Mark takes the helm

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The new team – Mark and Jeremy are second and third from the left kneeling

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.

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The Festive Board

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.

Supporting the Poppy Appeal
Supporting the Poppy Appeal

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.

Masonic Marigolds

Berkshire Freemasons are at it again.

For the third time in recent weeks members of Hungerford Lodge have been out presenting a cheque to a local good cause. Following their donations to Great Bedwyn School in December 2014 and, more recently, to projects at John O’Gaunt and Shalbourne CofE Schools, it was back to Great Bedwyn. This time it was The Bruce Foundation who have benefitted from their benevolence.

The Berkshire Masonic Charity has donated £1,000 to the Foundation to help towards meeting the £120,000 capital cost of a unique, specially built and equipped motorhome. The wheelchair accessible vehicle, which is now ‘on the road’ is fully fitted with every aid and facility to enable people with disabilities or special needs to have a holiday, including a high end scissor action hospital bed with hoist and track system to a wet room at the rear of the vehicle.

Hungerford Lodge member Ken Phillips, who has been involved in the Bruce Foundation application to the Berkshire Masonic Charity, was so impressed with the sterling work of the Foundation that he  suggested Hungerford Lodge might also consider making a donation. The Hungerford Lodge Benevolent Association readily agreed, and moreover, agreed to match the £1,000 given by the the Berkshire Masonic Charity.

Rebecca - KenSo on Saturday 18th July, several Lodge members were greeted at Great Bedwyn Wharf by David Bruce and his daughter Rebecca. They were shown around the motorhome and David and Rebecca shared some tales of how the vehicle had already given pleasure to so many who might otherwise not have a holiday at all. The front passenger seat is removable and factory fitted anchor points can secure a wheelchair in its stead. One moving recollection of Rebecca’s was of a young lad in a wheelchair who was beside himself with joy at being able to sit in the front next to his driver dad, something he’d never done before.

Rebecca - MikeIn what at first sight seems a role reversal, Ken Phillips presented a cheque for £1,000 on behalf of the Berkshire Masonic Charity and esteemed Berkshire Freemason, and honorary member of Hungerford Lodge, Michael Tanner, was delighted to present the second £1,000 cheque on behalf of the Lodge. With the formalities over, Lodge members donned their Marigolds  and showed willing to help in getting the Foundation motorhome (and the Bruce Trust canal boat) cleaned and ready for the next hirers.

Ready to get stuck in! (L to R Mike Tanner, Mike Beck, Bert Harrison, Ken Phillips, Gilbert Mills and Ian Palmer)
Ready to get stuck in! (L to R Mike Tanner, Mike Beck, Bert Harrison, Ken Phillips, Gilbert Mills and Ian Palmer)

Sharing the Knowledge

JOG donationHungerford Freemasons are delighted to have presented a cheque for £500 to the John O’Gaunt School Library Appeal this week.

Gilbert Mills, Chairman of the Hungerford Freemasons Lodge Benevolent Association, presented a cheque to Assistant Head Teacher Mrs Bunston, PSA Chair Penny Locke and Librarian Mrs Lamb.

Hungerford Freemasons have taken a keen interest in the local community since the Lodge formed 90 years ago and we were delighted to have been approached to help with the John O’Gaunt School Library project.

As a self-confessed silver surfer, Gilbert said “Freemasonry has always been about encouraging people to be the best version of themselves that they can be. We do this by taking what we call a Daily Advancement or doing something every day to improve yourself. We hope that this new facility will help our children and grandchildren to do just that, as well as demystifying modern technology for my generation!”

About the Benevolent Association:

The Hungerford Lodge Benevolent Association is a registered charity that has in the last five years distributed over £25,000 of funds raised solely from the members of the Lodge and other Berkshire freemasons.

About the Learning Resource Centre:

The new Learning Resource Centre (LRC) will be an open plan space, set out with distinct zones and touch pad technology. As well as appropriate, varied and inspiring books, there will be a teaching space with interactive whiteboard, iPod stations for listening to audio books, reading ‘nook’ to read comfortably (my own children like to read lying down or even upside down!) and gallery space in which to celebrate student work. There will be a careers area to show our children what they never dreamed they might be, a graphic novel section for those who like a little ‘Pow!’ in their narrative and a variety of reading seats about the space for those who like to just ‘be’. The LRC will be modern in design, whilst approachable and inspiring in outlook. It will also be a space for our community; book groups for different age groups, storytelling afternoons for toddlers, author visits and book signings in conjunction with our local book shop and town library and the setting for our ‘Silver Surfers’ ICT course. Reading should be as much at the heart of the Hungerford Community as it is at our school.

