The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) is led by the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, who was elected more than 50 years ago and is now UGLE’s longest-serving Grand Master.
The Pro Grand Master, who acts for him when his Royal duties supervene, is Peter Lowndes. The Deputy Grand Master is Jonathan Spence and the Assistant Grand Master is Sir David Wootton. Geoffrey Dearing is the President of the Board of General Purposes and Dr David Staples is the Grand Secretary and Chief Executive of UGLE.
Here you can find out more about the leaders of UGLE and their journey in Freemasonry.
The Duke of Kent was born in 1935, and educated at Eton and Le Rosey, Switzerland.
He is a cousin both of the Queen and of the Duke of Edinburgh. His father, who was Grand Master from 1939 until 1942, was the fourth son of King George V, and his mother, Princess Marina, was the daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece.
The Duke of Kent was initiated as a Freemason in Royal Alpha Lodge No. 16 in London on 16 December 1963. He completed his Second Degree on 30 January 1964 and his Third Degree on 5 June that same year, and served as Master of the Lodge in 1965.
His Royal Highness was appointed Senior Grand Warden by the United Grand Lodge of England in 1966 and was promoted to Grand Master in 1967 during UGLE's 250th anniversary celebrations at the Royal Albert Hall. He has been re-elected every year since and is now UGLE's longest serving Grand Master.
As the Grand Master is a member of the Royal Family, he may appoint a Pro Grand Master to be his principal adviser and to act for him on occasions when, due to Royal engagements, he is unable to be present.
Pro Grand Master
Peter Lowndes was born in 1948 and educated at Eton. He is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
Peter became a Freemason in 1972 when he was initiated into Old Etonian's Lodge No. 4500 in London and is currently a member of seven Craft Lodges – not including honorary memberships.
He served as Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies from 1984 until 1986, and was subsequently appointed Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1995, serving until 2003.
On 10 March 2004, Peter Lowndes was installed as Deputy Grand Master, continuing until his appointment as Pro Grand Master on 11 March 2009.
When the Grand Master is a member of the Royal Family, he may appoint a Pro Grand Master to be his principal adviser and to act for him on occasions when, due to Royal engagements, he is unable to be present.
I met a great friend in a pub one evening when he was on his way to his Lodge. I asked what went on and he replied “come and find out”. A few months later I did just that and have never had a moment's regret.
Make sure you have been well briefed on what Masonry expects of you and what you can expect from masonry. Be determined to enjoy the experience and then you will.
Travelling around our Provinces and Districts meeting so many incredible people who get themselves involved in some amazing projects.
Deputy Grand Master
Jonathan Spence was born in 1960, and educated at the Mathematical School, Rochester and Trinity College, Oxford.
After a career in banking, from which he retired in 2006 as Chief Executive of a London bank, he is now a College Bursar but maintains his interest in business with a number of non-executive director appointments.
Jonathan became a Freemason in October 1982 when he was initiated into Sir Joseph Williamson No. 4605, in the Province of East Kent.
Jonathan was appointed Grand Director of Ceremonies in 2003 and served in that office until his appointment as Deputy Grand Master on 11 March 2009.
Mumbai, a fascinating city.
Proclaiming the Grand Master in Grand Lodge as Grand Director of Ceremonies.
Thought-provoking, sociable, fun.
Assistant Grand Master
Sir David Wootton was born in 1950 and educated at Bradford Grammar School and Jesus College, Cambridge.
He became a partner in an international law firm in 1979, specialising in corporate transactions and corporate governance.
Having a strong interest in the governance of the City of London, he was elected to Common Council in 2002 as Member for the Ward of Farringdon Within, and subsequently elected as Alderman for the Ward of Langbourn in 2005. Sir David served as Lord Mayor of London for 2011-12.
Sir David became a Freemason in 1975 when he was initiated into Argonauts Lodge No. 2243, a rowing Lodge that meets in London.
He served as Metropolitan Senior Grand Warden in 2007, and was promoted to Past Grand Sword Bearer in 2012, before his appointment as Assistant Grand Master on 12 March 2014.
Sir David is also President of UGLE’s Universities Scheme.
Fellowship, community and fun.
Where I am sitting now, clearly Assistant Grand Master! Lots of harmony, common purpose, meeting people I wouldn't otherwise meet and lots of fun too.
I like opera, so Maria Callas, possibly the greatest soprano of all time; I like old films so John Ford, director of The Searchers; and I like sport so Abebe Bikila – the first man to win the Olympic men’s marathon twice!
President of the Board and General Purposes
Geoffrey Dearing was born in Maidstone in 1948 and is a former managing partner of one of Kent's largest law firms and a past president of the Kent Law Society.
Although he retired from full time practice some years ago, he continued with his interest in the law, travelling extensively as both a consultant and lecturer.
Geoffrey has served on the board of a number of small companies and has chaired a public company, as well as a charity supporting disadvantaged young people in Kent. He further served for a number of years as vice-chair of an educational trust covering three schools including two academies.
He was initiated into Freemasonry in February 1974 into a Lodge in East Kent and was appointed Past Assistant Grand Registrar in 1994, and served on the Commission for Appeals Courts from 2007.
In 2011, Geoffrey was appointed Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent for East Kent. Appointed to the Board of General Purposes by the Grand Master, he became President of the Board on 1 January 2018.
I was invited by someone who I respected and who thought I would enjoy Freemasonry – I did.
Force for good.
To witness the support of Freemasonry to individuals and communities.
Enjoy the journey!
Dr David Staples was born in 1974 and studied biochemistry and medicine at the University of Oxford.
After specialising in acute medicine, he held senior clinical roles across the UK before moving into the management of clinical services, and latterly Clinical Director for the Division of Medicine and Emergency Care at Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
David was appointed to the newly created role of Chief Executive Officer of UGLE in September 2017, and invested as Grand Secretary in April 2018.
David became a Freemason in 1997 when he was initiated into Apollo University Lodge No. 357 in Oxford in 1997. He later became Master of Middlesex Lodge No. 143 in 2006 and was appointed Metropolitan Grand Steward in 2011.
He was appointed Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 2014 and promoted to Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies in 2016.
David is a member of Provincial Lodges in Nottinghamshire, Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire, as well as the Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London.
By chance. A friend of mine was a member at university. He obviously enjoyed it and took me along. I remember getting ready in my student room wondering to myself whether I could really be bothered. It’s a source of wonder to me how seemingly inconsequential decisions can sometimes shape the course of your whole life. I am so glad I took the right decision.
Freemasonry is a remarkable hobby. For a few hours a month (or many more if you let it) you get to enter an environment steeped in tradition and history, play a part in learning and teaching key life lessons and skills, and meet and make some great friends you would never have otherwise met. For me, it is a part of my life I will always treasure.
I have many fond memories: I remember well my initiation in Oxford, the Tercentenary celebrations at the Royal Albert Hall in 2017, and my first Proclamation as Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies. Mostly, however, I remember the hundreds of interesting, decent people I have met in the Provinces and Districts I have visited and the enormous fun I have been fortunate enough to have as a member of this fabulous organisation.