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Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge in Wales

Freemasons in Wales for the meeting of Grand Lodge


Masonic Milestone

The International Convention Centre Wales in Newport hosted the September Quarterly Communication (QC) on 13 September 2023. With great excitement, more than 1,300 members joined together to mark the largest gathering of Freemasons outside of London in a century. 

During the meeting, Pro Grand Master Jonathan Spence emphasised the importance of dedicating time to annual gatherings and maintaining regular contact with members. He also strongly encouraged face-to-face meetings and highlighted that members will respond with greater enthusiasm to this more personal approach. 

Regarding the four key words, the Strategy Working Party has re-evaluated the description of Freemasonry principles. The current terms – Integrity, Respect, Friendship and Charity – are seen as somewhat inadequate in capturing the organisation’s engagement with communities. It believes that a more fitting set of values should be Integrity, Respect, Friendship and Service. 

While Charity remains a fundamental aspect of Freemasonry, the organisation recognises that time, skills and a willingness to serve are equally valuable contributions to the communities in which members live, if not more so. Therefore, Service is proposed to more comprehensively reflect Freemasons’ engagement within their communities. 

At the event, Jonathan said: ‘It is 100 years since the Quarterly Communication was first held outside London. This is the first occasion a Quarterly Communication has been held in Wales and I am very pleased we are doing this today. 

‘I’ve mentioned several times in respect of the Strategy for Freemasonry, 2022 and Beyond that this year is one for putting in place the organisation and infrastructure to ensure delivery of our common objectives for a thriving organisation.’ 

The meetings abroad started on 5 September 1923 when, under the leadership of Pro Grand Master Lord Ampthill, the United Grand Lodge of England held its first Quarterly Communication outside of London. More than 2,200 Freemasons met at St George’s Hall in Liverpool for this historic event, requiring a rewrite of the Constitutions. 

While Grand Lodge meetings outside of London were not uncommon in the previous century, they were reserved for special occasions. These included laying foundation stones for important buildings, installing Provincial Grand Masters and addressing Lodge matters. The idea to hold the September meeting of Quarterly Communication outside of London was proposed in May 1921 by the Grand Master, The Duke of Connaught, last surviving son of Queen Victoria. A special committee, chaired by Board President Sir Alfred Robbins, supported this initiative. In 1922, a vote in Grand Lodge led to an amendment of Rule 11, allowing the Grand Master to determine the location of the September meetings. 

After the successful Liverpool meeting in 1923, the United Grand Lodge continued to hold September meetings outside of London – in Birmingham (1928), Newcastle (1934), Manchester (1935), and Leeds (1937). Contrary to initial doubts, attendance by Provincial members soared, with 88 per cent of attendees in Liverpool being Provincial Freemasons, compared with only 14 per cent at the London meeting in September 1922. These meetings coincided with a period of growth in Freemasonry following World War I. 

These gatherings were not merely novelties; they served as serious meetings of Grand Lodge where significant decisions were made. Donations were given for charitable causes, and historic policy changes were announced. Lord Ampthill announced the restoration of Masonic privileges to Freemasons of enemy country birth in 1928. In 1934, Bi-Centenary bars on Centenary jewels were introduced and in 1937, Grand Lodge declined an appeal to send aid to Abyssinia, citing political reasons. 

Apart from their Masonic significance, these meetings helped raise the profile of Freemasonry. Alfred Robbins, with his background in journalism, played a pivotal role in ensuring positive press coverage. For instance, the Liverpool meeting received extensive coverage, with reports of the event in local and national newspapers. 

We eagerly anticipate the impact of the meeting in Newport and whether it will continue to uphold the traditions and unity that began a century ago.

Freemasons in Wales


Masonic Memories 

Members share their experience of a very special day in Wales.

W Bro Thomas Batten:

The Quarterly Communication at the ICC Wales was a brilliant day. My wife and I motored up from the south coast and arrived in good time for us to book into the spa hotel and for me to prepare for the QC.

The venue was excellent and despite the tricky logistical problems for the processions, Charles and his team navigated the narrow entrances and other obstacles as could only be expected. The positioning of the Grand Stewards for both the procession and recession was ingenious.

The audiovisual presentation made sure that no one missed out on any of the dialogue or presentations and the quality of the sound in the auditorium was crisp and succinct.

The weather was kind and the drinks reception on the terrace was a fitting precursor to excellent fare provided by the venue for lunch.

I made a point of engaging in conversation with many groups of Brethren and, all in all, their jovial mood and complimentary remarks throughout the day told a story of resounding success.

MS Duleep, Assistant District Grand Master - District of Madras:

What an excellent choice for Quarterly Communication away from London. The facilities were first class and for someone with mobility problems, everything was so close – the car park straight into the foyer, the auditorium to the right and the robing room and dining to the left.

I enjoyed the presentation on The Members’ Pathway and appreciated singing the Welsh National Anthem in Welsh. The day was complete with pre-lunch drinks in the sunshine and excellent dining arrangements enjoyed with fellow London Freemasons. W Bro John Hewett, LGR Rangoon and Ormond-Iles Lodge No. 1268

I attended the meeting in Wales and loved the event, having travelled all the way from the District of Madras. It was a great experience meeting members from various Provinces and exchanging views on what we can collectively work on to attract modern men into our order.

Barry Laden, Worshipful Master of Farringdon Without Lodge No. 1745:

What an excellent meeting and day it was for us to visit the Quarterly Communication in Newport. Allan Graveson (IPM) and myself travelled from London as representatives of Farringdon Without Lodge and the day did not disappoint.

It was wonderful to be so welcomed by our Welsh Brethren and also to learn from our Pro Grand Master and key Welsh Lodges how we can change and adapt for a better and more successful future.

Daniel Graham, Provincial Communications Officer for Middlesex:

The excitement and anticipation were palpable as more than 1,100 Freemasons from across the UK and overseas gathered at the International Convention Centre Wales, where Pro Grand Master Jonathan Spence presided.

Highlights of the day were the speeches delivered by three members of Welsh Lodges that had achieved remarkable success in expanding their memberships through the innovative Members’ Pathway. Their insights left a lasting impression, inspiring those Freemasons visiting from various Provinces and Districts.

As the day drew to a close, the auditorium reverberated with the harmonious notes of both the Welsh and British national anthems. The camaraderie extended to the adjoining hall, where members gathered for a sumptuous dinner, capping off a memorable and historic day.

The event not only bridged geographical gaps but also showcased the enduring spirit of unity and growth within the Masonic community.

Geoff Walsh, Thames Lodge No. 1895

Attending a Grand Lodge meeting for the first time in my Masonic career, as I approached my installation as Worshipful Master of Thames Lodge No. 1895 on 10 October was splendid. The sheer brotherliness of the event was wonderful too.

Richard Wingett, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for East Kent:

Myself and five others attended from the Province of East Kent. The venue was brilliant and the whole experience fantastic. The Pro Grand Master’s address was bang on the money regarding change, with a good mix of professionalism and humour.

The three presentations on how Welsh Lodges are attracting new members were inspiring, and to hear so many Welshmen singing the Welsh national anthem was terrific. The Festive Board was exceptional and with no ‘top table’, we were lucky enough to sit together with the Pro Grand Master.

My wife and I stayed on in Wales for a few more days, and we found the whole experience to be very positive and refreshing.


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