PGM Letterhead

The Second Rising

Your monthly news bulletin that lets you know what’s going on

in, around and beyond the Masonic Province of Oxfordshire

June 2020

Editor Matthew Christmas – Provincial Internal Communications Officer – email:

A word from the Provincial Grand Master

Very Dear Brethren,

You will be pleased to know that my comments this month will not be quite as lengthy as they were last time!  It is, of course, good news that we are starting to see some easing of the lockdown.  Personally, the re-opening of the golf courses has been a real blessing, although my own golf has not improved over the 8-week lay-off!  But I am still working from home as I really do not fancy the commute into London at present, and I think that will continue for some months yet.

I hope that you all saw the message from the Pro Grand Master on 15 May and, if you did not read it then, I would encourage you to do so now.  He writes so eloquently and captures the mood so well.  If you cannot find it, then please let the Provincial Grand Secretary know and he will ensure that you get a copy.

I have no crystal ball to see when we may resume our Freemasonry or what form it will take.  I know that many of you are keen to get going again, but we must temper our understandable enthusiasm, remembering that many of our members, or their loved ones, fall into the “at risk” category and will be much more reticent to resume.  We have to respect that.  I can also imagine that our meetings, at least in the short term, will be very different, and that we may not be able to enjoy a drink at the bar or each other’s company at the festive board.  A slow, measured return may be the most sensible approach, but let’s see what the future holds.  In the meantime, I encourage you all to keep in contact with each other by whatever means.  That support will mean so much and costs so little.  I continue to be impressed, not only by the good work our members do, as this issue of ‘The Second Rising’ once again shows, but also the support we give as individuals or as an organisation to the local community and to charities both large and small.  It is right that we should be proud of it and tell the public more about the good work that we do.

Let me congratulate those who will have recently received an appointment or promotion letter.  This reflects the good work you have done for your lodge or the province and I hope you will wear your new regalia from October with pride.  Below you will find the list of active provincial officers, but we cannot publish the full list of promotions and past ranks until all have responded.  We will hopefully do so in the next edition.  Nor do I know yet whether we will be able to come together for our provincial meeting in October to celebrate these awards.

And, finally, brethren, I hope that you and your families continue to keep safe and well, and that we can all look forward to the time when we can meet in person again.

Very best wishes.

R.W. Bro. James R.G. Hilditch, Provincial Grand Master


Follow this link to the Oxfordshire Provincial Grand Lodge website:

In this pandemic period with no masonic meetings, using Solomon is a good way to stay focused on our masonry in a positive way:




As everyone should now be aware, UGLE has allocated each Regional Communication Group (RCG) £100,000 to spend on COVID-19 related initiatives. We have identified five causes that urgently need funds. Claims have been submitted and are being approved in turn.  We will let you know more progress in the July edition of ‘The Second Rising’.

  • Oxford Health Trust (covering community hospitals such as Bicester, Witney and Henley) – we are providing care boxes for frontline staff taking care of COVID patients

We are delighted to advise that our first approval has come through and £5,000 has been paid to Oxford Health Trust to provide care boxes for frontline staff working in community hospitals such as Bicester, Henley and Witney. The Trust’s remit covers all of Oxfordshire, so we have shared this grant with our friends in the Province of Berkshire. Michelle Evans, Development Coordinator for the Trust, said that “this donation really lifts our spirits during these challenging times; the staff are simply delighted, thank you.”

  • Oxford Universities NHS Trust – we are sponsoring a respite room for those frontline workers involved in ITU and on the COVID wards

A £6,000 gift is boosting the arrival of much needed respite rooms for nursing and medical staff at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital. “I can’t tell you just how much difference this donation will now make to front-line staff and their mental well-being, especially at this time. Thank you so much” (Gemma Cole, Oxford University Hospitals.)  Gemma Cole continued: “Things are moving pretty fast, and the rooms are needed as quickly as possible, we have now begun to prepare and order items for these. It is really brilliant that Oxfordshire Freemasons support us and other local charities through these challenging times.”

The Oxford Mail featured this too: “Generous members from the Oxfordshire Freemasons pumped in £6,000 to the John Radcliffe Hospital for much needed respite rooms for frontline healthcare workers.  The accommodation is set to provide rest areas for NHS staff, and Oxford University Hospitals’ Fundraising Manager, Gemma Cole, revealed that they are already in preparation.”

  • Oxford Universities NHS Trust – we are purchasing a number of Cystic Fibrosis monitors as the patients are not allowed to visit hospital at the very time when the risk from their illness is even greater
  • Oxford Universities NHS Trust – we are purchasing a video system which will allow severely ill children to link with their parents who are unable to visit them in hospital
  • SSNAP – providing emerging items to parents of very premature babies, when hospital shops are not open during the pandemic

The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) has also reacted quickly in these difficult times. Its workload supporting brethren and their dependents has increased, and it continues to support us through matched funding and festival grants. Yet, nonetheless, there are two specific initiatives related to COVID-19 described below.

  • MCF COVID-19 Fund. This is a new short-term fund to help provinces to support local COVID-19 related initiatives which are taking place in their area. The MCF will provide funding for charities and (community) groups up to a total of £10,000 per province during this financial year.
  • COVID-19 Relief Chest. The MCF is working closely with UGLE and the RCGs in developing further ways for Freemasonry to be mobilised at local and national level in support of the crisis. One of these initiatives is the UGLE COVID-19 Relief Chest appeal which members can support with a one-off contribution towards Freemasonry’s national response to the crisis.

