Monthly Archives: October 2017

The Starting Point – (or so you think) Final Part – By Michael Lawrence

The second issue we need to address is Anderson’s account in the 1738 Constitution. This account is purely secondary knowledge as it would appear that he took no part in the formation of Grand Lodge or its early activities. Again I refer to Douglas Knoop and G.P.Jones;

“We think it possible that the statement near the end of the ‘historical’ section of the Constitutions of 1723, to the effect that several noblemen and gentlemen of the best rank with clergymen and learned scholars of most professions and denominations joined the Society during the Grand Mastership of the Duke of Montagu (1721-2) may refer to Anderson himself, among others.  This possibly is not incompatible with Anderson’s own account, according to which Grand Lodge in September 1721 (three months after Montagu’s installation), “finding fault with all the copies of the old Gothic Constitutions, order’d Brother James Anderson A.M. to digest the same in a new and better method”.1Douglas knoop

DOUGLAS KNOOP, M.A., HON.A.R.I.B.A.

Professor of Economics in the University of Sheffield

P.M. Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076, London

So the points to be made from Part One, were 1) The first Grand Lodge did not have jurisdiction over all of England and Part Two, was 2) That Anderson’s account of its formation was second hand.

There are, as you may imagine, other issues concerning Anderson which relate to his past, Herbert Inman claims that;

Dr. James Anderson is said to have been appointed Chaplain of St. Paul’s Operative Lodge in London in 1710 (It has been suggested that this was the Lodge that met at the Goose and Gridiron Ale house in St. Paul’s Church Yard), and it has been alleged that he was expelled from the Society in 1715 (for some unknown misdemeanour)…and that he never became a Master Mason…”2However, Anderson was the Master of Lodge No. 17, which according to Knoop & Jones3 has never been identified, but according to Gould4 however, of the nineteen lodges that attended the Quarterly Communications in 1727, No. 17 was the “Mag: Pye, against Bishopsgate Church”, although there appears to be no uniformity regarding lodge numbers, so this may not be the case.

Anderson’s character and credibility with regard to the enthusiasm shown in editing the 1723 and 1738 Constitutions can also be questioned further as Knoop & Jones explain:

“Although Anderson was only editor of the Book of Constitutions, and although it was issued with the approval of Grand Lodge, it was nevertheless his “sole property”, out of the sale of which he doubtless hoped to make a profit. In other words, Anderson owned the copyright. In February 1735, when the first edition of the Constitutions was exhausted, he sought the approval of Grand Lodge for the preparation of a new revised edition.

In February 1935, when seeking approval for a second edition, Anderson represented to Grand Lodge that a certain William Smith (in A Pocket Companion for Freemasons) had pirated a considerable part of his Constitutions, (to the prejudice of the said Dr. Anderson, it being his sole property”; Grand Lodge resolved that the master and Wardens of the Lodges should discourage their members from buying Smith’s books.”5Therefore, before we even begin to discuss 1717 as the starting date, the confusion starts and all I have done is to demonstrate how even that year, which is acknowledged by the United Grand Lodge of England as our stating point, is not only dubious, but open to debate, along with the contents of the Books of Constitution, whose sale solely benefited one man of possibly doubtful character.

However, as we all need a starting point for our research, I am happy that the point has been set at 1717. Having said that, records suggest that Accepted Masonry was practised in England just prior to about 1600 and Non-Operative Masonry in Scotland just after.

Part Two Bibliography

1) Douglas Knoop and G.P.Jones, The Genesis of Freemasonry, published by Q.C. Correspondence Circle Ltd., 1978 edition, p.160

2) Herbert F. Inman, Masonic Problems and Queries, published by A. Lewis, 1947, p.19

3) Douglas Knoop and G.P.Jones, The Genesis of Freemasonry, published by Q.C. Correspondence Circle Ltd., 1978 edition, p.161

4) Robert Freke Gould, The History of Freemasonry, published by Thomas C. Jack, 1885 edition, p.383

5) Douglas Knoop and G.P.Jones, The Genesis of Freemasonry, published by Q.C. Correspondence Circle Ltd., 1978 edition, p.164

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The Starting Point – (or so you think) Part One of Two Articles – By Michael Lawrence

Freemasonry did not just appear in the year 1717. In fact, according to Robert Plot the famed English Naturalist and first keeper of the Asmolean Museum, in 1686, Freemasonry was being practiced throughout the Nation.

