The photograph of the Freemasons going into the Grade 2 listed Masonic Hall in Stow on the Wold recently could not be more quintessentially Cotswolds. However, shortly afterwards the building resounded to the skirl of the bagpipes. Lodge Crown and Thistle 1167SC (Scottish Constitution), long standing close friends of the Hilltop (Stow based) lodges came all the way from Neilston to give a demonstration of the way a third degree is performed in Scotland. John Miller is not only master of the Thistle and Crown Lodge but also Grand Bard of the Grand Lodge of Scotland and Past Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Renfrewshire East, Scottish Constitution. He was accompanied by seven members of his lodge and most notably by piper Michael Dailly , the master of Lodge Douglas, East Kilbride No.1557SC. They did explain that as the candidate for the ceremony was one of the newest masons in Prince of Wales lodge (Bro Khyrn Wearing) they would treat him gently, particularly compared to some of their sister lodges in Scotland. Scottish ritual in any case tends to be more graphic than the English version so generally has more impact in more ways than one. The Prince of Wales Lodge under its master, Dominic Lane, acted as hosts on behalf of all the Hilltop lodges (the others being Sudeley Castle and Chipping Campden) and presented John Miller with a cheque for £330.00 for his chosen charity, ‘Brightest Stars’, which supports the families on the loss of children.
The Scottish demonstration was not the only treat in store for those in the packed lodge room. Ian Jackson, Director of Ceremonies for the Prince of Wales Lodge, performed the Walking Charge. A recent Mason is taken around the lodge room and reminded of the promises he has made during his first, second and third degree ceremonies in terms of the organisation’s guiding principles of Integrity, Friendship, Respect and Charity. It is therefore a very moving piece not often performed, sadly.
After a packed evening in the lodge room (in terms of both numbers and entertainment) everyone retired downstairs for a very convivial meal in which the close friendship between the Scottish and English lodges was plain for all to see. The visitors were presented with several souvenirs of their visit and gave some in return. At the end of a very full evening all that remained was to wish our Scottish brethren ‘safe home’ and hope to see them again soon.