In recent times, Royal Hanover Lodge 1777 has contemplated whether it might be possible to establish a link to a Lodge in Hanover, Germany. Through the efforts of two of our members, W. Bro Michael Ross and Bro David North (together with the enhanced profile of our Lodge web site), we were able to identify and contact Lodge Bridge of Fellowship No 929, meeting in Hannover under the Grand Lodge of British Freemasons in Germany within the United Grand Lodges of Germany.
The development of British Freemasonry in Northern Germany relates in no small measure to British troops based in the region following the Second World War through to the end of the Cold War. Not only did this stimulate and enhance the formation of British Lodges in Germany, but such Lodges provide a local Masonic home for expatriates from the UK who have either married Germans or whose work has taken them there. Additionally, there has been considerable interest from Germans wishing to participate in Masonic Lodges following the ethos and customs of English and Scottish Freemasonry and the majority of the membership of Bridge of Fellowship Lodge comprises German subjects. Whilst British Freemasonry Lodges are primarily to be found to the north of Germany, “British” Lodges can be found in the cities of Berlin, Cologne, Dusseldorf and Munich.
Lodge Bridge of Fellowship already has long established fraternal links to Queens Edinburgh Rifles Lodge (The Royal Scots) No 1253 meeting in Edinburgh under the Scottish constitution, and there are regular visits and communications between the Lodges.
Thus it was that a party of 7 Brethren representing Royal Hanover Lodge flew to Hanover on the weekend of 9th April to cement our relationship with Lodge Bridge of Fellowship No 929. What followed was a remarkable weekend of Masonic friendship and enjoyment, over which (we are sure) enduring links have been made between our Lodges. Not only has a bond been made between Royal Hanover and Bridge of Fellowship Lodges, but Royal Hanover is beginning a relationship with Queens Edinburgh Rifles Lodge, which we hope will develop further.
We were met at Hannover Airport by the Bro Christian Buhl (Junior Warden) who took us to our hotel, and later on the Friday, Bro Christian escorted a group from our party to the Officers Mess of a German Army unit in Hannover for a meal followed by a fascinating presentation on “The King’s Legion” by a re-enactment group, the members of which focus on the Hanoverian troops fighting alongside the British at the Battle of Waterloo and a number of other battles on the Iberian Peninsula in the period 1803 – 1815. Probably not many British people are aware that a substantial army of German soldiers was formed to fight alongside the British in the Napoleonic wars and indeed the Kings Legion played a crucial role in the British victory at the Battle of Waterloo, where many German lives were lost.
Saturday 9th April was the day of Bridge of Fellowship Installation meeting, and (together with our Scottish friends from Queens Edinburgh Rifles Lodge, some wearing kilts) we set off to the Officers Mess – in the process of which attracting considerable attention and interest from the populace of Hannover, for whom the sight of a group of gentlemen in dark suits, accompanied by Scots in kilts and sporrans was a something of a novelty in the shopping streets and on the trams of their city!
The Installation meeting was magnificent and was attended by no less than the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of British Freemasons In Germany (M.W. Bro Arthur Bill Beardmore), the Deputy Grand Master (R.W. Bro Glyn Edmonds), and the past Grand Master (M.W. Bro John MacKinnon), together with R.W Bro David Reid (Immediate Past Provincial Grand Master for East Renfrewshire) and about 60 other Brethren from Lodges as places as varied as Poznan in Poland, Scotland, and Berlin, together with members of Lodges under the United Grand Lodges of Germany (German speaking Lodges).
Whilst a wide and colourful array of different regalia was on display, the proceedings followed Emulation workings in English, so the ceremonial was totally recognisable to all from Royal Hanover Lodge. W. Bro Wolfgang Schneider (who had been Worshipful Master on 7 occasions since 1995) vacated the Chair of King Solomon to W. Bro Peter Frenes, taking the Chair for the second occasion is the Lodge. Very impressively, Lodge Bridge of Fellowship has a substantial number of “Light Blues” – many of which are under 35 years old, so the Lodge is in good health.
During the meeting, W. Bro Lawrie Hawkins (Worshipful Master of Royal Hanover Lodge) presented W. Bro Peter Frenes a plaque comprising the Royal Hanover Lodge crest to Lodge Bridge of Fellowship, and this was greatly appreciated and much photographed.
There followed a highly enjoyable festive board – again broadly following the English tradition. The food was plentiful and excellent, the speeches witty, with whisky and port were provided in generous amounts for the official toasts.
On the following day (Sunday) Wolfgang Schneider very generously gave up his entire day to show us around the City of Hannover, explaining the history of all the historical sites. This was also an opportunity to spend a lot of time talking informally with him about Freemasonry in our respective countries, and this was interrupted only by a diversion into a bar showing the Premier League live football match between Sunderland and Leicester City, where to the approbation of some (but not all) of our party, Leicester duly won.
Having collected our luggage, we set off to catch the train to the airport, saying farewell to Wolfgang Schneider at the station, when – to our delight and surprise – we found that Peter Frenes had come to wish us a safe journey.
Thereafter we returned to London tired, but filled with happiness and enthusiasm following a weekend of pure Masonic friendship and pleasure. Needless to say, plans are already in hand to welcome a delegation from Lodge Bridge of Fellowship to Cole Court for our Installation Meeting in October!!!
Opera House with a dedication to Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland son of King George V of Hanover
Our Hotel on the left with our fellow Brothers gathering outside
Our W.Bro Dickie Henderson Joining W.Bro Peter Frennes and Fellow visitors