I met friend and Brother Chris Quigley at a Cryptic Council annual session in Indianapolis perhaps ten years ago. He was in town from his home in England, and he was a regular attendee every year at this event. He had become good friends with many Indiana Masons from continuing to attend this gathering almost every year, and they so enjoyed his company and participation and enthusiasm that in 2008 he was made an Honorary Past Most Illustrious Grand Master in the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons in Indiana.
Over the years he has posted comments on this blog, and Facebook has allowed us to chat a little easier than just meeting every couple of years or so. A few weeks ago, he asked what year I had been born in, because he was preparing to send me a gift.
Well, it arrived this week. Chris tracked down a set of three commemorative Stewards Jewels from the 1958 English Masonic Festival.
From the enclosed note:
Around the mid 1800s, the United Grand Lodge of England decided to instigate Festival Stewards Jewels for the three main Masonic Charities.
From then until the late 1930s, they made them out of solid silver. These have now become very expensive and rare. The jewels are for the main charities: Royal Masonic Institution for Boys, Royal Masonic Institution for Girls, and the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution.
Worshipful Brother Christopher Hodapp was born in 1958 and these are the three Festival Stewards Jewels for that year. These jewels are now becoming very rare and a special collector's item.In subsequent years, two charities have been added to the list: the Grand Charity and the Masonic Samaritan Fund. In addition, the two former charities for the Royal Institutions for Boys and Girls have been combined into one.
The jewel for 2018 is on the right, and is given to any Brother who donates £300 to the Charities over a five year period. Doing so makes him a Steward of the Festival. Hence, the creation of the jewels to commemorate the occasion. (It looks like there is no Festival for 2017, probably because of the 300th anniversary.)
A total of 44 out of the 47 provinces of the UGLE take part in hosting the Festivals. It appears that in earlier days, three Provinces would combine their efforts for a Festival and each of the three would choose one of the three main charities to support. Today, each
Further explanation is available on the 2018 Festival website:
Each Province is asked once in every 11 years to collect funds for one of the main Masonic charities. The Charity Festival System in English Freemasonry has been developed to rotate specific fund raising evenly around the Provinces. There are 44 Provinces in the system. The intention is for each Province to have supported all of the four charities over a period of 44 years.
A Charity Festival is designed to last for 5 years, although we do know in advance of the launch year when our Festival will end and which charity we will be supporting.
United Grand Lodge of England has four separately designated charities. They are The Grand Charity, The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution, The Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys and the final charity, which you will become very familiar with is The Masonic Samaritan Fund or the MSF. The Festival charities derive no income from outside funding such as the National Lottery. The majority of money spent comes from Masonic donations and in the case of the MSF is available primarily to Freemasons and their dependants.
It follows that, normally, each Province hosts a Festival once every 11 years with each Province supporting each of the four Charities once over a 44 year period.
The last festival held in this Province (Yorkshire, North and East Ridings) finished in 2006 and the efforts made by all our Masonic brethren produced £2.2 million for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys.