Freemasons’ Hall Brings Some Early Christmas Cheer With Its First Virtual Organ Concert This December

Freemasons are organising their first virtual Organ Concert, to take place on 9 December at 7pm. The event aims to showcase the magnificent Willis Pipe Organ, and will be streamed from the majestic Grand Temple in Freemasons’ Hall, London, an Art Deco masterpiece built in 1933.

The virtual audience will be able to watch Christopher Stokes, the present Senior Organist at the Freemasons, and organist and Master of the Choristers at Manchester Cathedral. He previously held posts as organist and Master of Music at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, and director of music at St Margaret's, Westminster Abbey.

Mr Stokes is a renowned soloist, but has also appeared with numerous orchestras, including the Hallé Orchestra, the Manchester Camerata, the Northern Chamber Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Golden Age.

The artist has selected eight memorable melodies to enchant audiences:

  • Sonata in G – Edward Elgar
  • Toccata Giocosa (William Mathias)
  • Psalm Prelude Set 1 No 1 (Herbert Howells)
  • Tuba Tune (Norman Cocker)
  • Chanson de Matin (Edward Elgar)
  • Tune in E, in the style of John Stanley (George Thalben-Ball)
  • Sonata in Eb, BWV 525(i) (Johann Sebastian Bach)
  • Crown Imperial (William Walton)

Dr David Staples, chief executive of the United Grand Lodge of England, commented: “The country has faced two national lockdowns in the past year, which has left many feeling isolated and lonely, at UGLE we wanted to spread some early Christmas cheer with a virtual concert to bring music and joy into people's homes. During the virtual presentation, the audience will have the opportunity to appreciate some of the stunning architecture of our Headquarters here in London at the same time.”

Freemasons’ Hall, was designed as a pentagon to suit the irregular area in which it is located. Built in the central courtyard of the splendid art deco building, the Grand Temple is rich in multicolored details of blue, gold and white.

Inside the Grand Temple, visitors cannot miss the majestic 1.25-tonne organ with its ornate pipes, the golden thrones and sturdy bronze doors, each measuring 3.6 metres by 1.2 metres.

The original organ was installed in 1933 by Henry Willis, the third generation of an extended family line of organ builders. It originally had three manuals and 43 stops, giving a total complement of some 2,220 pipes, and was the last big organ built by the Willis firm. After 80 years it was in need of a complete renovation, and this was carried out in Durham by Harrison & Harrison who designed the new case above the console to houses a further six stops (approximately 400 pipes) to enhance its sound.

To participate in the event, members of the public can book for free via:


Judges Reveal Secrets of Essex Freemasons

At the Pride of Essex Awards 2020 Presentation Ceremony on 24th November 2020 streamed by Anglia Ruskin University, the Judges gave the Essex Freemasons Community Fund (EFCF) a ‘First’ with the ultimate ‘Community Top Team Award’.

Chaired by Deputy Lieutenant Dave Dennison BEM, these annual Awards are for those who have shown exceptional courage, inspiration or community service in Essex. The top ten in each category were invited to the virtual presentation with the results kept a closely guarded secret.

The Freemasons were nominated for a new Award, ‘Heroes of Pandemic Essex’, set up for 2020 at the request of the Lord Lieutenant, Jennifer Tolhurst, and received a special mention for the thousands of visors, hand sanitiser and PPE they supplied to Care Homes, NHS Community Staff, Essex and Herts Air Ambulance and some East of England Ambulance Stations.

The Judges delved more deeply into the work of the Freemasons and found a number of other significant Community initiatives including six £10,000 grants to good causes and £20,000 towards boosting antibody testing. Totally unexpected, it came as a complete surprise when the Pride of Essex Awards 2020 Presenters detailed the finding of the Judges and announced the ‘Community Top Team in Essex’ was the Essex Freemasons Community Fund.

The Pride of Essex Award presenters explained that:

  • The EFCF was set up in 2019 with money from the charitable donations of Essex Freemasons to award grants to registered charities and organisations supporting communities. Six £10,000 grants were made this year
  • The Fund executive were also tasked with responding to PPE needs of groups across Essex (which received additional recognition in the new category of HOPE -‘Heroes of Pandemic Essex - Team Award)
  • Some of the initiatives and grants include £20,000 towards boosting antibody testing with a further £100,000 pledged to fight the virus in the East of England
  • 50 litres of hand sanitiser was given to the Essex Search and Rescue Team of 63 volunteers who find and help missing and vulnerable people in Essex
  • 50 litres of clinical grade sanitiser was donated to each of the seven hospices in Essex
  • A £10,000 grant was given to the Essex Child Death Review Team at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow to fill funding gap due to the COVID-19 outbreak
  • Hand sanitiser and face shields were provided to Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Service, face shields were supplied to all nurses in the Community Mental Health Teams in mid and south Essex and to District Nurses in the south of Essex
  • All 506 Registered Care Homes in Essex were offered face shields for all their staff. More than 320 care homes requested support and £10,000 worth of face shields has been supplied
  • Personal bottles of hand sanitiser were given to all Ambulance crews across Essex as a ‘Thank You’ from Essex Freemasons and that Freemason volunteers delivered all these items personally

