Category Archives: Masonic

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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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.

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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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A SHORT OUTLINE OF ARCHITECTURAL MASONRY (Part 2 of 4)

First Published in 1950

By Bernard E Jones

Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies

Rome. Rome’s contribution to architecture was its study and general employment of the arch and its adoption of the Greek orders in modified designs. Rome had no real architecture of its own when it conquered Greece about 146 B.C., but the Romans were quick students, and were not long in becoming great architects and mighty builders. Professor Simpson remarks that the Romans, if they had had the artistic sense of the Greeks, would have been the greatest architects the world has ever seen, for their work is vast and strong, grand and lavishly decorated, but not refined, often incomplete and carelessly finished.

There are only two ways of spanning an opening: one is to put a beam across it, the other to build an arch into it.

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Uprights and Lintels

The Greeks did not use the arch in their principal buildings; instead they used columns, but had to place them close together, because the length of the beam or lintel that spanned them was limited by its own weight and the maximum load it would bear.

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Arches

The Romans in using the arch could space their columns farther apart. They made their buildings many storeys in height, and designed them as a combination of column, arch, and lintel; but it is the arch, and not the lintel, that as a rule gives quality to the design.

The Romans built great show palaces, fine baths, great triumphal arches, enormous amphitheatres. They built them not only in Rome and Italy, but in the colonies which they established in many parts of the known world. The Coliseum at Rome, built in the first century A.D., was 61 acres in extent.

The five orders of architecture familiar to the freemason were completed by the Romans. They took the three Greek orders, the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, and very slightly modified them, without adding to their refinement. They thickened the shaft or column of the Doric and made it into the Roman Tuscan order. They mingled the ornaments of the Ionic and Corinthian by replacing with small scrolls a part of tile foliage carved on the Corinthian cap, and in this way formed the Composite.

So now we have the Doric, dignified and simple, with tapered, fluted shafts; the Ionic, with its scrolls on the capital; the Corinthian, with its carved deep foliage; the Tuscan, hardly to be distinguished from the Doric, except by its thicker shaft; and the Composite, combining the scrolls of the Ionic with the foliage of the Corinthian. There are other differences, but these are the outstanding ones.

Early Christian Architecture

The Roman Emperor Constantine the Great legalized Christianity in the year 313, and founded Constantinople in 330, but not until two hundred years later did there emerge a style of architecture peculiar to the Roman occupied Eastern lands.

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St Sophia, Constantinople

In 532 the Emperor Justinian began the building of the many-domed church of St Sophia in Constantinople and dedicated it to Eternal Wisdom. St Sophia marked a new style, to which was given the name Byzantine, from the ancient Byzantium, the site on which Constantinople was built; this combined Roman and Mohammedan traditions with the beauty of Greek architecture, the East providing the domes, the rich colour, and material, and the West the large scale, the bold construction, and the perfect proportion. The Byzantine style spread quickly in the East, and strongly influenced architecture in the West.

 Roman and Saxon Architecture in England

The Romans gave architecture to Britain, but it did not survive. We knew little or nothing about the art before they came. At one time we thought that we knew little of anything British in pre-Roman days, but the archaeologists have taught us that the Romans did not come to an entirely barbarous country. Glyn Daniel, in a B.B.C. broadcast address published in The Listener, says: “We know now that the first inhabitants of Britain lived over half a million years ago, that the first farmers and stockbreeders came to our shores about 2000 B.C. We know, too, that by the time Caesar came to Kent some of the Britons were exporting to the Continent metal, slaves, and fat stock, leather, corn, and hunting dogs, and in return were importing wine, bronzes and Gaulish pottery. They were using a minted coinage as well as currency bars, and maintaining, artists in metal and pottery. You can see some of their splendid and complicated patterns on the Battersea Shield, for example, the Witham Sword, or the Desborough Mirror on view in the British Museum. We can see now that Caesar and the Romans do not begin the drama of British history.”

The Romans built magnificent villas and many public buildings in England, but little more remains of them to-day than a few mosaic floors, some fragments of walls, and the broken systems of piping forming part of their bath installations; their upper storeys were usually of wood. The Roman basilica, or hall, is the original type of the Christian church. The domus, also known as a basilica, was the large room of the house. Any Christian churches in England when the Romans went were soon pulled to pieces by the Saxon hordes.

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A Short Outline of Architectural Masonry (Part 1 of 4)

First Published in 1950

 By Bernard E Jones

Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies

The allegories that veil freemasonry, as also the symbols that illustrate it, are, as readers of this book well know, drawn from the lore of architecture and building. Freemasonry has two histories – the one, legendary and traditional, going back almost to the dawn of architecture; the other, authentic, covering a period of a few hundred years and deriving in some part from the ancient craft guilds and fraternities whose fortunes rose and fell in England with the Gothic period; in that particular period are believed to lie the main roots of world freemasonry.

The freemason can well afford to spare a few minutes in which to acquaint himself with a mere outline of architectural development and see for himself how ‘English Gothic’ came into being. (Many authorities have been consulted for the detailed information presented in this articler, and mention must particularly be made of the 1909 edition of Professor F. M. Simpson’s three-volume History of Architectural Development (Longmans Green), a brilliant and valuable treatise.)

When the draughty hovels of prehistoric man, roughly built of stones or thrown together with boughs and mud, began in the course of ages to assume some vestige of form and proportion, then was architecture born, and civilization started on its long journey. “The perception of beauty and deformity is the first thing which influences man to attempt to escape from a grovelling, brutish character.”