 “To these add the Customs relating to the County, whereof they have one, of admitting Men into the Society of Free-masons, that in the moorelands of this County seems to be of greater request, than any where else, though I find the Custom spread more of less all over the Nation;…”1Robert Plot

Robert Plot 1640 – 1696, English Naturalist, first Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford, and the first keeper of the Ashmolean Museum

Yet despite this fact, we have inherited the date of our formation from the somewhat unreliable Constitutions of 1738, prepared and written by Dr. James Anderson. The late Lionel Vibert sums it up quite nicely when he explains:

“The Grand Lodge that was brought into existence in 1717 did not find it necessary to possess a Constitution of its own for some years. Exactly what went on between 1717 and 1721 we do not know; almost our only authority being the account given by Anderson in 1738 which is unreliable in many particulars.”2According to Anderson’s Constitutions of 1738, this is his version of how the events that lead to that date took place, written retrospectively, nineteen years after that date:

“King George I enter’d London most magnificently on 20 Sept. 1714 and after the Rebellion was over A.D. 1716. the few Lodges at London finding themselves neglected by Sir Christopher Wren, thought fit to cement under a Grand Master as the Centre of Union and Harmony, viz. the lodges that met,

  1. At the Goose and Gridiron Ale-house in St. Paul’s Church-Yard.
  2. At the Crown Ale-house in Parker-Lane near Drury-Lane.
  3. At the Apple-Tree Tavern in Charles Street, Covent-Garden.
  4. At the Rummer and Grapes Tavern in Channel-Row, Westminster

They and some old Brothers met at the said Apple-Tree, and having put into the Chair the oldest Master Mason (now the Master of the Lodge) they constituted themselves a Grand Lodge pro Tempore in Due Form, and forthwith revived the Quarterly Communication of the Officers and Lodges (call’d Grand Lodge) resolv’d to hold the Annual Assembly and Feast, and then to chuse a Grand Master from among themselves, till they should have the honour of a Noble Brother at their Head.

Accordingly

On St. John Baptist’s Day, in the 3d Year of King George 1. A.D. 1717. the ASSEMBLY and Feast of the Free and accepted Masons was held at the foresaid Goose and Gridiron Ale-House.

Before Dinner, the oldest Master Mason (now Master of a Lodge) in the Chair, proposed a List of proper Candidates ; and Brethren by a Majority of Hands elected Mr. Anthony Sayer Gentleman, Grand Master of Masons, Capt. Joseph Elliot, Mr. Jacob Lamball Carpenter, Grand Wardens, who being forthwith invested with Badges of Office and Power by the said oldest Master, and install’d, was duly congratulated by the Assembly who pay’d him Homage.”3Goose and gridiron

The Goose and Gridiron

There are however, two specific issues with the setting up of the first Grand Lodge and Anderson’s account that need to be examined closer. Douglas Knoop and G.P.Jones take up the story with regard to the first issue which concerns the jurisdiction of the first Grand Lodge;

“The events of 1716 and 1717 which led to the formation of Grand Lodge have been referred to as “a resuscitation of English Masonry” and as “the Revival”.  These descriptions are somewhat misleading; the events of 1716 and 1717 related not to English masonry in general, but masonry in London and Westminster in particular. There is nothing in the surviving accounts to suggest that the members of the Four Old Lodges had anything more in mind than a gathering or organisation of local lodges. Even six years later, in Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723 (but not, it should be noted, in those of 1738) the Charges were stated to be “for the use of the Lodges in London”, and the General Regulations “for the use of the Lodges in and about London and Westminster”. According to the MS. List of Lodges which was begun 25 November 1723, and entered on the first pages of the original minute book of Grand Lodge, the “regular constituted lodges” further afield were at Edgworth (Edgware), Acton and Richmond. The fact that Grand Lodge in 1723 and 1724 passed various resolutions concerning lodges “in or near London”, “within the Bills of Mortality” and “within ten mile o London”, indicates the restricted jurisdiction of Grand Lodge in those years.”4So it is more than evident that the first Grand Lodge of England was in truth, the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster and as late as 19 December 1727, according to Gould, there was still only nineteen lodges that attended the Quarterly Communications.5 This later assertion that the first Grand Lodge was to become the Premier Grand Lodge of England never sat well with Freemasons across England, particularly in a speech delivered by Francis Drake of Yorkshire, in 1726 when he said;

“The Learned Author of the Antiquity of Masonry, annexed to which are our Constitution…that diligent Antiquary has traced out to us those many stupendous works of the Ancients, which were certainly, and without doubt, infinitely superior to the Moderns…the first Grand lodge ever held in England was in York.”6Of course, York were not the only Freemasons upset by the stance of the self-styled Premier Grand Lodge of England and during that century, for during the decade 1779 – 1789, there were no less than four Grand Lodges operating in England.

