 5666 (consecrated 1946) was well attended, and there were visitors from the Chapter of St Michael 7833 and de la Pole 1605 in addition to the RTL 9586. I gave greetings on behalf of the Kingston Chapter, of course.

The Most Excellent E Comp Malcolm Brocklesby was on good form, assisted by E Comps Jon Paul Robinson (H) and Ian Parkinson (J). The Chapter was efficiently opened, the Three Principals for next year declared along with the Treasurer. The ballot for the Candidate, Bro Steve Walker was succesful and the Exaltation ceremony began.

As Jimmy (Two Kilts) Kerr from the de la Pole Lodge 1605 remarked afterwards, one would have to go a long way to find so accomplished a ritual as that performed this evening. E Comp John Burton (MEZ C7833) echoed the compliment in his response to the toast to the visitors.

Scribe E, E Comp Steve Berry explained the historical background before Steve Walker entered, and the latter was escorted into the Chapter dressed as a Master Mason to answer the necessary questions for admission before retiring for preparation. I shall not outline the entire working, save to remark that Steve's proposer, Comp Mark Cusack was an outstanding Principal Sojourner. His conversational style in the delivery of ritual is much admired. Comp David Green was word perfect with the Working Tools and Adam Tunnicliffe, one of the latest members, gave a remarkable rendition of the Mystical Lecture.

During the time the newly made Companion restored himself to his suit, I had the pleasure of presenting a Grand Chapter Certificate, noting features on the document which resonate with the Beverley Road Chapter Room such as the seal of Solomon on one of the Lightowler Shields and the banners displayed on the East wall.

It was a happy occasion, and Mark Cusack's encyclopaedic sporting knowledge at the festive board was a revelation. I returned home (thanks, Philip, for the lift) knowing more about golfing trophies and the earnings of the world's top players than I'd believed possible. Remind me not to enter a quiz with Mark on the opposing team.

Let me conclude by congratulating Companion Walker on his becoming a member of this fine Chapter, and thanking the MEZ for his kind invitation to be there.

[Photo: Mark Cusack and Steve Walker.]

Eddie Wildman, stand-in organist.

 

Monday 2nd October 2023:

Humber Installed Masters Lodge 2494

"A Hatmosphere of Hexpectoration!"

by Neil Armstrong

 

There was an air of expectation among the members of Humber Installed Masters Lodge 2494 as they awaited the next item on the summons to be announced.

Worshipful Master Philip Daniels adroitly introduced Eddie Wildman, Craig Maurier, and myself as members of the ‘Daggards’, explaining that we would be performing a presentation of The Night Soil Men.

Craig was in charge of the Powerpoint - over seventy pictures carefully culled from nineteenth century newspapers and elsewhere - it had been an interesting project (I was the principal researcher, Eddie the editor, script writer and punctilious director, demanding the lines be delivered at the right tempo and critically overseeing every move.)

I was acting as a reporter interviewing the supervisor of a night soil team in Hull. The year being 1849. It was a miserable, dank evening outside the local tavern as I awaited his arrival, notebook at the ready.

They say there is no better cure to lift the spirits than laughter. It’s like having an emotional colonic. Cleans out all of the stuff and purifies the soul.

And so it seemed, judging by the sniggering and chuckling at the sight of Mr Obadiah Gibson (Eddie) shuffling along in his greatcoat, scarf, wig and mop hat. Laughter soon mixed with flabbergasted gawps of shock as he began to tell his tale.

To those of you with a delicate disposition, here is a ‘cleaner’ summary of what was said.

Whenever you get humans living together, excrement becomes a problem. Without plumbing, where does it go? That's the job of the night soil men, the poor souls who had to deal with cleaning out privies, cesspits, outhouses, and everywhere else you do your business. Some died of disease or suffocated. For those who lived, it was hardly a dream job. Even though they were paid well, they could only work between midnight and 5am. It was backbreaking labour, fortified with many a slug of gin!

(Aren’t you glad you’re sitting in your nice clean warm home right now?)