Old-fashioned writers used to say that the Egyptians learnt architecture from the cavern, the Chinese from a bamboo-framed tent, the Greeks from a flat-roofed hut, and the Gothics from a grove of trees. This is no more than plausible, even if it be that, but it can be shown that architecture soon outdistanced any mere copying of natural and other simple forms, and grew, through six thousand years or so, to become the world’s supreme art, comprising in its ultimate development a whole group of subsidiary arts. Masonry, which is associated chiefly with building in stone, is one of the chief of those arts.

An extremely brief glance at prehistoric masonry suffices to show that from the very dawn of the mechanical arts thousands of years ago the mason was active. Remains of a few of the more massive examples of his work have come down to us.

Carnac

Carnac, Brittany

The monoliths are upright stones, one of which in Brittany is 63 feet high and weighs about 250 tons; sometimes they support table stones, or cromlechs, weighing up to 10 tons. Ti

      Ancient City of Tiryns

In the ancient cities of Tiryns and Mycenæ stone walls 25 feet thick and 60 feet high, built with blocks 9 feet long and surfaced in such a way as to make very tight, thin joints, even without the help of mortar. We call the unknown builders of these great walls giants, or Cyclops.

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The great temple at Palenque

There was much mighty building in Mexico and Peru thousands of years ago. The great temple at Palenque was 230 feet long and do feet wide; some retaining walls discovered in Peru are said to be no less than 225 feet thick and 108 feet high, and in walls elsewhere are found built-in stones as long as 27 feet, 14 feet deep, and 12 feet high, weighing about 28 tons, cut, shaped, and placed in position with extreme accuracy.

Eastern Architecture

So far as we know, Babylonia and Assyria were among the first of all the Eastern builders, but, unfortunately, in their very early days they built in brick of poor quality which returned in the course of centuries to the clay from which it had been made. When at a later stage they used more permanent materials we know from the remains brought to light by excavation that, as builders, these early people were of considerable worth. The proportions of their narrow, rectangular buildings, their handsome columns and lintels-all these are regarded as the real inspiration of Greek architecture.

In Babylon there was a great temple with alabaster floor-slabs measuring nearly 20 feet by 12 feet. The ancient Persians built in timber, but when their descendants built in stone they produced some massive work; the palace Chehil Minare, for example, had retaining walls over 1400 feet long, built of immense stones and supporting a raised platform, approached by what is regarded as the finest double staircase in the world.

Egypt. Building in Egypt must have been among the earliest in the world, and is the first of which we have written record. As builders, the Egyptians had both material and labour in their favour. Unlimited material – if not in their own country, then in bordering countries, such as Arabia, from which came, or so we are told, the great blocks of stone with which the Pyramids were built. Unlimited labour – slaves and serfs compelled by brute force to do work at considerable risk to life and limb. Overseers and artificers were well trained and highly skilled; the rest was simply the organized and ruthless direction of slave labour. In honour of the dead whom they worshipped the Egyptians built great tombs, the Pyramids, the largest of which has a base 768 feet square and a height originally of 490 feet, some of the stones of which it is built being 30 feet long and of enormous weight. For this one pyramid, it is said, it took twenty years to bring the stones from Arabia.

Long before written history the Egyptians were building temples in each of which a forest of columns supported a flat stone roof, the arch not then being used in great buildings, although the Egyptians did have arches, elliptical ones of brick, probably restricted to use in minor buildings. All architecture may be divided into the styles of the entablature (the joist and flat roof) and that of the arch, and we shall see later that it was the clever development and use of the arch that led to the Gothic construction with which the medieval working freemason was familiar.

Greece. The Greeks were a nation of merchants and mariners doing business with all the known world over a long period of time, and they must at an early date have learnt from Assyria, Egypt, and other countries of the East all that could then be taught them of architecture, an art in which they themselves soon became adept, and in which they are acknowledged to-day as the greatest masters. Their judgment with regard to proportion and symmetry has never been questioned. Of the early Greek temples and other buildings nothing much is known, as they were of timber and have long since disappeared. It is supposed, but sometimes questioned, that the horizontal timber lintel, or beam supported by posts (constituting for the Greeks a rude emblem of fraternal unity), was the inspiration of the outstanding feature of later Greek architecture – the pillars of exquisite design and beautiful workmanship supporting the entablature (the horizontal architrave, the frieze, and the cornice). It will be understood that the two parts of the sloping timber roof, meeting at the ridge, produced a triangular space back and front, and this had to be filled by what is known as the pediment, another Greek characteristic.

Although the arch was not used by the Greeks in the grand manner, they were well aware of its purpose, but were content to use it in a minor way; for example, over a lintel, itself supported by columns, they would place what we now know as a discharging arch, its purpose being to prevent the weight of the masonry above bearing direct upon the lintel.

It is the Greeks who originated or developed the orders of architecture to which the attention of the freemason is often directed. By “orders” are known certain arrangements of construction and ornament as applied to columns and the lintels over them; the three greatest of them – the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian – are illustrated. The idea of the Doric came from Egypt, and that of the Ionic from Assyria but the Greeks so largely redesigned these two orders as to be regarded as their originators.

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The Doric Column

The order which the Greeks most loved was the Doric, the most massive of the three, but more delicate, more refined, and more dignified; generally it had a fluted shaft standing on a series of steps and having no base of its own, and the tapering of that shaft, together with the slight convexing of the horizontal lines of the lintel above, was intended to correct an optical illusion. Its capital, where the shaft supports the lintel, is moulded. The Ionic shaft, on the other hand, had a base, and on the capital were carved scrolls or volutes; this shaft was lighter than the Doric. In the Corinthian order the shaft was lighter still, and a bell-shaped capital was deeply carved with foliage; very occasionally a scroll or volute was added.

