New lodges formed to encourage Freemason boom

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemasons have been experiencing declining numbers in recent years, so new special interest lodges are being created to attract men to join the fraternity.

Mike Wilks motorcycle

This in on behalf of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemasons. Ed

In a bid to reverse a decline in membership, Freemasons are forming special interest lodges that are designed to attract new men to the fraternity.

Nowhere in the country has the Mike Wilks freemason provincial grand master policy been more enthusiastically embraced than in the province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight.

In the last three years a scouting lodge, rugby lodge and motor sport lodge have been formed and a sailing lodge, football lodge and a motorcycle lodge are expected to follow.

This policy has been driven by the Provincial Grand Master, Mike Wilks (pictured), who is also a great believer in the power of social media to encourage new members.

Declining numbers
There are over 200,000 masons in England and Wales, but numbers have been declining, especially with the aging wartime generation; Freemasonry experienced a surge in membership after the Second World War providing a haven for men seeking fellowship and comradery on their return.

Attracting and retaining members is therefore an important priority for the ‘Craft’, which will be celebrating its 300th anniversary in 2017.

The new lodges require a certain number of brethren to petition for a warrant from Grand Lodge, and they are proving hugely popular.

‘Chequered Flag’
The motor sport lodge ‘Chequered Flag’ was recently consecrated in Southampton with over 230 brethren attending including representatives from the Silverstone Lodge, a lodge with a similar special interest based in Northants.

Mike Wilks said:

“While our numbers are still healthy our membership has been slipping and it requires us to innovate to attract new men.

“Although our charitable giving is not the only reason we exist, it is very important to us, and the attraction of new members will help secure our charitable legacy into the future.

“To that end we have recently formed several new lodges including a ‘Lodge of Brevity’ to cater for the busy working man.

“And the specialist lodges enable those with similar interests to meet together and to attract men with similar interests to join the Craft.

“They are working extremely well and I was very pleased to preside at the recent consecration of the Chequered Flag Lodge in Southampton.

“As well as sailing and football lodges, we also have plans for a motorcycle lodge, which is of particular interest to me as I am a motorcycle enthusiast and help run a racing team.

“The ‘Scouting’ and ‘Rugby Bastion’ lodges are now well established and booming.

“Combined with social media, the new lodges are helping to attract new members who might not otherwise have considered joining Freemasonry

“Men can make contact via the Internet or Facebook and Twitter and help is available to guide them through the process.”

Six million Freemasons worldwide
Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisations. It teaches self-knowledge through participation in a series of dramatic plays.

Members are expected to be of high moral standing and are encouraged to speak openly about Freemasonry.

There are an estimated six million Freemasons worldwide.

Tuesday, 8th December, 2015 2:58pm



Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Top story

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. Craig Kidd

    10.Dec.2015 1:46pm

    How do from Yorkshire, currently in the process of applying for a petition for a new themed lodge for the sports of hunting, shooting & fishing. or follow our progress on Twitter @sthubertuslodge

  2. Diogenese's Barrel

    11.Dec.2015 10:32pm

    Is the Sailing Lodge for Square Riggers only?

  3. Mike Vallender

    13.Dec.2015 4:38pm

    If this is not a silly question :-( What do the Masons stand for and represent?

    Surely these were formed in years past to bring together those higher skills, qualifications and qualities as almost a secret society of our upper echelons.

    The article says their numbers are still healthy but he memberships is slipping. Surely the better course of action is to both open themselves and their actions more to the public so that they themselves can judge / value what they represent in today’s society. What they are apparently doing reads almost as down skilling and realisation that what they once were does not fit with their representation.

  4. Freemasonry is a wonderful, eccentric and misunderstood activity. If you want to know about it, go along to a lodge.

    To go into the details spoil the joy of progressing, but the idea is that as you progress as a mason, you progress as a man….nothing wrong or scary about it.

    • I was rather put off Freemasonry when masonic representatives rocked up to collect membership fees from my grandfather when he had progressed in his journey, as a man, to the hospice, a couple of weeks before he died.

      You might have hoped those people journeying through Freemasonry far enough to be asked to collect membership fees might have learned some compassion and empathy. Maybe not.

      The best way to combat being misunderstood would be to be rather more open with the public, without people needing to go to a ‘lodge’ (whatever one of those is). This would ensure people don’t think it’s a nefarious, underhand cult that does things likeinfluences purchasing decisions in public and private sector, often cutting out the best, most competitive tenders in favour of those who have masonic members in their ranks.

      But as it’s a secretive society, there wouldn’t be any public evidence of such deception, or mis-direction.

      Handy that.

  5. Mike Vallender

    14.Dec.2015 6:17am

    A.Pugin and ThomasC thanks to both of you for your comments and assistance in answering my question.

    It is not that I am either interested, or want to join, but it just appears rather perverse that these people change their ideals and values to suit modern times and changes to society to meet their apparent needs.