The MCF has agreed to match these donations up to a total value of £1M and in addition our own 2022 Festival will be credited with the value of the donation.

Brethren and Lodges are already supporting the COVID-19 Relief Chest. ‘The Second Rising’ again highlights some examples of these efforts below.



£711,000 already raised!  More needed!

We are supporting the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) through our 2022 Festival Appeal and the generous donations from members and lodges are vital if the MCF is to continue to provide the necessary grants, donations and resources to the countless members of our masonic family, charities both local and national, and also to the medical research projects that we care about.

The MCF is now facing an even greater call on its services and resources and has already allocated £2.25m to provide funding to help combat the effects of Covid-19. This will provide additional support to masonic and non-masonic projects, organisations and charities that are on the front line of this emergency. This is funding over and above the support that the MCF already provides through its existing charity grants and masonic support programmes, and that is why during these extraordinary times, extraordinary efforts are required from everyone.

The Provincial Grand Master is keen that we continue supporting the 2022 Festival Appeal. However, we are asking you to consider making that little extra donation so that Freemasonry can do more to help those most in need. By supporting the UGLE appeal to raise funds through a special Covid-19 Relief Chest and to acknowledge that you have made that additional donation, the MCF will match, pound for pound, those donations made (up to £1million). This can include personal and lodge donations (subject to your by-laws) and the results of fundraising efforts – virtual quiz nights or other fun and sociable events you are running by ‘Zoom’ or other virtual platforms. Perhaps you can consider allocating some of the money you would have spent on festive board dining, alms, raffles, even travel costs, towards this appeal, please?

Both UGLE and the MCF appreciate any additional donations we make, and as a further way of acknowledging your increased support, the MCF will ensure these additional donations are recorded towards our 2022 Festival total, plus your own Lodge and individual totals.

Making a donation is really easy. Just go to and enter your details. Any questions please contact Andrew Keech

 Regular Festival Donations

Festival Steward – £10 per month over 2.5 years

Festival Vice Patron – £20 per month over 2.5 years

Festival Patron – £30 per month over 2.5 years

Festival Grand Patron – £40 per month over 2.5 years

As always, thank you for your continued support. Any questions, please ask.



Saint Barbara lodge has now held several ‘Zoom’ quizzes for the whole family and, to date, has raised £340 for the MCF COVID-19 Relief Chest with different people running each one. Photos of two of the May quizzes are below!

They would be delighted to have others outside the lodge involved.  If you wish to do so, please email the lodge to book in and consider donating £5 or more to the Masonic Charitable Fund, Covid-19 Appeal. The link for this is


The Light Blues are meeting regularly on ‘Zoom’ and they have planned a virtual Oxfordshire Light Blues event on Saturday June 13th at 7.30 pm hosted online on ‘Zoom’. WBro Tony Harvey will be delivering his updated 2018 Cornwallis Lecture, live and online, followed by a Q&A session.  In this talk, Tony Harvey explains the importance of evolution and change for any organisation to succeed and thrive. He describes how throughout masonic history, lodges have managed change and offers an approach that lodges can use to secure their future.

There are only 100 spaces available.  Here is the link to book onto the lecture:

Here is also the link which takes you to a donation page for our guest lecturer. Money raised will go to the MCF COVID-19 fund.  Donations are of course voluntary.


The Provincial Charity Committee met on ‘Zoom’ recently and was delighted to support a number of exciting projects and fantastic charities in Oxfordshire.

  • 2nd Oxford Scouts at Cowley will receive £1,000 towards a new floor for their scout hut (and we think we may have one of their leaders interested in joining us).
  • £2,000 is going to SUDEP Action (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilesy) which is running an extremely important research project in Oxfordshire looking at epilepsy and how greater awareness and other factors can eliminate many of the deaths which can sadly happen as a result of a seizure.
  • APCAM (Assisting Parents with Children Affected by Mental Health) supports younger people with mental health issues and is thrilled to receive £1,000.
  • South Central Ambulance Charity has £1,000 towards the purchase of mechanical chest compression devices.
  • sSNAP (Supporting Sick Newborns and Parents) is under even more pressure than normal, so we have given £1,000 to provide basic, essential items of clothing and grocery products for mothers staying in a hospital when everything around them is shut.
  • Pancreatic Cancer Care received £1,000 towards supporting patients in our area.
  • Bicester Baby Bank is a new charity giving mums and young children quality pre-used clothing and essential food packages. We have been able to give a grant of £500.
  • Within our own masonic sphere, we are also donating £3,000 to our friends and neighbours, Buckinghamshire Provincial Grand Lodge, towards their 2021 Festival and £1,000 to the Mark Benevolent Fund for their 2025 Festival.

As ever, Andrew Keech (Provincial Grand Charity Steward) will be absolutely delighted to hear from members who wish to recommend a charity or charitable cause for consideration of support. We have quite broad selection criteria for most Oxfordshire based organisations.


 Members of SHIPLAKE LODGE No. 7942 have formed a rota to keep in regular contact with their widows and the members they no longer see at lodge.

Despite repeated attempts and leaving numerous voicemails on a mobile, they were unable to get a response from a widow who had moved to deepest, darkest Wales. The lodge almoner had got to the stage that he was considering an approach to the provincial almoner to contact the almoner for the province of Carmarthenshire to request a visit from a local lodge to check she was in good health.

