Address of the Pro Grand Master
the Marquess of Northampton
8 September 2004
Brethren, I welcome you all to Grand Lodge
this morning for the start of another Masonic
season, which promises, once again, to be a
The final version of the proposed changes
to the Royal Arch rituals were circulated to
all relevant parties at the beginning of July,
and apart from a few minor amendments
that may become necessary, they will be
included in the paper of business for Grand
Chapter in November.
I would like to stress, however, that a
vote on these changes will only be taken at
that meeting if Companions feel they have
had enough time to digest what is proposed.
If a delay becomes necessary we will have
to call an Especial Convocation of Grand
Chapter in February, as the only other
meeting in the year is now the April
I know that several Companions have
expressed a concern that Chapters will feel
compelled to use the new ritual; this is not
the case. Of course, we would like to see
Chapters adopting the new version because
we believe it will make the Royal Arch
more attractive and more comprehensible,
but it will take time to settle down and be
accepted. I will therefore be proposing that
we review the position in ten years time.
Brethren, there still appears to be a
misunderstanding amongst some members
that the Royal Arch is to be further separated
in some way from the Craft, and I have even
heard a rumour that two parallel streams
of administration are to be created. This is
absolutely and unequivocally wrong.
There is not, and never has been, any
such intention. Nothing whatsoever is to be
changed in the way the Royal Arch is run,
and no further change in the relationship
between the two Orders is even remotely in
consideration. I hope that you will all now
help to quash any suggestion to the contrary.
I hope this year we will see a further
increase in the number of candidates over
last year. Many good initiatives have been
undertaken by Provinces over several years
to recruit and retain the interest of our
members. These are now bearing fruit
as our numbers start to grow again, but
it is so important to try and attract quality
candidates, because the future success of
English Freemasonry will depend on them.
We have heard from Professor Prescott
this morning about the work of the Centre
for Masonic Research at the University
of Sheffield, and how well it is progressing.
Such a project is deserving of our support
not just because it demonstrates that the
history of Freemasonry is a worthy subject
for academic research, but is a further
reminder to the world at large that we
are an open society.
We do, of course, have our own research
Lodge, Quatuor Coronati No. 2076, as well
as the Canonbury Masonic Research Centre,
which has close links with Sheffield through
Professor Prescott. We also have the
Cornerstone Society, which concentrates
more on the meanings hidden within our
rituals, as well as many good publications,
including Freemasonry Today and MQ, our
own house magazine, with its excellent
web-site. Together with the internet there
are now plenty of ways in which a Brother
can satisfy his inquiring mind.
Many of us join only for the friendship
and companionship which the Craft offers.
A Lodge night provides an opportunity to
spend time with those we have grown to
love and trust, away from the stresses and
problems of our daily lives.
For all of us Masonry must be enjoyable,
and we must constantly look at ways of
making it more so, even if it means adapting
the way we do things to fit modern society.
Some of us join for philanthropic reasons
and do excellent work helping to run our
many charities. Many Lodges give large
sums of money to worthy causes in the
form of a cheque, and that is highly
commendable. However, I do not believe
it is nearly as rewarding or, for that matter,
newsworthy as doing practical charity
work in the local community, and I would
encourage Brethren to do the latter as much
as possible. It is worth remembering that the
Almoner’s work for Brethren who are sick
or in need, as well as their widows and
children, is as much about charity as the
Charity Steward’s work in raising money.
I have recently returned from the
Tripartite meeting between the Home
Grand Lodges which this year was hosted
by the Irish in Dublin, and I would like
to take this opportunity of adding my best
wishes for the new Grand Lodge of Malta.
Once again that meeting was a very
happy and productive one. It might be
worth explaining the different attitude taken
by some overseas Grand Lodges towards
Freemasonry and its relationship with society.
In the Home Grand Lodges of England,
Ireland and Scotland, Freemasonry, being
a system, does not seek to influence society
directly by stating its position on any
particular matter. However, it does so
indirectly by making those members,
who practise its precepts, better and more
In a few moments I shall be welcoming
our overseas guests, who include the Grand
Masters of Uruguay, Argentina and Chile.
They kindly accepted an invitation from
the Assistant Grand Master to attend this
Quarterly Communication when he met
them on his recent trip to our District in
South America, Southern Division.
We have had friendly and interesting
discussions with them, and have learnt a lot
about the way their Grand Lodges operate
in a part of the world where Freemasonry is
expanding greatly. On your behalf I thank
them for coming here today and for giving
us the opportunity of making new friends.
Investiture of Grand Tyler
W Bro Lt Cdr Normal Nuttall retired as
Grand Tyler at the end of August after a
second period in that office after upwards
of 15 years of service. The Grand Master
has appointed W Bro Raymond Horton
as Grand Tyler from 1 September.
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