ISSUE 14, July 2005

The King and the Craft
Quarterly Communication: Speech of the Grand Master and Speech of the Pro Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes Supreme Grand Chapter: Speech of the Pro First Grand Principle and Report of the Committee of General Purposes Grand Lodge dues: Message from the President of the Board of General Purposes
    Masonic Housing: Major changes Finance: Choosing an investment manager Travel: Tantalising Tunisia Goose and Gridiron: Historic Masonic unveiling Extravaganza: Hollywood comes to Grand Lodge Masonic Events: Day of Fun and Medical, University and Legal Lodges' Festival Education: Sheffield Masonic Library and Forthcoming events and The Entered Apprentice Specialist Lodges: Revving up to success and where eagles dare International: The horror of Phuket and Grand Charity team visit disaster area Library and Museum: Fraternal societies Masonic Charities: NMSF and RMBI and RMTGB and Grand Charity
Obituaries, Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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Where eagles dare

Falcon Lodge No. 1416, based at Thirsk in North Yorkshire, was consecrated in 1872, the first Master being Frederick Bell, Provincial Senior Grand Warden, and here starts the long association with the “Bell and Falcon”.
    The crest of the town of Thirsk, situated between the Yorkshire Dales and Moors, is a falcon poised on a bell, and so it was adopted as the distinguishing characteristic of the new Lodge. The symbolism is seen in the Lodge room on the honours boards, but in particular on the Lodge banner.
    The banner was donated in 1874 by Mrs George Ayre, whose husband became Master in 1878. The banner is in gold thread on a light to dark grey background and displays Masonic symbols, but its central theme is a Peregrine falcon poised on a bell.
    As the Lodge did not have a candidate for its meeting this May, it was decided to hold an open meeting, with ladies and other guests invited to hear a talk from Ben Potter, head falconer of the Birds of Prey and Conservation Centre, Sion Hill Hall, near Thirsk.
    He did not come alone – but brought with him a selection of birds – to educate everyone about the heritage displayed in the Lodge name. Boxes containing the birds were lifted up the stairs and into the Lodge room.
    At the same time, the first bird to enter the Lodge was on the gloved hand of the Senior Deacon – a Peregrine falcon – the hooded bird sitting quietly and attentively in the unfamiliar surroundings. It was not as nervous as the Senior Deacon. Ben knew how to capture an audience and told us that men liked eagles and ladies liked owls.
    Then, out of the box came Boris the Golden Eagle, weight 10lb 7ozs, wing span eight feet, no hood. Boris scrutinised the audience with an imperial dignity as Ben spoke of the wild origin and future prospects for birds of prey in captive breeding and release programmes. Next out of a box came Bomber, a European Eagle Owl, whom Ben had reared from three days old. Bomber had an affinity with his handler that was clear to see, as he responded loudly every time his name was mentioned.
    The demonstration continued with Poacher, an African Tawny Eagle; Willy, a Grey Eagle Buzzard; Kia, a Red Tail Buzzard; and finally – and to the relief of the Senior Deacon – Peri, the Peregrine Falcon.
    Ben, who gives flying displays three times a day at the Conservation Centre, provided a most interesting evening, and for those of us who were there a memorable one in the Lodge’s history. Many of us now wish to see the birds not just demonstrated but flying.

For further information regarding birds of prey conservation and release programmes, visit

Falcon Lodge Master Stephen Nicholson holds Boris the Eagle alongside his wife Di, while Peri, the Peregrine falcon, sits quietly in the foreground and left

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