Middlesex Provincial Annual Meeting as experienced by a new Master Mason

HRH Process

Annual Meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge – Tuesday 12th May 2015
Grand Temple, Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queens Street, Holborn

The members of Bedfont Lodge, No. 8381 and I all assembled for lunch at Wolfe’s bar and grill at 12 noon.

However, due to my nerves and lateness I arrived around 12:30pm.

I somehow managed to miss a side street and was walking off in completely the wrong direction past the street where I needed to turn. A nice young man called Richard asked me if I needed any help and I gladly accepted.

I explained to him where I wanted to go and he promptly turned us around and we began walking back to the correct road that I needed.

He also guided me along Great Queen Street and took me right to the door of the lunch venue, hooray!

Wolfe’s is right across the road from the Grand Lodge in Holborn in Great Queens Street.

Once we had consumed lunch and I had fleeced the Worshipful Master for a tenner (due to the fact I only had a tenner on me and no other cash, just my cash card), we took the 30 second walk across the road to the Grand Lodge.

As we all entered the Lodge at around 1:50pm via its side entrance and up the green carpeted staircases I immediately could tell it was going to be a grand affair.

My guide for the day Brother John Hillman and I walked around the outer building.

I needed to purchase a tie and bought myself a lovely brand new 2020 Festival tie for the occasion (for which I also managed to fleece Bro John Hillman for another tenner), then we walked into the Grand Temple.

Banners in place

We took a couple of photos and begun to soak up the atmosphere and anticipation of 1,000’s of Members of the Middlesex Lodges who would be attending the AGM, in the presence of HRH Prince Michael of Kent.

At around 2:20pm we had a rehearsal for our procession of the banners of 30 Lodges, a couple of photos were also taken by official photographers (and in particular, one of me) which may appear on the Provincial website or in the next issue of the Mercury (masons magazine)?

Banners

Then John and I retired to the Drawing Room in the Grand Lodge, we had some refreshments and waited for our moment to arrive.

I was very nervous at this point, but also very excited and just in awe of the magnificence of the building, its thick carpets, marble floors, colourful decorations and all the Members attending today.

At around 3:20pm just before we lined up for our grand entrance holding our banners, Brother John took some time to describe to me a 1st World War monument at the inner entrance of the Grand Temple, I hope I did him, and the monument justice.

FWW Memorial

The monument is around 4 feet high, 2 feet long at the sides, 6 feet long in the front and back.

Topped with a sealed glass cover, this monument is covered in silver, the fanciest embossed writing and 12 inch high colourful figurines.

Underneath the top left-hand corner at a 45 degree angle facing outwards, there are two 12 inch or so high silver angel figurines and two more on the right-hand corner also facing outwards at an angle.

There is a book inside this monument, the pages are turned with a silver handle which is found at the centre of the monument about 4 inches below the top.

Either side of this handle and between the corners where the angels are, there are other figurines, one in particular was Moses holding a copy of the Tabernacle, which really grabbed my attention.

On the top of the monument were other figurines on the sides, army and naval statues.

Contained in a 12 inch boarder around the outside of the top of the monument was the fanciest embossed writing I have ever felt. Some of the words were, 1914 – 1918, in God We Trust and other writings.

And before I knew it, it was time to line up and begin our procession, I was so overawed by the monument, I was beginning to feel very overwhelmed.

We held our banners high on 7 feet long silver poles, they were thick like scaffolding poles, but very smooth, like brand new, my banner must have been very high in the air because as we walked off we had to lift them even higher by a couple of feet, or so.

As we took our positions, Bro John explained to me that at that exact point we were standing, we were right underneath a huge chandelier. This is where some of the filming took place for a Sherlock Holmes film.

Then, at 3:45pm we started our procession, we were applauded by everyone as soon as we entered the grand temple. It was so exciting, a great honour and quite a walk through all the Brothers standing at our arrival and we proceeded up many steps, broken into groups of 5 or 6, maybe 4, or 5 sets of steps.

Temple full

We handed over our banners which were placed at the top of the temple on the East side. Then we all proceeded to our reserved seats for the meeting.

We took our seats for the remainder of the meeting, which lasted around two hours.

There were many appointments made by Prince Michael and as they went on, I was treated to many descriptions of the Temple by Bro John Hillman on my right and from the left via Brother James Surrey of Pinner Lodge.

The ceiling was decorated in red, gold, blue and other colours, the Ark of the Covenant was up there and other things, too many for me to remember now. It was all so grand I can’t even remember the things the two brothers described to me.

Prince Michael’s chair was surrounded by 4 gold pillars, there was a huge canopy over the chair, it sounded very grand indeed.

As the meeting came to an end about 6:20, we all filed out for dinner and a huge crowd descended on the bar and we all eagerly waited for the dining room to open.

The dining room was massive, like a maze of round tables and chairs everywhere, there must have been about 30 or 40 tables or more.

John and I weaved our way to table number 33 where I was sitting.

I was sat with 6 Brothers. There was someone from Sri Lanka, a guy called Nigel to my left and a guy called Nigel to my right. We were soon joined by another brother called Robert, he had just been appointed that day as the Provincial Grand Sword Bearer, so I knew I was in safe and trusty company.

As we chatted over dinner, we all bonded and laughed and talked about the day and where we were from, it was simply amazing and it turned out that the brother from Sri Lanka was another banner carrier like me that day.

We had a lovely dinner with prawn cocktail to begin with, followed by main course where I chose the fish option which was salmon with some funky potato thing and a big mushroom stuffed underneath the salmon and some veg. Dinner was accompanied by two big glasses of deep red wine.

I got talking to the Provincial Grand Sword Bearer Robert who was a lovely man and he and his friends escorted me back to the tube station after we had made one last stop at the local pub right by the tube.

The whole day was very grand, awesome, educational and definitely one I will always remember.

From lunch, to the AGM meeting at the Grand Temple to dinner and our last little stop at the tube before venturing home.

My deepest thanks and appreciation go to:

Worshipful Master Damien Maguire for my introduction to Masonry and continual support and encouragement

Brother John Hillman for being my trusty guide, mentor for the day and generous sponsor

All the members of Bedfont Lodge, No. 8381 who attended the day and encouraged my involvement in carrying the Lodge Banner

A stranger called Richard who helped me find the lunch venue

And Robert, the Provincial Grand Sword Bearer who escorted me back to Holborn tube station

Bro Simon Highsmith
Bedfont Lodge, No. 8381

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