Eventually, the lodge received a call from the widow herself explaining that she had “upsized” and now had a five-bedroom house with plenty of land where she looks after her ducks, geese and chickens.  Not only that, but she has invited members of Shiplake Lodge to go and visit her when the lockdown ends. Plan A is for members of Shiplake to visit her and at the same time visit a local Lodge.

Certainly, something for the lodge to look forward to whenever they are able.


Providing Teddy Bears to distressed children  in A&E Departments

In an exclusive interview with Second Rising, the teddies have told us that they are fed up being in cardboard boxes in masonic centres and want new homes. . . !

At this time, we cannot supply bears to the NHS as they have other priorities. So, please buy one and give your loved one or a friend a real treat.  The 20” (50cm) traditional bear is only £20 and is most popular with children and adults alike! The smaller traditional bear at 11” (28 cm) is a mere £9.  You can also choose one of the six 10” (26cm), coloured bears. The bright colours (green, red, lilac, pink, blue and yellow) are ideal for babies and young children and only £9 too.

The cost of each bear includes first class postage and packing, an information leaflet, a pin badge and we can include a message from you to whom you wish to receive everyone’s favourite toy. They meet all current Health & Safety Legislation.

For safety reasons all bears will now be individually wrapped in a compostable bag. This gives us the opportunity to add a small card to explain more about the TLC scheme and perhaps encourage a small donation back to allow the scheme to prosper. Whilst fundraising is not the primary aim of the TLC scheme, to borrow a phrase: “every little helps”.

Payment can be either via internet or cheque sent to me and all the money will go to the Provincial Charity Account to help buy more bears to give to the NHS.  Please contact Roger Hampshire at:

We have a new dedicated website for news and also fundraising.  Please see

“Teddies’ Tales” (the first instalment in a new soap opera for Second Rising)

Big Ted: Come on boys, we’ve got to fix this to get to that new Classic Car Lodge consecration.

Green Ted: But are these tubes dark blues or light blues?


There is a new email address for all pantomime-related matters:

There are now lucky numbers available in our weekly game.  The game is our main fund-raising activity to pay for the pantomime for the disabled children.  Numbers are £1 a week and you can pay yearly or by standing order of £13 every three months.

Please purchase a lucky number by emailing Roger Hampshire on the pantomime email above; you have the chance of winning £30 a week and all the profits go to providing the pantomime.

This year’s pantomime is booked for December and we are just keeping our fingers crossed. We have been in touch with the schools and other organisations that cater for these children and they like us are hopeful it will all happen (“Oh yes it will. . . !”).



Just a brief reminder that formal lodge and chapter meetings and the related ceremonies can only take place with all brethren or companions physically present in a properly tyled lodge room.

However, while it is acceptable for members over the internet, on ‘Zoom’ etc to practise our ceremonies – most particularly those aspects that make up the spoken parts of the ritual – we must all refrain from any demonstrations of those elements of the ceremonies covered in our obligations, or any attempt to reproduce the ‘choreography’ online.

Please do not try to hold a genuine lodge or lodge of instruction in a virtual form, but feel free to practise those elements outlined above.


First of all, I hope you are all well and staying safe, despite us not being able to assemble due to this pandemic.  I know that I miss lodge and chapter meetings and I guess you do too, but we must do all we can to look after each other and particularly those who are self-isolating and may be alone.

Secondly, while the Learning & Development Day in July is now postponed, I am looking at setting up a ‘Zoom’ meeting with lodge mentors when we will be talking about the Members Pathway, Solomon and some other related topics.

Some of you are working as key workers and others are helping out in their communities and may well be assisting your lodge almoners in their important work at this strange time.  It would be great to hear what you have been doing and to let the rest of us know through the medium of ‘The Second Rising’.  If you have a story to tell, then please let Matthew Christmas (the Editor) know and copy me in, as we would all like to read all about it!

In the meantime, please let me know if you need help or assistance. Please don’t hesitate to contact me.


 Many congratulations to all of the following:



Deputy Provincial Grand Master

Assistant Provincial Grand Master

Provincial Senior Grand Warden

Provincial Junior Grand Warden

Provincial Grand Chaplain

Provincial Grand Treasurer

Provincial Grand Registrar

Provincial Grand Secretary

Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies

Provincial Grand Sword Bearer

Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works

Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies

Provincial Grand Almoner

Provincial Grand Charity Steward

Provincial Grand Mentor

Provincial Grand Orator

Provincial Senior Grand Deacon

Provincial Senior Grand Deacon

Provincial Junior Grand Deacon

Provincial Junior Grand Deacon

Provincial Assistant Grand Secretary

Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies

Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies

Provincial Grand Organist

Provincial Grand Standard Bearer

Provincial Grand Standard Bearer

Provincial Grand Pursuivant

Provincial Grand Steward

Provincial Grand Steward

Provincial Grand Steward

Provincial Grand Steward

Provincial Grand Tyler

Graham Ellis

Alan Baverstock

James Flinn

Tony Nimmo

Geoffrey Bourne-Taylor

Richard Skym

Phil Harley

Bernd Wegerhoff

Paul Buck

Mark Adams

Alan Meech

Stephen Pope

Christopher Davis

Andrew Keech

Keith Harvey

Stephen Quant

Stan Hearn

Philip Saunders

Charles Botting

Robin Barter

Ronald Barnett

Yanto Evans

Mark Jewell


Kevin Prior

Paul Wiltshire

Pan Christoforou

Mark Boullé

Chris Gasson

David Reeves

Mark Slaymaker

Nigel Payne



Dear Brethren,

Since the last issue of ‘The Second Rising’, we have lost three well-known and well-respected Brethren, thankfully none of them due to COVID-19.