  1. The premier Grand Lodge of England, 1717 – 1813
  2. The York Grand Lodge of all England, 1725 – 1792
  3. The Grand Lodge of England according to the Old Institutions, 1751 – 1813
  4. The Grand Lodge of England South of the River Trent, 1779 – 1789

Part One Bibliography

1) Robert Plot, The Natural History of Staffordshire, 1686, para.85,

2) Lionel Vibert, Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723, published by Kessinger Publishing’s, 1924, p.1, ISBN 0-7661-0073-1

3) James Anderson, The New Book of Constitutions of the Antient and Honourable Fraternity of the Free and Accepted Masons, 1738, p.109-110

4) Douglas Knoop and G.P.Jones, The Genesis of Freemasonry, published by Q.C. Correspondence Circle Ltd., 1978 edition, p.186-187

5) Robert Freke Gould, The History of Freemasonry, published by Thomas C. Jack, 1885 edition, p.383

6) Francis Drake, Grand Junior Warden, Grand Lodge of York, in a speech delivered that Grand Lodge at the Merchants Hall, York, 27 December 1726

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Aethelstan, Anglo-Saxon King of England

Very interesting article concerning the Masonic legend, Aethelstan.

The Freelance History Writer

King Aethelstan presenting a book to St. Cuthbert King Aethelstan presenting a book to St. Cuthbert

Aethelstan was the first King of Wessex to bring together all the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in England. He was well educated, very pious and a collector of saints relics and manuscripts. He was also a formidable warrior. We have considerably more information about Aethelstan’s reign than other Anglo-Saxon kings due to the survival of many charters dating from his time as king and there are references to Aethelstan in foreign sources.

Aethelstan was born sometime between 893 and 895 AD. His father was King Edward the Elder, the oldest son of King Alfred the Great. His mother was named Ecgwynn and very little is known about her. There is no record of Edward and Ecgwynn being married and Aethelstan’s legitimacy was questioned during his lifetime. It is possible they were married in secret but she did live at court. She also had…

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A SHORT OUTLINE OF ARCHITECTURAL MASONRY (Part 4 of 4)

First Published in 1950

By Bernard E Jones

Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies

 English Gothic

English Gothic Architecture

The twelfth century had opened up the way for the coming of the Gothic style, but there is no sharp and precise date at which one style succeeded another. A change of style took half a century or more to establish itself. In general, the Romanesque or Norman style changed in the second half of the twelfth century to the Early English or Gothic style, of which the Decorated period was from the second half of the thirteenth century until late in the fourteenth century. The Perpendicular style of Gothic came from the Decorated style in the fourteenth century, went right through the fifteenth century with some changes, and continued into the sixteenth.

Evidence as to how England achieved its Gothic style is conflicting. Some people think that Gothic was but the maturing of the English Romanesque style, but obviously it was something much more than that. It is safer to regard English Gothic as the strongly Anglicised rendering of a great architectural movement which swept over Western Europe and reached England via the western and northern provinces of France. It was architecture with pointed arches, and succeeded the architecture of round arches, the chief influence leading to the introduction of the pointed arch being undoubtedly the discovery of a method of building vaulting over wide and often uneven spaces.

“The architecture of every people is an essential part of its history” it has been said. English Gothic is a thoroughly national style despite the fact that it was inspired from abroad, and has been labelled “more perfect, more pure, more systematic, better proportioned, more consistent, than the Gothic of any other country.”

The Norman Conquest, by bringing about the mingling of two different peoples, was the great historic fact influencing the development of English Gothic. It must be remembered that by about 1150 roughly one-third of what now constitutes France was under English rule, and that Normandy was architecturally part of England from soon after the Conquest until late in the twelfth century. From the Continent came a deep sense of religion, a higher culture, a far greater skill in architectural construction, than the Saxons had enjoyed; by the end of the twelfth century this fact and the still greater one that the Saxons and Normans were in course of becoming one people-the English people must have made inevitable a more individual growth from the old Norman-Romanesque. But G. M. Trevelyan makes clear that “the birth and general acceptance” of the English language and the happy blending of Saxon and French words into “English tongue” which “all understanden” did not come until Chaucer’s lifetime (1340-1400). It was then that “the English people first clearly appear as a racial and cultural unit.”

The Crusades at the end of the eleventh century appear to have contributed something to the architecture of France and England, for in their long and tedious travels through Europe the Crusaders must have stored up many impressions to be remembered and applied on their return home.

