Middlesex Mark Matters – May 2020

Middlesex Mark Matters – May 2020

Dear Brethren

Firstly, thank you for your continued support and wonderful generosity, without which our current programme of supplying thank you packages to care workers in the province, would not be possible.

This week we were able to deliver to the first four care homes, which were, Ashwood, Marling Court, Blenheim and Kingsley Court.

The reaction from each made the journey from Essex even more worthwhile, they were all amazed that an organization that they had not, until now, heard of, had taken the time to put together and then deliver a box containing, hand sanitiser, hand cream, chocolates, biscuits, hot chocolate, sweets, tea bags, bubble bath, fresh fruit and a few thermal mugs thrown in.

If they didn’t know or understand what the Mark Master Masons of Middlesex were all about, they certainly do now

I do know that some of you will have had reservations over supplying privately owned care home staff with “goodies” but these are ordinary people doing an extra ordinary job, regardless of who their employers are, and it is my view, that they are as deserving as any other people who are prepared to put their health on the line to help others.

As many lodges have now answered the call, with some being hugely generous, we will be able to run this programme beyond the original number that we had targeted and extend our gratitude to many more care workers within this great province I thank you all for this response and we will continue to pass on your thanks to those brave people who are doing a great job in this most difficult of times.

For now, I wish you all well and please stay safe.

Kind regards

Edward R. Garty (Eddy)

What can we look forward to?

Since the beginning of March, we have, in various degrees been locked down in order that the NHS be given time and space to deal with the pandemic that has gripped most of the world in a matter of months.

As far as Freemasonry in concerned, this has meant that we have not been able to meet as usual and enjoy the comradery and fellowship of our various lodges, chapters etc.

Several lodges or chapters have found that online meetings or chats have gone someway to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms of its members, but these will never replace face to face meetings.

We know that we will not be holding any face to face meeting before mid-July, which for the Mark Province of Middlesex means no meetings until September.

At this time, we do not know what those meeting will look like, will we still have some sort of social distancing, will we be allowed to dine or share a pint in the bar? Only time will tell what the situation will be then. However, for those like me who would want to get back into the thrust of attending meetings I have looked at the calendar to see what meetings are scheduled to take place in September.

It would be good, if, when we can start up again, we all try to visit and support each other’s meeting making them bumper affairs, celebrating with each other the bonds of friendship as well as supporting the masonic centres.

To help your planning the following meetings are in September.

  • Wednesday 2nd – Enfield No. 772 – Mumbai Square.
  • Monday 7th – Tower Hamlets, No. 892 – MMH
  • Tuesday 8th – Mark Grand Lodge held at Freemasons’ Hall, GQS
  • Wednesday 9th – Hillingdon Heath, No. 1196 – Uxbridge.
  • Tuesday 15th – New Morning, RAM No. 1921 – MMH
  • Friday 18th – Alexander Burnett Brown, No. 1373 – Harrow.
  • Wednesday 23rd – Air Unity, No. 1205 – Twickenham
  • Thursday 24th – Christopher Wren, No. 861 – Twickenham and Temple of Uxbridge, No. 1393 – Uxbridge.
  • Monday 28th – Temple Mark, No. 173 – Duke Street.

There is a meeting in all bar one of the centres in the Province, afternoon and morning meetings, so something for everyone. If you are a member of one of these lodges make sure you make the effort to attend, if not pick a meeting and get yourself an invitation. Let us make the start of our masonic activity a time to celebrate and reinvigorate ourselves, the lodges and the centres.

Lockdown from my prospective
Peter Hyde APGM

Hi brethren. I guess like most of us this lockdown is a new and intense phenomenon, a complete and utter change from the norm. Six weeks after a complete and enforced change of lifestyle, almost overnight, I am still struggling to get used to this new daily regime. Despite Freemasonry keeping me busy as an Assistant Provincial Grand Master for this wonderful degree, I am also the Chairman of Twickenham Masonic Centre, both demanding and time-consuming roles.

W.Bro Peter J. Hyde Assistant Provincial Grand Master

I still awake every morning at about 4:00 am and spend the first two or three hours every morning on the computer whilst it is quiet and peaceful, but with the amazing bird song dawn chorus, I have recently found my senses heightened. I find myself having time to reflect and remember things that have somehow been stored away in the back of the mind, distorted by the pace of everyday life as we knew it. The birds have obviously sung their chorus every morning and indeed evening, but I have always been too busy to take time to listen and appreciate just how uplifting and beautiful it is. I have noticed the buds turning into beautiful cherry blossom on the tree in my garden almost exploding into life over the course of 48 hours, then as quick as it comes it disappears to reveal the vibrant green leaves that will give as much needed shade during the forthcoming hot summer days ahead.

