The day of the Tercentenary celebrations at the Royal Albert Hall had come. Twitter was alive with tweets of Masons from all over the country, from all over the world, travelling to the same destination, all heading to the Royal Albert Hall. They were all excited about the day that was to come, although most would confess that they didn’t actually know what they were going to see.
“We’re off to the Tercentenary at the Royal Albert Hall …”, I heard one say, “… I wonder what ceremony they’re going to do?”
The day was here, so he wouldn’t have to wonder for much longer. Masons were getting ready to descend on to London, travelling in by Plane, Train, Coach and Car. At our own Centre in Sindlesham, Masons started to gather at 10am.
The coach turned up and we were nearly ready to go, a quick headcount and to everyone’s dismay, we were a Brother down. The list was read out to raucous responses of “here Sir” and “yes Miss”, some phone calls were made and a few minutes later, with much relief Brother Pom arrived. The safety briefing was presented by the driver, well received by the Brethren and we were off, arriving in London as quick as the M4 would allow us.
The Brethren went off in small groups for lunch and I dare say, a few beverages may have been drunk along the way, one or two puddings demolished and some restaurant staff may have engaged in recruitment conversations.
Onward to the Royal Albert Hall and time for a quick beverage before finding our seats. An enormous square and compasses adorned the stage, Masons were piling in through every entrance and selfies were taken from almost every angle. Four thousand Masons entering the Royal Albert Hall in regalia was an awesome sight to behold.
The tercentenary event began with a procession of the Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Masters, Grand Inspectors and other Grand Offices entering the arena, followed by The Most Worshipful The Grand Master taking his seat in the Queens box.
The performance started with “Bringing Light To The World“, a theatrical and musical celebration of three hundred years of organised Freemasonry, which portrayed the journey of an initiate into Freemasonry and was delivered by an all-star cast which included Sir Derek Jacobi, Samantha Bond, Sanjeev Bhaskar OBE, and many more, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. The event was live streamed to Great Queen Street, other locations and over the internet.
Following on, the Grand Master, Pro Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master and Assistant Grand Master processed into the arena and the ceremony proceeded. Click here for the recording of the whole ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall – You may need to provide a couple of details to register, then you can view the recording which should be available until October 2018.
Hearing the National Anthem sung by 4,000 Masons and played by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra was outstanding and I’m sure it brought a tear to many a Mason’s eye. After the final procession out of the lodge, it was time for all the Brethren to make their way to the coaches. Our group was under the instruction of the Surrey Provincial Stewards, who had been charged with ensuring we made it to the correct coach, they did a brilliant job, although their task was not helped by Brethren milling about in all directions.
The coaches containing the Brethren then went on to either Battersea Evolution or Kitchen W8 for the festive board. In Battersea Evolution, the bar was instantly flooded with Masons, drinking the bars dry of champagne within minutes. Luckily, before anyone could complain, the doors were opened and with the aid of a seating plan, each Mason found their seat. We were treated to a wonderful meal and luckily there was enough to drink at the tables.
The Berkshire Stewards ensured that order was kept at Battersea Evolution, they had a long and busy day with the tercentenary preparations and made our province proud with the great work they performed. Shown here are the car park team.
Many great conversations were had, many great new friends were made and old friends re-united. Every Mason I was able to speak to, had a wonderful day and felt privileged to be part of such a special event. Many are already looking forward to the Quadricentennial Celebrations.