In these unsettling and challenging times, this Award for the EFCF as the Community Top Team in Essex is also a first-class honour which further enhances the charitable reputation of Freemasonry in all the Provinces and Districts in UGLE.

The Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW.Bro Paul Reeves, acknowledged this recognition by the Community for the good work of all the 9,000 Freemasons in Essex who donated money as well as those who volunteered to deliver the items across the County.

One of the unfortunate consequences of the lockdown was that the PoE Awards could not be presented as usual, so the various sponsors of the awards were asked to present them following the online presentation ceremony. Mr. Ian Watson of Watson & Co Accountants, the category sponsor, who has been a long-term sponsor of the PoE Awards, presented the award to W.Bro Colin Felton, the Chairman of the Essex Freemasons Community Fund and VW.Bro Paul Reeves.

VW.Bro Paul Reeves said “each one deserved a handshake as personal recognition and that it was also a tribute to the late Rodney Bass OBE, the Provincial Grand Master of Essex who died in July 2020, under whose leadership the EFCF was set up, together with many of the initiatives which had impressed the Judges.”

Assistant Provincial Grand Master, W.Bro Tony White, emphasised the true depth and continuity of support for the Community in Essex, in that the Judges had awarded the Freemasons the ‘Team of Pride’ Community Award, after learning about their ongoing support of local charities across Essex in 2014.

In these unsettling and challenging times, this Pride of Essex 2020 Award for the EFCF as the Community Top Team in Essex is well deserved and helps enhance the reputation of Freemasonry for charitable giving, not just in Essex but throughout the UK and overseas.


Pictured Left to Right:

W.Bro Lee Taylor - Assistant Provincial Grand Master (who led the PPE Initiative (which won us the HOPE Award)).

W.Bro Colin Felton - Chairman of the Essex Freemasons Community Fund

W.Bro Ian Watson - Watson Accounting

VW.Bro Paul Reeves – Deputy Provincial Grand Master


A Leap of Faith in Solomon

It was a leap of faith on behalf of the many who had worked hard when Sir David Wooton, the Assistant Grand Master, launched the new online platform ‘Solomon’ two years ago on Saturday 21st November 2018. Among the congratulatory tweets on Twitter last Saturday (21st) from various individuals, one was one sent by a Province which read:

“Happy Second Birthday Solomon. The Dep Grand Master and all the brethren of the Province of Essex send their Congrats to all the Team @SolomonUGLE. We give our best wishes to everyone involved with Solomon in continuing to Foster Curiosity and Deliver Understanding to us all.”

The original aim of Solomon was to provide material to deliver in Lodges from a platform linking authors with members and was initially a depository of PDFs. Two years on there is now a wide combination of blended learning from experts and peers or self-directed using not only PDFs in the form of nuggets, papers and leaflets but also sound files, HTML 5.0 files, SCORM (share content reference modules), discussion forums and webinars.

With a range of subject areas covering both Craft and Royal Arch, there is something for everyone which can be accessed through the Search Bar or through the entry modulse of: Seek & Learn: designed for everyone, Share & Encourage: for Mentors and Support and Promote: for Provinces and Districts.

Over 34,000 Members have justified the ‘leap of faith’ finding Solomon really is ‘Fostering Curiosity and Developing Understanding’ and is an excellent resource for Brethren who want to make a Daily (or weekly, or monthly) Advancement in the Craft and Royal Arch. Join them at Solomon (


Pride of Essex Awards: Essex Freemasons Nominated

On Tuesday 24th November 2020 at 7.30pm the Pride of Essex Awards Presentation will be streamed by Anglia Ruskin University. Lasting for 67 minutes exactly, the virtual presentation will recognise the Nominations and Award winners of six Categories who have shown exceptional courage, inspiration and Community service in Essex.

