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Freemasonry and Lifeboats

1878 Launch Of The Masonic Lifeboat Albert Edward Clacton On Sea

1878 Launch Of The Masonic Lifeboat Albert Edward Clacton On Sea

The world’s first lifeboat, the “Original”, was built in 1789 at South Shields by freemason Henry Greathead, sometime secretary of St Hilda Lodge. He won a prize for the design from a South Shields committee and also received £1200 from the House of Commons. Within five years, a further 31 boats were built and more than 300 lives were saved. The Royal National Lifeboats Institution was founded in 1824, by the personal efforts and at the considerable expense of Colonel Sir William Hillary, and was titled “The National Institution for the Preservation of Life at Sea”. In 1854 it changed its name to the RNLI, and at the same time started to receive a subsidy from The Board of Trade because voluntary funds were hard to come by. With the subsidy also came Government involvement, but by 1869 when voluntary contributions improved, by agreement the Government withdrew its subsidies.

The United Grand Lodge of England has had a long association with lifeboats since 1869, when an appeal was made for donations to the RNLI and the idea of a Masonic Lifeboat Fund was suggested. The first masonic lifeboat, “The Freemason” was stationed at North Berwick and funded by an appeal launched in “The Freemason”, a masonic magazine published in London. On 1st March 1871 a proposal in Grand Lodge by J R Stebbing, the then Deputy Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Hampshire for a grant of £50 towards the provision of a masonic lifeboat was approved, and the future link with the RNLI was forged.

The oldest surviving lifeboat is the “Zetland”, which was 11th of the 31 Henry Greathead designed boats. It has been fully restored and is exhibited in Redcar, its original home station. The second oldest lifeboat still in existence is the “Tyne”, built by J Oliver of South Shields in 1833 to a design very similar to that of the earlier Greathead lifeboats.

Tynewasfullyrestoredin2009andisoCnadtiLspalkaeyoaftThehrehPoamrkeFstMation,SouthShields. She was operational for more than 60 years and was involved in saving over 1000 lives. Early in the 20th Century, Lord Ravensworth, then Provincial Grand Master for Durham, was presented with a solid silver replica of the Tyne by St Hilda Lodge 240 on behalf of all the South Shields Lodges.

Albert Edward on July 10th 1878

Albert Edward on July 10th 1878 Clacton

As at 2014, the 14 lifeboats funded by freemasons are: The Freemason (1871-1887), North Berwick; Lady Leigh (1872-1887), Scarborough; Albert Edward (1878-1887), Clacton-on-Sea; Alexandra (1878-1887), Hope Cove; Albert Edward II (1885-1900), Stationed at Clacton-on-Sea; Alexandra II (1887-1900), Hope Cove; City Masonic Club (1897-1918), Poole and Reserve Fleet; Albert Edward III (1901-1932), Clacton-on-Sea; Alexandra III (1903-1934), Hope Cove and Cromer; Duke of Connaught (1921-1951), Peterhead and Reserve Fleet; The Duchess of Kent (1982-2002), Reserve Fleet; Valerie Wilson (2003 onwards ), Newquay; Essex Freemason (2009 onwards), Southend; and Mark Mason (2009 onwards), Milford Haven.

The lifeboat names not surprisingly are also significant. Lady Leigh was the wife of Lord Leigh, Provincial Grand Master for Warwickshire 1852-1905, and the boat was purchased to mark his 20th anniversary as PGM. HRH Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) was Grand Master 1874-1901. HRH Queen Alexandra was Edward VII’s wife. HRH the Duke of Connaught was Grand Master 1901-1939; interestingly when the Duchess of Kent was launched, the Duke attended and found himself in the unique position of presenting the lifeboat in his capacity as Grand Master to himself as President of the RNLI. The Duchess of Kent was an Arun class lifeboat built in 1982 and held in the Reserve Fleet until 2002 when she was sold to the lifeboat service in Madeira. The Valerie Wilson was founded in memory of the late wife of Leslie Wilson, Deputy Provincial Grand Master for Middlesex.

In 1875, HRH Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, was installed as Grand Master. He was sent on an extended tour of India to represent Queen Victoria, who had become Empress of India. This was a journey not without its hazards and dangers in those days, so when Albert returned, Grand Lodge decided to mark his safe homecoming in some permanent way.

Old Lifeboat House Clacton on Sea

Old Lifeboat House Clacton on Sea

A committee recommended that Grand Lodge provide £4,000 to build two new lifeboat stations, complete with lifeboats, where the RNLI had no presence; Clacton-on-Sea in Essex and Hope Cove in Devon were the chosen sites. The boat at Clacton was named Albert Edward in honour of the Grand Master and Hope Cove’s was named Alexandra after his wife.

