LTM Conference 2014

Let’s Talk Masonry – The Conference 2014

‘Let’s Talk Masonry’ Conference – A Unique Happening

 

That’s how one delegate described the sixth annual ‘Let’s Talk Masonry’ Conference held at Salford Masonic Hall on a sunny Saturday in late March.

As usual the conference attracted Mason’s not only from the host Province of East Lancashire and surrounding areas but also from many other Provinces, even as far away as Warwickshire and Durham.

That’s how one delegate described the sixth annual ‘Let’s Talk Masonry’ Conference held at Salford Masonic Hall on a sunny Saturday in late March.

As usual the conference attracted Mason’s not only from the host Province of East Lancashire and surrounding areas but also from many other Provinces, even as far away as Warwickshire and Durham.

The first keynote speaker was Ric Berman who enthralled his audience with ‘Antients Freemasonry and the London Irish’ in which Ric described the situation for the Irish in London in the 18th century, quoting Charles Dickens, Gin Shops: Sketches by Boz (London: John Macrone, 1836), Vol 1 Wretched houses with broken windows patched with rags and paper: every room let out to a different family, and in many instances to two or even three.

 

Fruit and sweet-stuff manufacturers in the cellars, barbers and red-herring vendors in
the front parlours, cobblers in the back; a bird-fancier in the first floor, three families on
the second, starvation in the attics, Irishmen in the passage….
Filth everywhere, a gutter before the house and a drain behind, clothes drying and slops
empting … men and women lounging, scolding, drinking, smoking, squabbling, fighting
and swearing.

 

But he went on to describe how many of the Irish migrants broke free from this poverty and began to climb the social and financial ladder and it was from this motivated and aspirational layer of working and lower middle class London society that men joined Antient’s Freemasonry.

The Antients Grand Lodge was formed in 1751 and at its head was predominantly lodges, with Irish membership; meanwhile as the original Grand Lodge began to stagnate the membership of the Antients increased.

One man, Laurence Dermott, an Irish Freemason had migrated to London in 1758 and for three decades he shaped the path of Antients Freemasonry. He was the Grand Secretary and then Deputy Grand Master and it was under his influence that Antients Freemasonry came to be described as a superior and more traditional form of Freemasonry compared to that of the original Grand Lodge of England.

 

For more detailed information on this Freemason, click here

 

Dermott was much criticised for his attitude towards the ‘Modern’s Freemasonry’ and it was not until after his death that unification became possible in 1813.

Describing the intense rivalry between the two Grand Lodges, he also reminded his audience that although at the upper level things were not easy, the rank and file got on reasonably well together and quoted Simon Fernie who wrote: “One of the greatest factors leading up to the final reconciliation was the undoubted preference of the majority of Modern Brethren for Antient Working.”

Tony then asked the question ‘What have the Antients done for us.’ and outlined the charges laid against the Moderns whilst taking a look at what they objected to and whether they achieved what they were after at the time of the Union.

He then outlined some of the complaints against the Moderns Grand Lodge including the;

Failure to Prepare Candidates properly

Abbreviating the ceremonies

Omitting the Lectures

Omitting to read the Ancient Charges to the Initiates

Omitting Prayers

Transposing the Means of Recognition of the first and second degrees

There were many others which Tony discussed in detail and pointed out that not everything went the Antients way. The Antients gained ground on the majority of their concerns but some of the Moderns practices remained.

John Heron Lepper in his Prestonian Lecture in 1932 stated that;

“……many of the finest portions of the ceremonies we use today have been preserved for us by the tenacity of the Antients and their stubborn resistance to innovation….”

Tony ended on a slightly controversial note; “In my view, there’s one other thing that the Antients have taught us, and it’s a very important lesson. The Antients have shown us that no Grand Lodge should assume that it can ride roughshod over what the rank and file of the Brethren feel is important in their Freemasonry”.

We are in a situation today where our United Grand Lodge is telling us that Freemasonry ‘definitely does not deal in spirituality’ and telling the world that we’ve got no secrets, that we’re just a charitable and social organisation. I’m sure you’ll all tell me if I am wrong, but I suspect that neither of these is the view of the majority of English Freemasons.

Brethren, the last thing that Freemasonry needs at the present time is a “Second Schism.” Our United Grand Lodge needs to stay united!’

Edward Patnick’s – ‘The fact and Fable of the Royal Arch’

Chis Oversby -‘The significance of the words used in our Ceremonies’

Hugh O’Neill – ‘What it means to be a Freemason – the wider implications of life outside the Lodge’

John Acaster – ‘Signals – Freemasonry works by subtleties of expression, not just through words’

WBro Mike Kearsley sums up the day

Closing remarks by the Deputy Prov Grand Master, VWBro Derek Nelson Thornhill

 

The conference has always held interactive workshops and this year four separate sessions were held three times during the day and which delegates have the choice to attend. They included; Simon Fernie.

Initial feedback from delegates indicated that the conference was once again very successful and as one delegate put it:

“Super…needs emulating elsewhere”

“Improved considerably over the years”

“First class, most enjoyable”

“It was wonderful to be able to interact with brethren who are so knowledgeable about Masonry and are able to communicate it to us with such ease. Please be sure that we will continue to support this absolutely unique happening “

Fred Lomax


Click here to find out more about the 2017 Conference

Click here to read about the 2016 Conference

Click here to read about the 2015 Conference

Click here to read about the 2013 Conference