What an amazing event we witnessed in London at the end of October. It was a mix of pomp and theatre - including re-enactments from when Freemasonry first began. Be one of the first in the world to view this most amazing event.
Click on the picture to below to watch all 2 and a half hours of the performance.
Today was a cold windy old day in the city....no rain, yet.
Buckingham Palace put on a display of marching, music, and some royal carriages came and went...who knows who was in them, although the flag was flying, and we had met a man in our hotel yesterday who had just received his MBE from the Queen.
Lunch was spent with Daniel Hayward, a member of Apollo University Lodge No 357 (which celebrates its bicentenary in 2019) to discuss some special aspects of how UGLE approaches the challenges of younger candidates. We have some great ideas learnt from their experiences and will look to introducing these into NZ, after making suitable adaptations to reflect our environment. The benefits they have derived are most impressive and I will reflect on how GLNZ might share in those advantages as I start my 25-hour journey heading home tomorrow morning. The above picture was taken with Daniel in the Oxford Cambridge Club in London where he hosted us for lunch. The Apollo Universiy Lodge meet in Oxford.
It was evident that in some respects we are ahead of their University Lodges while in other aspects we have lots to learn. That, I suppose, is one of the outcomes from international dialogue such as I have enjoyed this last 2 weeks.
The trip to UK is reaching a conclusion. I was delighted to have Graham Wrigley, Dep GM, accompany me and together we proudly represented NZ on the world stage. We attended the Tercentenary of UGLE, with 137 other Grand Masters and a host of Deputy GMs. The most GMs together at one time. I met the Duke of Kent and we chatted about NZ.
We experienced the ceremony in Royal Albert Hall and were delighted to see GLNZ first up on the screens being recognised by UGLE. We met our High Commissioner.
We met the GMs from Scotland and Ireland, and then visited their jurisdictions and presented them with gifts from NZ.
We experienced the Royal Arch crypt, Rosslyn Chapel, Mother Kilwinning Lodge No 0, Services Lodge meeting, and where ever we went, we made sure NZ was properly acknowledged and promoted.
Now, we head back to London - we have a final meeting with brethren there on Wednesday to discuss university lodges before I pack my bags and fly home first thing Thursday.
What a frantic couple of weeks but soon I will be back home.....checking on Freemasonry in our jurisdiction.....and I am looking forward to sharing further stories of the last few days....an opportunity to Speak Up for Freemasonry!
After the hustle and bustle of the last few days, it was delightful to relax and be a tourist in Ireland. Sunday was the city tour of Dublin highlights and some selected parks shops and malls.
Today was a visit to the Grand Lodge of Ireland to meet the Grand Secretary, deliver a gift from GLNZ to GL of Ireland, and then have a tour of the Lodge Rooms. Five dedicated rooms, one for their Grand Lodge gatherings, one for Royal Arch, one for the Mark Degree, one for the Knight Templars, and the last for A&A Scottish Rite.
The photos tell it all! The atmosphere in each room would enhance the ceremonies and make the ritual stand out to make a huge impact on candidates. On the one hand the Irish are so lucky to have such wonderful rooms to use, however, being located in central Dublin where parking is impossible, and with a couple of meetings on most nights, it is a challenge to attract regular attendees. The Lodge building dates back to the 1800’s as do the rooms...tradition, history... difficult not to make comparisons back to NZ where our much shorter history and newer Lodge Rooms reflect a different application of Freemasonry.
The Grand Master of Ireland is in Bermuda on masonic duties, so our waka was left with the Grand Secretary with the love and best wishes of GLNZ.
Over an hour was spent in the GL Ireland National Office and we were delighted with the hospitality shown to us. We will have a chance to reciprocate when they visit New Zealand, possibly in 2019.
As we head to Ireland, we reflect on the visit to Scotland. It isn’t every day a Grand Master from NZ has the opportunity to visit this Grand Lodge and I am delighted with the contacts we made, the impact we had, the gifts from NZ that were left with Lodges, brethren, the Grand Lodge. We were very well received, the hospitality was superb, our every need was met. It will be a delight to continue these relationships when we meet again in Melbourne Victoria in April 2018 at the Grand Installation.