Although in lockdown, I have had more time to speak with my children and grandchildren through Facetime and Zoom sessions, I guess like everyone else, these are the things we are not able to do as often as we would like with our everyday life styles. So, for me it has been an important six weeks in my life to remember some of these everyday events and genuinely appreciate the time to enjoy them.

With this extra time on my hands, the daily news is also something I listen to more intensively, the numbers of the death tally is frightening and I feel myself feeling so sorry for the thousands of people who have lost loved ones during this awful pandemic. The harrowing personal stories that come out of the news is sometimes difficult to bear. It deeply saddens me as I find myself trying to imagine myself in a similar scenario and questioning how the hell you would cope. It is truly horrible.

Brethren without wishing to go too deep into some of my more darker feelings, I felt I wanted to share some of the good that for me personally has come out of this unprecedented time we have all found ourselves in. I have many more thoughts to share with you but would like to hear your own thoughts and personal experiences. This newly reformed newsletter is a vehicle for the membership of our Province to share with each other our thoughts and stories etc. Please feel free to send me anything you would like to put into this newsletter. Brethren, someone had to start the process.

That lot brethren were mine. As we say in Mark Masonry,

Kind regards
W.Bro. Peter J Hyde APGM

Headley O’Brien ProvGChStwd Report

Dear Brethren
I trust you are all safe and well during these unprecedented times, it’s difficult to know how long this will last, hopefully we can re-join our Lodges later in the year.

Its my first year as your Provincial Grand Charity Steward and I am sure you will agree, it has not been the easiest time for somebody to take on this especially important post within the Province.

W.Bro Headley O’Brien Provincial Grand Charity Steward

A big thank you to all Lodges that have donated to the Middlesex Mark Benevolent fund, this has enabled the Province to assist our Brethren and donate to worthy causes within Middlesex. St Luke’s, Harlington and the Shooting Star Hospices are just some of the very worthy causes we help with your continued support. 

The Bonus Ball has been a resounding success and has contributed over three thousand pounds to the MMBF – a big thank you to Victor for organising and running the project. For £10 you get a unique number for 10 weeks (£1 per week) the winner each week gets £30.

We currently have two especially important projects that I would like to share with you. Firstly, Hampers for front line staff in Care Homes and the Covid 19 appeal by Middlesex Craft.

  1. The PGM has asked for donations from our Lodges to support the delivery of Hampers to the dedicated, hardworking, and deserving staff throughout Middlesex. It is hoped that each Lodge would donate £50 or more if they are able. The first Hampers have already been delivered and photos have been posted on our Middlesex Mark group web page. 

    This can be dealt with by cheque and sent to our Provincial Grand Treasurer, made out to the Middlesex Mark Province, not the MMBF.

  2. The Middlesex Craft COVID 19 Appeal – the link is on our website. Please support this if the Lodge is able. Your continued support means a great deal and we are making a real difference within our communities. Any further assistance will be gratefully received.

I look forward to the time when we can all meet up again but for the time being stay at home, stay safe and save lives.

Best wishes,

W.Bro. Headley O’Brien

Almoners Contribution for Mark Matters

It was the best of times and the worst of times, which is the opening line of a Tale of Two Cities, courtesy of Charles Dickens.

W.Bro Roger Tomlinson Provincial Grand Almoner

Currently, we may have had the best of times and adapted it to the worst of times or the most trying of times, Masonically speaking, but we will prevail and return to the good times again.

In doing so I would urge all Lodge Almoners to maintain contact with their members whether in good or poor health, together with the Widows.

You may be both surprised and heartened to discover just how Important and appreciated this contact can be. From my own endeavours I have been saddened to discover how some lodges have been lacking in this respect and that some members had not been contacted.

In that respect I am fully aware of our Provincial Grand Master’s efforts to contact all members of the Province which has been both a surprise and appreciated by everyone.

To all members of the Mark degree of the Province of Middlesex, Your finest contribution will be to keep safe and well so that the Best of Times can return to our lives and that we can lift a cup of cheer once again.

Roger Tomlinson.
Provincial Grand Almoner.
Middlesex Mark Province.

The William Penn Bookcase

New Arrival at Cole Court

One of the treasures now moved to Cole Court after the closure of the Staines Masonic Hall is the William Penn Bookcase.

