The Provincial Priory of Northumberland Relief Chest


At the Annual Meeting of the Provincial Priory of Northumberland in September 2016, the Sub Prior proposed, and the Knights in attendance endorsed, the setting up of a “Relief Chest” on behalf of the Provincial Priory, to act as a repository and conduit of monies to be donated to charity at the behest and on the recommendation of the Provincial Prior after advice from his Executive.

The reasoning behind the proposal was as follows:


1.  It was evident that the Provincial Priory had a large surplus of funds within its accounts, considered to be far in excess of what would be needed as a prudent reserve for the day to day running of Provincial matters.

2.  These funds were stagnating in accounts with poor interest rates, and no likelihood that the banking situation would improve in the foreseeable future.

3.  Encouraged by the very successful use of a Relief Chest by the Provincial Priory of Durham earlier that year, on the occasion when they were able to donate £14,000 to the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital to mark their 40th year as a separate Provincial Priory, it was felt by the Executive that Northumberland should also make use of a Relief Chest, mindful that we will be celebrating our Jubilee year as a separate Province in 2025 – just 8 years from now.

4.  The Relief Chest Scheme is run – free of charge - by the Grand Charity of UGLE and monies can be deposited into Relief Chests set up in the name of individual Lodges, Chapters and other masonic Units, including Provincial organisations.

5.  The Grand Charity is able to invest the pooled Relief Chest funds and obtains interest rates far in excess of that currently paid by Banks. Interest earned is re-distributed to the Relief Chests pro rata, according to the size of their holdings.

6.  Any funds lodged within a Relief Chest can only be paid out of the Chest for charitable purposes. The recipient(s) and the size of such charitable donation(s) are decided by the Relief Chest holder.

7.  The primary beneficiary of charity in our Order is the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital – but nothing prevents the Provincial Priory from directing charity money to other, local charities (masonic and non-masonic) and even to individuals in distress if it desires.

8.  The Grand Charity will also, free of charge, manage a variety of options that will allow individual Knights to make one off - or regular - payments into the Relief Chest (either cash, cheque, credit/debit card or via a number of electronic methods) and it will ensure that any Gift Aid is recovered on behalf of the donor and also credited to the Relief Chest.


In accordance with the mandate from the Knights of the Province, the Provincial Treasurer has established a Relief Chest, held by the “Provincial Priory of Northumberland” (Relief Chest No KT 1068), and has transferred £10,000 into it, leaving a very healthy reserve of Provincial funds to meet any future fiscal need.

At our Provincial Malta meeting in March, charity envelopes for our Relief Chest will be made available. The Knights are encouraged to place their Alms donation into it and, by completing the information on the front (name, address and sign the declaration that you are a U.K. taxpayer) the Grand Charity will be able to reclaim the Gift Aid on your behalf.

This is currently 25% and is automatically added to your donation. For example, if you make a donation of £10, it will allow reclamation of £2.50 Gift Aid, thereby increasing the amount the charity receives from you to £12.50. If you do not fill in the required details, the Grand Charity is unable to reclaim the Gift Aid and your donation will be credited as £10.


It is recognised that many masons, through their individual Lodges, Chapters and Preceptories, make very generous donations to masonic, and non-masonic, charity.

The RE Provincial prior would encourage all Knights in the Province to consider making an even greater effort on behalf of our Relief Chest by making regular payments into it. These may be set up as Standing Orders, either by completion of a Standing Order Form, or via Internet or Phone Banking facilities, if you have them. Again, the Grand Charity will be able to boost the donation credited to you by the recovery of Gift Aid on your behalf.


It is also recognised that a number of Preceptories within the Province have very ample funds in their General Accounts. The RE Provincial Prior would encourage all the Preceptory members, on receipt of the Annual Preceptory Accounts, to consider whether the funds are in excess of that required to meet the future financial needs of the Preceptory and, if so, to consider the option of transferring excess funds into the Provincial Relief Chest to the benefit of our nominated charities.


It is the hope of the RE Provincial Prior and his Executive that, on the occasion of our Province being 50 years old in 2025, we will be able to emulate our sister Province by making a significant donation to the St John Eye Hospital (the sum of £50,000 springs naturally to mind …. )

We are off to a good start, but it is only by the hard work and continuing generosity of the Knights of the Province in the coming years that we will be able to make it a truly memorable occasion.