 

The story was interspaced with other characters, such as Dr Rockcliffe, a Mason who championed for radical changes in the health of the Town; John Mopp, a poor urchin suffering appalling chemical burns due to his work in the tannery. All painted a vivid picture of Victorian insanitary conditions, culminating in the presentation's dramatic and poignant ending.

While we received much warm acclamation from the Brethren, for some strange reason, we struggled to get a handshake, I wonder why!

Neil Armstrong

 [Photograph: Neil, Philip, Eddie and Craig by Ben Kelly.]

 

 

Wednesday 27th September 2023:

And what about the Ladies?

What indeed? It is doubtful that as a male organisation we'd be so well turned out for meetings without the support of wives and partners. And while we acknowledge their value with social events and Ladies Nights, it is rare for our better halves to be mentioned outside the Almoner's report. I was delighted, therefore, to receive a submission for the blog page from a lady: this poem by Robert Pinkerton was sent to the webteam by Mrs Barbara Watkinson, wife of the Kingston Lodge Dining Steward. Thanks, Barbara!

 poem mason's wife.jpg

 

 

 Friday 22nd September 2023:

Testudine et Leporem

by Marcus Whereat

 

While watching the highlights of the Singapore Grand Prix the other day, I marvelled at the team engineering expertise and the skills of the drivers and wondered if any drivers present or past belonged to the Craft. I surfed through various internet lists and three names appeared.

Eddie Rickenbacker was an American Fighter Ace of World War I. He was part of the Masonic Racing Team from 1910 until 1917. He was a member of the Kilwinning Lodge 297 in Detroit, Michegan.

Then I came across our very own Captain Sir Malcolm Campbell, who won the Brookland’s race in 1910. He was a Master Mason in the Old Uppinghamian Lodge 4227 in London. He is famed for breaking the land speed record in his famous car ‘Bluebird’ in 1935.

His son Donald would follow in his father’s footsteps both as a Freemason and a record holder until his death while attempting the water speed record at Coniston Water in 1967.

What, I wondered, would they think of the cars of today?

I reflected how far the motor industry has come in a relatively brief period of time.

It started in France with inventor and fellow Freemason Etienne Lenoir. He was responsible for the internal combustion engine in 1858. His two stroke, double-acting single cylinder gas engine was patented in 1860 and was manufactured by the Reading Iron Works Ltd, Berkshire in 1865.

In 1886 Karl Benz applied for patent of his “Vehicle powered by a gas engine”. Patent number 37435 was effectively the birth certificate of the motor car. Model 1 cost six hundred German Marks (about £24,500 today.) It had a top speed of 10mph.

 

By 1901, Freemason Ransom E. Olds of the Capitol Lodge 66, Lansing, Michigan, began the manufacture of the first mass produced car. The Oldsmobile Curved Dash was launched in 1903 costing $650 (£23,500 today.) and by the cessation of production three years later, over 19,000 vehicles had been sold.

Another Mason, Brother Henry Ford of the Palestine Lodge 357 in Detroit produced the model T- Ford.

Voted the most influential car of the 20th century, the Tin Lizzy was sold for $260 (£11,700 today.) At the height of its production the cost reduced. Coupled with its impressive top speed of 45mph, it ensured Ford a successful run of 15,000,000 vehicles.

Ford famously said, “You can have any colour you want, as long as it’s black.” After 1925 it was also available in Red, Blue, Green, and Grey.

The lure of speed led to the first race between two vehicles in August 1867. This was held at 4:30 in the morning, possibly to avoid the attention of the authorities. The eight-mile race ran between Ashton-under-Lyne and Old Trafford.

With hindsight, motor cars were tantamount to tortoises in those days.

The first purpose-built race circuit was at Aspendale in Australia in 1906. Brooklands became the first in England a year later with its world-famous banked corners.

The first race called a ‘Grand Prix’ (GP) started in France and was a two-day race over sixty-five miles. It had thirty-two participants and twelve different vehicle constructors. 