 

 

 

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PILLARS AND GLOBES, COLUMNS AND CANDLESTICKS – Part 2 of 4

PILLARS AND GLOBES, COLUMNS AND CANDLESTICKS Part 2 of 4

 By

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Harry Carr

 CHAPITERS, GLOBES AND BOWLS

The biblical descriptions of Solomon’s pillars give rise to many problems, especially as regards their dimensions and ornamentation. For us, the chapiters, bowls or globes which surmounted them are of particular interest, because of ritual developments and expansions during the eighteenth century.

In this particular problem a great deal depends on the interpretation of the original Hebrew text. The chapiters appear in 1 Kings, VII, 16: “…and he made two chapiters…” The word is Ko‑thor‑oth = chapiters, capitals or crowns. Later, in verse 41, without mention of any further works, the text speaks of “…the two pillars and the two bowls of the chapiters…” The Hebrew reads Gooloth Ha‑ko‑thor‑oth, and the word Gooloth is a problem. Goolah (singular) means a ball or globe; also, a bowl or vessel, and various forms of the same root are used quite loosely to describe something round or spherical.

Our regular contacts with modern lodge Tracing‑Boards and furnishings have accustomed us to the idea that Solomon’s two pillars were surmounted by chapiters or capitals, with a globe resting on each, but that is not proven. The early translators and illustrators of the Bible were by no means unanimous on this point, and the various terms they used to describe the chapiters, etc., show that they were not at all certain as to the appearance of the pillars. To take one example, the Geneva Bible, of 1560, a very handsome and popular illustrated Bible, which provided the interpretation for some of the proper names and seems to have been much used by the men who framed the Masonic ritual.

At Kings, VII, v. 16, “…and he made two chapiters…”, there is a marginal note, “Or pommels”, i.e. globular features. At this stage the Geneva Bible clearly indicates that the chapiters were globes or spheres, and not the crown‑shaped heads to the pillars that we would understand them to be.

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Among the illustrations to this chapter in the Geneva Bible there are several interesting engravings of the Temple and its equipment, including a sketch of a pillar, surmounted by a shallow capital, with an ornamental globe poised on top. A marginal note to this illustration speaks of “The height of the chapiter or round ball upon the pillar of five cubites hight…” So the chapiter was a round ball.

At II Chron., IV, v. 12, the same Bible gives a new interpretation “…two pillars, and the bowies, and the chapiters on the top of the two pillars…” Here it is evident that the ‘bowies’ and the chapiters were two separate features.

Whether we incline to bowls or globes, there is yet another interpretation which would exclude both. The accounts in both Kings and Chronicles refer to the pomegranate decoration which was attached to the “bowies” or bellies of the chapiters (I Kings, VII, v. 41, 42, and II Chron., IV, v. 12, 13), and from these passages it is a perfectly proper inference that the chapiters were themselves “bowl‑shaped”, and that there were neither bowls nor globes above them.

Although the globes were finally adopted in Masonic furniture and decoration as head‑pieces to Solomon’s Pillars, they came in very slowly, and during a large part of the eighteenth century there was no uniformity of practice on this point. The Trahi, one of the early French exposures, contains several engravings purporting to be “Plan”’ of a Loge de Reception; in effect they are Tracing Boards for the 1st and 2nd combined, and another for the 3rd degree. The Apprentice Plan contains illustrations of the two pillars, marked J and B, both conventional Corinthian pillars, with flat tops. There is also, among a huge collection of symbols, a sketch which is described in the Index as a “sphere”, a kind of lattice‑work globe (actually an armillary sphere) used in astronomy to demonstrate the courses of the stars and planets.

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The Lodge of Probity, No 61, Halifax (founded in 1738), was in serious decline in 1829, and an inventory of its possessions was taken at that time. One item reads: “Box with Globes and Stands”. The Phoenix Lodge, No 94, Sunderland (founded in 1755), has a pair of eighteenth‑century globes, each mounted on three legs, standing left and right of the Master’s pedestal. All Souls’ Lodge, No 170 (founded in 1767), had until 1888 a handsome pair of globes, each mounted on a tripod base, clearly of eighteenth‑century style, similarly placed left and right of the WM. The Lodge of Peace and Unity, No 314, Preston (founded in 1797), in a recent sketch of its lodge‑room, shows a pair of globes on low, three‑legged stands, placed on the floor of the lodge, left and right, a yard or two in front of the SW.

Among the unique collection of lodge equipment known as the “Bath Furniture” is a pair of globes, “celestial and terrestrial”, on low four‑legged stands, and the minute’s show that they were presented to the Royal Cumberland Lodge in 1805. It is interesting to observe that the equipment also includes a handsome pair of brass pillars, each about 5ft 9in in height, standing as usual in the west, and each of them surmounted with a large brass bowl. These date from the late eighteenth century.

In this case especially, as in all the cases cited above, there is no evidence of globes on top of the B & J pillars; the globes formed a part of the lodge equipment entirely in their own right.

The frontispiece to Noorthouck’s Constitutions of 1784 is a symbolical drawing in which the architectural portion represents the interior of the then Free Mason’s Hall. At the foot of the picture, in the foreground, is a long table bearing several Masonic tools and symbols, with two globes on tripod stands, and the description of the picture refers to “…the Globes and other Masonic Furniture and Implements of the Lodge”.

All this suggests that the globes were beginning to play some part in the lodge, or in the ritual, although they were not yet associated with the pillars. But even after the globes or bowls had begun to appear on the pillars, there was still considerable doubt as to what was correct. This is particularly noticeable in early Tracing Boards and decorated aprons, some showing “bowls”, and others “globes”. (See illustrations, pp 1‑41 in AQC, vol lxxiv, for pillars with bowls, and ibid, p 52, where the pillars are surmounted by profuse foliage, growing presumably from bowls.)