The Last Supper – Hungerford Lodge Leaves Home After Almost 90 Years

After almost 90 years at the heart of the Hungerford community, the Hungerford Lodge is to move to the Newbury Masonic Centre. The Lodge has used the Town Hall and Corn Exchange for its meetings since 1925 but this association has come to an end due to the changing business needs of the Hungerford Town & Manor. This is a source of great disappointment to the members who have always been very proud to call themselves Hungerford Freemasons, and support local Hungerford charities, including funding the disabled access lift for the Town Hall.

After almost 90 years at the heart of the Hungerford community, the Hungerford Lodge is to move to the Newbury Masonic Centre. The Lodge has used the Town Hall and Corn Exchange for its meetings since 1925 but this association has come to an end due to the changing business needs of the Hungerford Town & Manor. This is a source of great disappointment to the members who have always been very proud to call themselves Hungerford Freemasons, and support local Hungerford charities, including funding the disabled access lift for the Town Hall.

Traditionally a celebration of the best of Freemasonry, the meeting and Festive Board held on December 9th 2014, was tinged with sadness. It was the last meeting of the Hungerford Lodge in Hungerford. Every year the Lodge celebrates Christmas with a legendary meal accompanied by the Hungerford Town Band playing Carols – who knew that Land of Hope and Glory was a Carol?

After the meal, the Lodge runs its Christmas auction. Over the years, this auction has raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity through the generosity of the Hungerford and visiting Freemasons. The money raised supports the activities of the Lodge Benevolent Association, which is a registered charity and since 2009, they have donated over £25,000 to local and national charities including:

The members of the Lodge formed a steering group which was tasked with investigating the alternatives within Hungerford and the surrounding areas. Although every effort was made to remain within Hungerford, no suitable accommodation was found which necessitated a move away from the Lodge’s traditional home. It was therefore decided to approach the Newbury Masonic Centre to host them for the future. This will bring the Hungerford Craft, Chapter and Mark Lodges all back under one roof again.

To maintain a link with Hungerford, the Lodge will hold its support meetings (General Purposes Committee, Lodge of Instruction and rehearsals) in the Cygnet Room of the Three Swans Hotel. The Lodge has also chosen to hold its Festive Board in Hungerford. The steering group will continue to take feedback from the members as to what is working and what needs to change as we adjust to our new home.

The Lodge wishes to thank the management committee at the Newbury Masonic Centre as well as the Berkshire Freemasons Executive team for their advice and guidance during this difficult time.

Becoming a Freemason

Long before their initiation a person has already prepared themselves for life as a Freemason.

Turning the key

Most people think you become a Freemason by going through an initiation ceremony and to some extent they are correct. However, long before a man is initiated, he will need to have become a Freemason in his heart. The ceremony of initiation simply confirms that transition.

Candidates for Freemasonry are typically looking to make themselves better men by being more useful to society in general and are already volunteering or involved in charitable activities. For example, there is a strong association between the Scouting movement and Freemasonry. The values instilled into young people during their time in the Scouts mirror those valued by Freemasons. There are several Lodges, such as the Be Prepared Lodge no 9845, for whom this bond is part of the reason they exist.

Freemasonry nurtures an inherent desire to be more than an individual, to serve the community and to grow as a person. Scouts learn to always do their best and to be prepared. The aim being to help them achieve their full physical, intellectual, social and spiritual potential so that they become constructive members of society. The degree structure of Freemasonry leads the individual on a spiritual (not religious) journey from ignorance to enlightenment or self-awareness.

Candidates will come via a variety of routes but all will be looking to become something more than they are today. If you believe that you are ready to take the next step on this journey, we recommend that you read through the following paragraphs and the What is involved? section and when you are ready, contact us to discuss how to take things forward.

Essential Qualifications

The essential qualifications for becoming a Freemason are:

  • You believe in a Supreme Being
  • You are at least 21
  • You are free and of good report

Belief in a Supreme Being

Craft Freemasonry is open to men of all faiths and does not focus on the name they use for that Supreme Being. Freemasonry acknowledges and respects that people find different routes to understand their own spirituality.

Being of mature age

The rules of Freemasonry require that a man has reached what was considered the age of majority at the time of their writing. Certain lodges in Oxford and Cambridge had a dispensation to initiate at 18 as they were aligned to the universities and this is being expanded under the Universities Scheme to cover more and more universities. The rule is intended to ensure that men are sufficiently mature in their thinking to make such an important decision.

Free and of good report

Freemasonry and therefore the ritual text predates the abolition of slavery and the requirement to be free or freeborn harks back to that time. Being of good report is a reference to the need for all candidates to be of high moral standing and with no unspent convictions.

