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Bad Craftsmen always blame their tools! By Mike Lawrence

A defence against those brethren that consider our ritual cumbersome and archaic.

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I don’t know how many times I have heard brethren absolve themselves from poor ritual delivery by claiming that it is archaic, repetitive and boring.  Then come the other excuses that those claimants make which suggest that our new initiates leave because of it.  This is closely followed by the debate that it causes the meetings to go on to long.

Well my friends, I must vehemently contest such complaints with the riposte that so many of our problems lie in the disorganisation of our DC’s, the unnecessary matters emanating from the Secretaries table and the monotone verbiage of some of our W.M.’s.

If you then couple this with the difficulty that many brethren face when trying to repeat verbatim, each ceremonial part and the subsequent poor presentation we have to suffer, it all goes to set us up for immediate failure.

Like so many, I am not adverse to the review or reform of any of our practices, but the claims by some about our ritual are by no means unusual, but neither are they insurmountable.  It fact, if we all took Freemasonry a little more serious, we would solve so many of the problems highlighted.

For example, it is neither rare nor uncommon for mature brethren to nod off during any proceedings, but this is not due to the ritual.  I have witnessed this during church services, theatres, cinemas, seminars, etc.

It is not through boredom, lack of attention, nor medical condition, just that which dictates that elderly people rest more frequent than their younger counterparts.  However, when younger brethren sleep during the ceremony it is generally through inebriation, total lack of interest and little or no understanding of what is going on.

Shutting one’s eyes during a ceremony to concentrate does not constitute sleeping and I know several brethren who, as they progress through the offices of the lodge, use this method to learn the ritual by repeating it in their heads the words along with whatever officer is speaking.

The problem is that very few brethren choose to learn no more about this noble science than that which is contained in their little ritual book.  This means that many brethren hear and repeat words and phrases, and carry out actions that they have no idea where they originated.

Yes! It may be said that much of the ritual which we practice today may be two hundred years old, but ask yourself this – Where did it originate?  What you will find is that so much of it predates not only the 1813 Union, but  also the 1717 formation of Grand Lodge.  In fact, much of it originates from the Old MS Charges of which some dated from c.1390.

If only lodges would use the Lodge of Instruction to do exactly that. Instruct!  Each lodge should be able to provide their candidate with a comprehensive reading list and study programme of instruction and training of which the net result would enliven all that we do.

That is where we let the new initiates down, we send them home that evening with no more than a Book of Constitutions, a copy of the lodge bye-laws and a list of second degree questions of which they have little or no knowledge about.

With regard to the lengthy Installation ceremony, all proceedings can be modified slightly without detracting from the ethos of the event.  All good DC’s with the co-operation of Lodge officers and Past Masters should be able perform a crisp ceremony with good continuity and succinct presentation.  The key lies in the Lodge of Rehearsal.  Such a ceremony warrants several rehearsals to ensure perfection.  Unfortunately, many Past Masters asked to perform certain parts of the ceremony, consider that attendance at rehearsals are beneath them.

While on the subject of ritual delivery, it is facetious to suggest, as many do, that it is no more than an admirable piece of theatre.  If that is the belief, then surely most of us should perhaps conduct ourselves like actors and put more effort into leaning our lines.  It’s a churlish suggestion, although I would propose that a dialogue coach would not go amiss.

When a brother stumbles mid-sentence, we are never short of rude brethren who try to correct him, often times so loud that it causes embarrassment to all. That behaviour also undermines that appointed officer who normally carries out that particular role as discreet as possible and generally by previous arrangement or signal.

As so many brethren are intimidated by the activities of learning and delivering the ritual, we obviously let our brethren down by not providing good teaching, training and learning methods, and this I consider should be another priority.

Minutes of the previous meeting, along with a brief report from the Almoner and Charity Steward could be sent prior to the meeting along with the summons.  This would reduce the business from the secretaries table and other officers who often believe that after two hours of Masonic ceremony, brethren cannot wait to hear from them.  I always get the impression that so many brethren need their ‘five-minutes’ of fame.

It is the inverted snobbery and pomposity of senior brethren, and all lodges have them, that is slowly affecting the membership of the Craft.  Having said that, we must also acknowledge that all age-old institutions are currently being affected by numbers joining, Freemasonry being no exception to this.