This grand-scale bookcase is a very fine mahogany George III period piece which now adorns the Shakespeare Room at Cole Court. The inscription on the brass plaque affixed to the bookcase reads, This Bookcase originally stood in William Penn’s House, Stoke Court, Stoke Poges.

I have conducted some research into the provenance of the bookcase, and it is a fascinating story.

William Penn Senior Founder of Pennsylvania

William Penn Senior 1644-1718, the founder of the US Province of Pennsylvania, returned to England in 1701. Unfortunately, despite owning a large piece of North American land along the North Atlantic Ocean, after being swindled, and clearing the gambling debts of his eldest son, he died pennilessly. That ne’er-do-well son by his first marriage was William Penn Junior 1679-1720. Because of William Junior’s bad example, the name William does not appear have been used in the family since that time.

Stoke Park Today

Stoke Park and Compensation

However, William’s half brother, John Penn 1699-1746, rescued the family fortunes by returning to America and restoring to the family one million acres of Pennsylvania. As he died without issue he was succeeded by his brother, the Hon Thomas Penn 1700-1775, Lord Proprietor of Pennsylvania, who bought the estate of Stoke Park, Stoke Poges, in 1760.

Thomas’s son, John Penn Junior 1760-1834, after living in America for 5 years as chief proprietor of the Province of Pennsylvania, received £130,000 compensation for the millions of acres of land confiscated after the American Revolution.

This enormous sum enabled him to embark on a massive programme of the building at Stoke Park in 1793. They were mainly to the designs of the renowned architect, James Wyatt. John had a special interest in architecture having designed his own house in America, and in addition to commissioning Pennsylvania Castle on Portland, he commissioned Wyatt to design the Gray Monument; Thomas Gray wrote the famous Elegy in a Country Churchyard at Stoke.

This was also probably the time when the large bookcase was commissioned for the library in Stoke Park, which was all of 125 feet long. Thus there was a requirement for several bookcases.

Stock Court

Stock Court

John died without issue and the estate was inherited by his brother Granville Penn 1761-1844. After Granville’s death his son Granville John Penn could not afford the upkeep of both the Manor House and West End, so in 1845 he sold the Manor, enlarged West End Cottage (where the poet Thomas Gray’s mother once lived) and changed its name to Stoke Court.

He rebuilt it as a Victorian Gothic pile. During this period he also sold many of the family treasures, although he presumably brought the bookcase with him to Stoke Court, as reflected in the wording of the plaque on the bookcase.

Later History of Bookcase

The William Penn Bookcase, together with other furniture, was donated to the Staines Masonic Hall by the family of James Fear of Staines Lodge, who had presumable acquired it from the sale of the contents of Stoke Court in the 1920s.

There are obviously tantalising gaps in the bookcase’s provenance which can be subject to further research, i.e. the name of the furniture maker and how the Fear Family had acquired it. Cole Court is very proud to have such a treasure in its possession.

Paul Huggins
May 2020

Don’t forget the Middlesex Bonus Ball Game 9 has now started . . .

From his picture, the Reverend George Raymond Portal, who was Canonised in 1881, looks stern and resolute. He certainly doesn’t look like someone who would regularly venture down to his local in Burghclere, Berkshire to enjoy a pint and a game of darts with the lads!

However, the good Reverend, who was Grand Master of the Mark Degree in 1869, left a lasting legacy in the form of the Mark Benevolent Fund, from which the Middlesex Mark Benevolent Fund is derived. Two Institutions of which we are all justifiably immensely proud.

Not sure how Rev. Portal would have reacted when an irritating bloke with a clipboard approached him in the bar……. and that’s before I mentioned our Bonus Ball Draw!

But I’m sure he would have been pleased to hear that last week we made a further donation to our MMBF, which after 8 Games and including over £300 in individual donations, brings the total forwarded to the MMBF up to £3,030!

Amongst the many worthy causes that our MMBF supports are the three
Hospices with which we can all readily identify. You have doubtless heard their names before, but it is worth repeating them. They are St. Luke’s Hospice in Kenton, The Harlington Hospice in Hayes, and The Shooting Stars Childrens’ Hospice in Twickenham.

It is also worth repeating that they and all the other worthy causes the MMBF supports are finding it, week on week, increasingly difficult in the present environment.

If you are able to help please consider subscribing (just £1 a week) to our Bonus Ball Draw. The winning prize is modest, but I’m sure the good Rev. Portal would agree, that’s not really the point is it?

A downloadable application form is easily found on our website where my contact details and the weekly results are also posted.


Stay safe & well.
Victor Burton (Bonus Ball Draw Co-ordinator)