Quarterly Communications at Grand Lodge in London
On Wednesday 9th of March I visited Grand Lodge and attended the Quarterly Communications.
This was my third visit to the United Grand Lodge of England head-quarters at Great Queen Street, London; but my first time attending Grand Lodge.
The first time was a few years ago when a local Freemason was going to be made WM of Lodge that meets at Great Queen Street. A group of us from the Newbury area and piled into a people carrier for the trip to London to show our support. Whilst there we had a look around the museum, before attending his Lodge meeting and afterwards dining in a local hotel.
The second time was a day trip with the Berkshire Light Blues club. On this occasion about 30 younger Freemasons travelled by coach. This was a more organised trip that we had planned a guided tour around the museum and the the whole building, followed by a buffet lunch in a local venue. This trip did not include a Lodge meeting.
Yesterday’s visit came about because I am currently Master of Kennet Lodge (in the Masonic Province of Berkshire) and was therefore invited to accompany the Provincial Grand Master of Berkshire, along with members of the Provincial Executive and Masters of other Berkshire Lodges.I decided to travel by train. Trains from Reading Station go directly to Paddington at approximately 10 minute intervals, and the journey takes little more that half an hour. From where I live it’s quite easy to jump on a smaller train to take me to Reading, then get the next train into London.
From Paddington there isn’t a direct tube service to Holburn (the closest tube station to Great Queen Street). Though there’s a few combinations requiring a change of tube, I realised that only a five minute walk from Paddington is Lancaster Gate tube station, and that is on the same line as Holburn so took that option.
On coming out of the tube station and walking towards Great Queen Street it was obvious I was in the right place by the number of men in dark suits carrying over large brief cases. Not only that, I realised that I recognised some of them (including the Deputy PGM for Berkshire).
Going through the main entrance it was a case of going with the flow. The foyer was full of folding tables with everyone putting on their regalia, and at the back of the room a place to securely leave your coat and bag once you are ready.
Then I proceeded up stairs. Here were more tables divided into Lodge numbers enabling quick signing in. There I was given a copy of the agenda and other paperwork and a small token. This token is then given to someone on the door to ensure those entering have signed in.
Fortunately the other chaps from Berkshire spotted me and had saved a seat for me in the area behind the Junior Warden. Once sat down it gave opportunity to take in the vastness of the Lodge room. It’s impressive, with so much detail and decoration. And also quite a sight to see it filled with about 1,500 Freemasons in full regalia.
The meeting starts with the Grand Officers processing in, as well as Provincial Grand Masters and Grand Masters from other countries and filling up the seating in the East.
The opening of the Lodge was different to how I expected (as everyone needs to be a Master Mason to attend Grand Lodge it basically opens directly into the Third Degree). There was also a film crew doing some filming for an upcoming documentary so the Lodge called off so that they could film, plus some presentations could be made.
The “business” was run through quickly and efficiently; with everything being circulated in the paperwork accompanying the agenda, it was a case of proposing, seconding and accepting. One of these bits of business was voting on some changes that effectively allows the combining of the four Masonic Charities in one united charity.
This was the subject of one of the presentations.