The improvement of our ceremonies lies in the hands of our past-Masters, to coach, encourage and train officers and members.  It also rests upon us all to maintain standards of decorum and dignity and to conduct ourselves with solemnity while in open lodge.  Also that we ‘put-in’ 110% in learning any assignment we may be asked to carry out and to earnestly seek help if needs be, otherwise we should gracefully decline.  There is nothing more embarrassing to a candidate than to see a brother struggling to deliver a piece of ill-learnt ritual.  How selfish we can be sometimes.

Having said that, we have all heard well rehearsed ritual. I recall the time when one brother was so enthusiastic with his delivery of the second degree tracing board lecture that those present felt sure he was about to let the Ephramites win!

Joking aside, if ritual needs be read for clearer understanding and accuracy then so be it, but please lets not blame it, alter it or modernise it just because we ourselves cannot deliver it with the respect, the learning and the understanding it demands.

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The Temple and the Masonic Tradition By Mike Lawrence

Freemasons’ meeting places have traditionally been known as Temples, and although this is rather an archaic word, many still argue that its retention in our vocabulary is justified for three reasons. The first being that it is a reasonable name to apply to an institution and a place where the Great Architect of the Universe, is venerated. Secondly, as a continuing reference to King Solomon’ s Temple, the story of which has exercised such a considerable influence on Masonic ritual, symbolism and teaching. Thirdly, the Lodge room itself, is representative, during the ceremonies, of King Solomon’s Temple. The Worshipful Masters Chair affectionately known as the Chair of King Solomon.

However, there are those that consider the very term ‘Temple’, evokes thoughts of Freemasons making daily propitiations to an unseen Deity by way of worship, offerings and sacrifices. Therefore, one can find as many brethren in favour of the term, as against it. But that is a matter for personal choice and not the subject of this paper.

Our subject is the Temple of King Solomon and the Masonic tradition.

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It was during the nomadic period of the Israelites, that the focus of their devotions was centered on the tabernacle, a portable tent which was erected and dismantled during their wanderings. When erected, it housed among other things, the Ark of the Covenant which represented the presence of God.

When David finally settled in Jerusalem, he wanted it to become the center of the people’s religious life, so he ordered the Ark to be brought into the city to be given a permanent home in a building, i.e. a temple or house of God.

David’s plans met with opposition from the prophet Nathan who announced that God never needed a temple when the tribes were wandering in the desert and he did not need one now and with regard to the building of a house to God, God in fact would establish a house of David, a dynasty from which the Messiah would come. But Gods refusal was only temporary; it was because David was not a suitable person to build a temple because he was a warrior king with blood on his hands, he was only allowed to choose the site for the building, the honour of building the temple would belong to his son, Solomon.

Just north of Jerusalem, was a higher and taller summit known as Zion which belonged to a Jebusite named Araunah. During a plague which killed seventy thousand people in three days, an angel appeared to David and stood on the threshing floor of Araunah, which was at the summit of the mount. David quickly recognised the fact that as well as using the threshing floors to separate the chaff from the wheat, the Jebusites used their threshing floors for prophetic divination, worship and appeasement of their storm god Baal. David therefore decided he must build an altar there and by paying for the land, the altar, and the oxen to be sacrificed, he would in fact ensure that the sacrifice would be without obligation to anyone but “Yahweh”, his God. From that point on, the site of the Temple was clearly marked out.

This piece of land where the Jebusites made sacrifices to the God Baal, now became the place where the Holy of Holies would be built, that innermost sanctum of the Temple on that great rock, which can still be seen today in the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount.

Dome on the Rock

Muslims say it was this same spot where Mohammed ascended on his Night Journey to Paradise. Orthodox Jews claim it was where Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac. It was also the place also where David ultimately brought the Ark of the Covenant.

Over the next few years, David consolidated his position. Having already combined the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, roughly where Israel stands today, he also subdued the kingdoms of Edom and Moab in the east and Damascus in the north.  Today the areas of western Jordan, southern Lebanon, and central Syria were all once part of David’s empire but are now, countries in their own right.

King Solomon also extended the city of Jerusalem to include the holy mount and began a large and ambitious building program which included a palace complex, for his huge harem of 700 princesses, the 300 concubines, who were gifts from foreign rulers and a grand palace for his Egyptian wife. He built a large armory, a judgement hall and on the ancient threshing floor which once belonged to the old Jebusite, Araunah, he built the Temple.

