Dean Leigh Masters’ Lodge in Hereford has received the great honour of being one of the four Lodges throughout UGLE to be invited to host the 2019 Prestonian Lecture. Each year Grand Lodge nominates a Brother to prepare and deliver that year’s Prestonian Lecture, and it is the only lecture given under the authority of Grand Lodge. Each year there are four official deliveries of the Lecture in Lodges around the Constitution, and so it is a particular honour for Dean Leigh Masters’ Lodge, and for the Province of Herefordshire, to have been selected as one of them.
The lectures are named after William Preston (1742-1818), ‘the foremost masonic educator of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries’, whose best known work is Illustrations of Freemasonry (1772), based on his extensive research into Masonic Lodges around the country.
This year’s Prestonian Lecturer is Worshipful Brother Michael Karn, who was Initiated into Feltham Lodge No 7307 in 1987. Unable to find answers to many of his questions about Freemasonry, he began his extensive researches into the subject, joining the Middlesex Research Lodge in 2004 and writing two books and many research papers since.
He delivered his fascinating and informative, and well-illustrated, talk at Dean Leigh on 16 September. His subject was ‘Freemasonry and the Great War’, incorporating an extensive and thoroughly researched survey of how Freemasonry continued its activities during the First World War. His talk covered a brief history of how the war came about, and went on to describe how Grand Lodge and private Lodges managed to keep going with something like their normal activities despite the terrible disruption and loss of life.
He also described how Lodges met among the armed services overseas, and in prisoner of war and internment camps. He concluded with the building of Freemasons’ Hall as a peace memorial, completed in 1933, and the commemorative stones bearing the names of the 64 Freemasons who won the Victoria Cross, unveiled on the pavement outside Freemasons’ Hall in 2017.
More than 100 Masons, including many from neighbouring Provinces, were present to enjoy the lecture and an excellent dinner afterwards. Each Prestonian Lecturer chooses a charity to support, and Mike Karn chose the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. The Master of Dean Leigh Masters’ Lodge, Bill Hurst, and the Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge for Herefordshire, Michael Holland, warmly thanked W Bro Karn, and presented him with a cheque for £410 from a raffle held at the after-proceedings, towards his chosen charity.
The full illustrated version of Mike Karn’s lecture is published in book form and is available from the usual Masonic suppliers.