Celebrating 300 years of Freemasonry
Special Report
Windsor Race Day & Concert
2nd July 2017
The Event
The Windsor Race Day & Concert was sponsored by the United Grand Lodge of England and hosted under the banners of Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire Freemasons. The 'Event' was a celebration of the three hundredth anniversary of the formation of the first Grand Lodge.
The gates opened just after noon and over 10,000 visitors soon filled the venue. There were seven races in total, the first starting at 2.10pm with the last starting at 5.20pm. There were fun activities for children including a FREE fun fair, face painting and pony rides, all sponsored by the Freemasons of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. The day concluded as the sun came down with a concert by Tony Hadley and his orchestra.
300 Years of English Freemasonry
The Grand Lodge of England was founded in London on 24th June 1717, when four existing Lodges gathered at the Goose and Gridiron Ale-house in St. Paul's Churchyard in London and formed a Grand Lodge; the first in the world. Today, the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) has over 200,000 members who meet in 6,800 Lodges across England, Wales and the Channel Islands, and in a number of Districts and Lodges across the world.
Oxfordshire Province at work
The Provincial Grand Master, assisted by his Assistant Provincial Grand Master W.Bro. Alan Knowles and W.Bro. Paul Buck were all on hand to lead efforts on the day.
The Province invited the Sheriff of Oxford Councillor Mohammed Altaf-Khan who came as a guest of the Province (right).
The Province were also well represented by a good number of helpers on the Provincial tent. The new tent was most impressive and was a great advertisement for the Province.
The Provincial Grand Masters of Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire were on hand to congratulate the winner of the First Race "The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Masonic 300yr Celebration Handicap Stakes", which was won by Lahore!
The Provincial Grand Master R.W.Bro. James Hilditch and Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies W.Bro. Alan Baverstock faced the cameras at the races, explaining the rationale of the event and promoting freemasonry in general.
These recordings are part of a series of short videos on the event and the tercentenary and will be available to watch soon! Stay tuned!
Windsor Tercentenary Raceday – a retrospect
The MW Pro Grand Master admirably sums it up – the race-day "must be considered an unqualified success... thanks and congratulations to the many people who must have done so much behind the scenes to produce an event like that". For me, three words ran through the day – Fun, Families and Freemasonry.
It is hard to believe that planning for the Tercentenary started before I was asked to become the Provincial Grand Master and I suspect the many hundreds of e-mails that I have on the subject represent the small tip of a very large iceberg that is the organisation of such an event.
Over the three year period, there were many important decisions to be made. Perhaps the most important of these was to first ask my Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Alan Knowles, to be our key man on the organising committee and subsequently to ask Paul Buck to take on a substantial role in the actual organisation.
Both acquitted themselves extremely well and the success of the day is due in no small measure to their hard work and dedication to the project. I place on record here my own personal thanks for this, and I know that all members of the province will join me in this. And thanks are also due to the many others who helped, whether on the day, or in advance.
Alan and Paul worked very closely over a long period with their colleagues from Buckinghamshire and Berkshire and I also acknowledge the efforts of these two provinces, in particular John Clark and Bill Smithson. Above all, the management team at Windsor Racecourse were extremely helpful and supportive in making this day a huge success – our thanks also to them.
Projects like this are never plain sailing and it is fair to say that there were a number of challenges on the way. The raceday was not even the first or second proposed celebration event, but the early favourites soon fell for varying reason. Managing the financial position so that the Province did not take on undue financial risk was a key consideration throughout the three year period. Maintaining a due balance between some of the more fanciful ideas and making this an event to be remembered for many years was also a challenge. This was particularly so in the decision as to which act might be hired for the evening entertainment, where suggestions included a full symphony orchestra!
There were, of course, highs and lows, during the organisation. Sceptics who said we would not sell enough tickets were proved wrong; we overcame the change in date imposed on us and the confusion it caused; and whether any of the invited VIPs would attend.
The day itself was a real high, with so many highlights to choose from. I enjoyed walking around the racecourse, seeing Freemasonry so brilliantly open to the public, and meeting many of our own brethren and their families enjoying themselves in the sun (with apologies to those I did not immediately recognise out of "lodge dress"). In many ways, the racing, presenting prizes and the evening entertainment became secondary to this.
We can all look back with pride at this event, and I have no doubt it will remain in our memories for many years to come. It shows what we as a Province can achieve and that we can unite to enjoy ourselves and have fun!
R.W. Bro. James R.G. Hilditch, Provincial Grand Master
The Windsor Race-day "must be considered an unqualified success... thanks and congratulations to the many people who must have done so much behind the scenes to produce an event like that".

Peter Geoffrey Lowndes

MW Pro Grand Master
Tony Hadley
Tony Hadley, of Spandau Ballet fame delighted the crowd with a greatest hits and covers set as the sun downed on a beautiful day in Windsor. Thousands stayed to hear a full 90 minute set which he ended with his classic 'Gold'!