Mission accomplished. Great fraternal relationships refreshed and strengthened.
Talking of Melbourne, the incoming GM is Keith Murray...from Scotland...who organised the Scottish visit and was with us these last few days. A great fellow who is keen to look after all NZ visitors in April. He is to send to me details of a Lodge meeting on the Thursday before the Grand Installation in Melbourne....ladies invited to attend ....a Lodge comprised of many younger keen masons.... Keith is keen to see us attend if possible....I have asked my DepGM, Graham Wrigley, to organise a social get together for the Friday (trip for NZ delegates up the Yarra, lunch, etc) so if you are thinking of joining us, please do so and let me know. Likewise, a fortnight after Melbourne is the Grand Installation in Adelaide, South Australia. More events will be organised by Graham...so if you are in the delegation from NZ you will have some great times with the Grand Lodge officers attending!!
Mindful of the breadth of the six recognised degrees in Freemasonry, we had the very special privilege of being shown a Royal Arch feature in Edinburgh. At the lodgerooms where we attended the Services Lodge meeting, which date back a couple of hundred years, we were led to a small round room with a domed ceiling, with walls beautifully ornate with scenes from the Royal Arch. A central altar brought focus to the room. The attached photos explain more eloquently the beauty of the area. The Dep GM and I were delighted to discover this treasure and it will form an important part of our travels.
The visit to the Grand Lodge of Scotland was today’s highlight. We had met the Grand Master Mason in London and had exchanged pleasantries on that occasion. Today was the chance to present them with a ceremonial waka, suitably enshrined from GLNZ.
We met with their Grand Secretary and Dep GM, had a cup of tea, photos, and a tour of their museum, shop, and meeting hall.
A wonderful day...I hopped into the Grand Master Mason chair...we saw several gifts from previous NZ delegations...and many Scottish mementoes extending back 100’s of years , including Robbie Burns signature in an attendance book.
In the main hall, which doubles as a Lodge meeting place, we heard their magnificent organ. Stunning.
Then off to dinner with the group.
Their Dep GM is apparently likely to be the next GMM so it was great to start building relationships with him - he plans to visit Victoria next April for the Grand Installation.
He also was able to give me some valuable information about their University Lodge, which is helpful preparation for next week when I meet in London with reps from the Apollo Lodge from Oxford University.
The Grand Sec of Scotland has indicated he is retiring next June ....he will be missed I suspect...he has a history of being an accountant in Hong Kong with, you guessed it, David Mace!
After our formal meeting with the G Sec of Scotland, a tour of their National Office, and a dinner of some fine beef steaks, the G Sec took the group to a local nite club called “the Dome”. See the attached photo...lights spectacular, huge indoor tree set up for Xmas, lights flashing and changing colours....
The G Sec got us all in to the Dome without paying a cover charge....we had a look round and decided we were the oldest by decades, and so decided to withdraw and head off to a local bar with more traditional decor, lots of noise, a roaring fire, people people people....I was back in the hotel just after 10pm while the last reveller struggled in at 3am.
Our day concluded with a visit to The Services Lodge No 1291 SC where they worked a exemplification of a Second Degree. It must have been a great feeling for the Lodge to receive their own Provincial Grand Master followed by two visiting Grand Masters and three Deputy Grand Masters. Of interest, the Lodge had recently been ‘inspected’ and the Depute Prov GM was in attendance to deliver his report to the Lodge which included a certificate to say that the records of the Lodge had been examined and were in compliance with the Book of Constitution and Rules of Grand Lodge.
There is an amazing history with this Lodge and the building which is home to 4 Lodges and several Other Orders.
The photograph above shows our combined delegation with the senior Grand Lodge of Scotland Officers.