To summarise:

(1) In the period of our earliest ritual documents, 1696 to 1730, there is no evidence that the globes formed any part of the catechism or ritual, and it is reasonably certain that they were unknown as “designs” or as furnishings in the lodges.

(2) Around 1745 it is probable that the sphere or globe had been introduced as one of the symbols in the “floor drawings” or Tracing Boards. There is no evidence to show that it appeared in the catechism. There are several highly‑detailed catechisms belonging to this period, 1744 and later, but globes are not mentioned in any of them. The appearance of the sphere in the 1745 exposure is the only evidence suggesting that it played some part in the more or less impromptu explanations of lodge symbolism which probably came into practice about this time, or shortly afterwards.

(3) In the 1760s and 1770s, Solomon’s Pillars with globes appear frequently in illustrations of lodge equipment and on aprons, but there is no uniformity of practice. In some lodges (as we have seen and shall see below) the globes were already a recognised part of the lodge furniture; elsewhere they surmounted the pillars, and were probably being “explained” in “lectures”. In other places the globes were virtually unknown.

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PILLARS AND GLOBES, COLUMNS AND CANDLESTICKS – Part 1 of 4

PILLARS AND GLOBES, COLUMNS AND CANDLESTICKS Part 1 of 4

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Bro. Harry Carr

In the Quatuor Coronati Lodge summons, dated 22 December 1961, there was a brief note relating to the Wardens’ Columns which attracted considerable attention and comment. As author of the note, and Secretary of the Lodge, I had to answer a number of letters on that subject and on several other topics closely allied to it. During the course of this work it became obvious that there is much confusion on the subject of Pillars, Globes, Columns and Candlesticks, on the dates and stages of their introduction into Craft usage, and most of all, perhaps, on the curious way in which some of these items (which originally had places in the ritual, or furnishings, in their own right) are now made to serve a dual purpose, thereby adding to the confusion as to their origins.

There are, apparently, two main reasons for these difficulties. First, we have grown so accustomed to seeing our present‑day Lodges all more or less uniformly furnished that we accept the furnishings and their symbolism without question. Secondly, the Lectures on the Tracing Boards are given rarely nowadays so that Brethren are unfamiliar with the subject, or with the problems that are involved.

This essay was compiled, therefore, not with the intention of answering all the questions that arise, if indeed that were possible, but in order to separate the various threads which are now so badly entangled.

As these various items appear in our modern procedure, there is an extraordinary mixture of ritual‑references with odd items of furniture, some of which had a purely practical origin, while others were purely symbolical. I have tried to deal with each of these features separately, showing, as far as possible, their first introduction into the Craft, and tracing the various stages through which they passed into our present usage.

THE PILLARS

 Extract from the Lecture on the Second Tracing Board: “… the two great pillars which were placed in the porchway entrance on the south side . . . they were formed hollow, the better to serve as archives to Freemasonry, for therein were deposited the constitutional Rolls . . .These pillars were adorned with two chapiters . . . [and] … with two spheres on which were delineated maps of the celestial and terrestrial globes, pointing out ‘Masonry universal’.”

THE FIRST TWO PILLARS IN CRAFT TRADITION

The two earliest pillars in the literature of the Craft are those described in the legendary history which forms part of the Cooke MS c1410, and many later versions of the Old Charges. The story goes that they were made by the four children of Lamech, in readiness for the feared destruction of the world by fire or flood. One of the pillars was made of marble, the other of lacerus (ie lateres or burnt brick) because the first ‘would not burn’ and the other ‘would not drown’. They were intended as a means of preserving ‘all the sciences that they had found’, which they had carved or engraved on the two pillars.

This legend dates back to the early apocryphal writings, and in the course of centuries a number of variations arose in which the story of the indestructible pillars remained fairly constant, although their erection was attributed to different heroes. Thus, Josephus ascribed them to Seth, while another apocryphal version says they were built by Enoch.  For some reason, not readily explained, the early MS Constitutions favour the children of Lamech as the principals in this ancient legend, which was embodied in the texts to show how all the then‑known sciences were preserved for mankind by this early piece of practical mason work.

The Old Charges were designed primarily to display the antiquity and high importance of the Craft, and it is highly significant that Solomon’s two pillars do not appear in the early versions. David and Solomon are named among a long list of biblical and historical characters who ‘. . . loved masons well . . .’, and gave or confirmed ‘their charges’, but Solomon’s Temple receives only a casual mention, and the pillars are not mentioned at all. It seems fairly certain, therefore, that in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries Solomon’s two pillars had no special significance for the mason craft.  For an excellent survey of pre‑Christian and other early versions and variations of this legend, see Knoop, Jones and Hamer, The Two Earliest Masonic MSS, pp 39‑44 and 162‑63.

SOLOMON’S PILLARS IN THE RITUAL

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The first appearance of Solomon’s pillars in the Craft ritual is in the Edinburgh Register House MS, 1696, in a catechism associated with the ‘Mason Word’ ceremonies.

The earliest‑known reference to the ‘Mason Word’ appears in 1637, in a diary‑entry made by the Earl of Rothes, and although no kind of ceremony is described in that record, it is reasonable to assume that the ‘Mason Word’ ceremonies were already known and practised at that date. The Edinburgh Register House MS is the oldest surviving document which describes the actual procedure of the ceremonies. The text is in two parts. One section, headed ‘The Forme of Giveing the Mason Word’, describes the rather rough and ready procedure for the admission of an entered apprentice, including ceremonies to frighten the candidate, an oath, a form of ‘greeting’, and certain verbal and physical modes of recognition. There is also a separate and similar procedure for the ‘master mason or fellow craft’. (Only two degrees were known at that time.) The second part of this text is a catechism of some seventeen questions and answers, fifteen for the EA and a further two for the master or FC. It is probable that these questions, with the obligation, entrusting and greeting, represent the whole of the ‘spoken‑work’ of the ceremonies at that time.