Building the temple was no mean feat and the Bible tells us that Solomon ordered 30,000 Israelites to be divided into three groups of 10,000 and working in shifts they cut timber in Lebanon for a month, and then worked for two months in Jerusalem, while another 80,000 were sent into the mountains to quarry stone for the foundations as a further 70,000 porters carried the stone to the site.

Building

There were 3,300 supervisors overseeing the building work. The construction which began in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign, took seven years and five months to complete which would have been from about the spring of 958 BC to the autumn of 951 BC. The internal dimensions have been estimated to be no more than, 120ft by 30ft, and possibly having an Oriental appearance, shewing Phoenician or Egyptian influences.

It was constructed on lines which we would find very strange today, as it was not a building where priests and laity met together for worship. On the contrary, the Temple courts were all that the laity would ever see, not even the King himself could advance further than the porch or vestibule.

The Middle Chamber, (or shall we say the nave) contained the Altar of Incense, and was reserved for the offices of the priests, whilst the windowless Sanctum Sanctorum was a place which even the High Priest himself could enter but once a year.

Of all the work carried out in the Temple, nothing was more remarkable than the enormous basin known as the Sea of Bronze and the two huge bronze pillars named Jachin and Boaz. In those days, casting on such a large scale was both difficult and technically advanced and the man sent by King Hiram to carry out the work was described as being “filled with wisdom and understanding” and “a widow’s son”, better known to us in the Masonic setting as Hiram Abiff.

Although we never pretend that our traditional history of the fate of Hiram is anything but allegorical, it is good to be reassured that our story is built around a historical character, and one who furnished an essential link between the Scriptures and the Masonic craft, and was capable of being regarded as the central focus around whom our ceremony of Raising could be constructed.

Ultimately, some 400 years later this wonderful building laid waste and looted by Nebuchadnezzar who made the people captive. It was eventually restored by Zerubbabel but by this time the Ark of the Covenant had disappeared.

After many vicissitudes, this Temple in its turn was finally demolished by Herod who was hated by Jews for his pro-Roman attitude, he sought to regain their favour by rearing an even mightier edifice in Graeco-Roman style. This last Temple had but a short span of existence and in the great Jewish insurrection of AD 70, it was completely destroyed by the Roman armies.

Thus, the only remaining fragment now known to man of these successive buildings is part of the huge stone retaining wall which formerly banked up the Temple platform from the valley on the West, known as the ‘Wailing Wall’.

Wailing Wall

We can speculate as to the origins of that other part of our ceremonial based on the Temple structure, that of the Middle Chamber. It would have been quite reasonable during the period before dedication whilst building operations proceeded, for part of the structure to have been temporarily used as a wages office and this might well have been that portion of the main building just inside the porchway later to be reserved for the offices of the priests. However, this seems doubtful when considering the sheer volume of the workforce, the size of that vestibule, the winding staircase and the Middle Chamber itself.

But regardless of this, it adds to the colorful story of our ritual.

On the matter of the two Great Pillars, archeological research lends itself firmly in support of the view that there were two great free-standing columns, and moreover that our Masonic names are not only correct historically, but more or less correct in their interpretation, for though the writings on the one began with something like ‘God will establish thy throne for ever’, whilst those on the other begun with ‘ In the strength of God shall the King rejoice’.

I think we understand that whilst some of our mental and visionary conceptions of the Temple now appears to be misconceived and based on misunderstandings, at the same time many of our earlier doubts about the validity of Old Testament references have in great measure been resolved, and it is on these evidences that the main substance of our masonic tradition was founded.

While archeological research has improved our historical and theological knowledge and thrown more light on the Jerusalem Temple, nothing has transpired in the least to threaten our confidence in the allegorical and symbolical uses we make of it for our mutual moral benefit, or to make us think of abandoning any element of the progressive science of Freemasonry, to which we as brethren owe so much.

Based on an article by W. Bro.  The   Reverend Canon J. R. Prophet P.D.G.Chap.