Library and Museum of Freemasonry

Library and Museum of Freemasonry

Library and Museum of Freemasonry

The Library and Museum of Freemasonry houses one of the finest collections of Masonic material in the world. It is open to the public, Monday to Friday, free of charge.

The Museum contains an extensive collection of objects with Masonic decoration including pottery and porcelain, glassware, silver, furniture and clocks, jewels and regalia. Items belonging to famous and Royal Freemasons including Winston Churchill and Edward VII are on display together with examples from the Museum’s extensive collection of prints and engravings, photographs and ephemera.

The Library and Archives are open for reference use. They contain a comprehensive collection of printed books and manuscripts on Freemasonry in England as well as material on Freemasonry elsewhere in the world and on subjects associated with Freemasonry or with mystical and esoteric traditions.

Regular exhibitions are hosted throughout the year, for which further information can be found on the web site of the Library and Museum.

The Library and Museum of Freemasonry
Start exploring below…

Provincial Grand Lodge of Essex


See Essex Provincial Web Site

Executive Member:

Craft Provincial Executive

Rodney Bass2

Provincial Grand Master

Rodney Lister Bass OBE

Paul Reeves2

Deputy Provincial Grand Master

Paul George Reeves PGSwdB

John Davies2

Asst Provincial Grand Master

John Davies PSGD

Peter Hollingsworth2

Asst Provincial Grand Master

Peter Hollingsworth PSGD

Ken Montgomery2

Asst Provincial Grand Master

Ken Montgomery PSGD

Neil Beverley2

Asst Provincial Grand Master

Neil Beverley PSGD

Nick Franklin2

Asst Provincial Grand Master

Nick Franklin PAGDC

Tony White

Asst Provincial Grand Master

Tony White PGStB

Martin Howse

Asst Provincial Grand Master

Martin Howse

Chas Elliott

Asst Provincial Grand Master

Chas Elliott

Phil Lovelock2

Provincial Grand Secretary

Phil Lovelock PAGDC

Lee Taylor1

Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies

Lee Taylor PAGDC

John Hoeffler5

Provincial Grand Treasurer

John Hoeffler PAGDC

Colin Felton2

Provincial Grand Charity Steward /Comms Officer

Colin Felton PAGDC

Prov Grand Secretary Phil Lovelock  01268 978243
Sylvia Morgan 01268 978241
Provincial Office 01268 571610

Provincial Grand Master

Photograph taken at the 125th anniversary meeting of Easterford Lodge NO. 2342. For the occasion the Provincial Grand Master took a team of provincial Officers to conduct a re-enactment of the original consecration ceremony. Following the re-enactment the Provincial Grand Master took the opportunity to present his certificate and lapel badge for services to Essex Freemasonry to W.Bro. Peter Curtis and at the same time promoting him to Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden. The photo of ‘Lodge Officers’ is in fact a photo of the Provincial Grand Master, his deputy and assistant and the re-enactment team with the WM of Easterford Lodge.


As the Province of Essex continues to lead the way in electronic-media communication, it has been decided to launch a central email address for all your Lodge and Chapter news, as well as being the first point of contact for submitting documents and updates for the Website. The email address should be used in all instances for submitting any information that you wish to be added to the Province of Essex Website or eMason app.

Bro Jack Whittle 70 years in Masonry

Our-recently-retired-Almoner-Bro-Jack-Whittle5475b6a3d6ccb.jpgOur recently retired Almoner, Bro Jack Whittle P.P.G.Purs who stepped down from the post in October 2014 at the very young age of 97 years (to give someone younger a chance!) seen here with The R.W. Past Provincial Grand Master, John Michael Webb, who presented him with a Certificate to celebrate his 70 years in Masonry. To the right of Bro Jack is W. Bro Clifford Thoms, who recounted Bro Jack’s career and presented him with a gift of a Masonic Cup from the Brethren of the Lodge. The Presentation was made during the 130th Anniversary Meeting held at the historic St Osyth’s Priory on 21st November 2014′

70 years in Masonry

The R.W Bro. Provincial Grand Master John Michael Webb ~ Bro. Jack Whittle ~ W. Bro Clifford Thoms

celebrate his 70 years in Masonrycelebrate his 70 years in Masonrycelebrate his 70 years in Masonry

Bro. Jack Writtle receives his commemorative Masonic Cup – it now having been engraved – from The Worshipful Master Michael Clarke accompanied by W.Bro. Peter Harris, J.W. Paul Giles and Bro. Doug Carpenter. The Masonic Cup was given by St. Osyth’s Priory lodge No 2063 to commemorate his 70 years in Masonry.