The questions are of two kinds:

(a) Test questions for the purpose of recognition.

(b) Informative questions for the purpose of instruction and explanation.

Among these we find the first faint hints of the beginning of Masonic symbolism. A question in the catechism of 1696, and in six of the texts that followed soon after, runs:

  1. Where was the first lodge?
  2. In the porch of Solomon’s Temple.

Now, the Edinburgh Register House MS is a complete text; no part of it has been lost or obliterated during the 290 years or so since it was written, in 1696. In fact, there are several related texts belonging to the next twenty years, which amply demonstrate its completeness. It is therefore noteworthy that in this whole group of texts the two earlier pillars, built by the children of Lamech, have virtually disappeared. Barely a hint of them remains in any of the ritual documents from 1696 onwards.

The Dumfries No 4 MS c1710, is a version of the Old Charges which has been greatly enlarged by a collection of ritual questions and answers, with many items of religious interpretation. In its first part, it has the expected reference to the four children of Lamech and their two pillars, but towards the end of the catechism the pillars are mentioned again:

  1. Where [was] the noble art or science found when it was lost?
  2. It was found in two pillars of stone the one would not sink the other would not burn.

This is followed by a long passage of religious interpretation saying that Solomon named his own two pillars in reference to ‘ye two churches of ye Jews & gentiles . . .’ That need not concern us here, but Solomon’s pillars are not normally mentioned in the Old Charges, and the appearance of both sets of pillars in the two parts of the Dumfries MS, suggests that when the ceremonies were shaped to contain Solomon’s J and B, the earlier `indestructible’ pair were abandoned.

There is, in fact, no evidence that they had ever formed any part of the admission ceremonies, but we know very little about the ceremonies in their earliest forms. It seems fairly certain, however, that Solomon’s pillars had achieved a really important place in the Craft ritual in the early 1600s.

Soon after their first mention in the early ritual‑texts these two pillars became a regular part of the ‘furnishings’ of the lodge, and it is possible to trace them from their earliest introduction up to their present place in the lodge‑room, as follows:

(1) Their first appearance as part of a question in the catechism, with much additional evidence that they then had some esoteric significance. The early catechisms are particularly interesting in this respect, because they indicate that both of Solomon’s Pillar names belonged at one time to the EA ceremony.

(2) They were drawn on the floor of the lodge in chalk and charcoal, forming part of the earliest versions of our modern ‘Tracing Boards’. In December, 1733, the minutes of the Old King’s Arms Lodge, No 28, record the first step towards the purchase of a ‘Floor Cloth’. (A QC, vol lxii, p 236.) ‘Drawings’ on the floor of the lodge are recorded in the minutes of the Old Dundee Lodge, No 18, from 1748 onwards. The Herault Letter of 1737 describes the ‘Drawing’, and the later French exposures, from 1744 onwards, contain excellent engravings showing both pillars (marked J and B) on the combined EA and FC floor‑drawing.

(3) Between c1760 and 1765 several English exposures of the period indicate that the Wardens each had a column representing one of the Pillars, as part of his personal equipment in the lodge. The following extract is typical: ‘The senior and junior Warden have each of them a Column in their Hand, about Twenty Inches long, which represents the two Columns of the Porch at Solomon’s Temple, Boaz and Jachin. The Senior is Boaz, or Strength. The Junior is Jachin, or to establish.’ (From Three Distinct Knocks, 1760)

(4) Finally, the two pillars appear as handsome pieces of furniture, perhaps four to eight feet high, standing usually at the western end of the lodge room. The earliest descriptions of the lay‑out of the lodge in the 1700s show both Wardens in the west, facing the Master. The two pillars were generally placed near them, forming a kind of portal, so that the candidates passed between them on their admission, a custom which exists in many lodges to this day.

This was perhaps the last development of all, though some of the wealthier lodges may have possessed such pillars at a comparatively early date. When we consider how many lodge rooms (especially in the provinces) still use pairs of large pillars, it is surprising that the eighteenth‑ and nineteenth‑century inventories make no mention of them. Probably this was because they were part of the equipment of Masonic Halls, so that they belonged to the landlords and not to the various lodges that used the rooms.

So we trace the two pillars from their first appearance as part of a question in the ritual through various stages of development until they became a prominent feature of lodge furniture.

But modern practices are not uniform in regard to the pillars; in London, for example, there are very few lodges which have the tall pillars, but they are always depicted on the second Tracing Board, and they appear in miniature on the Wardens’ pedestals.

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A tentative reconstruction of a “Standard Original” version of the Old Charges – Part 3 of 3

A tentative reconstruction of a “Standard Original” version of the Old Charges – Part 3 of 3

Taken from the 1986 Prestonian Lecture “The Old Charges”

Dr Wallace McLeod

By Dr. Wallace McLeod

 Part Sixteen – The Assembly at York

Assembly at york

And when this assembly was gathered together, he made a cry, that all old Masons and young that had any writing or understanding of the charges that were made before in this land or in any other, that they should shew them forth. And when it was proved, there were found some in French, some in Greek, some in English, and some in other languages, and the intent of them was found all one. And he made a book thereof, how the craft was founded; and commanded that it should be read or told when any Mason should be made, and so to give him his charge. And from that day until this time Masonry hath been kept in that form, as well as men might govern it. And furthermore at divers assemblies have been put and ordained certain charges more by the best advice of Masters and Fellows.

Part Seventeen – The Manner of taking the Oath

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Tunc unus ex senioribus teneat librum, ut ille vel illi ponant manus super librum et tunc praecepta debent legi. (Then one of the elders holds the book, as will he, and he must lay the hands upon the precepts of the book, and then ought to be read.)