Several more GPs appeared: in Italy in 1921, in Belgium and Spain in 1924 and in Britain in 1926. The oldest surviving race is the 24hr Le Mans which was first held in 1923.

In 1928 Formula Libre emerged when organisers decided to race with practically no limitations. By 1934 there were thirty-four Grand Prix’s, the most held prior to the Second World War.

Racing resumed after the war and so did the stance of no limitations, and inevitably collisions and fatalities grew.

One near fatality was the late W Bro Jack Whileblood of Humber Lodge 57, shock absorber expert and a test engineer for a F1 racing team. He travelled all over the world, meeting the great drivers of the day. In particular he had a great admiration for Champion drivers Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart.

While testing prior to the Swedish Grand Prix in 1974, his vehicle went out of control and crashed. The titanium anti-roll bars snapped and pinioned Jack inside the vehicle. Helicoptered to hospital with the bars still through his legs, he was expected to die within hours.

Sixteen months later he was released from hospital and flew back to England. A letter awaited him from the world famous F1 drivers, signed by Graham Hill who said, “We all know you are a bit of an ace at the wheel, so we have come to the only conclusion that it must have been duff shock absorbers that caused you to lose control.”

Further illnesses convinced Bro Jack to leave life in the fast lane to the younger drivers.

Formula One Constructors gradually began to build lower, faster, and ultimately safer vehicles under upgraded and stricter regulations. The industry has developed 'a testudine ad leporem': from the tortoise to the hare. The title of this blog comes from one of Aesop’s fables, although there is no evidence that he was a Mason.

As a young man, like so many, I dreamed of being behind the wheel one of these exceptional machines. I am now middle-aged and, if asked if I wanted to drive such a vehicle today, my answer would be prompted by Brother Benjamin Franklin, of the St John’s Lodge, Philadelphia, when he walked out into a storm to find out if a key on a length of string would hold an electrical charge, “GO FLY A KITE."

 

Marcus Whereat

 

Saturday 16th September 2023:

Chapter Convocation

by Eddie Wildman

I'm not used to two six o' clocks in one day, and Craig, bless him, thoughtfully rang me at six to make sure I was out of bed and to say that he'd pick me up in ten minutes. I'd everything laid out ready (I hoped) and even had time for a cup of tea before he arrived, then we were on our way to York in jig time.

E Comp Craig Maurier is an early bird and chattered on matters masonic as I gradually adjusted to wide-awake mode. I was looking forward to him receiving the active Chapter rank of Provincial Grand Steward in the Masonic Province of Yorkshire North and East Ridings. He had duties to perform along with other Stewards which is why we were so unconscionably early, under the able direction of E Comp James Kerr, Provincial Grand DC, I watched with interest as the Companions were directed hither and yon with astonishing efficiency. Some were gently admonished; two had forgotten their jackets. Jimmy managed somehow to find jackets for them whilst delegating Stewards to different areas with specific tasks. I carefully kept out of the way.

The Chapter had already been set up in the Voltigeur Suite and I persuaded a Companion brandishing his phone to take a pic of me on my camera. Meanwhile, on the floor below, stalls were being set up in the robing area with masonic ties and regalia on sale; interesting Masonic jewels (consult E Comp Richard Theaker, who has a fine collection of rare items;) the latest design in Masonic gloves, and - thankfully, cups of coffee. It was there I met E Comp Hiten Thaker who had received Grand Chapter honours with me in London. "I see we're sitting together again," he said. "Why aren't you wearing your tailcoat?"

Damn. I knew I'd forgotten something. "Everybody will be looking at you," I said, "so I didn't bother."

Our rank merited seats with a good view of the ceremony, which was impressive. We were almost the last to be paraded in before the entry of the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent Excellent Companion Dr David Chambers and the Provincial Rulers - a great honour - and E Comp Nick Page played suitable music on the keyboard.

Kingston Chapter 1010 was represented not only by myself as J but as one of the Grand Officers of the year. It was pleasing to see E Comp Simon James Ramshaw receiving his second promotion to Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer and E Comp Malcolm Harold Watkinson who was appointed Past Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies. I quietly murmured congratulations to both as they passed, with a frisson of pride that they and so many of my friends were officially recognised for their contributions to Chapter Masonry.