  6. This particular organisation is no different to any other with respect to exclusivity. Some golf clubs exclude certain members through exorbitant fees,thus keeping out what might be termed “riff-raff.” The Masons, on the other hand, may use the exclusivity coupled with secrecy to gain advantage in social situations.

    The lodge is where deals may be done locally with fellow masons face to face to ensure business contacts and contracts are cemented, promotions ensured and other advancements over non-members who believe, wrongly, they are competing in an open and fair environment.

    If the mason is seeking advancement outside the lodge area, then the handshake might signal to any fellow mason present. For example, if a mason from the Wight is attending a job interview on the mainland, the handshake at the interview might illicit a favour from a mason on the interview panel.

    If a handshake is not possible, then a signet ring with the appropriate design might be seen by a fellow mason. Handy if stopped by a mason police officer. Shaking hands is not an option but a ring display might do the trick.

    Masons always seek to portray the organisation as merely benign and charitable which it often is but the darker side is also present. How often have members of the public thought they were on equal footing when the reality is the situation has already been stitched up at the local lodge.

  7. Mike Vallender

    14.Dec.2015 8:11am

    Brian thanks for that insight.

    • My uncle owned a business which wasn’t doing too well until he joined the masons. After that it is amazing how his business prospered: contracts for supply suddenly appeared out of the blue. I’m sure it was purely coincidence though !

  8. Mike Vallender

    14.Dec.2015 9:30am

    Brian just on a small point do you not think that counts as either a ‘closed shop’ or in old terminology an old boys network.

    • I would imagine so. “The old boys’ network” might be at play in many situations, not necessarily the masons. I used to work in the manufacturing sector. Directors of numerous factories would attend conferences with customers and suppliers, all open to the public. Who knows what deals were made with whom over the port and cigars? The only difference with the masons is the secrecy which gives rise to public suspicion and the serious influence which may be wielded in public life. Far more important and potentially detrimental than stitching up a few orders for nuts and bolts with a customer.

  9. Mike Vallender

    14.Dec.2015 9:42am

    Brian thanks again.

  10. I’m a Freemason and a standard government worker. My membership as never gave me a upper hand and nor does the organisation want to attract people who would think like that in the first place. You can take a good man and make him better but you can’t make a bad man good. Publicity was drawn back after lyricist ion by hurler in Europe. The organisation is now more open and there’s lots of information on the grand lodge website and a documentary on tv tomorrow night in fact.

    • I have visited the mason museum in Canterbury where I had an interesting chat with the guide who was keen that I should join. Although I was honoured that he should ask, it is not my scene.

      He emphasised the good social work done by masons which is to their credit. My contention is that if men wish to do good works then the Rotary organisation is equally as good without the need for dressing up in aprons or secret signs and handshakes which only arouses suspicion.

      ” My membership as never gave me a upper hand” Perhaps that is because you are a decent fellow who does not seek preference but there are plenty who might.

      Take for example the Seddon case where a murderer using masonic signs and words appealed to the judge (a fellow mason) to let him off. Quote from Wikipedia “Seddon replied at length and appealed directly to the judge, Sir Thomas Townsend Bucknill, as a brother Mason and in the name of ‘The Great Architect Of The Universe’ to overturn the jury’s guilty verdict. According to some sources he gave the First Degree sign, according to others the Sign of Grief and Distress, begging for mercy.” Although it didn’t sway the judge the fact is Seddon must have thought there was a chance of success for him to attempt it.

      Here is an extract from the mason handbook.

      “You must conceal all crimes of your brother Masons…and should you be summoned as a witness against a brother Mason be always sure to shield him…It may be perjury to do this, it is true, but you’re keeping your obligations.”

      You may recall the gangster and murderer Kenneth Noye who is still in prison. Here is an extract from Freemasonery Watch and Sky news. “The Government called him Britain’s Biggest Crime Boss – ‘Worse than the Kray Brothers’
      The United Grand Lodge of England called him ‘Worshipful Master’…

      Other sites of interest:

      Not an organisation with which I would wish to be associated.

  11. I meant to say after pursicution by hitler in Europe. Many Freemasons were sent to concentration camps.

  12. Mike Vallender

    17.Dec.2015 5:14am

    Phil thanks also for your insight and understanding of what being a Freemason means.

    I think the comments in response to my own show there is definitely, even after many years, a need for greater openness, understanding, communication and promotion of the group, their values and understanding by the community of what they can offer the individual, businesses and others.

    By achieving this they might lose the tag ‘secret’ society and show the benefits are more beneficial through understanding.

  13. Mike Vallender

    17.Dec.2015 12:48pm

    Brian I find myself agreeing with you, especially the part about the Rotary club etc, but at least it is showing that it can be discussed openly and without vehemence and disdain.

Add comment