© Hungerford Lodge 4748

Freemasonry and Entertainment

The subject of the Prestonian Lecture in 1999 was Freemasonry and Entertainment. It drew parallels with various ceremonies in Freemasonry and likened them to plays. There is unquestionably a certain amount of theatre in some ceremonies in the lodge room. There are principal players, a supporting cast, an audience and a producer.

Entertainment, in its broadest sense, is continued into the meal customarily enjoyed afterwards. Here some Lodges indulge in varying degrees of formal entertainment. This might take the form of cabaret, recitals, music or song. Though most Lodges will not indulge to that extent all Lodges will have toasts to propose. The proposal of informal toasts and the responses to them is, within reason, an opportunity for a light hearted or humorous ‘performance’, perhaps a limerick or a poem………entertainment if you will. So it might come as no surprise that among the membership of many Lodges there are entertainers; from circus clowns to dramatic actors and all shades in between.

That is not to say that the virtues or attributes found in either sphere of activity is necessarily suitable for the other. Far from it, a good entertainer would not necessarily make a good freemason, nor want to be, and vice-versa. However when the two do come together it is usually a happy union. In the mid to late nineteenth century many benevolent societies were founded by upright and worthy men to provide support and comfort for disadvantaged entertainers and their kin. The Royal General Theatrical Fund, The Dramatic and Equestrian Agency and Sick Fund Association , The Actors Orphanage Fund, The Variety Artistes’ Benevolent Fund & Institution and The Music Hall Sick Fund, to name but a few.

With roots stretching back much further and with well-established structures of benevolence and philanthropy already in place, many Lodges were populated with the same gentlemen who had founded, joined and supported the above organisations.A dozen or more Lodges founded in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century would be even more so and would make the association even more pronounced.

By their very name they would attract folk from the entertainment industry, among them; Drury Lane Lodge, consecrated in 1886 and meeting at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Manchester Dramatic Lodge, consecrated in 1891 and meeting at Freemasons’ Hall, Cooper Street, Manchester. Green Room Lodge, consecrated in 1903, and meeting at the Imperial Restaurant, London. Guildhall School of Music Lodge, consecrated in 1893 and meeting at the Holborn Restaurant, London. Proscenium Lodge, consecrated in 1910 and meeting at the Town Hall, King’s Road Chelsea.

There were other Lodges known to be in tune with the entertainment industry but not overtly so by their name. One in particular was heavily populated with gentlemen listed as licensed victuallers or music hall managers, at a time when the edges between the two occupations were still blurred. One does not have to look far in the Library or on the Internet to find the names of many well-known entertainers who were also Freemasons.

In future blog posts, we will look at the lives of some of the lesser known and now long forgotten ‘Entertainer Freemasons’.

© Hungerford Lodge No. 4748

Website Launch

Turning the keyThis post marks the official launch of the Hungerford Lodge no 4748 website. It is amazing to think that when the Lodge was founded in 1925, the era between the “War to end all wars” and the Great Depression, the times, dates and places of Masonic meetings were regularly published in the local papers.

There then followed a period of retrenchment, during which publicity was considered a bad thing. In part, this was due to the suppression of Freemasonry and persecution of freemasons on the continent during the run up to World War 2 and the war years. Although this changed with the changes to the European political landscape, there has been significant continued opposition to freemasonry.

It has taken a long time to get back to the point where Masons are encouraged to be open and proud of their membership. When the idea of the Hungerford Lodge having an online presence was first discussed at our General Purpose Committee, our current Master (or leader for the year) expressed his own inner struggle with the idea. He was initiated in the early 1970’s and has been a member of the Lodge during the time when news media coverage has typically been negative and Masons were taught to be cautious about revealing their membership. He recognised the need for greater openness as we had evidence that Hungerford residents were largely unaware of the existence of a Lodge of Freemasons within their midst, never mind the good we were doing for the community in general.

The fact that we, as a Lodge, now feel comfortable with a website and a presence on both Facebook and Twitter is a significant positive step, in this writer’s opinion. Furthermore, this openness is not limited to the Hungerford Lodge but the United Grand Lodge of England has a presence on the main online and social media platforms and has recently constructed a YouTube channel.

Some Lodges, in particular the North Harrow Lodge no 6557 have used the online world to turn a decline in numbers into a success story, which has truly inspired the Hungerford Lodge no 4748 to take this step into the online world.

We hope that you find the information on our site useful and we hope that:

  • If everything you have read about Freemasonry before you found this site was negative, we have succeeded in putting the other side of the story.
  • If you have thought about joining Freemasonry, this site answered your questions. If not, please contact us and we will attempt to answer any lingering questions and use the experience to improve our website.
  • If you are already a Mason, please come and visit us when you are in the area.