 The three Principals looked magnificent in their robes and chains: the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent Dr David Chambers in the scarlet robe of office, the Second Grand Principal Excellent Companion Richard John Smedley in the rich deep blue of Haggai, and Excellent Companion Mark Iveson PPGScN in the lighter blue of Joshua. These three opened the Chapter magnificently before taking their seats after which the MEGS addressed the Companions, welcoming distinguished guests from neighbouring Provinces and conducting the business side of the meeting with enviable alacrity.

Nearly seventy Companions received honours that morning, some continuing the tasks in which they were already engaged, others coming forward to receive their collars. 

The Most Excellent addressed the Companions speaking of the limitations in the number of awards he was allowed to confer, but also exhorting those with talents that might be of service to the Chapter or Craft to make themsleves known. Why should someone with useful expertise have to wait several years before his skills might be used to promote masonry? The MEGS mentioned media skills, but was keen to learn of whatever else could be offered. Another theme was a pre-festival plug and the suggestion that a standing order would be a useful way to contribute. The Chapter was closed in due and ancient form.

Many of the Companions stayed for the meal (which Hiten Thaker told me later had been excellent) but Craig and I, both having meetings later that day, had decided to forgo lunch. 

The drive back was comfortable (E Comp Maurier is an excellent chauffeur - thanks, Craig!) There was time, I decided, for a short nap before the evening's Second Degree at Technical Craft Lodge and the second six o' clock of the day.

Eddie Wildman, J

 

Saturday 9th September 2023

 

Beverley Road Masonic Hall Open Day

by Neil Armstrong

 

Beverley Road Masonic Hall unlocked its doors to the general public for the first Open Day since Covid. Under the watchful eye of co-ordinator W. Bro Russ Garbutt, it was to be an occasion for visitors to learn all about what we Freemasons do and to present the true facts.

 Enthusiastic volunteers from Beverley Road Lodges acted as Masonic MythBusters, guiding the public to understand what goes on behind those imposing doors.

Supported by several of the Beverley Road Lodges and side orders, our hearty band of Brothers braved the shimmering heat on the hottest day of the year as we donned our regalia ready to meet and greet. Poor Brother Steve Berry was melting away under his heavily woven Knights Templar mantle and cloak.

Our visitors were escorted into the bar-area, for light refreshments, admirably catered by Toni Kerr and Margaret Shields - thanks Ladies, your help was invaluable!

Tours of the building were undertaken by a team of Brothers drawn from eight of the resident Lodges. From Entered Apprentice Ken Wright through to Provincial Officers, all played their part, the ‘light blues’ being supported by Cornerstone’s Steve Walker.

As the non-masons were led up the staircase to the first floor, pictures of former Grand Masters and Officers in Grand Lodge regalia seemed to be observing them cautiously but not disapprovingly.

 An air of expectation lingered in the heady heat. The Lodge room, redolent with history, now awaited the visitors.

The room has a ‘wow’ factor, as many of our visitors exclaimed upon entering.

They stood on the chequered carpet. listening to tales of Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, and Justice – no they’re not a girl-band!

‘Yes, this really is the room where rituals are carried out’, explained one of the guides.

Fascinated gazes admired the paintings hanging on the wall, the richly symbolic tracing boards.

Many visitors perused the Honour boards just to see if there was anyone they knew or names they recognised.

People were really pleased to be able to come in and look around, to see that we have nothing to hide. The guides afforded positive engagement with the fifty people, men and women, who passed through the doors, answering their many and varied questions, such as, ‘Why do you roll up your trouser leg?’  (‘It's to symbolise that a prospective member is a free man with no marks of imprisonment such as a shackle on his leg’, was the reply.)

 'Are you a secret society?'

‘Would an alleged secret society have ‘Masonic Hall’ written on their front door, and the square & compasses in plain sight?’