Edinburgh: One of the busiest days of our trip starting with a historic visit to Mother Kilwinning Lodge No 0 in the province of Ayrshire, about 1.5 hour drive from our hotel. This dates back to the building of Kilwinning Abbey around 1140 and at one stage, was a Grand Lodge in its own right. Some interesting history on the Lodge and how it came to be No ‘0’ on the register of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. More information here.
We followed this up with a visit to the Roslyn Chapel, and tonight we will be attanding a Second Degree at The Services Lodge. More to come,
What a delight to meet the GM and Dep GM of the GL of Ireland at the banquet at Battersea Evolution. I am soon to head to Dublin where I will present their GrandLodge with a model waka to reflect the close fraternal relationship we enjoy. The Irish GM is heading off to Bermuda on an official visit but other dignitaries will be on hold to meet us in Dublin.
I met the Asst GM, Sir David Wooton, who is about to head out to NZ to attend the November Communication of the UGLE North Island (which is at Rotorua) with his wife Liz. They are simply lovely people, he was a former Lord Mayor of London so is well versed in the art of meeting people, making them feel welcome, and valued. I am sure they will enjoy the warmth and hospitality of NZ when they fly in for their short stay.
There were lots of GMs from the many American jurisdictions each with their own stories....the concept of our “Speak Up” campaign was well received and many mimicked the challenge of convincing brethren to talk to non masons about Freemasonry. Several asked for our contact details to get more information about our Speak Up activities. Freemasonry is indeed spread around the globe.
And what a delight and honour for New Zealand....the UGLE as the introduction to the main theatrical event of the 300 celebrations, wanted to showcase how Freemasonry is spread around the globe. How better to start the demonstration but with the Grand Lodge of New Zealand...our coat of arms and a map of NZ flashed on the screen first and foremost.....wow....if I had a $1 for each person who asked me later in the evening why we had been given such prominence!
What a glorious occasion with some 4,500 Freemasons from around the world seated in a premier entertainment venue, enjoying a spectacular theatrical presentation, led by Sir Derek Jacobi, profiling the progress of Freemasonry over 300 years.
Music from Gilbert and Sullivan (the Mikado) and from Mozart (the Magic Flute) combined with extracts from the ceremonial delivered with Shakespearean panache.....simply ‘wow’!
A message to and from the Queen with appropriate dignity. What a wonderful way to celebrate a Tercentenary.
The Banquet was at Battersea Evolution ...the largest catering facility in London. I was delighted to have a group of US Grand Masters at my table, with Lord Wigram (yes, his great grandfathers second cousin was the man who set up Wigram Air base in Christchurch...he was born in Wellington). Also at the table was the immediate Past Grand Secretary of the UGLE Nigel Burton.
The organisation has been stunning and very thorough - a great example to us all of how detailed preparation can make an event an outright success.
Well done to our hosts on a prestigious event, justly worthy of 300 years.
Graham and I are now about to depart for Edinburgh by train for 3 more days and engaging with the Scottish Constitution Grand Lodge.
This morning we were privileged to have a 40 minute meeting with Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae GNZM, QSO, KStJ, New Zealand High Commissioner at New Zealand House. Sir Jerry was well briefed on Freemasonry in general and of our standing in New Zealand. I presented him with a Crest of the Grand Lodge of New Zealand as well as a desk pen set showing the square and compasses. He was delighted that we took the time to meet with him.
We are now about to head off to the Royal Albert Hall for the formalities to celebrate 300 years of UGLE.
We have just returned from a formal reception hosted at Mansion House in the City of London, by the Lord Mayor who is also a Freemason (Past Grand Organist). Pleasing to be in the company of the Pro Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master and the Assistant Grand Master UGLE. We also met up with RW Bro Brian Westhead Dist GM North Island EC and RW Bro Geoff Rowe, Dist GM South Island EC, so it was great to see familiar faces. We also connected with RW Bro Sir David Wootting (himself a former Lord Mayor of London) and his wife Liz who will be visiting New Zealand in two weeks as a part of the English Constitution North Island District 300 celebrations.
A busy day tomorrow with a visit to the New Zealand High Commission and then the main celebrations at the Royal Albert Hall in the afternoon followed by a Banquet in the evening.