At the request of the Lord Lieutenant, Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst, a new category for 2020 has been set up called HOPE, which stands for Heroes of Pandemic Essex, with Individual and Team Awards in recognition of those who have been looking after and helping other people during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

The Province of Essex has been accepted as a Nomination in the HOPE Team Category for the thousands of visors, hand sanitiser and PPE, the Province with the support of the Essex Freemasons Community Fund supplied to Care Homes, NHS Community staff, Essex and Herts Air Ambulance and some East of England Ambulance Stations.

Entrants cannot nominate themselves so this is a well-earned token of public appreciation, not only for the above, but also reflecting credit on all the good works of Essex Freemasons who have looked after others and helped out during the pandemic. Our Nomination highlights the changing public perception that Freemasonry in England is an organisation whose members work hard for charitable giving and good causes in the Community.

Brethren, please join the event and watch the Pride of Essex Awards Presentation with family members. Share together a number of inspirational and uplifting examples of selfless service for others as well as supporting our Nomination using the facility to send congratulatory messages. Click https://arul.inkPrideofEssexAwards at 7.30pm on Tuesday 24th November 2020.


Monkhams Centenary

We send our fraternal congratulations to all the Brethren of Monkhams Lodge No 4161 which was Consecrated at Freemasons Hall on 30th November 1920.  Named after Monkhams Hall, the family home of the Primus Master W Bro Sir Richard Beale Colvin who became the first APGM when the office was created in 1924 and PGM for Essex in 1929. 

A distinguished Army Officer, MP, DL and JP, W Bro Colvin also served Essex as a High Sheriff and Lord Lieutenant.  He was awarded the CB in 1901 and KCB in 1934.  In July 1929 one of the leading Masonic publications in the USA wrote about the 141st Anniversary Festival of the Royal Masonic Institution for Girls:

“It is interesting to note that over $350,000 was subscribed for the work of this enterprise. R.W. Bro. Brigadier-General Richard Beale Colvin, Provincial Grand Master of Essex, was chairman of this year's festival. His province outranked all others in contributions; the sum subscribed being over $150,000 [equivalent to over £1.75m today]” . . . What could not the Masons of this country do for charity if they showed as much real interest in regard to this basic tenet of the Fraternity?”

If the legendary ‘Master of Monkhams’ could be with us on the Centenary of the Consecration of Monkhams Lodge, he would no doubt encourage every Essex Mason to continue giving their support for the Essex 2022 Festival so that the Province can once more be acclaimed internationally for its charitable giving.


Saxon Hall helping our NHS

Saxon Hall, home to Freemasons in south east Essex, might be in lockdown with the rest of the country, but it continues to do its bit for the health of the country – helping the NHS, the ambulance service and the Red Cross.

The Pandemic means change for everyone and that includes, Saxon Hall’s flagship banqueting suite – the Jubilee – which will be turned into a temporary blood donation centre on selected days during the winter.

The Service have chosen the centre as it is big enough to cope with the numbers expected locally who want to give blood – and in case you were wondering - this is how the suite, usually reserved for dinners and dances, looked earlier this month after the NHS had installed all of its equipment.

Dennis Baum, Chairman of Saxon Hall commented: “In normal times Saxon Hall would be hosting at least two Masonic meetings every day and a wide range of other social events such as conferences and dinner dances.”

“This has clearly not been possible but because we have plenty of space, we have still managed to provide a wide range of different services for local charities and organisations such as the NHS, all of whom have been able to meet and socially distance. I would invite any other organisation that needs to meet in a safe environment to come and talk to us – we would be happy to help.”

In addition to the Blood Transfusion Service, the local ambulance and the Red Cross have also been regular users of Saxon Hall, but sadly, while the Centre can house these events, it is prevented from providing its usual teas, coffees and other refreshments.


Movember - Jas Bassan

I have always been a person who loved mystery and magic. And Freemasonary I found that. I knew of it and I used to see men in suits with Briefcases walking through the station and always found them to be polite decent men.

Then one day I was asked by a friend if I’d like to meet for a few drinks with others. And next thing I new I was asked to join Shepard’s Bush Lodge 1828. And my eyes were opened to some of the amazing work we do and the friendships that were to be made.

Along the route my work life balance over took for a while and I wanted a Lodge which was close r to home, and St Laurence 5511 stood out with their wonderful website. And the rest was history. I completed my Second and Masters Degree with men who would gladly call Brothers. I made some amazing friends at this Lodge and St Laurence really opened my eyes about what Freemasonary is all about.