Anthony M. Brace               Cherwell Lodge & The Oxfordshire Lodge of Service and Honour

Robert E. Barnfield             Gateway, Witta’s Island & Oxfordshire Lodge of Installed Masters

David W. Thomas               Saint Giles Lodge

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, relatives and friends whom they have left behind.

Yours sincerely and fraternally, (please stay safe)

Bernie Wegerhoff

Provincial Grand Secretary



The United Grand Lodge of England has accepted the petition for the creation of the Sir William Morris Lodge – Oxfordshire’s soon-to-be newest Lodge – aimed at classic and performance motor enthusiasts. The lodge has been designated number 10,003 – just turning the clock over the magic 10K. . .

Given the present circumstances, the proposed consecration date is difficult to predict, but First Master-Designate, Chris Wagstaff, hopes that it will happen later this year.  Although the founders’ list is now closed, the lodge members would be delighted to accept joining members. More details can be found at the lodge’s brand-new website –


Brethren, if your list of repair jobs around the house is getting shorter and you have a couple of minutes to spare, perhaps you would like to guess to whom the desks in the photographs belong.

The five members of the Executive are the Provincial Grand Master, the Deputy PGM, the Assistant PGM, the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies and the Provincial Grand Secretary.  There is a photograph of the desk of each.

Answers to the Provincial Grand Secretary, please.  The first correct answer wins a pint of beer/or other drink from him. His decision is final and only the winner will receive an acknowledgement.

Answers will be published in the next issue of ‘The Second Rising’.


D E  


So, James, tell us a bit about your family.

I met my wife Mary, when I was at St John’s College, Oxford, and we’ve been married for nearly 33 years.  Mary is a Senior Teaching Fellow in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Surrey. We have two boys: the elder, Jamie, is in his last year at Cambridge having read mathematics and will be undertaking doctoral research in oceanography at Stamford University in California; the younger, David, is just finishing his first year at the University of Bath reading architecture.

What do you do for a living?

I have worked for Ernst & Young ever since I left university.  I qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1989 and am now an Associate Partner in our Professional Practice team, which is the technical part of the audit business.

Other than freemasonry, what are your hobbies and interests?

I try to play golf once a week.  I have a handicap of 16 and have been a member of Beaconsfield Golf Club since 1980.  I am also a Liveryman of the Merchant Taylors’ Company and a Freeman of the City of London.  I also avidly do The Times crossword and su dokus, with varying degrees of success!  I am a very good armchair sportsman, especially cricket, rugby union, golf, grand prix and American football.  But work and masonry take up too much time to really indulge in these at present.

What attracted you to the Craft and how and when did you join?

My father was a freemason and he was initiated in India.  Shortly before I went up to Oxford in October 1983, I asked him about it, but he said I was too young and had to wait until I was at least 21.  About two months later, he came back from one of his lodge meetings where a fellow member had told him about Apollo.  I met this chap in early January, then the secretary and was initiated in February 1984.  The rest, as they say, is history

What other masonic orders are in you in?

Most!  But there are one or two left for when I retire, both from work and as Provincial Grand Master.  There are some that I joined when I was still at Oxford, but I have joined others since I became PGM.

Is there, then, a degree (beyond Craft and Chapter) that you enjoy the most and why?

I genuinely enjoy them all, and my real problem is that I want to attend all the meetings, but there are inevitable clashes.  What is great fun, though, is the orders I have recently joined, where I am still progressing through the lower offices: the equivalents of steward, inner guard and deacon

What do you like most about freemasonry?

I really enjoy doing the ritual and taking part in lodge activities.  I am a great believer that you get as much out of your masonry as you put into it.  That’s why I have been a Secretary and Treasurer so often.  But at the end of the day, it is the friendships that I have made over the past 35 years.  I have been lucky to meet so many interesting people from all walks of life, and been to places I would not have imagined.

Most memorable masonic moment?

There have been many, both good and bad, and many fun ones such as when Ron Bridger tried to strangle me (it was part of a ceremony). . .  Of course, being asked to become, and then being installed as Provincial Grand Master in the Craft, Most Excellent Grand Superintendent in Chapter, and, before that, Provincial Grand Master in the Mark and Mariners were memorable and great honours.  But the most vivid ceremonial memory was when the blindfold was removed in my exaltation ceremony into the Holy Royal Arch Chapter.

OK, be honest, what annoys you the most about masonry?

I think we waste too much time before, during and after meetings. I love the passion that men bring to their freemasonry, but sometimes I wish I could re-direct it.  In addition, I would like to abolish the phrase “we’ve always done it that way”. . .

What sort of music do you like? 

Virtually all of my music comes from the classical genre; I particularly like Beethoven symphonies, but also film scores

What car would you like to own?

I’ve never really been a big car man; to me as long as they are functional, with a good radio, that is what matters.  Perhaps the fact that my last three (or is it four?) cars have been Jaguars says something!

What makes you laugh?

