Standards and Education
"He who professes to know all there is to know about Masonry is either a knave or a fool for here is a subject in which daily advancement continues to be possible however long we live, and the wisest of us will not live long enough to know it all" R.W.Bro. Tydeman, PJGW. O.S.M.
Freemasonry is a large and fascinating subject, and can be studied from many different angles. For non-masons, the best place to start is at Freemasons' Hall, as indexed in the links page. For visitors, there are conducted tours, an extensive museum and a bookshop with many interesting publications.
For Freemasons, there are several ways in which this Province stimulates curiosity and rewards interest.
- The Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master has appointed a Provincial Orator Designate, who will have a team of Lectures who will present papers on topical subjects to stimulate thoughts and discussions at lodge meetings. Prior arrangement for the team to visit lodges would be advisable.
- There are libraries and museums of different sizes in the Masonic Centres of the Province. Arrangements can be made with the caretakers or management committees to view or photograph the various items. Newport Masonic Hall has a particularly fine collection of artefacts and books, which may be inspected by any Brother or members of the public by appointment. Donations of any description will be gratefully acknowledged. Contact can be made through the masonic centres or the Provincial Grand Secretary.
- The Masonic Study Group exists to further the Study of Freemasonry in all it's aspects. The Masonic Demonstration team works is active in researching ancient rituals, and has prepared full re-enactments of some most interesting ceremonies. As a result of the Study Group's research, it has gained a National reputation for the excellence of it's work. They perform demonstrations locally and outside the Province, and have conducted demonstrations the length and breadth of the UK mainland as well as overseas. They can be contacted through the Provincial Grand Secretary.
- Individual Lodges have Lodges of Instruction. These are intended mainly for the officers of the Lodges to help them develop and improve their skills, but they are open to all members of the Lodges. Details can be obtained through the Lodge Secretaries at the addresses given in the Lodges section, or via the addresses of the Masonic Centres, or through the Provincial Grand Secretary.
Introduction by the Provincial Grand Master
The following notes are issued for the guidance of Brethren in an attempt to assist them in maintaining the high standard which they will wish to achieve and maintain in the Province. Some of the matters are obvious whilst in other cases there may be ambiguity. If there are any queries on specific items, please contact the Provincial Grand Secretary. The note relating to the welfare of Brethren is particularly important and applies to all Brethren - even those who have not found it within themselves to attend for some considerable time. This leaflet is coupled with a personal appeal to All Brethren to support their Lodge in all its activities so that Freemasonry may flourish and play its full part in our Society.
All communications to the Provincial Grand Master must be made through the Provincial Grand Secretary with the exception of personal invitations to Ladies’ Evenings and Lodge Installation meetings.
It is expected that communications from the Provincial Grand Secretary will receive prompt attention.
The Annual Return to the Provincial Grand Registrar should be made by each lodge Secretary by the 14 January in each year.
Conduct at meetings
The Worshipful Master is responsible for the Warrant of the Lodge and must ensure that it is produced at every meeting. The Worshipful Master may offer his gavel only to the Provincial Grand Master and the Deputy Provincial Grand Master. He should always retain it at the Festive Board. Officers of Private Lodges should wear their collar only in their own Lodges. However, the Master and Wardens should wear their collars when visiting Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge. In the unavoidable absence of the Master, the Master’s Chair should be occupied by the I.P.M. or in his absence by the Senior Past Master present. Brethren substituting for the Master are not entitled to wear the Master's collar. Similarly, when any officer i.e. Warden, Deacon etc, vacates his chair, he should not transfer his collar. If a Past Master occupies the Master’s chair to conduct a ceremony, the W.M. should be seated on his immediate left.
All Lodge Officers should wear the collar of their office in addition to the badge of their rank. For example, Past Masters will wear a Past Master’s collar plus the collar of their office. This also applies to Provincial Grand Officers and Grand Officers, who hold an office.
When Brethren have occasion to bow, this should be by a forward movement of the head only, i.e. a court bow. There is no need to bow when saluting the Worshipful Master on entering or leaving the Lodge.
Ensure that all signs are correctly given and not in a slovenly manner. They are given silently and are always preceded by a step (except the Sn. of R.) Do not confuse this sign with the Sn. of F. In the latter the th..b is sq...d and the Sn. is drawn. In the former the th..b is not sq...d and the Sn. is dropped.
Do not forget to recover the P.Sn in the Third Degree. There is only one exception to this rule, namely after the Lodge is declared Open in the Third Degree.
Do not talk in Lodge during the ceremony. It is very distracting for the Brother who is reciting the ritual and may disturb his concentration. The I.P.M. is the sole prompter.
Mode of address
Officers when addressed by the name of their office should always be referred to as "Brother" never "Worshipful Brother", even when the holder is a Past Master, i.e. Bro Secretary, not W.Bro. Secretary.
Christian names alone should not be used in addressing Brethren in Lodge at any time.
Abbreviations such as "W.M." or "D.C." are permissible in print, however, officers should not be addressed by an abbreviated title, e.g. "Brother D.C." etc.
No Brother has any right to claim advancement. The appointment of all Officers is at the sole discretion of the Master, however, the offices of Worshipful Master, Treasurer and Tyler are all elected. A Brother who is a subscribing member of the Lodge or is a subscribing member of another Lodge, may however, be appointed Tyler.
Immediate steps should be taken to enter the Royal Arch Chapter after completing the Third Degree - details of which will be supplied by the Lodge Secretary.
Dress for all Masonic occasions is formal morning dress or dark suits - i.e. black or very dark lounge suit. Some Lodges specify dinner suits. Under no circumstances should light lounge suits be worn. This attire also extends to dark socks and plain black tie or the 2003 Festival Tie with the Samaritan Fund motif.
The wearing of Masonic items such tie pins, rings and label badges should be discreet. Dress for non-Masonic occasions such as Ladies' Evenings should be formal, i.e. dinner jackets and black bow tie. Coats and ties should not, under any circumstances, be removed during the proceedings.
Dining and the "Festive Board"
Noisy or raucous behaviour will not be tolerated at the Festive Board. Under no circumstances must questionable anecdotes be told - in fact, the telling of any jokes should be considered with great care.
The taking of wine is not obligatory and should be restricted. Toasts and responses should not normally exceed three minutes and Festive Boards should conclude by 10 pm.
Do not condemn any Masonic practice in a Lodge you may visit as incorrect, simply because it happens to be contrary to the custom in your own Lodge. Remember that some of your Masonic customs may be considered strange to others.
Do not imagine that word perfection of ritual is the Alpha and Omega of Freemasonry. It is important, but there are other things far more important in Masonry. Attendance at Lodges of Instruction is recommended and will assist you to learn and deliver the ritual.
Always conduct yourself with dignity and decorum. Over familiarity with the Rulers of the Province may be misconstrued as being discourteous. Please be friendly and polite and they will reciprocate in a like manner.
Enjoy yourself and do not forget the first of the Three Grand Principles upon which our Order is founded:
- Brotherly love
If any of your dependents requires help on ANY matter causing you concern or worry - please do not hesitate to contact the Lodge Almoner, whose details may be found on your Lodge page in the Masonic Directory. He is the representative of your Brothers in Masonry, and everything will be done to help you as quickly as possible and in STRICT CONFIDENCE.