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  • Writer's picturePaul W Skinner


Updated: Dec 3, 2018

In October 2017, the Secretary of Athelstan Lodge No 1333 received an email from W Brother Chris Wagstaff, the Worshipful Master of Temple Island Lodge No 8031 in the Province of Oxfordshire. He requested details of a former member of Athelstan, Herbert Bindley, whose nephew Stuart Bindley-Ross, at that time, was an Entered Apprentice in Temple Island Lodge.

After much correspondence it was finally agreed that some members of Athelstan would visit Temple Island with a view to conducting Stuart’s Raising Ceremony.

So, on Wednesday 7th November 2018 11 Athelstan Brethren hired a mini-coach and travelled to Henley-on-Thames. Arriving in the afternoon the Master and Wardens invited the team to afternoon tea in the Leander Club, one of the oldest rowing clubs in the world, where they spent a very pleasant, and informative, couple of hours. On then to the Masonic Hall where they were made most welcome by all the Members of Temple Island Lodge.

The Athelstan Team

The Athelstan Team were requested to open their Lodge in the Third Degree and then carry on with the Raising. This they did with every member of the party taking part in the Ceremony. Temple Island use a form of Oxfordshire workings but Athelstan used normal Emulation Ritual, so Bro Stuart will be confused with some of the signs! Incidentally Bro Stuart was completely unaware that members of his uncle’s former Lodge would be at the Meeting and also conducting the Raising Ceremony. A special mention here to Brother Andy Hollis, who, as well as giving an excellent explanation of the Working Tools, was asked to take on the role of Tyler for the entire Ceremony.

The evening was blessed with the presence of the Dep Provincial Grand Master of Oxfordshire, W Bro Neil C Spencer. He and the fellow Brethren in attendance expressed their thanks and appreciation for the way the Brethren of Athelstan had performed the Ceremony.

On then to the Festive Board and what a splendid evening, with a French Style theme, and an “Armistice Centenary Dinner”. Good food, fun, and banter which epitomises what Freemasonry is all about. Brother Stuart was a little emotional when W Bro Bill Orton, in the reply to the visitors toast, pointed out that Stuart's Apron was last worn in Athelstan Lodge back in 1986, or thereabouts. Bill also bought a message from Stuart’s mother who still lives in Atherstone.

What a fabulous day, one which will remain in the memory of the Members of both Lodges for a very long time. Perhaps, hopefully, the start of a long and close relationship between the two Lodges

Is this a first in Freemasonry, possibly not, but it certainly was a first for Athelstan and Temple Island Lodges.

Is it unique? I would suggest it is, in that it is certainly not the norm to travel to another Lodge, in another Province, and conduct part of the Ceremony.

Would they do it again? Most certainly!

Below is part of an email received from the W Master of Temple Island after the Meeting

"It was such a pleasure to meet you after so many emails back and forth over the last year and a half, and I am so pleased that we finally pulled it off! Athelstan’s work was excellent – and as master I was so relieved that you boys did it justice. You should all be very proud of yourselves. The feedback I have had from so many people last night and today has been excellent, and for some it was one of the most memorable meetings they have been to."

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