The novel placing of Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) Master and Wardens chairs with faces of famous Freemasons' faces attached generated further interaction with the visitors.

Quite a few commented on seeing Marcus, Jimmie ‘Two Kilts’, and myself on Thursday evening's BBC Look North programme.

Such is the power of television. (Some might say infamy!)

Mention of the article in the Yorkshire Post featuring Deputy PGM Jonathan Smith and others had generated much curiosity too.

 A PowerPoint presentation was given by the author of this blog in the Hall Dining room. It was a story starting at the Cock & Crown Tavern and ending at Beverley Road Masonic Hall.

The talk was delivered three times during the day.

The audience hailed from wide and far, including a couple visiting from New Zealand, two students from Nigeria and a Norfolk lady visiting family.

The final performance was observed by many of my fellow Brothers.

The audiences asked salient questions, including one lady who asked me to explain the forget-me-not badge. She never realized there been a persecution of Freemasons.

The author  during his talk. [Photo. B. Longstaff.]

It would seem our visiting public had had a great time and the event has succeeded in raising the local profile of Freemasonry, hopefully leading to enquiries from potential members. 

The final word goes to one visitor I inadvertently overheard say as they were leaving, ‘They’re not the nasty-pasties I read about on Internet, they’re really the good guys.’

What better compliment could we ask for?

Neil Armstrong

 

 

Thursday, 7th September 2023

 

 

Freemasonry MythBusters

by Neil Armstrong


In the past Freemasons have been badly represented when unscrupulous journalists reworked matters for pure sensationalism.


This was not the experience with BBC Look Norths’ reporters Philip Norton and Kevin Shoesmith, who wanted viewers to know the truth about Freemasons.


Listening is a mark of respect and courtesy which Kev and Phil demonstrated to us admirably as part of their televised interview.


Like the Three Amigos, W. Bros Marcus Whereat, Jimmy ’2kilts’ Kerr and myself answered the varied questions put to us, which hopefully gives the television viewers a more informed opinion of Freemasonry.


Standing under the watchful eye of a camera lens was a little daunting. This was quickly overcome, as we were aware that we only had one shot at this. We cheekily suggested some creative visuals to afford viewers accurate information about Freemasonry and also managed to get in a plug for the Beverley Road Masonic Hall Open Day.


Although the session lasted for nearly four hours, the finished filming was  edited down to a two-and three-quarter minute slot. The filming process evolved around a rough storyline, interspaced with jargon; ‘On camera, panning, close-up, and keep it snappy.’ All was not necessarily filmed in sequence; in fact, the opening welcome was filmed last.

Public perception was also gauged outside; one person thought we were a pop band, another guessed we were woodworkers; however, one gentleman did mention our charitable work.


With the amount of material filmed editing went to the wire. Presumably the editors were spoilt for choice!

BBC One - Look North - East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire opening scene.

    Neil ‘autographs available’ Armstrong

  

Sunday 3rd September 2023

Beverley Road Masonic Hall BBQ

by Neil Armstrong

There are many Lodges and side degrees who meet at Beverley Road (see the links page) and in addition to familiar faces from the Technical and Lord Bolton Lodges, Kingston Lodge was well represented together with partners and friends on the occasion of the Summer BBQ. This was organised in aid of the Beverley Road Masonic Hall; Alan Shand, the Hall Treasurer, explained that the monies raised were in aid of building restorations and improvements. (Indeed, some of the scaffolding was already in place!)

We were blessed with an afternoon of warm sunshine, and the seventy-odd of us enjoyed delicious food, listened to music, and caught up with each other while enjoying a refreshing drink or two. It was a relaxing time in convivial company.
 

Our Chef and Grill-master Luke and his able assistant Mark produced yet another mouth-watering repast (but then again, any of Luke's gastronomic cuisine goes down well.) 

Along with the accompanying raffle, the barbeque raised nearly a thousand pounds.

It is hoped that the Hall will become a licensed Wedding venue in the near future, already it is used for private lets.

This was the first of a series of fund-raising events, the next will be a Murder Mystery and meal on Saturday 28th October.