 

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Pillars and Columns within Freemasonry. Part one of a two part article. By Bro. Michael Lawrence

I found a question on a Masonic site recently in relation to the three pillars that support the Lodge. This was the question:

“Is it true that the three pillars of Freemasonry and the Tree of Life in the Kabbalah are related?”

Followed by this illustration:

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There are several types of columns and pillars, referred to in Masonic teaching, here are some of the findings of my research.

Section One – The Pillars of Enoch

In Masonic lore, the outer Pillars of the Temple are often referred to as the “Pillars of Enoch”. Enoch, being aware that Adam predicted “that the world was to be destroyed at one time by the force of fire, and at another time by the violence and quantity of water.” (Flavius Josephus Antiquities, 1.2:3) Therefore fearing the principles of the Liberal Arts and Sciences might be lost, his son Seth caused two pillars to be made, the one of brick, the other of stone, (various other documents refer to other materials being used) they inscribed their discoveries on them both, this was in case the pillar of brick should be destroyed by the flood, the pillar of stone might remain, and exhibit those discoveries to mankind. The story of the Pillars became enshrined in Masonic teachings through the second earliest Masonic MS.

“…knowing of that vengeance, that God would send, whether it should be by fire, or by water, the brethren had it not by a manner of a prophecy that God would send there, therefore they wrote their sciences on the two pillars of stone, and some men say that they wrote in the stones all the seven sciences, but as they had in their minds that a vengeance should come. And so it was that God sent vengeance so that there came such a flood that all the world was drowned, and all men were dead therein, save eight persons…and many years after this flood, as the chronicle telleth, these two pillars were found…” The Matthew Cooke Manuscript c.1450 (Modern Translation)

Section Two – The Pillars at the porch way or entrance to the Temple of King Solomon

In an article entitled, The History of the Two Pillars, W. L. Fawcette says:

“The tradition of the Freemasons in regard to the two pillars, which are a prominent emblem of their Craft, is, that they represent the pillars Jachin and Boaz, which Hiram of Tyre made for Solomon, and set one on either side of the entrance to the Temple, to commemorate the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night which guided the Israelite’s in their forty years wanderings in the wilderness.”

Our ritual explains in respect of the two Pillars:

“They were set up as a memorial to the children of Israel of that miraculous pillar of fire and cloud which had two wonderful effects. The fire gave light to the Israelite’s during their escape from their Egyptian bondage, and the cloud proved darkness to Pharaoh and his followers when they attempted to overtake them. King Solomon ordered them to be placed at the entrance of the Temple, as the most proper and conspicuous situation for the children of Israel to have the happy deliverance of their forefathers continually before their eyes in going to and returning from Divine worship”.

Whatever significance the Hebrews may have attached to these pillars, there is good reason for believing that they received the material emblem from the Tyrians at the time of the building of the Temple. The Scriptures give a detailed account of the dimensions and designs of the pillars, (2 Kings 7 and 2 Chronicles 3) but are silent as to their significance; and there is nothing in the whole Scriptural account of them to forbid the conclusion that the ideas symbolised by them were as much Tyrian as Jewish.

Tyre had been a rich and prosperous city for over two hundred years, when Solomon undertook the building of the Temple. The Tyrians had been skilled in architecture and other arts to a degree that implied a high state of mental culture, while the Hebrews were yet nomadic tribes living in tents. The tabernacle was only a tent, and in this first Hebrew endeavour to give it a more enduring structure of wood and stone, Solomon naturally appealed to the greater skill of the subjects of the friendly Hiram, King of Tyre.

When the Hebrews began to build the Temple, they ceased their wanderings, they became permanently established, and, as a memorial of this fact, they embodied in the architectural design of the Temple, a symbol which, by the Tyrians and many other nations descended from the ancient Aryan stock, was considered emblematic of a divine leadership that had conducted them to a new and permanent home; this was the true significance of the two pillars.

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Section Three – The symbol of the “broken column”

We learn that under the Hebrews, columns or pillars were used metaphorically to signify Princes or Nobles, as if they were the pillars of a state. In Psalm 6:3 we read, “If the foundations be destroyed what can the righteous do?” meaning in the original, “when the columns are overthrown, that is, when the firm supporters of what is right and good have perished.”

Isaiah 14:10 reads “…her (Egypt’s) columns are broken down, that is, the nobles of her state.”

