A review of ‘What Just Happened’ presented by Sylvan Lodge No. 6381

A unique demonstration by a unique Essex Lodge expounding the symbology involved in the first degree ceremony

On the 16th June, Sylvan Lodge No. 6381 held an unusual, possibly unique meeting at the Upminster Masonic Centre which sold out a week early. When Sylvan Lodge was close to handing in its warrant it became the Provincial Mentoring Lodge. Its new aim is to promote learning by developing and delivering ritual that Brethren of all ranks probably have not seen before.

Indeed, the motto of the Lodge is ‘Docendo discimus’, which means ‘By teaching we learn.’ That has certainly been the case with all members involved in this project! Hopefully, the brethren in attendance were of the same view.

The assembled brethren observing this demonstration included the Deputy Provincial Grand Master (DepProvGM), Nick Franklin, Assistant Provincial Grand Masters (APGM), Phillip Lovelock and Geoff Turpin as well as APGM Colin Felton, also the Worshipful Master. There were 77 visitors, including a most impressive 29 Entered Apprentices (EA), making a superb total of 96 brethren assembled.

This demonstration was an explanation of the symbology involved in the First Degree. It comprised of two main parts – The State of Darkness and The State of Light together with presentation of extended version of the First-Degree Working Tools, and a specially adapted Presentation of The White Gloves followed by and explanation of both. The meeting was capped off by a theatrical rendition of The First-Degree Tracing Board, all 29 new made Brothers were invited onto the floor of the Lodge to accompany our demonstration candidate to make it as personal an experience as possible.

As well as this comprehensive demonstration, all brethren were given a programme inserted into their summons, with an illustration of certain items mentioned in the talk, to also serve as a memento of the inaugural meeting.

Fifteen members of Sylvan Lodge delivered readings on all sections, as the Candidate perambulated around the Lodge, as in his Initiation under the guidance of the Junior Deacon. At various points, explanations were delivered by members of the Lodge.

This presentation was based on existing extensive research supplied by Keith Carpenter and collated by Vishnu Ramoutar, who also undertook much further research and corroboration. An approximate 2,000 man-hours of work went into the ultimate delivery of the night’s demonstration. Also, armed with all this research, the original presentation could have amounted to six hours duration but was scaled down to cover the essential elements and to make it a more enjoyable experience.

In the meeting as part of his report, the Lodge Mentor, Vishnu Ramoutar, asked the assembled brethren to send him any feedback they had on the demonstration. Comments after the Meeting were generally favourable which was most gratifying (see below) and additional comments can be sent to Vishnu at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To round off this special evening a total of 92 Brethren dined at the Festive Board and treated to a less than favourable rendition of the ‘Entered Apprentice Song’ – It was established that the Mentoring Lodge members cannot sing, as it was badly out of tune!!!  

Going forward, there are plans afoot to undertake similar researches and presentations for other Degrees and the history of Freemasonry. Eventually, to present these around the Province and beyond. We would like to thank all the brethren who came to support us, from all parts of the Province and beyond, without whom none of this would have had any meaning or value.



Alistair Barnwell, Provincial Assistant Grand Secretary “My guest, an EA from Hutton Lodge, found it very informative and really fired him up…. tonight, your Lodge took that to a totally different level, brilliant…. they are creating something that could be the best asset that Essex have got, something to really fire up new members, give them a far better understanding of what it is about and create advocates rather than ‘lost members.’”

Alan Barford, Wykeham Lodge No. 4925 “I wish to thank you for inviting me and my guest to the 'Explanation of the First Degree' presentation. This was delivered in a most excellent manner, enthusiastic, informative and interesting. All the brethren who had a part in the presentation were outstanding. Also, the many hours spent by Vishnu gleaning the information was incredible. It was also extremely masonically heartwarming to see the brotherly love that the Sylvan lodge has for its members and guests. This (I hope) will not go amiss amongst the attending EA’s. Also, all compliments for the excellent festive board and catering staff.  I am sure all the brethren came away, well informed and joyous after a most excellent meeting.    

Comments from a brother but, did not leave his name “Fantastic, could not keep up, just as we were digesting a new bit of information, we were hit with another, then another, it just kept on coming.”

John Holwett, a West Kent Freemason “What a Great Evening, a fantastic explanation of the Entered Apprentice ritual, so much work went it to it, I certainly learned a few more things and I have been a Mason for 6 years, so I cannot wait for your 2nd Degree. The research that the Sylvan Lodge, the Provincial Mentoring Lodge, was astonishing. Again, thank you for allowing us West Kent Freemasons to witness such an occasion.”

Ian Kennedy Essex Masons “A wonderful meeting in every respect. The result of the team's extraordinary time and effort that preceded the presentation was a joy to behold and l was so pleased to be there on this momentous occasion. There can be no doubt that your objectives were well and truly achieved last evening. Thank you for allowing me to overdose on Masonic knowledge. Onwards and upwards Brethren!”

Geoff Turpin, APGM “Firstly the ‘What Just Happened’ was excellent and hats off to all those involved in both presenting it and putting it together. Likewise, the Tracing Board and the Presentation of the Gloves. I'm sure both of those would've been a first for many of the newer guys… Overall, it was a great occasion, I don't want to take anything away from everybody's hard work in making it happen and for saving Sylvan Lodge. A very well done to you and all the mentoring team.

Facebook Link: Sylvan Lodge 6381 The Provincial Mentoring Lodge


Top: L-R - Phillip Lovelock APGM, Geoff Turpin APGM, Nick Franklyn, DepProvGM, Colin Felton APGM & WM of Sylvan Lodge, Russell Keetch, Provincial Grand Mentor (ProvGMen) with 29 newly made Brethren

Left: Similar photo to above including officers and members of the Sylvan Lodge

Right: Russell Keetch ProvGMen, presenting a beautiful bouquet of flowers to Vishnu Ramoutar to give to his wife Laura, an NHS nurse, for all the support she had given him and the Lodge to complete this project.