Part Eighteen – The Admonition before the Charge

Oath taking

Every man that is a Mason take right good heed to these charges, If that you find yourself guilty in any of these, that you may amend you against God. And especially ye that are to be charged, take good heed that ye may keep these charges, For it is a great peril for a man to foreswear himself upon a Book.

Part Nineteen – The Charges General

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  • The first charge is that ye shall be true men to God and the Holy Church; and that ye use no error nor heresy, by your understanding or by discreet or wise men’s teaching.
  • And also that ye shall be true liege men to the King without treason or falsehood; and that ye know no treason or treachery, but that ye amend it if ye may, or else warn the King or his council thereof.
  • And also that ye shall be true each on to another; that is to say, to every Master and Fellow of the Craft of masonry that be Masons allowed, ye shall do to them as ye would they should do to you.
  • And also that every Mason keep true counsel of lodge and of chamber, and all other counsel that ought to be kept by the way of Masonry.
  • And also that no Mason shall be a thief or thief’s friend, as far forth as he may know.
  • And also that ye shall be true to the lord and master that ye serve, and truly to see his profit and advantage.
  • And also you shall call Masons your Fellows or Brethren, and no other foul name; nor you shall take your Fellows wife in villainy, nor desire ungodly his daughter nor his servant.
  • And also that ye pay truly for your meat and drink where you go to board.
  • And also ye shall do no villainy in that house whereby the Craft may be slandered.

Part Twenty – The Charges Singular

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These be the charges in general that every Mason should hold, both Masters and Fellows. Rehearse I will now other charges singular for Masters and Fellows.

  • First, that no Master shall take upon him no lord’s work, nor no other mans work, but that he know himself able and cunning to perform the same, so that the Craft have no slander nor disworship, but that the lord may be well and truly served.
  • And also that no Master take no work but that he take it reasonably, so that the lord may be well and truly served with his own good, and the Master to live honestly and pay his fellows truly there pay, as the manner of the Craft asketh.
  • And also that no Master nor Fellow shall supplant other of their work; that is to say, if he have taken a work, or else stand Master of a lord’s work, he shall not put him out, except he be unable of cunning to end the work.
  • And also that no Master or Fellow take no apprentice to be allowed his apprentice, but for seven years; and that the apprentice be able of birth and limbs as he ought to be.
  • And also that no Master nor Fellow take no allowance to be made Mason, without the consent of his fellows, at the least five or six; and that he that shall be made Mason be able on all sides, that is to say, that he is freeborn and of good kindred, and no bondman, and that we have his right limbs, as a man ought to have.
  • And also that no Master nor Fellow take no lord’s work to task that was wont to go to journey.
  • And also that every Master shall give pay to his fellow but as he may deserve, so that he be not deceived by false workman.
  • And also that no Fellow slander another behind his back, to make him lose his good name or his worldly goods.
  • And also that no Fellow, within the lodge or without, mis-answer another ungodly without reasonable cause.
  • Also that every Mason shall reverence his elder, and put him to worship.
  • And also that no Mason play at hazard or at dice, nor no other unlawful games, whereby the Craft may be slandered.
  • And also that no Mason shal be no ribald in lechery, to make the Craft to be slandered.
  • And that no Fellow go into the town in the night time there is a lodge of Fellows, without a fellow with him, that may bear him witness that he was in honest places.
  • And also that every Master and Fellow shall come to the assembly if it be within fifty miles about him, if he have any warning, to stand there at the reward of Masters and Fellows.
  • And also that every Master and Fellow if they have trespassed shall stand at the reward of Masters and Fellows, to make them accord if they may; and if they not accord them, to go to the common law.
  • And also that no Master nor Fellow make no mould nor square nor rule to no layer.
  • And also that no Master nor Fellow set no layer, within the lodge nor without, to hew mould stones with with no mould of his own making.
  • And also that every Mason shall receive and cherish strange Fellows when they come over the country, and set them to work, as the manner is; that is to say, if they have mould stones in place, he shall set him a fortnight at the least on work, and give him pay; and if he have no stones for him, he shall refresh him with money to the next lodge.
  • And also that every Mason shall truly serve the lord for his pay; and truly make an end of your work, be it task or journey, if you may have your pay according as you ought to have.

Part Twenty-one – The Oath

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These charges that we have rehearsed, and all other that belong to masonry, ye shall keep, so help you God and Halidom, and by this Book to your power. Amen

Footnote:

I honestly believe that what Bro.Mcleod has achieved here is so underrated, so under published and so relevant to much of the origin of our ritual today that it should be one the “musts” on any new initiates reading list.

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A tentative reconstruction of a “Standard Original” version of the Old Charges – Part 2 of 3

A tentative reconstruction of a “Standard Original” version of the Old Charges

Taken from the 1986 Prestonian Lecture “The Old Charges”

Dr Wallace McLeod

By Dr. Wallace McLeod

Part Seven – Nimrod

Nimrod

And at the making of the Tower of Babylon, there was Masonry first made much of. And the King of Babylon, Nimrod, was a Mason himself and loved well the craft, as is said with the Master of Stories.  And when the city of Nineveh and other cities of the east should be made, Nimrod, the King of Babylon, sent thither sixty Masons at the rogation of the King of Nineveh his cousin. And when he sent the forth he gave them a charge on this manner: That they should be true each of them to other; and that they should love truly together; and that they should serve their lord truly for their pay, so that he might have worship for sending them to him. And other charges he gave them;  and this was the first time ever any mason had any charge of his Craft.

