W Bro John Shulman PSGD MetGInsp gives us an ‘Inspector’s eye view’

With some trepidation, I approached Freemason’s Hall around 4.15 pm on 1st September. This was the restart of Freemasonry; one of the first meetings since March. Would the plans put in place be effective? Would anyone turn up? How nervous would everyone be?

Walking into reception, with its hand sanitizer, a temperature check, all the staff protected by screens and arrows all over the place, felt like the ‘new normal’. A little quieter, less congested; but it was walking into Freemasonry proper, and that was comforting!

Onwards to Temple Fourteen where three members of Duke of Albany Lodge No 1963 were waiting. Duke of Albany, an old lodge consecrated on 4th May 1882, is proud of its history of continuous meetings since that date. Wars have not stopped them, but Covid-19 could have proved a problem. With only three members of the lodge able to attend on this occasion, their proud tradition was in danger. As their Inspector, I was informed of the problem and immediately noticed that the meeting was at the same time and venue of my mother lodge, Titan No 6002. Not so venerable, but it celebrated its 75th Anniversary the previous November. I asked for volunteers, and quickly two brethren stepped forward to attend early and assist Duke of Albany.

The brethren from Albany, W Bro Steve Nunn LGR acting as Worshipful Master, Bro Pat Mahoney and Bro Gary Sprawling were joined by myself and W Bro John Ledgister LGR  from Titan. Now quorate, The Duke of Albany Lodge held its 699th meeting, successfully and maintained its proud tradition. So far, so good. My first meeting since March was successful. Now on to the Titan meeting. A little more ambitious, a fiftieth-anniversary certificate to present with RW Bro Stephen Fenton PJGW DepMetGM in attendance and a revised passing ceremony to conduct!

Fifteen brethren were in attendance and, having got over some initial apprehension, the brethren soon relaxed and embraced their return to the Craft. Titan Lodge was opened and then called off to allow the presentation to be ‘zoomed’ to the members and visitors who were unable to attend.

Fifty years before, to the day, W Bro Wally Bard LGR had been initiated into Titan. As Bro Stephen proceeded to illustrate the state of the world in 1970, the brethren were immersed into the picture of vastly different times. Bro Stephen described W Bro Wally’s career both masonic and professional. Concluding with the many active voluntary offices which had been his constant contribution throughout his life, he remarked how W Bro Wally was a true Mason, undoubtedly worthy of the honours conferred onto him. W Bro Wally, visibly moved, thanked Bro Stephen and the brethren of Titan Lodge for the presentation and the certificate. He said he always had, and always would hold Titan close to his heart.


The Lodge was called back on and Bro Robert Bucknor-Smart was passed to the second degree using the revised socially distanced ritual. It was a little odd to those of us who are used to the standard ceremony, but I am sure that Bro Robert enjoyed the experience nonetheless.


Without a festive board to attend, the brethren then dispersed into the evening. Certainly, the lack of a festive board dampened the experience a little, but to be able to greet and see both old friends in my mother Lodge and meet new ones at the Duke of Albany was a true thrill, and such an evening with brethren old and new working together in harmony is to my mind the true essence of the Craft.

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 42 October 2020 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons - Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.

Read more articles in the Arena Issue 42.