FOREWORD RW Bro Warren Duke Deputy Metropolitan Grand Master
There are so many positive aspects to Freemasonry in London at the moment. Two excellent examples are the 200 members of the public who attended the recent “Discover Freemasonry” event in the Grand Temple; and the 600 brethren who attended the recent London Rugby Lodge meeting.
You can read about both of these in more detail in this edition of Arena.
It is also true to say, however, that in the last 12 months – and perhaps since covid – we have all been dealing in different ways with what is being termed “the cost of living crisis”; with the ongoing levels of inflation ultimately impacting our disposable income.
In Freemasonry, that affects us in a number of ways. Certainly, we have seen our travel costs increase. Yet, in particular, we have all felt an increase in the cost of dining at our Festive Boards. For all Lodges and Chapters, this is such an important aspect of our Freemasonry: the opportunity to relax, catch up with friends and meet new people after our meetings.
Costs have risen so much that we know Lodges and Chapters are finding commendable new ways to run their lunches and dinners. The issue is compounded, however, because while costs are going up, food price inflation is so acute that many are also experiencing a lack of value in the quality of the food, wine and service they receive at these higher prices.
In response to this, I am therefore delighted that UGLE has made, with our help and our thanks, an important first step. I would therefore like to share with you the announcements that the Metropolitan Grand Secretary, Matthew Christmas, made in September with several new dining options that are available at Freemasons’ Hall.
In short, we are now able to enjoy the splendour of FMH in many different rooms and a variety of menus to suit different budgets, all maintaining the quality that we would wish. We may now bring our own wine with no corkage charge, should we wish to do so. Dining costs start at £50 per head for a two course meal without wine, while a three course meal with half a bottle of wine is £65.
A good deal of thought has gone into this new approach with the option to pre-order drinks from the bar in FMH, complimentary coffee in the cafe and “premium” dining options for those special occasions.
I appreciate, of course, that even at these prices, costs may be still be too expensive for some Lodges and Chapters; but it is, in my view, an important step in the right direction. We also anticipate further announcements to this end in 2024.
In terms of rooms, on the ground floor we have the gallery suite and the anteroom. Furthermore, added to the list for the first time, we may now dine in the new and the old boardrooms, both of which would befit any festive board.
While subject to availability, we also have options on the first floor. the vestibules outside the grand temple make for a memorable dinner with the Grand Temple doors wide open. Also, the grand and past grand officers’ robing rooms have a real sense of occasion.
The Metropolitan Grand Secretary also tells me that there is some misunderstanding around minimum dining numbers. Freemasons’ Hall will consider a booking for a party of any size to dine, but they do require that a minimum of 25 diners in total (so can be from more than one unit) use the building during lunch or evening on any particular day, otherwise a surcharge must be levied. This is becoming increasingly unlikely based on growing demand since the changes were announced. Contact the dining team who will be eager to assist you.
Please do consider these new options; and to make enquiries, please email: email@example.com
In closing, may I also wish all Brethren and Companions a Happy Christmas, and all warm wishes for an optimistic and healthy New Year.