In Memoriam

Brethren who have passed to the Grand Lodge above

We remember with affection those Brethren who have practised the Craft, shaped our Province and who have now passed to the Grand Lodge above:

Worshipful Brother Ian Gibson passed to the Grand Lodge Above on Sunday 31st January 2021

W. Bro Ian Gibson received a Certificate of 60 years service to Freemasonry in 2017.  Ian who had been Initiated into our lodge on the 17th Jan 1964 and was Worshipful Master in October 1976. He was also presented with a letter from Rodney Bass OBE the Provincial Grand Master.

Brother John Austin Initiated 21 January 1972, Passed 17/03/1973, Raised 19/05/1972

John was the lodge organist and played a fine tune for many a years.

W. Brother Bill Kennedy 26th July1942 – 14th July 2020

Passed to the Grand Lodge above on Tuesday 14th July 2020. Bill joined our lodge 15th December 2006 and was a very active and supportive Mason. He was made Master of the lodge in October 2013 and was in 2018 given the honour’s: PPGStB. Our thoughts are with his beloved wife Pauline at this sad time.

Brother Jack Whittle 20 August 1917 – 1 May 2020

It is with heartfelt sadness news of the passing of Brother Jack Whittle on the 1st May 2020 to the Grand Lodge above. Jack had been awarded his 70th year masonic diploma that he received at the Priory in St.Osyth, from the PGM at the time WBro. J M Webb, a proud moment for Brother Jack and St.Osyth’s Priory Lodge. The most gentlest, sweetest man, Brother Jack would captivate audiences when he spoke of masonic history and tails of endurance and life at 100, his voice, clear and meaningful, filled with wisdom and bursting with knowledge and humor, he will be truly and deeply missed. On the 20th August 2017 our Brother became 100 years young, Jack joined our lodge in January 1983 having been a freemason since 1944, where he was initiated into Vespassian Lodge No. 4222 of Southampton.

W. Bro. Norman Good

W. Bro. Norman Good PPAGDC, born 23 January 1939 who passed to the Grand Lodge Above on the 5th November 2019, his funeral which was held at the United Reform Church, Clacton-on-Sea on the 2nd December 2019 was attended by family, friends and Brethren, as well as members of his church.

In his passing, we have lost an esteemed brother and a friend.

Eulogy for W. Bro. John Wells

John was born on 11th. Oct 1934 and he died on 24th Sept 2019 aged 85. John was a retired bank official having spent most of his working like with Lloyd’s Bank. John married Evelyn and they had three sons with whom they maintained a close and loving relationship.

John was initiated into Masonry, Passed and Raised in Black Horse of Lombard Street No. 4155, a lodge whose membership was restricted to employees of Lloyds Bank. The Lodge splitting into two John moved to the Lodge of Borrowed Light No. 9054, with John being one of the Founding members. John took up office within this new Lodge, progressing to being its Worshipful Master in 1992.

In 2016 John became an associated of the Holy Royal Arch Chapter, namely Coronation Chapter No. 2063, an order that John came to love dearly.

W. Bro. Kenneth John Donoghue PProvAGDC

30th March 1938 – 5th September 2017

Ken’s masonic career started at Elysian Lodge No.5242 in London. Ken moved to Clacton and joined our lodge in January 2003, where again he was an active member of the lodge and become our Director of Ceremonies for quite a few years. Ken is very much missed at our lodge activities and as a friend.

Brother Walter (Wally) White PProvAGPurs 1939 – 2016

bro-wally-whiteFell asleep 16th January 2016, Sadly missed by all his family and Masonic Brothers.

Wally joined our St. Osyth’s Priory Lodge and was initiated in 1994 having been sponsored by W. Bro. Bill Titmarsh and W. Bro. Michael Hogg; then in 1995 he was passed and raised to a Master Mason. In 2014 at The Grand Provincial Lodge of Essex,  Wally was Honoured as Assistant Grand Pursuivant. In his passing, we have lost an esteemed brother and a friend.


Michael Stanley Hogg 1933 – 2014

Fell asleep 4th August 2014

Michael Stanley Hogg

Michael Stanley Hogg

Michael’s Masonic career commenced in August 1968 and for the next 46 years, his energy and dedication were tireless.  Michael received many honours in his time in the Craft, Royal Arch and Rose Croix rising to the 31st degree in 1998.