Watch this space!

[Photo: Left to Right - Marcus Whereat, Luke Pyrah, Roger Watkinson, Neil Armstrong, Malcolm Watkinson and Mike Price.]

Neil Armstrong – Expanded Waistline.

  

Saturday 2nd September 2023

 Travelling on the Northern Belle; Hull to Carlisle

by Marcus Whereat 

It’s a long time since I saw 5am. But for a classic train trip it was worth the effort. It was something of an challenge to produce a suitable article for the Kingston website too. Eddie Wildman is a strict editor - or should I say Eddietor – and insisted that there must be some Masonic connection if it was going to be published. No problem, I thought.

The Northern Belle experience is an award-winning train journey which plies various routes throughout the UK. This immediately reminded me of John Hamill’s comments exploring the connection between railways and freemasonry. (John Hamill is a noted Masonic Researcher and author.) He said that the history of railways and Freemasonry are inextricably linked, and the development of the rail network was a key element in the development of commercial and industrial power and the workings of UGLE itself. The development of rail links between London and the major cities made it easier for Brethren in the Provinces to reach the Capital, also hotels were built at main railway stations, often with Lodge Rooms included, such as the Grecian temple built in 1912 at the Great Eastern Hotel at Liverpool St Station in London.

Our excursion, however, was from Hull to Carlisle taking in the west coast and returning via the Carlisle to Settle line, and my wife Becky and I waited with Roger Watkinson and his wife Barbara at Hull Paragon.

(It occurred to me later that both Hull Paragon Station and the nearby Lodge at Dagger Lane are both Grade II listed buildings, but decided that this wasn’t a strong enough connection. Meanwhile I looked at the parallel lines of the tracks and reflected on the two great parallel lines tangential to the point within a circle – but it was too early in the morning for deep philosophical thoughts.)

Our train rolled in punctually at 6.30. The thirteen Pullman carriage train was luxuriously appointed, the carriages inlaid with marquetry designs in the beautiful wood panelling. Each carriage is named after a different castle, and fortuitously, ours depicted Glamis Castle, the family seat of the Earldom of Strathmore and Kinghorn.

That most eminent of Freemasons, Brother Albert Frederick Arthur George, Duke of York and later King George VI, in order to become a Grand Master Mason of the Grand Lodge of Scotland had first to become an “ordinary” Scottish Freemason. Therefore he became an affiliate or joining member of Lodge Glamis 99 in the Province of Forfarshire in June 1936. He chose to become a member there because Glamis Castle was the home of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon whom he married in 1923. Now eligible to become GMM, he was installed into that office in November 1936.

We were shown to our seats where a breath taking display was waiting: a delightful breakfast to get us fortified for the journey ahead. “Already this is looking like an excellent day,” I remarked. Roger nodded enthusiastically.

A hearty breakfast sets one up for the day, I reflected. When at home for breakfast, either at Chartwell or at 10 Downing Street, Freemason Winston Churchill began his day with breakfast in bed, commencing with a glass of orange juice. Wearing his black silk dressing gown with silver dragons, he’d tuck into a substantial English breakfast of cold chicken, or partridge and grouse when in season—though he was very partial to a grilled sole, too. But he always had something hot with something cold—if breakfast was bacon and eggs, then he had to have a slice of ham accompanying it, racks of hot toast with lashings of butter and jams and jellies, all with a pot of hot tea and an outsize cup.

He always smoked a cigar in bed after breakfast—helped along by a post-breakfast whiskey and soda to moisten his throat—served an hour after breakfast.

Unlike Churchill, I didn’t smoke a cigar. Replete, we relaxed and enjoyed the journey.

Travelling from East to West (following the path of the sun) we sped across Yorkshire and into Lancashire through the late summer countryside and the various towns and cities on our route. The old mill towns, their chimneys still reaching into the blue sky, were now accompanied by modern buildings, ever increasing and devouring the old vistas and the green belt alike.