In a masonic context, there is always so much that happens in a meeting that makes me laugh or smile – normally a slip of the tongue or collapse of some bit of furniture.  And I believe there is no harm in laughing at such things in our meetings – after all we are there to enjoy ourselves

What is that that makes you furious?

In any context, people who don’t try or contribute.

When are you happiest?

Enjoying a good meal, with good company and excellent wine!

So, turning to food, what is your favourite chocolate bar/sweet?

Anything dark chocolate.  Those who have sat next to me at dinner will also know that I do like the after-dinner mints . . .

What is your favourite food?

Difficult question!  It so depends on the mood I’m in, but probably a nice fillet steak.  Some will know that I am also partial to a bit of cheese.

What is your favourite drink?

And an even harder question to finish.  I think it would have to be a G&T, followed by a top-notch claret, and rounded off with a vintage port or a fine sauternes.


Provincial Grand Chapter

Companions, last month I informed you all that the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent is planning to hold a meeting of Provincial Grand Chapter along with the annual Provincial Craft/Chapter dinner and dance on Friday the 25th September 2020 at the Heythrop Park Resort, providing the current social distancing rules have been relaxed by that time.

The latest government guidelines have not helped our situation and we are now in talks with Heythrop Park, as well as awaiting further guidance from UGLE to ascertain all of our options at this current time. It may well be that we are unable to go ahead with this proposal due to further restrictions on our activities, but please be assured that I will keep you all up to date with further developments.

Provincial Executive

The Provincial Executive continue with regular ‘Zoom’ meetings and, as well as discussing Provincial Grand Chapter in depth, we have also discussed in detail the two following topics:

  1. Tripartite Meeting.  This annual meeting of Oxon, Berks and Bucks Royal Arch Masons was due to take place on Thursday 23rd July at Cardinal House. After much deliberation it has been decided between all three provinces that Oxfordshire and Alfred Chapter No. 340 will now host this meeting on Thursday 22nd July 2021. A date for your diaries!
  2. Provincial Officers. As you are aware, all newly appointed or promoted active or past Provincial Officer ranks came into effect on the 26th March. Like a regular Chapter, however, this cannot be the case for the newly appointed Second and Third Provincial Grand Principals and it is a requirement that these Companions be obligated before they can take office.

It may be that UGLE will give the go ahead to resume meetings – albeit for business purposes only – in the near future and the MEGS is keen to see that E. Companion Chris Cox and E. Companion David Greig are installed as PrGH and PrGJ respectively, as soon as circumstances allow whilst adhering to any social distancing measures still in force. This procedure will no doubt take place at one of the earlier regular Chapter meetings that resumes in the province. Again, I will update you all when I have further clarification.

Finally, the Provincial Executive is here for you and we would welcome any topic that you would like to be brought up for discussion.  Please do not hesitate to contact me directly with your suggestions.

Andy O’Sullivan

Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra



“Brethren, as you are passing through these months of lockdown, let me congratulate you on being a sensible member of our ancient and honourable institution.

Ancient no doubt it is, as having subsisted from a time when we used to shake hands and meet, and honourable it must be acknowledged to be, as by a natural tendency it con­duces to make those so in the community who are obedient to the distancing guideline.  Indeed, no institution can boast a more solid foundation than that on which Freemasonry rests: the practice of every aspect of respiratory hygiene and social distancing.  In addition, to so high an eminence has its credit been ad­vanced that, every day, Grand Officers them­selves have not thought it derogatory to their dignity to exchange the black shoe for the carpet slipper, have overcome their computer difficulties and joined in our zoom and virtual assemblies.

As a Freemason, let me recommend to your most serious contemplation the Volume of Covid-19 Law, charging you to consider it as the unerring standard of hygiene and safety, and to regulate your actions by the information it contains.  Therein you will be taught the important duties you owe to your partner, to your neighbour, and to yourself.  To your partner, by never mentioning their choice of evening television, ever remembering, before coronavirus, that was their only company for at least three nights a week, and whilst, not now requesting white shirts and gloves, looking up to them in this emergency for every comfort and support.  To your neighbour, by keeping your distance and not returning his gardening tools you borrowed two months ago in case you may be passing on the virus, thereby helping him without detriment to your own health or connections.  In addition, by doing to him as in similar cases you would wish he would do to you.  To yourself, by such a course of isolation and discipline as may best conduce to the preservation of your corporeal and mental health, thereby enabling you to again at some time to be of service to the Brethren of your lodge.

As a fellow member of the Craft, I am to enjoin you to be exemplary in the discharge of your social distancing duties, by never exiting your house without due cause or proper protection, by refraining from any act that may have a tendency to risk the health of a Brother, by paying due obedience to the guidance of any authority which has for a time become the place of your residence or afford you its protection, and, above all, by never losing sight of the allegiance due to Grand Lodge, ever remembering that its daily updates shows their in­dissoluble attachment towards you since your isolation.

As an individual, let me recommend the practice of every domestic, as well as public hygiene: let prudence direct you, intemperance sustain you, virtual Brethren support you, and common sense be the guide of all your actions.  Be especially careful to maintain your health in its fullest splendour, which you have already amply illustrated by contemplating sobriety and temperance.

Still, as a Freemason, there are other excellences of character to which your attention may be peculiarly and forcibly directed; amongst the foremost of these is safety. Safety consists in an inviolable adherence to the guidance you have received regarding the virus, never improperly to expose yourself to any of those risks which have now been or which may, at any future time, lead you inadvertently so to do and, cautiously, to avoid all occasions which may lead you to violate the same.

