If you watched the Sky One documentary “Inside the Freemasons” and wanted to know more about the Freemasons in your community, there is an opportunity over the Remembrance weekend (November 11th and 12th). Men and women from the male and female Masonic Lodges that meet at the Newbury Masonic Centre will be available to answer your questions and even take you on a tour of the Masonic Centre itself.
The team will be in Northbrook Street near Camp Hopson, the founders of which were both Newbury Masons.
This is the story of one man’s dedication to Freemasonry and the joy it continues to give him.
Peter George Townsend Ludlow is the current Father of Hungerford Lodge. This term is used to describe the member with the longest continuous service to the Lodge. He started his long and illustrious masonic career on 19th February 1957 when he was initiated into the Hungerford Lodge and he has been a constant member ever since.
Progressing steadily through the ranks within the Lodge he was installed as Master on 15th November 1966. His performance as Master obviously caught the eye of the Berkshire Provincial team as he subsequently rose to the rank of Assistant Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire and then on to Past Senior Grand Deacon of the United Grand Lodge of England.
Despite being 90, Peter is a very active Mason. He is a member of a number of Masonic Lodges and other Masonic orders within Berkshire, Wiltshire and Somerset and visits widely. He regularly brings a retinue of guests to our meetings.
Peter is well-loved within the Lodge and his is the calm voice we turn to when guidance is required, for example when the Lodge moved its meeting place from Hungerford to Newbury. When we recently interviewed a young prospective candidate, Peter spoke passionately about Freemasonry’s ability to keep him interested for 60 years as well as the support it has given him through troubled times such as the recent loss of his beloved wife, Daphne. Which other hobby can bring men of 23 and 90 together in this way?
At our meeting on 21st February, 65 members and visitors saw Peter presented with a certificate thanking him for his 60 years of service to Freemasonry in the Province of Berkshire. This was then followed by a certificate recognising his dedication from the Province of Somerset. Those attending were also treated to a double Passing ceremony for two of our Four Aces.
Freemasons are encouraged to have one aim – that of being happy and sharing that happiness with others. Hungerford Lodge members are doing our best to share our happiness with others.
When Mark Wiltshire took over as Master, he made it clear that he was encouraging the Hungerford members to visit other Lodges as often as they could and he is leading by example. This week has very busy for the Hungerford brethren, with members attending Lodge meetings across Berkshire and Gloucestershire.
Hungerford member and past master, Greg Hackney, is the current master of the Perseverance Lodge no 4554 invited Mark to join him to see a new mason initiated. Perseverance Lodge meets in the beautiful Masonic Hall on Portland Street, Cheltenham and was consecrated just two years before Hungerford.
Greg (left) is shown with his father, Phillip (centre) also a past master of Hungerford with Mark.
Whilst Mark was in Cheltenham, your author was in Sindlesham attending a triple passing (second degree) ceremony at the Greyfriars Lodge no 1101. Greyfriars is a Universities Scheme Lodge attracting candidates from the University of Reading. This was a very well executed ceremony and provided a number of pointers as to how Hungerford could streamline our own double passing scheduled for 21st February. A highlight of the evening for me was standing as a petitioner to ask the Provincial Grand Master of Berkshire to seek permission to establish a new Lodge in Berkshire.
Last but not least, Hungerford members visited the Berkshire Country Sports Lodge no 9810 which meets in Wantage. Bob Meikle, one of our Four Aces, was keen to progress through his next ceremony so the Hungerford team asked the Country Sports Lodge to conduct a ceremony on our behalf. There are strong ties between our two Lodges with a number of people being members of both. The Wantage team readily agreed and provided Bob with a night he will never forget.
The Hungerford Lodge was well represented at this ceremony with all of the men shown above being members. Bob is shown on the back row of the photo with the glass held highest.
Freemasonry is a hobby with an emphasis on being happy and sharing happiness with others. Our member are certainly enjoying their Freemasonry at the moment and seeking to share that enjoyment with as many other Lodges as we can. Perhaps you would like to join us to find out more?
Visiting is one of the pleasures of Freemasonry and Masons will often go to great lengths to visit a friend’s Lodge. This is a tale of just such a visit.
Freemasons will often travel long distances to visit another Lodge and the Hungerford members are no exception. One of our members was first brought into Freemasonry in a Lodge based in London, namely the St. Andrew’s Lodge no 231 which meets in Mark Masons’ Hall in St. James’s Street. Freemasons are proud of their Lodges and Robin duly invited members of the Hungerford Lodge to attend the installation meeting of his Mother Lodge.
A visiting team was assembled, led by Mark Wiltshire, our current Master, and off they went to the big smoke. Having successfully navigated the trains and tubes, the brethren prepared themselves for the meeting with all of their regalia.
Here we see Andrew, Chris, Mark and Sandy dressed in their finest ready for the off. They are clearly captivated by the beauty of their surroundings.
However, they must have been slightly overawed by the occasion as the boys took a wrong turning and found themselves part of the lineup saluting the new master of St Andrew’s Lodge!