But what was this? Our attention was diverted by a magician aboard who entertained us with humour and card trickery. It was not long before the west coast appeared, the impressive expanse of Morcombe Bay stretching for miles. Then we were into Carnforth for the addition to the train that every rail enthusiast had come for: STEAM!

Carnforth has an interesting Masonic connection. This “Railway Town” is the gateway to the Lake District, and has its own Lodge, Carnforth Lodge 4951. This was the ninth Lodge in the Lancaster and District Group of Lodges, which was formed after nine informal meetings between 1926 and 1928 at the Royal Station Hotel, Carnforth, which was to become the Lodge’s home until 1941 when it was taken over by the military “for the purpose of war.” The Brethren then met at their mother Lodge, Arthur John Brogden Lodge 1715 in Grange over Sands, a train ride away, until 1947.

We steamed northward now, the journey accompanied by the evocative sound of pistons and the distinctive chuffing noise so beloved by rail enthusiasts. We travelled, still in glorious sunshine, into Lakeland country, and on to Carlisle for a short break of an hour or so whilst the train was prepared for our return. This was a chance for the young boy still inside me to venture forth to the head of the train.

This was an extra and unexpected surprise for me, being ex RAF. The engine is a Battle of Britain class loco from the south coast where the engines were all named after squadrons and air stations of the region.

Engine 34067 Tangmere gleamed in the Carlisle sun, basking in the admiration of men and women alike buzzing like bees around it. It was also a photo opportunity before stretching our legs in the Masonic Province of Cumberland and Westmorland.

Tangmere is in the Masonic Province of Sussex, however, and it was in recognition of the value that serving military personnel, both regular, reservists and veterans contributed to Sussex Freemasons and the wider community that the Provincial Grand Master of Sussex, RWBro Chris Moore, together with Vice Admiral Paul Bennett CB OBE signed the Armed Forces Covenant at Tangmere Military Aviation Museum in Chichester in October 2021.

Built by the Orient Express and launched in 2000 after the meticulous restoration of the train's thirteen carriages, the Northern Belle group boasts a classic 1920s art deco interior including plush fabrics, original artwork and bespoke cutlery on the finely dressed tables. We had ample time to admire this on the return journey through the countryside to Settle, which was amazing. There was a champagne reception on boarding. Then we enjoyed a fantastic six course dinner, served by impeccable staff. Nothing was out of place, nothing was rushed, there was time to savour the delights. I felt like royalty, and I’m sure the occasional regal wave at those waiting for trains at the various stations we passed didn’t go amiss.

Another surprise! A guitarist and volinist  in black ties serenaded us through the train, passing from carriage to carriage in melodious duet. Sheer luxury. Fortunately, Roger didn't begin singing.

The Ribblehead viaduct was on our route affording a wonderful view through the valley, and the ladies gasped as we looked down over a hundred feet to the rolling hills in the distance. Neil has already written of the Masonic connections with this superb piece of railway engineering pictured in the blog article below this one.

There was a minor calamity: the train ran out of steam! It didn’t worry us; we were well relaxed, and I’m sure the champagne helped. There was a short delay whilst the second diesel returns to us from down the line and took over a little earlier than we’d expected. Normal service resumed and we continued our journey south and westward, the sun beginning to set over the English countryside that we do so take for granted.

And so, homewards. Passing through West Yorkshire I was reminded that long ago the county was all one huge Masonic Province, but that’s a story for another time. The evening shadows closing in warned that alas our excursion was coming to an end. Heading swiftly eastwards we spied the flashing navigation lights on the Humber, and the iconic bridge appearing out of the dark and flashing past in an instant. Our (then) Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master Jeffrey Gillyon, had welcomed the Lincolnshire Brethren at the convocation meeting in 2015 saying “We do not look at the Humber as a barrier, but rather at the Humber Bridge as establishing an unbreakable link between our Provinces.” Railways, roads, bridges and Lodges. It's all about links.

And so to home after a fantastic day.

Cheers!

Marcus Whereat, WM & steam train enthusiast.

 

 

 Wednesday 23rd August 2023

Building Bridges

by Neil Armstrong

I must be batty!