So today the festivities start. First up, 138 Grand Masters from around the world get into regalia, in order of seniority, and meet the Duke of Kent (the UGLE Grand Master)
History in the making. Never before have so many GMs been together in one gathering. GLNZ is 75th in seniority.....amongst the Aussie Grand Lodges....there are 196 recognised Grand Lodges around the world so our commencement date of 1890 puts us as senior to Tasmania Grand Lodge and United Grand Lodge of Queensland.
GLNZ presented an ornate waka to UGLE as a celebration of their 300th. It stood out as something special amongst a wide range of gifts from Lodges around the world.
We then wandered through the museum at Great Queen Street where amongst other items there was a special exhibition of items from the Pacific region, with several important items from NZ. Great to be recognised in such a public fashion on this special day. Picture below inclode me signing the official register of Grand Masters; a picture of the signed page; the Grand Master HRH on stage; and finally being presented to HRH (sorry about the darkness).
Pictures Top (L to R): Gift that the GM will be presenting to the UGLE on Monday; Welcome Dinner; MW Bro Mark Winger, RW Bro Graham Wrigley with the UGGLE Deputy Grand Master. Bottom (L to R): M W Bro Mark Winger with the GM & Dep GM from Western Australia; Programme for Service at Westminister Abby; The Welcome Dinner
London: While waiting for the 3.00pm hotel check in, I took a long walk this morning through central London and came to Westminster Abbey which is closed to the public on Sundays, unless you are attending the Holy Communion service, which I did today. Wonderful service in the Abbey with music and many Church dignitaries, plus I had the special experience of sharing a communion.
The UGLE have their guests at 5 different Hotels, so it is difficult to get a feel for the size of the celebrations just yet, but we have just attended the official first engagement, a Welcome Dinner, hosted by the UGLE Board of General Purposes. Amazing menu with a fish entree, lamb main, and delightful dessert, with the wine including a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, to everyone delight. All tables were individually hosted by a UGLE representative in the Grand Connaught Rooms with a live band performing some spirited music, culminating in a ‘duel’ between two buglers who, moving between the tables, enthralled the crowd with a simply superb brass challenges and responses.
The UGLE Deputy Grand Master welcomed the Crowd of some 320 senior masons and their wives, noting it was the largest gathering of Grand Masters ever, and suggesting the collective noun for such a group was a ‘seniority of Grand Masters’!
The meal was great, the evening ran to time, and we retired back to our hotel a few short paces away to prepare for the formalities of tomorrow.
London: After a short personal holiday in Spain and France, I am now back in London and meeting up with the Dep GM who arrived in London yesterday after a stopover in Singapore. We are about to move into the majestic Rosewood Hotel as guests of UGLE and catching up with our counterparts from the Australian Constitutions as well as representatives of all recognised Grand Lodges from around the world. This has created an incredible atmosphere and expectation, so I will be reporting regularly. – sometimes more than one daily.
The 300 celebrations start this evening with a welcome dinner at the famous Grand Connaught Rooms, a short walk from the hotel where we will be hosted by senior officers of the UGLE.
Read about the history of the Rosewood Hotel here
This is a trial blog to test our skills in entering details for the Brethren so that they can follow the Grand Master as he attends the UGLE 300 celebrations. Not a lot to actually report at the moment, but we will start the daily blog on Sunday.
We expect these to be done nightly, so with the time difference, a check each morning by our New Zealand Brethren would work out the best. Please tell the members of your Lodge so that we can keep everyone informed.
Our Grand Master departed from New Zealand last Friday and is currently taking a personal holiday in Spain before returning to London on Saturday.
The Deputy Grand Master leaves New Zealand on Thursday morning with a two night personal stay in Singapore before continuing on to London. Both will meet up on Sunday and transfer to the Rosewood Hotel which is the host hotel for the overseas Grand Lodge visitors. During this three day stay, we are the guests of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE),
Check back often and we will post as much information as we can and some photos.