During this journey, someone very close to me is battling Cancer. Every year for nearly 5 years I have every November participated in MOVEMBER- growing a Moustache over the November month and to raise money for charity. Being a Mason I would always contribute towards a charity, but because this was personal I thought I would try to raise a few quid. I had thought a hundred pounds raised for Cancer would have been amazing, but this figure so far within a week has been smashed! Within 5 days I managed to raise over £2500!!! And this was all donated by friends, Brothers and family!!! But I want to smash this figure further!! Cancer is a horrible nasty disease and can effect anyone. Not only the sufferer but their loved ones. And hand on heart my loved ones battle is my battle. And this is why I have pushed for a massive raise!


Solomon and the Lodge Officers’ Jewels

A number of Brethren in Essex are part of the Solomon User Group (SUG) which is a module on Solomon where new items designed by the Learning and Development Team are tried by ‘lead users’ who give feedback before the material goes live for all users. The current item being reviewed is all about the Lodge Officers’ Jewels.

Imagine a busy Installation Meeting where the collars have got mixed up and as you are sitting the closest to them the Worshipful Master looks at you and asks you to put them in order so he can invest his Officers. Three well designed introductory quizzes cover matching the officer to the jewel, the jewel to the officer and a timed quiz to identify the jewels for all the officers of a lodge. Then comes the fourth quiz called ‘Precedence of Officers’ which is described as fiendishly difficult with only two minutes to sort all the collars. This quiz has only one question but if you get it wrong a brother may be invested with the wrong collar and jewel.

The concept of the tests is first class and practising this way will help any brother make a useful contribution to the smooth running of proceedings at a busy Installation meeting with the added bonus of becoming more familiar with the Book of Constitutions Rule 104(d). Do look out for this and other new modules as they are a good way of “fostering curiosity and developing understanding”.


Freemasons' Hall lit up for Rememberance Day


To mark three major anniversaries for Remembrance Day the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) has lit up Freemasons' Hall in London with the names of Freemasons who died in WW1 to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of VE and VJ Day, and the Centenary of the unveiling of the Cenotaph, London.

The projection on Freemasons’ Hall will be on display until 9pm on the evening of Armistice Day and has already been shared widely on social media. In addition, more than 500 poppies, donated by Staffordshire Freemasons, are on display in the vestibules inside the stunning Grade II listed building, which was built as a peace memorial after WW1. The names of the 3,000 Freemasons are immortalised in the Roll of Honour within the Hall.

Freemasons have always had a strong relationship with the armed services, and UGLE have worked with Remembrance Penny who have donated a bronze poppy, in a case, inscribed with the words “They shall not grow old. For those Freemasons who died for their country”. Funds raised from the sale of the pennies will go to support Combat Stress to help continue delivering life-changing specialist services to veterans across the UK.  The poppy will be permanently situated in the vestibules as a symbol of reflection and contemplation for those servicemen and women who have served their country.

On Weds 11 November at 11:00am UGLE will live stream on its Facebook channel the two-minute silence in front of the peace memorial at Freemasons’ Hall, with a bugler playing The Last Post in tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Dr David Staples, UGLE’s chief executive, said: “The history of Freemasons’ Hall is directly linked to the Great War. There were more than 3,000 Freemasons killed in action during WW1 and in honour of those members, Freemasons' Hall was rebuilt as a peace memorial to all Freemasons’ who gave their lives for their country. This year, even in a difficult period, we have found a way to remember their ultimate sacrifice.”

In addition UGLE Freemasons will also be taking part in Remembrance Day events across the country. In Guernsey, members will attend the Remembrance Day service at our war memorial and lay a wreath in remembrance of those who lost their lives during WW1. The Royal Guernsey Light Infantry (RGLI) was formed in 1917 and fought in France during the last 12 months of WW1. Of the 2,430 Guernsey men, 230 were killed or missing in action.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight, meanwhile, is home to some of the country's largest and most important army and naval bases, and strong links have been formed during many decades. Many of the Province’s 250 Lodges have a long military heritage, reflected in proudly held names including Fleet Air Arm, Pegasus Forces, Royal Marine, Comrades and Aldershot Camp Lodge. Indeed, three members received the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest award for gallantry, during the Great War. Jon Whitaker, the head of Freemasonry in Hampshire and Isle of Wight, and a senior volunteer with the Royal British Legion (RBL), will lay a wreath on behalf of both local Freemasons and the RBL from all over the Province.

Meanwhile, in Bedfordshire the six Masonic centres (Ampthill, Bedford, Biggleswade, Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard and Luton), will each lay a wreath at local civic services to mark Remembrance Day.

In Middlesex, members will lay a wreath informally at each of 16 war memorials throughout the Province, in order to honour the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for this country’s freedom in various conflicts. The wreaths will be laid by one Freemason at each memorial.