Michael was a founding member of many Masonic institutions in the Province of Essex most especially the Essex Mason magazine and also the Essex Mason Trading Company which has donated many thousands of pounds to Provincial Festivals and local charities.

Much loved husband of Linda, beloved father of Paul & Annette and sadly missed by all his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


W. Bro Doug Bareham who ‘passed’ during the 2014 Summer recess. Past Master 1975. Sadly missed by all his family.

In his passing we have lost an esteemed brother and a friend.


Masonic Links

United Grand Lodge of England

United Grand Lodge of England Great Queen Street

Library and Museum

The 3R Library and Membership Development Site

The Provincial Grand Lodge of Essex Website

Provincial Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Essex

The Grand Council of the Order of Royal and Select Masters of England and Wales and its Districts and Councils Overseas – Essex District website:

Masonic Charities

The Grand Charity Latest

News Items

New Masonic Samaritan Fund:

Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution

The Grand Charity

The Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys

Other Charities

Lifelites: Providing technical equipment for children’s hospices across the UK.

Other Orders in Essex Mark Masonry: David Embling, Tel 01268 775072 [wpml_mailto email=””]Email David[/wpml_mailto]

Rose Croix North Essex: James Lord Tel: 01255 678407

Rose Croix in South Essex: Graham Larke 01268 530484 [wpml_mailto email=””]Email Graham[/wpml_mailto]

Knights Templar; Walter Hall Tel 01245 441987


The Essex Mason, Shop and Magazine run by volunteers from the fraternity in Essex, and every penny profit is returned to the Craft or charities. Founded in 2000, The started supplying Freemasons throughout the world with quality regalia, books and accessories.

Freemasonry and Charity

Freemasonry is very much one of the world’s oldest organisations dating back to the early 1700s. It’s both non-religious and non-political with the primary aim to support charitable and other deserving causes throughout the world, the UK and deserving local communities. FREEMASONS AND RELIGION The essential spiritual qualification is that you must believe in a Supreme Being. Membership is open to men of any race or religion.

St Osyth's Priory Lodge 2063 St. Osyth’s Priory Lodge has raised thousands of pounds for charitable causes, both Masonic and non-Masonic. Being a Freemason does not provide you with any financial advantage in business, but if you would like spend some of your time helping others less fortunate than yourself then perhaps you should consider becoming a Freemason.
Provincial Grand Lodge of Essex The Provincial Grand Lodge of Essex – among one of the largest Masonic Provinces in the UK – with the collective support of all Essex Lodges has raised in excess of £6 million pounds. The society’s Grand Charity gives 50 per cent of money raised annually to national appeals. Last year it gave £600,000 to hospices in England and Wales.

FREEMASONS AND TEDDY BEARS Essex came up with the Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) scheme for hospitals and has so far provided more than 100,000 teddy bears for children.


United_Grand_Lodge_of_England_logo The United Grand Lodge of England states that the values of Freemasonry are based on integrity, kindness, honesty and fairness. Freemasons are taught to practice charity and to care, not only for their own, but also for the community as a whole – both by charitable giving, and by voluntary efforts and works as individuals.

eMason App

eMason is an exciting, new and powerful App designed to keep you up to date and truly connected with news from around your province. Whether you’re a seasoned Freemason needing something to help you manage your time or whether you’re simply keen to find out more about Freemasonry, eMason has it all! Cost £3.99 for App and £0.99 for Essex Province ‘add in’ Just search eMason from your device or got to google app store.

  • Get directions to every Masonic Hall in your province via a map with built-in Satellite Navigation
  • Instantly and easily subscribe to multiple provinces and calendars, making it simple to manage your meetings.
  • Add all or any relevant Masonic contact details directly to your smartphone.
  • Anyone can purchase the general App for a one-off fee of £4 and then add any of the participating provinces for £1 each.
  • Integrated directly with your Twitter and Facebook accounts (if you have them).
  • Lots of useful information from Freemasonry, your province, news items, your provincial executive and more.

At last, a masonic App that truly adds value! If you’re a freemason (and even if you’re not), you’ll find this a truly useful app. Add a provincial pack to your purchase* and keep up with every development in your province – quickly and easily. It’s an App you can’t afford to be without! Get directions to every Masonic Hall in your province via a map with built-in Satellite Navigation Instantly and easily subscribe to multiple provinces and calendars, making it simple to manage your meetings. Add all or any relevant Masonic contact details directly to your smartphone. Anyone can purchase the general App for a one-off fee of £3.99 and then add any of the participating provinces for £0.99 each. Integrated directly with your Twitter and Facebook accounts (if you have them). Lots of useful information from Freemasonry, your province, news items, your provincial executive and more.

