ISSUE 18, July 2006
Editorial
Archbishop Fisher: A Godly man and a Brother
Travel: The train takes the strain
Quarterly Communication: Annual Investiture speech by the Grand Master and Speech of the Pro Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes
Supreme Grand Chapter: Speech by the First Grand Principal and Report of the Committee of General Purposes Grand Lodge of New York: Speech by the Pro Grand Master
   Specialist Lodges: Keeping their eyes on the ball
Education: Planning ahead for the Chair and Events and New premises for Masonic research
Royal Opera House: A right Royal occasion
Royal opening: Beamish Museum
Digital records: Saving our past for the future
Library & Museum: The hall in the garden
Queen's Birthday: Masons played a prominent part
International: A Mason and the Foreign Legion
Masonic Charities: Grand Charity and NMSF and RMBI and RMTGB
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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Top
Lodge members line up underneath the statue of William Webb Ellis

Bottom
The colourful Lodge banner
   As its name suggests, William Webb Ellis Lodge No. 9754 was founded in the name of the first Rugby player, primarily for Masons involved with the game of Rugby Union football, who wished to combine the social sides of two equally important facets of their lives.
    The Lodge was consecrated five years ago with 30 founding members at the home of Warwickshire’s Provincial Grand Lodge. The Lodge meets at the Rugby Masonic Hall, less than 250 yards from Rugby School Close, where William Webb Ellis first picked up that ball and ran with it. In the local area, and within a few hundred yards of the Rugby Masonic Hall, there are monuments to this historic event.
    The Lodge was sponsored by the Laurence Sheriffe Lodge No. 3497, founded in 1911 by the schoolmasters of Rugby School, another historic association with Rugby’s famous public school.
    The Lodge does not expect potential members to have been senior rugby players, although they have many of varying vintages – they simply like members to have some association and appreciation of the game. As ever with Masonry, the trick is to get relative youngsters involved and the Lodge has several who still play when time allows.
    The members aim to conduct their Masonic duties and their match day events in a relaxed and friendly environment with joviality and vibrancy, whilst maintaining the dignity of Freemasonry. They try to follow the ‘work hard and play hard’ ethic of their rugby careers, and embrace the full flavour of all of their events. They hope this conveys a taste of their approach to the fine art of celebrating the square and rugby posts, a combination of which is reflected in the Lodge’s banner.
    The Lodge also enjoys one unusual piece of Masonic furniture – a ‘Gilbert – Match’ rugby ball signed by all of the Founders of the Lodge at its consecration.
    When members are asked what it is they find in common between Masonry and the game of Rugby Union football, a consistent and almost unanimous response is that of camaraderie, of friendship, of respect, of team spirit and most especially, enjoyment of life.
    Bill ‘Windy’ Watts, the current Master, who is a very dedicated and experienced Mason, describes the Lodge as “typical of the Rugby fraternity – friendly, jovial and very relaxed – especially later on in the day!” So where did they come from? Their first Master, Stuart Esworthy, late one night after a long meeting, happened to say to their second Master, Mick Tarrant, “if only we could combine our love of Masonry with our love of rugby”. Mick, a director of Rugby Lions, was keen and Stuart (a coach at the Lions) knew that between them they had the contacts to get the ball rolling and the rest is history.
    Among the members are well-known players of many ages: Roy Pebody – who arguably in his day was the best threequarters never to be capped by England, large contingents from local sides such as the Old Laurentians and Newbold, as well as from Rugby St Andrews, where Nigel Headley, who played for them, now runs their Junior sides. From out of the town come Des De Burg Swarbrigg of Nuneaton and Graham Crum of Pertemps Bees (Birmingham/Solihull), to name but a few.
    The Lodge meets twice a year for Masonic business. The Installation is held on the first or second Saturday in December and commences at 9.30am, to coincide with a Rugby Lions home league fixture.
    The Lodge attends this fixture and views the match from the directors’ hospitality suite, where they dine and toast William Webb Ellis. There then comes the summer meeting, followed by a Ball, the format of which differs annually, such as an informal summer extravaganza, a beach party and a Karaoke disco night. They usually attend at least three rugby matches per year some Premier, some International and other local matches.
    The Lodge was originally conceived as a joining Lodge and to date has enjoyed a healthy number of new members each year. They have gained a reputation as being refreshingly different and many senior Masons volunteer to attend their meetings, whilst others often return for simple enjoyment, even when not required to do so on official business. So why not take a punt and pitch up to visit a relatively young Lodge with a great fixture list and a winning Masonic formula? You will be most welcome.

Further information is available from the Lodge secretary, Nick Hoare, on 07768 617068 or email; nickhoare@btinternet.com


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