In London, Freemasons are taking part in a parade past the Cenotaph. Others are acting as poetry readers for the London Underground. While in Staffordshire, six members will be attending the National Memorial Arboretum to lay wreaths at the Masonic Garden of Remembrance.

In Worcestershire, Freemason Karl Nicholson and his friend Luke Ford are marching 111 miles over 11 consecutive days with 11kg of dead weight, in aid of the Royal British Legions’ Poppy Appeal 2020. They aim to finish at Worcester Cathedral war memorial by 11:00am on 11 November 2020 and have so far raised £1111.11. They were previously members of RAF Air Cadets, serving adult volunteer staff at 187 (City of Worcester) Squadron.

Mr Nicholson said: "We reasoned that the RBL Poppy Appeal might struggle this year, and after the success of a similar walk we did during the lockdown in May (road marching 100 miles in 14 days with 10kg deadweight), raising £1,137 for the RAF Benevolent Fund, we thought we would do it again but upping the stakes to make the challenge more difficult, and of course this time in the cold and no doubt wet conditions.”

Meanwhile in Leicester and Rutland, with Freemasons’ support, a memorial stone commemorating those taken prisoner in the Far East during the Second World War has been installed. Elsewhere, Derbyshire Freemasons will be laying wreaths at a number of locations throughout the Province. While at Freemasons Hall in Derby, the Province will be holding a wreath-laying ceremony at its own monument, which was erected in 2018.

To find out more about the role Freemasons played during periods of national war members of the public can view the online Brothers In Alms website at This exhibition of rare photographs spans the period from the Second Boer War through to the end of the Second World War, and features those who led and those who served on land, sea and in the air. It portrays the great landscape of the conflict across all continents and the diversity of the participants.


Better Lives at work in Essex

Brethren across Essex, especially the Trustees and Members of the Association of Friends of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent Court, along with the residents and all those who work at Stisted must be very pleased that the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) chose Nikki, a Team Leader, for the lead story ‘A day in the life’ in the Better Lives Autumn/Winter 2020 issue.

Nikki’s fascinating account gives Brethren a glimpse of the hard work and dedication that goes on behind the scenes in the RMBI’s 18 care homes looking after more than 1,000 residents. The main focus of the rest of this issue of the MCF’s bi-annual magazine is on the relief available for full time unpaid carers, childcare for parents and life after caring.

Ten hard copies have been mailed to all lodge Almoners but with the suspension of meetings the online version is available at:  and can be passed to anyone associated with each lodge including past and present members, widowed partners and the children and grandchildren of members so that the MCF can reach those who are in need of support to get Better Lives.

Between 1 April and 31 July 2020 the MCF supported 451 charities with £2,775,136 of funding and another £2,689,702 in 1,847 grants to 1,460 brethren and their families struggling as a result of Covid-19.


We Will Remember Them

Many Brethren from Essex and throughout the UK have been notified that the Remembrance Day Parade at the Cenotaph in London on Sunday 8th November 2020 has been cancelled due to the pandemic. They would have taken part in the March Past as members of contingents from the Circuit of Service Lodges, the Royal British Legion or Veteran Service Associations.

The Brethren will be disappointed but we are all encouraged to watch the small service which will take place instead on BBC 1 or attend a local Remembrance event, subject to Covid restrictions, or pay our personal respects with the Two Minutes Silence.

It is at times like this when we reflect on the horrors of war or the destruction of pandemics that words fail us but on a clifftop in North Cornwall in September 1914, just a few weeks after the beginning of WW1, Laurence Binyon (1869-1943) composed his famous poem For The Fallen with its immortal final verse which helps us with humble gratitude preserve the memory of all those who have paid the Supreme Sacrifice.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.


Eight hospices receive nearly £14,000

Eight hospices across the county have been chosen to receive grants totaling nearly £14,000 from Essex Freemasons. The grants donated via the Freemasons own charity, the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), are urgently needed to help make up shortfalls in funding caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The hospices are:

Fair Havens Hospice
Farleigh Hospice
Haven House Children's Hospice
Little Havens Children's Hospice
Saint Francis Hospice
St Clare West Essex Hospice Care Trust
St Helena Hospice
St Luke's Hospice (Basildon & District)

These are just eight of 203 grants to hospices around the country from Freemasons. In total £750,000 will be donated to hospices all over England and Wales this year.

This includes £300,000 which will be distributed to each hospice that receives less than 60 per cent funding from the NHS and a further £450,000 which will be provided to individual hospices across England and Wales via Hospice UK, the national charity for hospice care.

Contributions from Freemasons to hospices have exceeded £14 million in England and Wales since 1984.

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