Thus, in Freemasonry, the broken column, which is not that common in the English Masonic system, is the emblem of the fall of one of the chief supporters of the Craft. The use of the column or pillars as a monument erected over a tomb was a very ancient custom, and was a very significant symbol of the character and spirit of the person interred.

Section Four – The Pillars that support the Lodge

The Lodge is supported by three great pillars, which are called Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty.

Wisdom, illustrated by the Ionic column and found at the Worship Masters station in the East, helps contrive and conduct us in all our undertakings.

Strength, illustrated by the Doric column and found at the Senior Wardens station in the West, helps support us in all our difficulties.

Beauty, illustrated by the Corinthian column and found at the Junior Wardens station in the South, helps adorn the inward man.

Therefore, the Universe is the Temple of the Deity whom we serve; Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty are about His throne as pillars of His works, for His Wisdom is infinite, His Strength omnipotent, and Beauty shines through the whole of the creation in symmetry and order.

The Pillars of the Porch in a Masonic temple

Section Five – The Names of the two great Pillars

You have heard the names of the two great Pillars that stood at the porch way or entrance of King Solomon’s Temple.

2 Chronicles 3:17 “And he reared up the pillars before the temple, one on the right hand, and the other on the left; and called the name of that on the right hand Jachin, and the name of that on the left Boaz.”

1 Kings 7:21 “And he set up the pillars in the porch of the temple: and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin: and he set up the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz.”

In Masonic teaching, we learn we learn that the import of both names being “In Strength” and “To Establish” respectively. This conforms to the writings of Flavius Josephus who wrote in the 1st Century A.D. that Boaz means “In Him Strength or In It Strength” and Jachin means “He Will establish or It will establish” (Antiquities of the Jews). Masonic teaching also advises us that when conjoined, the words mean “Stability”, for God said, “In strength I will establish this mine house to stand firm for ever”. However, nowhere in any version of the bible do we read God using these words. The nearest we can get to the phrase is found in 1 Chronicles, 17:12 which says:

“He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever.”

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“Hello! I must be going!” (or Sage advice for the more forgetful Freemason!) By Mike Lawrence

Considering the number of meetings, a moderately active Freemason might attend, it proves time and time again that other than his wife or partner, a well-kept diary proves to be the best companion he could ever wish to have.

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For example, being a member of a Lodge, Chapter and one other Degree would amount to possibly fifteen meetings per year. Then there are the Lodges of Rehearsal/Instructions which could add another thirty nights per year. Committee meetings, Ladies nights, Visits, Social or Charity events could easily add another twenty evenings, giving an approximate total of sixty-five nights out of a season which generally lasts about eight months.

For some very active Brethren, this number of commitments could be doubled, and I have met many a Brother whose Masonry takes up four or five nights per week.

Of course, a four-night per week Freemason is not necessarily a better Freemason than a one-night a month man. Freemasonry is a very personal matter and can build and develop the character and knowledge of the man who belongs to one Lodge, just as quick as his more active Brother. So, it’s not such a case of quantity, but quality that counts.

As for the moderately active Mason, you will regularly see flashes of his well-thumbed diary. You will notice as he desperately tries to maintain some sort of balance between his desire to attend his meetings, please his friends by visiting their Lodges and the more consequential aspects of his life which consist of the demands of his family, work and most important, his pocket.

It is not therefore uncommon for him to have the occasional lapse of memory or incorrect diary entry. Thus, despite the manifold Communications we may receive, the array of Committee minutes posted to us or the plethora of verbal invitations hastily scribbled down in our diaries. We undoubtedly will make the occasional mistake.

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Like the brother who texted me quietly as I sat at the Secretary’s table an hour into the ceremony to ask what time the meeting started.

Then there was Brother Organist, who I considered to be very keen for he arrived two hours before a meeting was due to start. I had just finished preparing the rooms for a meeting of a Rose Croix Chapter. He asked if it would be in order for him to practice the organ in preparation for the meeting. He was obviously oblivious to the unique and unmistakable lay out of the Red room and promptly started to play the most beautiful melodic, yet stirring music of the marches of Sousa and the Waltzes of Strauss.

In the meantime, having returned downstairs, the Brethren began to arrive and immediately began to question the music as this particular group has never had an organist. To our surprise and amusement, a face suddenly appeared at the door. It was Brother Organist dressed resplendently in the colourful regalia of a Royal Ark Mariner.

