Flower Show delight
Having visited the RHS Flower Show
at Tatton Park, may I congratulate the
Provincial Grand Lodge of Cheshire for a
wonderful garden? I thought it was a splendid
way in which both to dispel some of the
myths of Freemasonry and also inform and
generate interest among the general public.
Stokesley, North Yorkshire.
(An article on the Cheshire
Provincial garden appears on p28)
I broadly agree with Colin Pascoe (MQ,
Issue No. 17) that the toasts could be
shortened by making generic reference
to Grand Officers and Provincial Grand
Officers of Present and Past Rank (so as
to distinguish them from those in the Grand
Lodge above!) or London equivalent.
This would avoid the rigmarole of
naming them, which is what really takes
most time. However, it would be a pity to
abolish the toast to the Master, and his reply,
which along with the toast to the visitors,
is the centre-piece of the evening.
For many, including myself when I was
in the Chair, and then IPM, it was a rare
opportunity to practice formal speaking
among friends, and the confidence it gave
me has been of inestimable value since in
my business and non-Masonic life.
The full toast list could be used at special
occasions such as the Installation, or an
official visit by Grand or Provincial Grand
Officers, and perhaps at the anniversary of
the Lodge’s consecration, the toast to Past
Masters, Officers and Founders of the
Lodge could be given.
On a similar note, I think it would
be sensible to keep within bounds (say a
maximum of three or four and spread out
between courses) the number of times the
Master takes wine at the start of the meal.
If overdone, this can be quite disruptive at
a time when brethren are just sitting down
to enjoy each other’s company.
Why is it often the practice to take
wine with members of the Royal Arch,
of which I am a member, and not, say,
with such as the Mark Master Masons and
Knights Templar. If it is to be done at all,
why not take wine with members of all
other Masonic Orders recognised by
Why repeat toasts?
I have followed with interest the recent
debate regarding the formality of the toasts
at the Festive Board. As current Master of
my Lodge, it is evident that this is a matter
on which we look to each other, and
particularly senior Brethren, for guidance.
Then there is the letter from Ken Connelly
in which he rightly says that it is encouraging
to demonstrate to new Masons, decorum,
respect and acknowledgement of rank.
This is the very reason we rise and greet
brethren of senior rank with the appropriate
salutes in Lodge, but do we really need to
repeat it at the Festive Board, which should
be the social end to a well-rehearsed and
Let’s enjoy ourselves
MQ, Issue No. 18 contains an article
‘Planning ahead for the Chair’ by Raymond
Hollins. I have read the article very carefully
and wish to give advice to those brethren
whom it may concern: totally ignore nearly
all of it.
Masonry is supposed to be enjoyable –
even fun. We are not an amateur dramatic
society with members who can stand and
deliver set pieces in a wooden, parrot
fashion. We expect our senior members
to be good, but not necessarily perfect, in
their ritual. The odd mistake merely points
out that we are all human.
Festive boards are supposed to be sociable
events, and wine-taking is often traditional
and, in some Lodges with a specialised
background, is looked forward to by visitors,
many of whom attend because of the
idiosyncrasies of the festive board.
To advocate to junior brethren, with the
stress of modern life, that they should spend
‘not months but years’ writing speeches just
so they can shine at the festive board, is a
sure guarantee that we will drive them away.
I would rather carry on gently, guiding them
along and enjoying their Masonic career
more suited to the 21st century.
Solihull, West Midlands
Hele and thatching
I was interested to read Bro Russell Titford’s
letter (MQ, Issue No. 18) on the question
of “Hele or Hail.” My lodge – King Egbert
No. 4288 – has traditionally used the
From my limited researches there is good
justification for doing so. In my early years
as a Freemason I was intrigued by the word
“hele,” having never come across it before.
I found an application of the word in
connection with thatching. To hele was
the process of finishing off the eaves of a
roof, preventing anything from getting
underneath them. As Freemasons, we are
aware of the word “eavesdropping.”
The word “hele” is, therefore, logical
in the context of “conceal and reveal.”
And, when allied to harder materials, we
understand the meaning of a Lodge being
I believe Chaucer also used the word in
the phrase “hide and hele things.”
Barry E Oakley
Russell Titford (MQ, Issue No 18) enquires
when ‘hele’ started to be pronounced ‘hail’.
It goes back a very long way. When I was
initiated in 1955, my father, who initiated
me, distinctly said ‘hail’, and since then in
51 years of Masonry I have never heard it
pronounced any other way.
More important, his ritual book,
dated 1926, which I still have, has an
explicit footnote against ‘hele*’, reading
‘* Pron. Hail’.
The title page of the book reads: The
Perfect Ceremonies of Craft Masonry. This may
be considered as a correct edition of the
working which was approved by Grand
Lodge in 1814, and taught uninterruptedly
This edition evolved some years later into
the Emulation Ritual book, although the
Emulation Lodge of Instruction itself did not
produce a book until 1969. The compilers of
that book are well aware there are differences
in other workings. The Notes at the front
explicitly say, “There are many other systems
of working the Masonic ritual and many
quite senior brethren take the view that the
way they are used to carrying out the work
in their own Lodges is the only correct way”.
So it seems that in his Masonic career,
Bro Titford has been mainly concerned with
other workings – but ‘hail’ is nothing new.
Hele and potatoes
I agree with Russell Titford (MQ, Issue
No. 18). In the 1930s I remember hearing
my father say, “I’ve got to hele in those
potatoes.” I assumed he was referring to his
heel. Many years later, when I became a
Mason, I realised that he was saying ‘hele’.
I have an old copy of Chambers Dictionary,
in which the pronunciation is shown as heel
or heal. Hele is also a hamlet near Taunton,
and there is one in Exeter and Torquay.
Emulation says 'Hail'
Further to the letter from Russell Titford in the July 2006 issue,
I have just looked at two old ritual books: The Pefect Ceremonies of Craft Masonry for Emulation Workers dated 1938 and The Perfect Ceremonies of Craft Masonry, which was approved by Grand Lodge in 1814 and taught uninterruptedly ever since, dated 1926.
In both cases it clearly states in the Rubic that it should be pronounced 'Hail', so it seems that in some cases this was the practice before 1959 when Bro.Titford was initiated.
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