Your understanding must be exemplified by a strict observance of the guidance of UGLE, by ad­hering to any directives, and by never attempting to disregard or evade any issue, but to act upon any directions given, and by refraining from recommending anyone to a disregard of any of them.

Your compliance must be proved by a strict observance of your well-being, by prompt attention to all coughs and temperatures, by modest and correct demeanour in the virtual lodge and by abstaining from every topic that may lead to the breaking of the social distancing regulations.

In addition, as a last general recommendation, let me exhort you to dedicate yourself to such pursuits as may at once enable you to survive the lockdown; to drop a tear of sympathy for those who have been taken by the virus; to make a daily advancement in masonry by contacting by ‘phone the other brethren of your lodge, thereby giving them comfort and support and, if not in isolation, to do the shopping, collect prescriptions or provide other services to the members of the Craft that will enable you to be useful to man­kind and not merely an ornament to our society; to study more especially and adhere to those short information films shown before your favourite soap opera; and, without neglecting the ordinary housekeeping duties around the house, to endeavor to make a daily advancement towards that glorious day when we can discard the sanitizer and meet again.

From the very commendable attention you appear to have given to this charge, I am led to hope you will duly appreciate the value of hygiene and isolation, and indelibly imprint on your heart the sacred dictates of patience, fellowship, and of survival.”

David Downie MBE, PAGDC: member of St. Trinians Lodge No. 2050, Isle of Man 


This is the first in a series of features exploring other degrees in Freemasonry which may interest Craft and Holy Royal Arch members.  These are not, in any way, higher degrees, but each does give a new perspective on our masonic journey.  Further information on all the other orders at work in Oxfordshire is available on the provincial website and in the provincial yearbook.

We start with the Mark and the Royal Ark Mariner degrees, as explained by the Provincial Grand Master for the Mark Province of Oxfordshire, RW Bro Ian Watson Wright.

Ian was initiated into Freemasonry in his father’s Lodge in Durham whilst at university in London. Having moved to Oxford to practise optometry, he joined Bertie Lodge and was Master in both 1991 and 1996, as well as being Master currently once again.  He was exalted into Alfred Chapter at around the same time that he joined St Mary’s Lodge of Mark Master Masons in Thame and rapidly passed through the various offices. Since then, Ian has joined various orders in this province and in London, some even being unattached units. He has always had a great deal of respect for “Strict Emulation Workings” in Craft Freemasonry, but has also had a healthy curiosity for the other progressive orders. He enjoys the company of the friends that he has made and looks forward to meeting the good friends that he is yet to make, all of which is possible thanks to Freemasonry.

Mark Master Masons

An inspection of the stonework of many ancient buildings will reveal that, from early times, operative stonemasons had indented the stones which they had prepared with special marks. They were of two types: one indicating the position and orientation of the stone, the other a personal mark by which it was known who had prepared the stone. The use of Marks is a continuing feature in the degree of Mark Master Mason.

The first mention of a brother being made a Mark Mason was at a Lodge in Newcastle in January 1756, although no reference is made to any degree ceremony. The early Mark degrees were closely associated with the Royal Arch, as they still are in many parts of the world. Their development probably followed soon after that of the Royal Arch. It is clear that Mark Degrees were worked in Craft Lodges and Royal Arch Chapters up until 1813.

The earliest records of a speculative Mark degree being worked in England are those of Royal Arch Chapter No. 257 at Portsmouth on 1st September 1769 when several brethren were made Mark Masons and Mark Masters.  At that time, the conferring of the degrees of Mark Man and Mark Master was performed in two separate ceremonies. In the present day, the practice of a Mark Man is an introductory phase to the Mark Master Degree. It is apparent that, in those days, the degree of Mark Man was conferred on Fellow Craft and the Mark Master degree on Master Masons.

What of the ritual? It is sometimes said that Mark is an extension of the second degree of the Craft; however, this is an over-simplification. The ceremony of admission, called an advancement, is longer in content than the third degree and, as mentioned above, the early practice was to only confer the degree of Mark Man on Fellow Crafts, with only Master Masons being eligible to be made Mark Masters.

The ceremony of advancement is based on the building of KST and follows the fate of an ambitious fellow craft (the candidate) seeking promotion in his trade by demonstrating not only his skill and ability with his tools, but also  his acumen in spotting the need for a stone different from all the others. In the early part of the ceremony, his talents are unrecognised and his actions called into question. Eventually he triumphs over adversity and is rewarded for his work.  It is a wonderful ceremony containing elements of drama and of humour and above all, strong moral lessons.

Why should a Craft Mason be a Mark Mason?  Firstly, it greatly enhances his knowledge of Craft Masonry, for example, why at the closing of a Craft Lodge does the Senior Warden use the words “having seen that every brother has had his due”? Many other questions arise in Craft ritual to which the answers will be found in the Mark.  Secondly, it gives a greater appreciation of the Royal Arch. A Craft Mason who joins the Royal Arch directly from the Craft is confronted with a sudden and bewildering change of symbolism. This is because an important intermediate step has been omitted: the Mark ritual, The Mark adds essential background and meaning on the construction of the Temple, the principle arch and the keystone, thereby enabling a clearer understanding of the Royal Arch ceremony.

The Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners

The Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners, otherwise known as the Mariner Degree, is worked under the aegis of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons.  Every lodge of Royal Ark Mariners is attached (moored) to a Mark Master Masons’ lodge and bears the same number.  All candidates for elevation into the degree must have been first advanced into the Degree of Mark Master Mason.  These elements apart, the Royal Ark Mariner Degree stands alone and is entirely unrelated to any other masonic degree regularly worked today.

It is undoubtedly one of the most inspiring and beautiful degrees found in Freemasonry and echoes the good fellowship and enjoyment found in the Mark Master Masons’ degree; indeed a candidate will often find himself in the company of friends from his Mark lodge.

There is only one ceremony of elevation which is relatively short, usually less than one hour, other than the annual ceremony of installation of the master, known as the commander in this degree.  The degree is around two hundred years old and, as its name suggests, it has a nautical flavour taking for its setting the circumstances leading up to the Great Flood and the steps taken by Noah to build the ark by which mankind was preserved from perishing in the ”Universal Deluge”.

The first authentic record of the degree appears in the minutes of a meeting held in Bath in 1790. The organisation of the degree went through many changes, until in 1870, the then Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons announced that the Mark would protect the Royal Ark Mariner degree under the new Grand Master’s Royal Ark Council, based upon the fact that the degree of Ark Mariner had been worked in Mark Lodges since 1790. After some dissension, the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons purchased the degree for £25!

The Royal Ark Mariner Degree does not have an independent provincial structure, but is governed by the respective administration controlling the Mark Lodges in a particular province.



In view of the suspension, it was not possible for the regular Cherwell Lodge meeting to take place on Friday 15th May 2020. However, several members of the Lodge participated in a “virtual” informal get together on that evening using the on-line app ‘Zoom’.  This took place between 8.30 and 9.10 pm and, in all, 15 members and one visitor in the person of the Provincial Grand Secretary appeared in the session.

Despite some apprehension about the use of the technology, the session went extremely well. Both younger and more senior Brethren were able to participate and join in for what was a very enjoyable virtual get-together. To add to the authenticity of the ‘Zoom’ session, Peter Larner, the lodge DC, had made a scale model of the Temple, complete with candles!

The timing of the event enabled the 9 o’clock toast to absent brethren to take place, as well as a moment of silent reflection for our four Cherwell members who have passed during this terrible epidemic (although, thankfully, none of them succumbed to the Covid infection itself). The session ended with an intention to continue meeting in this fashion, despite the fact that the Lodge would normally not meet again regularly until October.


The secretary of Bertie Lodge, John Day describes how easy and satisfying it was for Bertie to try using ‘Zoom’, despite some initial reservations.

Some members had a preliminary test on ‘Zoom’ and, as a result, the lodge was able to have a masonic catch-up a few days’ later. Timon Colegrove chaired the meeting and Pat Hogan welcomed all those present.  There were 13 participants on the call, including Malcolm Percey and his wife who are stranded in Australia due to the Coronavirus. They hope to return to the UK on 20th June if the flight is not cancelled as it has been three times in the past. . .  The lodge almoner, Kevin Cruickshank, gave a short report on the health of various brethren and widows which was really good to hear. Timon Colegrove shared some thoughts from Tony McCluskey about his early years in freemasonry and a brief history of Bertie Lodge. Alan Bovingdon-Cox, Adrian Barlow, Malcolm Percey, Tony Ward and Ian Wright shared stories of their time in the lodge, much to the amusement of the Brethren.

It was thought possible that some lodge business could be held using the ‘Zoom’ application in the future, but guidance should be sought from Provincial Grand Lodge before doing so. The WM thanked the Brethren for attending and also Timon Colegrove for his idea for holding this social meeting.


Members of the Semper Paratus Lodge and Chapter No. 3015 have made good use of social media to stay connected through these difficult times reports Brian Mayling, Secretary and Scribe Ezra. 27 brethren and companions have kept in regular daily contact through the Semper Family – WhatsApp group with very pleasing results. Obviously, banter tops the list, with daily morning greetings and goodnight wishes! Members’ birthdays are broadcast and celebrated when appropriate and the interaction between the lodge and chapter members is seamless.

Also, up to 18 Semper Paratus Lodge and Chapter members regularly attend the ‘Zoom’ GIZO (answers on a postcard, please) Toast to Absent Brethren meeting commencing at 10.30am every Sunday morning.  What started as a rather dis-jointed novelty has now developed into a lightly structured meeting (although 3 of the agenda items are “Banter”).  We have items whereby the members submit reports of members that are not in regular contact. The GIZO toast to absent Brethren takes place at 11.00am, complete with our traditional 9 strikes of the fire-bell.  The meeting culminates in the Tyler’s Toast.  A brilliant, enjoyable and super platform for members to interact in an environment that has a perfect balance between the formality of meetings and relaxed atmosphere of social gatherings.

All those who partake would agree that it has brought us closer together and given a greater understanding of each other.


Aelfric Lodge No. 8926 would normally have met for their regular meeting on Thursday 14th May 2020. Instead a ‘Zoom’ meeting was set up and the lodge secretary, Peter Leaver, is pleased to report that 19 brethren joined the meeting at 6.45 pm that evening.  “The agenda had been circulated to all brethren prior to the meeting and a lively discussion took place about this year’s lodge programme.  We are a summer lodge, meeting each month from April to September with the exception of August. It was generally felt that nothing could finally be decided until we are out of lockdown, but it does seem that this masonic year for the lodge could well be a write-off!  The almoner and his assistant reported they had been in touch with all but two of our brethren, as well as our widows, who all appeared to be safe and keeping well, including those who worked in or had family working in the NHS. By this time, it was approaching 8.00 pm so the meeting was closed to enable us to go outside and clap for the NHS, Care and Key Workers.”