Part Eight – Euclid

Euclid

Moreover, when Abraham and Sara his wife went into Egypt, and there he taught the seven sciences to the Egyptians; And he had a worthy scholar that was Euclid, and he learned right well, and was master of all the seven sciences. And in his days it befell that the lords and estates of the realm had so many sons that they had gotten, some by their wives and some by other ladies of the realm, for that land is a hot land, and plenteous of generation, that they had no competent livelihood to find their children, wherefore they made much care. And when the King of the land made a great council and a parliament, to wit how they might find their children, and they could find no good way, And then they did cry throughout the realm, if there were any man that could inform them, that he should come unto them, and he should be well rewarded for his travel, that he should hold himself well pleased.

Part Ten – Euclid’s Charge

And he gave them a charge on this manner. The first was that they should be true to the King and to the lord that they served. And that they should love well together, and be true each one to other. And that they should call each other his fellow or else his Brother, and not servant nor his knave, nor none other foul name. And that they should truly deserve for their pay of the lord or master that they serve. And that they should ordain the wisest of them to be Master of the Work, and neither for love nor great lineage nor riches nor favour, to set another that have hath little cunning to be Master of the lord’s work, whereby the lord should be evil served and they ashamed. And also that they should call the governor of the work Master in the time that they work with him. And other many more charges that are too long to tell. And to all these charges he made them swear the great oath that men used at that time. And ordained for them reasonable pay that they might live honestly by. And also that they should come and assemble together every year once, how they might work best to serve their lord for his profit and their own worship. And to correct within themselves if they had trespassed. And thus the Craft grounded there. And that worthy clerk gave it the name of Geometry; and now it is called Masonry.

Part Eleven – David

King david

Thereupon long after, when the children of Israel were come into the land of Behest, that is now called amongst us the Country of Jerusalem, King David began the temple that is called Templum Domini (Temple of the Lord), and is named with us the temple of Jerusalem. And the same King David loved well Masons, and cherished them much, and gave them good pay. And he gave them the charges and manners as he had it out of Egypt, given by Euclid, and other charges more that ye shall hear afterwards.

Part Twelve – Solomon

King Solomon

And after the decease of King David, Solomon, that was son unto David, performed out the temple that his father had begun. And he sent after Masons of divers lands, and gathered them together, so that he had fourscore thousand workers of stone, and were all named Masons. And he had three thousand of them that were ordained to be Masters and Governors of his Work.

And there was a King of another region that men called Hiram, and he loved well King Solomon, and gave him timber to his work. And he had a son called Aynon, and he was master of Geometry, And was chief Master of all his Masons, and master of all his graving and carving, and of all other manner of Masonry that belonged to the temple.  And this Witnesseth the Bible, in Libro Regum tertio, caputulo quinto ( Book of Kings in the third time, in the fifth chapter).   And this same Solomon confirmed both charges and manners that his father had given to Masons. And thus was that worthy Craft of Masonry confirmed in the country of Jerusalem and in many other kingdoms.

Part Thirteen – Charles of France

charles Martell

Curious craftsmen walked about full wide into divers countries, some because of learning more craft, and some to teach their craft. And so it befell that there was a curious mason named Naymus Grecus, that had been at the making of Solomon’s temple. And he came into France, and there he taught the science of Masonry to men of France. And there was one of the royal line of France named Charles Martell. And he was a man that loved well such a craft, and drew to this Naymus Grecus abovesaid, and learned to him the Craft, and took upon him the charges and manners. And afterwards, by the Grace of God, he was elect to be King of France. And when he was in his estate he took many Masons, and did help to make men Masons that were none, and set them on work, and gave them both charges and manners, and good pay, as he had learned of other Masons; and confirmed them a charter from year to year, to hold their assembly, and cherished them much. And thus came the Craft into France.

Part Fourteen – St. Alban

St Alban

England in all this season stood void of any charge of Masonry, until the time of Saint Alban. And in his days, the King of England, that was a pagan, did wall the town about that is know called Saint Albans. And Saint Alban was a worthy knight, and was chief steward with the king, and had the governance of the realm, and also of the making of the town walls; And he loved well Masons, and cherished them much. And he made their pay right good, standing as the realm did then; For he gave them two shillings sixpence a week, and threepence to their nuncheons (refreshments). And before that time throughout all the land a Mason took but a penny a day and his meat, until saint Alban amended it. And gave them a charter of the king and his council for to hold a general council, and gave it the name of assembly; And there at he was himself; and helped to make Masons, and gave them charges, as you shall hear afterwards.

Part Fifteen – Athelstan and Edwin

Athelstan                      Edwin

Right soon after the decease of Saint Alban there came great wars into England of divers nations, So that the good rule of Masonry was destroyed until the time of King Athelstan, that was a worthy King in England, and brought the land into good rest and peace, and builded many great works of abbeys and castles and divers other buildings. And he loved well Masons, and he had a son that was Edwin, and he loved Masons much more than his father did.  And he was a great practiser in Geometry, wherefore he drew him much to commune and talk with Masons, and to learn of them the Craft. And afterward, for love that he had to Masons and to the Craft, he was made a mason. And he got of the King his father a charter and a commission, to hold every year once an assembly where they would within the realm, and to correct within themselves faults and trespasses that were done within the Craft. And he held himself an assembly at York; and there he made Masons, and gave them charges, and taught them manners, and commanded that rule to be holden ever after, and gave them the charter and commission to keep, and made an ordinance that it should be renewed from King to King.

 

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A tentative reconstruction of a “Standard Original” version of the Old Charges – Part 1 of 3

 

A tentative reconstruction of a “Standard Original” version of the Old Charges

Taken from the 1986 Prestonian Lecture “The Old Charges”

Dr Wallace McLeod

By Dr. Wallace McLeod

Introduction by Bro. Mike Lawrence

The Old Charges or Gothic Constitutions, to which they are occasionally referred, is the collective name given to a group of hand written (many being copied from even older versions) documents or old manuscripts, which were found mainly in England and dating from about 1390 A.D.  There over 110 copies of these old texts, approximately 75 were written before 1717, four date from about 1600, one from 1583, one from 1410 and one, as previously noted, from 1390.