*participating provinces
If your Province has subscribed to this App, for an in-App purchase of around £1, you will also have access to a rich amount of content relating to your own province that you won’t want to miss. Unleash the power of your smartphone with the wonderful world of Freemasonry!

Provinces currently available: Provincial Grand Lodge of Essex
Want to stay up to date with your province or Freemasonry in general? With Push Notifications, you’ll stay connected to everything you’ll need: charity announcements, Provincial Meetings, breaking news and so much more. Knowing how busy you are, you’ll instantly and easily be able to subscribe to multiple calendars*, making it simple to manage your masonic meetings. Find your way to Masonic Halls * Add all or any relevant Masonic contact details* directly to your smartphone. Integrated directly with your Twitter and Facebook accounts to share with anyone you wish. Lots of useful information from Freemasonry, your province, news items, your provincial executive and more. Info about the Masonic Articles from ‘Square’ magazine And so much more!

Also in the App: An introduction to Freemasonry, its members and precepts. History Famous Freemasons Becoming a Mason The headquarters of English Freemasonry, the library and museum of Freemasonry and answers to many frequently asked questions.
Please note, eMason is a ‘not for profit’ App designed around you.
* = requires in-app purchase to access province specific information

Essex Masonic Library Museum

Library1Raising the awareness of Freemasons and members of the public, to the rich history and development of Freemasonry, is amongst the aims of the Essex Provincial Library and Museum. They have been in existence since 2006, when they were opened by the Provincial Grand Master, R.W. Bro. John Michael Webb.
The displays reflect a modern and vibrant Library and Museum, enabling them to exhibit, for example, some of the very special and ancient artefacts on loan from Angel Lodge No. 51, who had their inaugural meeting in 1735. Among the books in their possession are some fine bindings from the early 18th century.

One of their original aims was to have an image of every Provincial Grand Master, since 1776. They are still striving to complete this collection, but that of William Phillip Honywood (1824-1831), still eludes them.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) wrote in his now famous, “A Dictionary of the English Language”, that a Museum was ‘a collection of learned artefacts’. The learned artefacts which are held by the Library and Museum, form an excellent resource for research into the sociological, esoteric and historical aspects of Freemasonry, not just in the Province of Essex, but worldwide.

The knowledgeable Library and Museum staff are only too willing to assist Freemasons and members of the public wishing to further their knowledge of our Order. The Library and Museum can provide a quiet area for reading, reference and research, with Internet access. They are members of the Masonic Library and Museum Group

OPENING HOURS : 10.00 – 13.00 Every Tuesday. Other times by appointment

The Brief story of Essex Masons

• Essex has more than 12,000 masons who are members of 330 lodges, meeting in 27 masonic centres.
• Colchester has thirteen lodges, Clacton eight and Harwich three.
• The number of members per lodge is between 20 and 65.
• All lodges are affiliated to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Essex, which is part of the United Grand Lodge of England, the world’s senior grand lodge
• Essex Masters Lodge is made up of senior masons who were masters of their lodges. It has 1,000 members and is arguably the largest lodge in the world. It celebrates its centenary on November 25.
•Angel Lodge 51 in Colchester is Essex’s oldest lodge. It first met on November 25, 1735.

Essex Mason Ltd

Essex Mason Ltd is a Charitable Trust (Reg. No. 1091864) run by volunteers from the fraternity in Essex, United Kingdom. Essex Mason Ltd procure and supply quality Regalia (for many Masonic Orders), Furnishings, Books Jewellery, Gifts& Sundries. Essex Mason Ltd prices remain some of the most competitive in the United Kingdom. What’s more, every penny of their profit is returned to the Craft or charities.

Essex Mason Ltd also publish a periodical magazine called “The Essex Mason”, it is the official journal of the Province and contains features, what’s on, write ups and advertising, priced at just £1.00
Lodge secretaries are welcome to open a Lodge account with them, just give them a call.
Address & Shop Opening Hours: (The Barrack St shop closed on 30 January.)
Essex Mason Ltd opening hours are Monday to Saturday 9am – 1pm. All callers are welcome.
Note that we are closed on Saturdays in June, July & August & Bank Holidays.
New shop opened 2 February 2015 at;
Unit 17 Peartree Business Centre, Peartree Road, Colchester CO3 OJN
Tel: 01206 500270 (Fax tba) [wpml_mailto email=””]email the Sales team[/wpml_mailto]

Call them on Tel: 01206 500270 or Fax: 01206 510519

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