Very importantly, Aelfric has set up six support groups of 8 members to each group (there are 48 in the lodge, including the guest organist and VO) and each group member is in contact with each other to ensure everyone is coping, with any problems being reported to the almoner, the mentor or secretary.  This is a system which other lodges might choose to emulate?

Aelfric aims to have another ‘Zoom’ meeting to replace the regular lodge meeting in June and hope to have even more members and visitors attending.  A picture of the May gathering, dubbed ‘the Rogues’ Gallery’, is below!


The old black shoes are looking glum
As I pass the lobby door.
“What’s wrong with you?” they seem to say,
“We’re going out no more.
We’ve taken not a single step,
Not third or even first,
And ne’er a sign we’ve seen you give,
Has Masonry been cursed?”

“It has”, I said, “by virus vile,
We have to stay at home
Until such time the plague has passed,
Then once more we can roam.
The masonic halls are empty,
Regalia put away,
Gavels now stay silent,
DCs hold no sway.
Volumes of the Sacred Law
On pedestals redundant,
Now brethren all contact their friends
By social posts abundant.
No handshake, word or secret sign,
No friendly festive board
No tyler’s song to say Goodnight,
No organ’s well-loved chord.
“Black shoes,” I said, “do not despair,
Our chain is firm and strong
Our flag of love remains unfurled
We’ll sing again our song.
And though some brethren may have passed
To Grander Lodge Above,
We’ll look upon their memories
With everlasting love;
And in their name, we’ll offer help
And soothe the burdened heart;
We’ll comfort those who are distressed,
Thus masons play their part.
And when this crisis is resolved
We’ll sing the old refrain,
‘Happy to meet, Sorry to part,
Happy to meet again.’”



Has your Lodge embraced social media?

It’s the future, so do consider your Lodge getting its own social media platforms to reach out to members, other brethren and potential brethren in the Community! Our Provincial Membership Officer, W.Bro. Dave Robinson, has compiled a helpful guide for Lodges as to the “Guidance on the use of social media and websites”. For further help and advice, please contact W.Bro. Dave Robinson.

Before engaging in any social media activity in respect of freemasonry, be it personal or on behalf of a masonic body, you must read and ensure that you adhere to the UGLE social media policy.

Provincial Website:    Make sure you are kept up to date by subscribing for email updates every time the web site is updated, simply click subscribe and all will be revealed!

Lodge Websites:

Alfred Lodge No. 340 –

Apollo University Lodge No. 357 –

Blockley Lodge No. 6345 –

Calthorpe Lodge No. 5172 –

Clavis Lodge No. 8585 –

Evenlode Lodge No. 6535 –

Isis Lodge No. 4242 –

Oxfordshire Lodge of Installed Masters No. 7770 –

Oxfordshire Lodge of Provincial Grand Stewards No. 9957 – 

Rathcreedan Lodge No. 8690 –

Round Table Lodge of Oxfordshire No. 9509 –

Semper Paratus Lodge No. 3015 –

Temple Island Lodge No. 8031 –

Thames Lodge No. 1895 –

Theodore Lodge No. 8943 –

Windrush Lodge No. 1703 –

Witta’s Island Lodge No. 9359 –

Wychwood Lodge No. 2414 –

OPGL (an open group):

Light Blues (a closed group):

Lodge Facebook Sites:

Alfred Lodge No. 340 –

Blockley Lodge No. 6345 –

Buttercross Lodge No. 7240 –

Calthorpe Lodge No. 5172 –

Carfax Lodge No. 5723 –

Jersey Lodge No. 2334 –

Old Bloxhamist Lodge No. 7725 –

Old Saint Edwards Lodge No. 5162 –

Saint Barbara Lodge No. 7701 –

Thames Lodge No. 1895 –

Temple Island Lodge No. 8031 –

Theodore Lodge No. 8943 –

Witta’s Island Lodge No. 9359

Oxfordshire Provincial Grand Lodge: @OxfordshirePGL

Oxfordshire Provincial Grand Lodge Charity Account: @oxfordshire2022


Lodge Twitter Accounts:

Apollo University Lodge No. 357 – @aul357

Jersey Lodge No. 2334 – @jersey2334

Caversham Lodge No. 3831 – @CavershamLodge

Old Saint Edwards Lodge No. 5162 – @OSEL5162

Calthorpe Lodge No. 5172 – @Calthorpe_Lodge

Hampden Lodge No. 6290 – @hampdenlodge

Castle Lodge No. 7302 – @CastleLodge7302

Saint Barbara Lodge No. 7701 – @StBarbaraLodge

Temple Island Lodge No. 8031 – @HenleyFreemason

Gateway Lodge No. 8501 – @8501Gateway

Clavis Lodge No. 885 – @ClavisLodge8585

Theodore Lodge No. 8943 – @theodore8943

Witta’s Island Lodge No. 9359 – @WittasIsland

Oxfordshire Lodge of Provincial Grand Stewards No. 9957 – @OxnLodgePGStwds

Buttercross Lodge No. 7720 – @buttercross7240

Please let me know if I’ve missed off your details or if they need updating

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