Feeling on a bit of a low ebb, I decided to take myself off for a car drive to Batty Moss and the famous Ribblehead Viaduct. (a 240-mile round trip.) 

Ribblehead is a remote location in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. There’s only a station, a pub, and a viaduct, but it is a stunning place.

Ribblehead station has a small visitor centre and coffee shop, manned by volunteers of the Settle Carlisle Trust. I spoke with a fascinating lady called Nancy, who had lived on a nearby farm all her life. She told me of the day in 1952 while she was sunbathing on the roof of the pigsty, she heard a tremendous crash. It was the derailed Thames-Clyde Express.

Due to the steep inclines on the line, the express was a double-header, two locomotives pulling the train. Due to poor maintenance, part of the brake rigging on the tender of the leading pilot engine came adrift and 'bounced' for a considerable distance before it struck the stretcher bar of the track points and moved them under the second loco and the first four coaches, causing them to overturn. The buckeye couplings had prevented telescoping of the coaches and the strengthed welded underframes withstood the very considerable shock It was fortunate that this accident was not accompanied by loss of life.

Thirty-four people lay injured as Nancy ran down and helped the casualties, for which she was awarded a wristwatch from British Railways, which she proudly showed me. It had stopped working years ago, but she still wears  it as a memento.

In the station forecourt was a rusting chimney believed to have come off the lead locomotive involved in the Hawes Junction accident of 1910. It made me reflect on Nancy's story and the fragility of life.

I walked down the bridlepath to the Station Inn, where I savoured lunch, a hearty portion of fish and chips with mushy peas washed down with a pint of the local bitter. A sign near the door sported a hanging stone and I wondered if it was Masonic, but closer examination showed it to be a weather guide, advising that "if the stone is wet, it's raining, if dry, it's not raining, if there;s a shadow on the ground, it's sunny, if white on top it's snowing." I smiled and read to the end. "Can't see stone - it's foggy. Swinging stone - it's windy. Stone gone - tornado." I continued my journey, reflecting that this meteorological advice indicated I was unmistakably in Yorkshire.

A ten-minute walk from the inn and I was beholding the famous Ribblehead Viaduct. it's worth the walk to stand underneath one of the mighty arches and marvel at the Victorian engineering that carries the Settle to Carlisle Railway across Batty Moss. It is a large and most impressive structure. Striding across this bleak wild corner of the Dales, it was built in just four years and is a quarter of a mile long. It’s a majestic sight with twenty-four arches standing one hundred and four feet high.

I could make out the remains of the old navvies' shanty settlements of Sebastopol, Jericho, Inkerman, Jerusalem, and Belgravia which surround the base of the viaduct. Two thousand workmen lived there during its construction.

The Settle & Carlisle line opened for rail services on 1 May1876 and ran continuously until the 1980s when the line was under serious threat of closure. Fortunately following substantial lobbying, the route was retained. Over the years the Ribblehead Viaduct has been subject to ongoing repair and restoration efforts, during which the lines across it were re-laid as a single track.

I returned home feeling rejuvenated after my jaunt into Yorkshire – ‘Gods own County’, reflecting on how the Viaduct resonates with Freemasonry.

The shanty settlements reminded me of individual lodges, all coming together for the common good, and of the early operative Lodges where communities of labourers would be called off work for refreshment in the middle of the day. The Viaduct itself, each arch held firm with a keystone, the essential element that directs and focuses the architecture and makes it strong, each arch supporting the next, each depending on its neighbour brought to mind the Masonic chain. The viaduct has stood the test of ages in both good times and bad, weathering many a storm, I reflected, as has Freemasonry.

Each limestone ashlar of Ribblehead Viaduct was hewn by stonemasons on site, forming the columns that conceivably represent the Strength, Beauty, and Wisdom of our forebears and their labours. And the viaduct stretches undaunted not only across Batty Moss (and from there all over the country) but across time itself, linking generations in its unassuming majesty.

Neil Armstrong, Lodge historian and railway enthusiast.