They tend to fall into two categories, with the early versions written, it would appear, for the guidance and instruction of working stonemasons, and the later versions, several of which originate from Scotland and Ireland, which introduce a more ceremonial approach and produced probably to act as an aide memoire for the lodge or lodge Officers.

The early versions have a distinct working mason or operative theme about them and include a legendary history of the art of Geometry, which changes to Masonry, but not in the Masonic sense as we understand the term. However, Freemasons have adopted these documents as their own and many of the words and phrases are familiar to us and can be found in our modern-day ritual.

Finally, as to the historical accuracy of the earlier manuscripts, I can only refer to the words used by Robert Plot in his 1686 work entitled, The Natural History of Staffordshire, when he says in paragraph 88, regarding the author of the “scrole” to which he had been reading: “So very much out was the Compiler of this History of the craft of masonry, and so little skill had he in our Chronicles and Laws”.

This tradition of “enhancing” our history was carried on by no less than Dr. James Anderson himself, for during the Grand Mastership of the Duke of Montagu when “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” (Douglas Knoop and G.P.Jones, The Genesis of Freemasonry, published by Q.C. Correspondence Circle Ltd., 1978 edition, p.160)

Anderson did exactly that and had an absolute field day with the legendary history contained in these old manuscripts and that is more than evident by the fantastic fictional history he produced in the 1738 Book of Constitutions. In fact, by that date, he had secured the history so firmly that the Society of Free and Accepted Masons could now trace it origins from Adam to the 1717 revival.  Additionally, any English monarch or historical character that had in any manner patronised architects or masons was listed as a Grand Master or Grand Warden.

But a discourse on the accuracy of these, or subsequent manuscripts and papers is not called for here, but rather a clear and concise demonstration of how one might have been received into the stone mason’s trade in the fourteenth or fifteenth century.

Part One – The Invocation

The might of the Father of Heaven, with the wisdom of the glorious Son, through the grace and goodness of the Holy Ghost, that be three persons in one Godhead, be with us at our beginning, and give us grace so to govern us here in our living that we may come to His Bliss that never shall have ending. Amen.

Part Two – Purpose and Contents

Good Brethren and Fellows, our purpose is to tell you how and in what manner this worthy Craft of Masonry was begun, and afterwards how it was founded by worthy kings and princes, and many other worshipful men; And also to them that be here we will declare the charge that belongeth to every true mason to keep. For in good faith, an ye take heed thereto, it is well worthy to be kept for a worthy craft and a curious science.

Part Three – The Seven Liberal Sciences

Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences

For there be seven liberal sciences, of the which it is one of them, and the names of the seven sciences be these. The first is Grammar, that teacheth a man to speak truly and to write truly. The second is Rhetoric, that teacheth a man to speak fair and in subtle terms. The third is Dialectic, that teacheth a man to discern or know truth from falsehood. The forth is Arithmetic, that teacheth a man to reckon and account all manner of numbers. The fifth is Geometry, that teacheth a man mete and measure of the earth and all other things, of the which science is Masonry. The sixth is Music, that teacheth a man the craft of song, and voice of tongue, organ, harp and trumpet. The seventh is called Astronomy, that teacheth a man to know the course of the sun, moon and stars. 

Part Four – Geometry: The Fundamental Science

Geometry

These be the seven liberal sciences, the which seven be all found by one science, that is to say, Geometry. And thus may a man prove that all sciences of the world be found by Geometry. For it teacheth mete and measure, ponderation and weight, of all manner of things on earth. And there is no man that worketh any craft, but he worketh by some mete or measure; nor no man that buyeth or selleth, but by measure or weight, and all this is Geometry. And these merchants and craftsmen find all other of the seven sciences; and especially the ploughmen, and tillers of all manner of grain (both corn and seeds), vine planters, and setters of other fruits. For Grammar nor Rhetoric, nor Astronomy nor none of all the other sciences, can find a man measure or mete without Geometry. Wherefore me thinketh that science is most worthy that findeth all other.

Part Five – The Two Pillars

two pillars

How this worthy science was first begun I shall you tell.  Before Noah’s Flood there was a man that was called Lamech, as it is written in the Bible, in the fourth chapter of Genesis. And this Lamech had two wives, the one Ada and the other Stella. By his first wife Ada he got two sons, the one Jabel and the other Jubal. And by the other wife Stella he got a son and a daughter. And these four children found the beginning of all the crafts in the world. And his eldest son Jabel found the craft of Geometry; and he departed (divide or share) flocks of sheep, and lands in the field,  and first wrought a house of stone and tree, as it is noted in the chapter above said. And his brother Jubal found the craft of Music, song of tongue, harp, and organ. And the third brother Tubalcain found smith’s craft, of gold, silver, copper, iron, and steel. And the sister found the craft of weaving. And these children knew that God would take vengeance for sin, either by fire or water. Wherefore they wrote the sciences that they had found, in two pillars of stone, that they might be found after Noah’s Flood. And the one stone was marble, that would not burn with fire; and the other stone was called laterus, that would not drown in water.

Part Six – How the Pillars were found after the Flood

Our intent is to tell you truly how and in what manner these stones were found, that these sciences were written in. The great Hermarines, that was Chus’s son, the which Chus was son unto Shem, that was Noah’s son (the name Hermarines was afterwards called Hermes, the father of wise men), he found one of the two pillars of stone, and found the sciences written therein, and taught them to other man.

 

 

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