“I think I may be at the wrong meeting” he timidly explained.

The Princes being pleasantly entertained all smiled and concurred with the Brother and gently sent him on his way. I was later to discover that he was a day early for his meeting which was at a location several miles away.

On another occasion, a member of my Royal Arch Chapter suddenly appeared at a Lodge Committee meeting for which he was not a member. Surprised by his appearance I greeted him well as he explained that he was famished and asked me for the menu of the Festive Board after the meeting. To his utter shock and horror, I informed him that our Convocation had been the previous week and that he was in fact, seven days late. Poor chap; he had not only forgone his meal at home, but paid for a meal he had missed.

However, the prize for the earliest Brother in attendance must go to the chap who turned up on another evening prepared for Red Cross of Constantine Conclave, a full month early.

So Brethren, the moral of this story is “don’t delay.” To avoid disappointment or confusion, purchase a good diary or even a colour coded wall planner to co-ordinate your activities……Lest you end up as red-faced as brother organist!

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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.

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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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EASTEND WORKINGS – OPENING IN THE FIRST DEGREE

EASTEND WORKINGS – OPENING IN THE FIRST DEGREE

(Anonymous)

12Worshipful Master gavels once, repeated by Senior Warden and Junior

Warden  WM: Bruvvers, ‘elp me to open the gaff.

All rise.

WM: Bruvver Junior Warden, why do we ‘ave to look lively?

JW: To make sure the wood is in the ‘ole, Guvnor.

WM: Well! Don’t just stand there.

JW: Ok Bruv, you ‘eard the Guvnor.

IG goes to door, gives three distinct knocks and returns to position in front of his chair.

Tyler responds with same knocks.

IG, no Sign: Done John.

JW gives three distinct knocks, no Sign, to WM: Done Guvnor.

WM: Bruvver SW, the next bit?

SW: To see the Bruvvers are all on the firm.

WM: Come on Bruvvers, shake a leg.

All take Step with Entered Apprentice Sign.

WM: Bruvver JW, how much top brass in the gaff?

JW: Free Guv, you and your two oppo’s with the cuffs.

WM: Bruvver SW, how many ‘uvvers?

SW: Free Guv, besides the bouncer, namely the mush on the door and the two blokes with the pool cues.

WM to JW: Where’s the bouncer?

JW: Outside, all tooled up.

WM: Why’s that?

JW: He’s packing a blade in case we’re busted Guv.

WM to SW: The mush on the door?

SW: ‘Overin inside Guv.

WM: Wot for?

SW: To check the tickets, to admit new punters and do what e’s told by my oppo.

WM to JW: Where’s the JD?

JW: Over there Guv.

WM: Why?

JW: To grass to you Guv and to chivvy them up a bit.

WM to SW: The ‘uvver one?

SW: Next to you Guv.

WM: Oh yeah, why?

SW: Errand boy Guv.

WM: Bruvver JW, wot about you?

JW: On the sideline Guv.

WM: Why?

JW: To get a bit o’ current bun, and to nip down the rub-a-dub wiv the Bruvvers, and see they’re all back ‘ere before the last bell.

WM: Bruvver SW, wot about you?

SW: Down the shallow end Guv.

WM: Wot for?

SW: To let ‘em know when it’s lightin’ up time, to close the gaff and to see all the Bruvvers get their cut.

WM to IPM: Bruvver IPM, where am I?

IPM: Next to me Guv.

WM: I know that, but why?

IPM: To keep this lot on their dancers, to open the gaff, and get ‘em at it.

WM: Bruvvers, now that we are all ‘ere, its eyes down for a full ‘ouse, but before we do, let’s get the Boss in the Technical Drawing department to tip us the wink, so there’s no aggro.

Immediate Past Master: ‘ere, ‘ere Guv. WM: Bruvvers, we’re open for business.

All cut Sign.

WM gives EA-gavel.

SW gives EA-gavel and raises Cn.

JW gives EA-gavel and lowers Cn.

IG goes to door, gives EA knocks and returns to position in front of his chair.

Tyler responds with same knocks.

Immediate Past Master, opens Volume of Sacred Law and arranges Square and Compass.

WM sits.

All the brethren take their seats.

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