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Lancet Window

By the turn of the twelfth century we see the early stage of Gothic in the simple lancet arch, to which were added, as the style evolved, clustered pillars, window mullions, and tracery, which, in the opinion of many architects, produced “a degree of perfection and refinement never before dreamt of.”

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Tracery

“The Gothic columns, with their simple moulded capitals, carried the mind back from our provincial cathedrals to the Parthenon at Athens” says Professor Banister Fletcher. Gothic had those beautifully proportioned columns, with their dignified capitals, it had in particular, the pointed arch and the ribbed vaulting of the roof; and often externally the flying buttress to give strength to the walls and carry the weight and thrust of the roof.

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Ribbed Vault Ceiling

The Gothic arch was a great step forward in technical design. The reduction of side-thrust on pillars and walls meant that the pillars could be slighter and the walls thinner, less expensive, and much better built, for the old thick walls had often been mere casings of good masonry filled in with rubble and mortar. Externally the style could be distinguished not only by its narrow lancet-shaped pointed windows, but by the bold buttresses to take some of the thrust, the light pinnacles and spires, the acute pitch of the roof.

york-minster-flying-buttresses

Flying Buttresses

Improvement in technical design making for the growing use of vaulting over large and often unusual spaces helped the introduction of the pointed arch. Vaulting is the great pride of the Gothic masons, as in Norwich and Durham Cathedrals-the rib vaulting of worked stone as distinct from the rough barrel vaults of earlier days. True, the Normans had invented the vaulting, but their knowledge of construction was not always sufficient to provide properly for the outward (destructive) thrusts, and as a result many examples must have disappeared. Gothic architecture of the later (Perpendicular) period glories in its open timber roofs, many fine examples of which are to be found in the old Norfolk churches.

The Gothic period was remarkable for its building activity; cathedrals, castles, churches, were built in numbers, and no other period in English history can vie with it. Of all countries, says Professor Simpson, England is the most remarkable for the number, variety, and beauty of its parish churches. The whole of England was dotted with villages, and each had its own church, whereas in France, Germany, and other countries villages were few and far apart, and the people, for safety, were forced within walled cities.

It was in this great period that freemasonry had its true foundation. Gould, a conservative assessor of masonic history, believes that “in all lodge constituent elements and appointments, the track is broad and direct to a Gothic origin.” Another historic fact was to play its part, an unfortunate one. In 1349 came the Black Death, the terrible plague that destroyed nearly half the population and had its serious consequences in every phase of national and domestic life; the shortage of labour and high prices of food led to the operatives trying to get higher wages, but legislation kept wages within very restricted limits. Much building work was still proceeding in the seventy years following 1450 some of the finest of England’s churches were built-but by the middle of the sixteenth century the Gothic style of architecture was dying. It is true that even to the end of that century we get here and there a Gothic building and many Gothic details, but by 1600 the great medieval period known as Gothic had reached its close.

The marked similarity in style in the Gothic architecture of all the Western European countries, including England, has prompted the idea that the masons in all the countries concerned must have been guided by a secret principle handed down from one generation to another. It is this similarity that has lent plausibility to the legend of the organised bands of travelling masons, armed with Papal authority, passing from one country to another, building churches here, there, and everywhere, and into all of them pouring their own spirit of design and introducing their own exclusive secrets of construction. In later pages will be shown how much this legend is worth, but in the meantime it will merely be pointed out that some architectural writers have advanced the attractive theory that the monastic schools of masonry founded in Normandy sent forth, at the behest of kings, nobles, and great churchmen, many clever Master Masons, who took charge, artistic and practical, of the erection of a number of the most notable buildings in England, and that, inevitably, these graduates, all of the same school, produced buildings having strong family likenesses. The English, perhaps more than any

other people in the world, had and have a genius for absorbing any new and foreign influence reaching their shores. Thus, all over Western Europe buildings were conforming to a ‘Gothic’ style; here, in this country, there was Gothic with a difference, an English difference.

 The Successor to English Gothic

The Reformation in the sixteenth century strongly influenced Gothic and ensured its death, but the style had lost some of its purity following the reign of Henry VII when it started to introduce Italian features. In course of time Gothic developed into the Elizabethan style of mixed Gothic and Italian, and then into what we know now as the Renaissance: a style less natural, or, rather, less national, than the Gothic, but extremely graceful, reproducing something of the old classic spirit of the Greek and Roman architecture; a style of much interest to the architectural but less to the masonic student. The work of England’s great architect Sir Christopher Wren was largely based on the Gothic, to which, however, he added from his own genius the classic lightness and elegance which transformed it into a style which can best be described as, Wren.

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