Since its Consecration in March 1981 the Ceremonies of the Sudeley Castle Lodge have been based upon the Ritual in the Emulation working handbook, but with certain variations from the printed book. These variations and certain other customs are considered as “traditional” by the Founders of the Lodge and it is their wish that these variations and customs shall be continued in the working of the Lodge and at its after-proceedings for all time. Lest, during the course of time, they shall fall into disuse and the traditional working of the Lodge be lost, it has been considered desirable that they shall be set out for the future reference of the Masters and Brethren as follows:-
The Lodge shall meet at the Masonic Hall, Stow-on-the-Wold on the third Monday of each month from September to March and on the fourth Monday in April (or at such other time and place as the By-laws shall specify). The Lodge shall be opened at 6.30 pm, with the exception of the March (Installation) meeting which shall be opened at 6.00 pm (or at such other times as the W. Master shall decide. Officers’ Rehearsals shall be held on the Thursday preceding the third Monday, commencing at 7.30 pm, and are currently held in the Masonic Hall, Stow-on-the-Wold.
Dark Lounge suit or Morning suit with black, Craft or Provincial tie shall be the normal Lodge dress with the exception of the December (Christmas) and March (Installation) meetings when it shall be customary, but not obligatory, to wear Dinner Dress suit and full Masonic Regalia.
The Lodge Room shall be furnished and equipped according to ancient custom, but with two exceptions:-
- The Lodge Banner shall be placed in the extreme south-east corner of the room.
- The Tracing Boards are rested against the Secretary’s table in the North. (This perpetuates the procedure used when the Lodge first met in the Library at Sudeley castle in which the Tracing Boards were placed against the fire[place opposite the J.W.’s pedestal.)
The Brethren having been called to order by the D>C>, the Tyler, with drawn sword carried erect, precedes the Officers in procession around the Lodge Room. The procession halts in the E, S and W as the Principal Officers take their places and the Tyler moves to his situation outside the door after the S.W. has taken his place.
During the Opening Ode the D.C. lights a taper and presents it to the W. Master who lights his candle. The Taper is returned and then carried by the S.D. to the S.W., and by the J.D. to the J.W. that they may light their candles in turn. The taper is then returned by the J.D. to the S.D. and thence to the D.C.
The J.D. squares the Lodge when attending to the Tracing Boards and pauses to give a court bow to the J.W. on returning to his seat.
The Lodge shall work Emulation Ritual, with some exceptions as follows:
- When opening in the First Degree the I.G., J.D. and S.D. shall report their respective duties.
- After Opening the Lodge the first item of business shall be a reading by the Chaplain from the V.S.L. (Old Testament).
- In each degree ceremony the Brethren hold the Penal Sign during the Obligation until the Candidate has sealed it on the V.S.L.
- In the Third Degree ceremony the Candidate shall take his Obligation on an inscribed copy of the V.S.L., which is placed on top of the Pedestal Volume. At the end of the ceremony the inscribed copy is presented to him as a gift from the Lodge.
- In the Third Degree ceremony, after the Candidate has been lowered into the grave, the Brethren stand to order with Sign of Fidelity while the Organist plays the Dead March, during which the Chaplain moves to the head of the grave and then reads the passage from Ecclesiastes Ch. 12 verses 1-7 (Authorized Version).
- Brethren carrying out work on the floor of the Lodge shall be conducted to and from their place by the D.C. and shall salute the W. Master with the sign of the Degree before and after their work.
After the Third Rising the D.C. shall invite Visitors to offer greetings on behalf of their respective Lodges. Members of Sudeley castle Lodge do not offer greetings from other Lodges to which they belong, but may stand to order is a Visitor does so.
During the Closing Ode the D.C. extinguishes the three candles and the Deacons collect Alms. The Alms collection at the Installation Festival shall be for the benefit of the Royal Masonic Hospital Samaritan Fund.
The D.C. directs the I.G. to admit the Tyler who enters the Lodge Room with drawn sword carried erect and proceeds, squaring the Lodge, to a position W. of the J.W.’s pedestal.
The D.C. then calls on the Deacons, and then the Wardens, who proceed in a similar fashion to form up behind the Tyler. The D.C. then calls on the W. Master, the Initiate (if any), Grand Officers, Acting Provincial Officers, and distinguished Visitors to join the formation before retiring in procession from the Lodge.
The W. Master and his Wardens shall wait outside the door of the Lodge to greet the Visiting brethren as they retire.
The Secretary will send a printed Installation Procedure list with the March Summons to the W. Master, Master Elect, Wardens, D.C. and Assistant D.C.
When Master Masons return to the Lodge, the Brother who is to be appointed Tyler remains outside and is summoned at the appropriate time by the W. Master giving the Tyler’s knocks. He is then admitted by the I.G. and escorted to the W. Master’s pedestal by the D.C. who will place the Tyler’s sword across the V.S.L.
The P.G.M. or his representative shall be allowed his prerogative to deliver the Address to the Brethren. The newly installed W. Master will then ask him to present an inscribed Past-Master’s Jewel to the I.P.M.
The S.W. shall propose, and the J.W. second that the two Brethren to serve on the Gloucestershire Masonic Charity Association shall be the Treasurer and the Charity Steward.
The Secretary shall arrange for the W. Master’s name to be inscribed on the Lodge Honours Board and the necessary entry made in the Lodge Record Book. The W. Master will arrange for his photograph to be taken in full regalia to be added to the pictorial record of Past Masters.
Grace is to be sung before and after dinner to the tune Dominus Regit Me (Hymn 197 A&M) as given in the Lodge song book.
A place setting and chair is left unoccupied, usually at the end of the Centre sprig, to represent an Absent Brother. The Brethren will face that chair when responding to the toast to Absent Brethren.
At the conclusion of the evening the Tyler shall give the following Toast:
“Brethren of the Mystic Tie, the night is waning fast.
Our work is done, our feast is o’er; this toast must be the last.
Goodnight, Goodnight, Goodnight. Once more, repeat the farewell strain;
Happy to meet, sorry to part, happy to meet again.
Brethren, it is the Worshipful Masters command that I give you the Tyler’s Toast:
All poor and distressed Masons, wherever dispersed over the face of the earth and water,
Wishing them a speedy relief from all their suffering and a safe return to their native country, if they desire it.”
(The first part of the Toast differs by only three words from the last verse of a six-verse poem entitled “The Final Toast” written by an unknown Mason in India in the mid-nineteenth century.
The second part of the Toast is in the Charge at the end of the third section of the First Craft Lecture.)