The District Banner

At the District Grand Annual General Meeting held at the Winchester Masonic Centre on Saturday 27th August 2005, a new District Banner was dedicated by R.Ill. Comp. Michael J. Banbury (featured left) District Grand Master for Surrey.  RS District Banner2

The Banner was designed and produced by Comp. Henry Grey (featured right) who incidentally at the time of commencing the commission was not a member of the Order. This was soon rectified, with Companion Henry being received in to King Alfred Council No.71 in Companion Henry's 93rd year.

Companion Henry delivers an eloquent explanation of the story behind the conception of the District Banner and its symbolism, which has been reproduced below with Companion Henry's permission.

During the early part of this year ( 2005 ), Brian Barfoot, the District Grand Master of Royal & Select Masters, asked me if I would make a banner for the district. I said I would be pleased to do so. When I asked him if he would like it embroidered or painted he chose the latter method.

Some time later he visited my home accompanied by John Brayford, his deputy, bringing with him a suggested design for the banner. After some discussion it was agreed that I should commence working on its production immediately.

At first I had some difficulty in discerning the details of the Royal Imperial Crown of the Order from the collar jewel. I then referred to the badge printed on the Chapter Summons, which proved no better even in an enlarged photocopy.

As a result I visited the two libraries in Winchester to seek for an illustration of the Royal Imperial Crown from reference books. Even with the assistance of the librarians in both libraries I was unsuccessful. I then suggested using the internet, looking up Freemasonry and using the reference "Royal & Select Masters". This quickly proved successful and they provided me with a coloured illustration that gave me the clear details I needed, charging me the princely sum of 5 pence.

After looking at the design for a few days I felt that the blank spaces within the outline of the three counties was most uninteresting and came to the conclusion that it would be an improvement to fill them with something appropriate.

At that time I saw a programme on the television about wild flowers adopted by English counties as "their flower". I thought that it would be a good idea to embroider the appropriate flower on each county. When I put my suggestion to the Grand Master he agreed wholeheartedly.I therefore looked up the subject on the internet and found that the flower for Dorset was the heather, and the variety chosen as their flower was the Bell Heather Erica Cinerea, which covers the heaths and bogs in abundance with its crimson flowers throughout the county. Its name means solitude and admiration.

We are all aware that the county flower for Hampshire is the rose. As there are many varieties of wild roses I looked up reference books and found that the county flower was the wild Dog Rose, Rosa Canina, which grows in abundance in our hedgerows every year in late May and June. The meaning of this rose is poetry, love and affection. That is why a bunch of roses is presented by one person to another as a token of their regard, be it of love or affection, especially red roses. This is symbolic of the words in the address to the brethren in the First Degree "May love and affection ever distinguish us as men and as Masons".

The Isle of Wight has surprisingly very few wild orchids growing there, but the most common variety is the Pyramidal Orchid, Anacamptis Pyramidalis, which is the one chosen by this lovely island as their flower. Its name means love, refreshment and beauty, all of which are symbolic of Freemasonry - love and affection within the Lodge, beauty of the work of Hiram and the builders, and the refreshment of new membership and enjoyment generally.

The addition of the county flowers on the banner not only enhanced its design but also provided Masonic symbolism. Furthermore wild flowers grow in abundance, not only in our English countryside but also throughout the whole world, just as Freemasonry is practiced in countries worldwide.

Now that the banner is before you I can tell you more about its makeup. It is all hand done with many hundreds of stitches, apart from the fringe and suspending loops, which had to be machined. The background is satin fabric in the colour of the regalia of the order. The three counties are in white satin edged in green. The flowers of the respective counties are embroidered in coloured silks. The scroll is in white and green satin edged with gold jap, and the lettering on it is sewn with red silk. The other lettering at the base is in gold and white silk as you can all see.

The central feature, the Royal Imperial Crown and Triangle is white satin edged in gold. The jewels on the crown are embroidered in red for rubies and green for emeralds.

Brethren, I have enjoyed making this banner and in consequence have become a member of the Order. I trust that the banner will always be an inspiration to all who view it and that the Order will grow from strength to strength, enabling its members to benefit by acquiring new Masonic knowledge and full enjoyment.

Thank you all for listening to my thoughts on the making, explanation and Masonic symbolism of the banner.

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