On Sunday the 11th of June, 2017, over 800 Freemasons from throughout Northamptonshire & Huntingdonshire joined together with civic dignitaries, family and friends to help celebrate 300 years since the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England with a specially dedicated Evensong service at Peterborough Cathedral. The service was conducted by The Reverend Canon Jonathan Baker, who welcomed everyone and commented on the common theme of `giving` in all aspects of life.
The service was preceded by a parade of Freemasons in their Masonic regalia from the Peterborough Town Hall to the Cathedral in glorious sunshine, with members of the public lining the route. Each of the 93 member lodges from the Province of Northamptonshire & Huntingdonshire were represented and paraded their historic and colourful lodge banners. The parade aimed to replicate the last Masonic parade to be held in Peterborough over 95 years ago. Prior to this, parades were quite a regular feature in many towns and cities, but since the Second World War they had become rare.
The last parade, which took place in 1922 (click here to view video footage), was held to help raise funds to assist with major restoration works needed in the north-east wing of Peterborough Cathedral. The event raised a significant sum and coupled with other fundraising, the target was reached and the work completed.
The Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro Max Bayes, commented -
It is a wonderful day for Freemasonry in general and the Province of Northamptonshire & Huntingdonshire in particular. I am sure that all present thoroughly enjoyed the day and were rightly proud of their membership.
Nationally, the 200,000 members of the United Grand Lodge of England come from all walks of life and meet as equals whatever their faith, ethnic group or position in society. For many, this spirit of fellowship is what is valued most, making new friends and helping others. Charity is at the heart of the organisation and Freemasons contribute over £33 million a year as one of the UK`s largest charitable givers. Raising funds largely through voluntary donations, they support individual members, local communities and global emergencies.
In Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire, Freemasons raise over £100,000 each year for Charitable purposes and regularly support the local community with donations to many worthy causes, such as the Sue Ryder Hospice. In addition, The Three Pillars Feeding The Homeless Trust is a registered charity backed by local Freemasons which aims to provide practical help and support to those living on the streets. On several nights each week in Peterborough, volunteers using a catering van distribute warm food, clean clothing and bedding to those in need.
This Peterborough event is just one of many happening up and down the country throughout this special Tercentenary year for Freemasons, culminating with the main event at The Royal Albert Hall in October. To further mark the 300 year anniversary, The Masonic Charitable Foundation is donating £3m to 300 charities throughout England and Wales, with six local charities set to benefit. Further details on how everyone can get involved and vote are available by clicking here.