Needless to say a great time was had by all at the Festive Board but all too soon it was time to head to Paddington station. They caught the last train back to Hungerford and headed home to bed. Some even stayed awake until they got home….. although Sandy claims he was just reliving the evening!
We look forward to hosting members of the St Andrew’s Lodge at a meeting of the Hungerford Lodge on a return visit in the near future.
One of the most pleasurable aspects of being a Mason is visiting other Lodges and sharing in their meeting. When you become Master of your Lodge, your status is effectively elevated to that of Ambassador for your Lodge.
Since Mark took over the helm of the Hungerford Lodge in mid November, he has been spreading the word about our little Lodge on the western edge of Berkshire. Hungerford is already recognised as the most active Lodge in the county with respect to Social Media. Mark is looking to put us back on the map as the most outgoing as well.
Tuesday 15th November saw Mark Wiltshire installed as the Master or leader of the Hungerford Lodge by Jeremy Dickins. Jeremy has been a real asset to the Lodge over the last year. He has worked hard at the ceremonies and has been just as diligent with the administrative side of the Lodge. Jeremy thanked his team for their support over the previous year before installing his successor in the time-honoured manner. Mark then appointed his team for the coming year, demonstrating how capable he is at memorising and reciting the ritual whilst at the same time displaying a sense of humour and a deftness of touch.
Once the ceremonial part of the evening was over, the members and guests retired to the Newbury Royal British Legion (RBL) Club for a celebratory meal. In all, 88 people sat down to dine on tomato soup, roast beef and all the trimmings, followed by a cheese board. The buzz of excitement for the evening had been building over the last few weeks and the atmosphere at the meal was electric. Masons had travelled from near and far to witness the changing of the guard as it is always a special event in a Lodge’s calendar.
Mark is part of the Provincial Outreach team and most, if not all, of the team had turned out to support their colleague. The Outreach team runs Open Days at each of the Masonic Centres throughout Berkshire with a view to making Freemasonry more accessible to the public and dispelling some of the myths propagated by the national media. The team had recently opened the Newbury Masonic Centre for one such event as part of the Remembrance Day activities in Newbury.
Once the meal was over the raffle was drawn with some splendid prizes available. The generosity of those attending meant that £500 was raised by the raffle and a further £180 was collected for alms. Mark consulted with his team and they decided to present a donation of £250 to the RBL Poppy Appeal on behalf of the Lodge. The remainder was donated the Lodge Benevolent Association for future charitable works. The RBL team were extremely grateful for the generosity.
A traditional part of the celebrations at the Installation of a new Master, is the singing of The Master’s Song. This is a combination of solo and participatory singing. Those who have been the recipient, know this is a very emotional moment for the new Master. One of Mark’s close friends, Graham Reynolds had jokingly offered to sing the Master’s Song for Mark at his installation. Mark was delighted by this offer and held his friend to this commitment. Graham’s skills as a Heating (not cooling) Engineer are more in demand than his singing skills and he was a touch out of practice. This added to the fun of the evening.
The Deputy Provincial Grand Master (deputy leader for Berkshire Masons) Anthony Howlett-Bolton was on hand to witness the event along with his retinue and they left having thoroughly enjoyed the evening.
Hannah, the most popular boat in the Bruce Trust fleet over the last 25 years, is scheduled for a complete refit and Berkshire Freemasons are delighted to be able to help fund this refit. The Bruce Trust provides canal holidays for disabled, disadvantaged or elderly people. The boats are of a special wide-beam design enabling wheelchair users to easily manoeuvre and to steer the boat using the tiller. Hannah also has a remote steering device to enable people with less upper body mobility to steer her with a joystick.
Hannah’s electrical and heating systems are scheduled to be overhauled and she will be modified to provide easier wheelchair access and improved welfare facilities. The result will enhance the experience and safety of her passengers, making her ready to be the pride of the fleet for the next 25 years.
There has been a longstanding relationship between the Trust and Berkshire Freemasons and especially the Hungerford Lodge. Both masonic bodies have provided significant funding to the Bruce Trust.
Rebecca Bruce, who oversees the day-to-day management of the Trust, and her father, David, who founded the Trust in 1988 with his wife Louise, greeted representatives of the Berkshire Masonic community and their families and friends at Great Bedwyn on Saturday 15th October. Among the Freemasons present were Peter Ludlow and Michael Tanner. Both have previously presented cheques from the Berkshire Masonic Charity (BMC) and Hungerford Lodge to the Trust and on this occasion, it fell to Peter to present a cheque from the BMC for £2,000 to The Bruce Trust at their home ‘port’ of Bedwyn Wharf.
Peter spoke briefly and passionately about the work that the Trust does. “Providing these boats brings enormous pleasure to so many people in West Berkshire and beyond, who might otherwise not enjoy a holiday or respite at all.”
In response, David confided “Last night we were awarded the Greenham Common Trust Community & Charity Award at the West Berkshire Business Awards, so all in all we are having a great weekend.”
Those attending could see the whole fleet alongside and were invited to go aboard ‘Hannah’ as she begins her transformation and ‘Rebecca’ whose upgrade had been completed in 2013. Different vessels, but similar enough to give a ‘before and after’ perspective.