Grand Masonic Ball, Oxford

The work of the Girls' and Boys' Institutions continued to expand in the 19th century. A new Girls' School was built at Wandsworth Common in 1852 providing places for over one hundred girls. The first Boys' school was built at Wood Green in 1856. Competition for places at the Schools was fierce but welfare grants could be provided for unsuccessful petitioners.


In 1836 a plan for an 'Asylum for aged and decayed Freemasons' was announced but met with fierce opposition from the Grand Master, HRH the Duke of Sussex, who believed that monies raised should be spent in providing annuities not in supporting bricks and mortar. A Grand Lodge annuity scheme had been in existence for some time and, happily, the Asylum at Croydon and the annuity scheme were combined to form the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution in 1850. The three great Masonic Charities were funded entirely by donations and legacies. Each held an annual celebration of their foundation which in the 1860s became formalised into an annual Festival sponsored by a Provincial Grand Lodge.

Launching a Masonic Lifeboat The Board of Benevolence, under Grand Lodge control, met monthly to consider petition from brethren or their dependents. It also continued Grand Lodge's long established practice of contributing to appeals after natural disasters both at home and abroad. It also began its long connection with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, either providing new lifeboats or contributing towards the cost of establishing lifeboat stations.
Launching a Masonic Lifeboat