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“…and while we are on the subject of goats!” By Mike Lawrence, an article presented in association with ‘Are you a Mason’ Part two

An informal article examining Freemasonry’s long association with that four-legged ruminant

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“Keep your back to the wall!”

“Make sure you are wearing clean underwear!”

“Watch out for the Goat!”

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Are we really warned about such things as we approach the night of our Initiation? Well quite frankly, yes! However, putting this into prospective, we all know that it is no more than a schoolboy prank or rather, a gesture of brotherly affection.

Of course, there is absolutely no need to be pre-warned or concerned about anything in Freemasonry, but rituals throughout the world, particularly those of an initiatory nature, have, to say the least,  always been shrouded in mystery and invariably invoke within us great visions of personal pain or suffering. Subsequently, the goat or shall we say Liber Capricornus, has probably been associated with Freemasonry since time immemorial.

Collins Dictionary provides us with the first clues to this association:

“Any sure-footed agile ruminant mammal with hollow horns, naturally inhabiting rough stony ground.”   

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The rough stony grounds the goat inhabits are normally high hilly type regions and mountains and they can often be seen in the most inaccessible places. Strangely enough, from mans early beginnings high places and mountains have always been associated with the abode of their Deity. The goat therefore was seen as an animal symbolising man in his eternal strivings to reach his God.

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Greek Mythology introduced Pan, the man/goat personage and the early Dionysian artificers accepted this figure as the symbol of the Temple Builders. Temple construction was viewed by these early schools as a source of understanding the mystery and nature of God. This school produced the Ionic column, which literally held up the Temple, the symbolic home of their God.

Thus, we now have the Goat as a symbol of mans quest for his God and in conjunction with man, a supporter or cornerstone of God’s home.

 

Besides this representation, the goat as the astrological figure Capricorn, rules the sun when it returns from the darkness of the winter solstice and while in this sign it begins to resume its climb towards the spring equinox.

Apart from its early connections with man and in particular his fertility, it also had strong maternal associations. According to ancient mythology it was the she-goat Almathea, who fed the infant Jupiter with milk.

To the medieval occultists, especially the Rosicrucian’s, the goat symbolised the elemental energies of the earth, the sign of Saturn and the alchemical element derived from them. In the Tarot, the Devil is shown as a goat headed Deity with a man and woman chained to him.  The early Celtic people worshipped Cernnunos, the goat headed, horned God of the wood. While the Templars were accused of worshipping the Goat of Mendes, a goat headed Deity being formed as both male and female. In covens, witches also saw the goat head as symbolising some ancient Deity.

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The expression to “ride the goat” would appear to come from the medieval times when groups of Clerical Knights and Military Orders made up of priests, differentiated themselves from regular knights by choosing to ride upon goats rather than horses.

 

Of course, Freemasons will recognise the upturned hollow goats horn or cornucopia and know it has great significance for the Stewards of the Lodge. Their jewel of Office consists of a full cornucopia or horn of plenty, symbolising abundance, placed within the open arms of a pair of compasses denoting that the refreshments or contents of the horn of plenty are not to be wasted in extravagance, but to be used within the bounds of reason and propriety.

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It was pobably the medieval priests of Christianity who began to equate the goat with the devil and all wickedness. Possibley because of  Matthew 25: 31- 46 which explains what will happen when that Bright Morning Star (Revelations 22:16) rises. The sheep will be numbered among those on the right, a place reserved for those to inherit the Kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. The left, is a place which is reserved for those considered goats, who will be cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his Angels.

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Traditionally, it has been the enemies of Freemasonry who have tried to ridicule our practices and in particular our Initiation ceremony. However, the failure of such falsehoods can be judged by the way Freemasons themselves join in this raillery.

 

But beware Brethren, this article comes with a warning! The next time somebody offers you some unconventional advice about our Craft, always remember that a true Freemason is obligated to “…..never reveal any part or parts, point or points of the secrets or mysteries of or belonging to Free and Accepted Masons in Masonry…..”

Therefore, if there is a goat, you can be sure you will be the last one to know about it.

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*As a footnote to this article:

By far the funniest incident that happened to me during my twenty years as the Manager of the Local Masonic Hall was when a young Initiate, who was waiting quietly in the corner prior to the Festive Board, beckoned me over and whispered in my ear “When do I need this” and produced a large carrot from his trouser pocket. Yes! You guessed right, his proposer had advised him on the best way to keep the goat quiet during his Initiation, and he was merely following an experienced Mason’s instruction,

Reference Sources:

The Symbolism of the Goat – Eugene W Plawiuk

The Freemasons all in all – A.Holmes-Dallimore

 

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“Are you a mason?” A three part article Edited and Presented by Mike Lawrence Part Two

We left off at that part of the story ‘Are You A Mason’ by looking at some postcards and the Play of the same name. A prominent feature of both was the inclusion of the goat – but why is this?

Most of us at some time will have heard the good humoured banter with the Candidate referring to the goat in the Ceremonies but I wonder if the person making the reference knows the origin of the goat in the context to which they refer?

Since ancient times and in Greek and Roman mythology the goat has been equated with the devil.

But why was the goat referenced and printed on the ‘Are You A Mason’ postcards?

According to the Asst Librarian, Great Queen Street (2011), ‘the depiction of the goat was reference to the popular and vulgar anti Masonic misconception that an element of devil-worship took place at Masonic Initiation ceremonies’.

He also quoted the Rev. Dr George Oliver (1782 – 1867), the prolific Masonic author, in one of his papers  ‘that there was in England a common belief that Freemasons were accustomed to raise the devil in their Lodges’.

He went on to say that it is these references that led to the depiction of the goat.

And according to the Curator of the Library & Museum (2010) the goat became a standard joke because of the use of a mechanical goat in the games played with the new members outside the ritual.

I had not heard of this before, or since, but perhaps this card is a hypothetical representation of ‘Riding the goat’?

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Caption reads; The poor old Mason’s goat is dead. He’s getting a ride on the kid instead’.

Let’s get away from the unfounded references to the goat and look at another humerous example of ‘Riding the goat’, of which there are a number.

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Freemasonry was not the only Fraternal Order to be lampooned by the cartoonist  – the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks received similar attention.

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The Board of Grand Stewards Festival held at the Savoy, London, 28th April 1999 produced a booklet entitled ‘Humour and Freemasonry’.

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The comment in the booklet was that the ability to see the humorous side of our activities is a sign of a healthy and civilised society and because of its ‘mystery’, Freemasonry from its earliest days has attracted public curiosity which has stimulated the wit of the cartoonist. Many have shown topicality combined with a warm humour that has appealed to Freemasons themselves.

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The painter and Freemason William Hogarth was a Steward for the 1735 Festival and painted the picture ‘Night’ on the front cover of the booklet.

 

 

Within the booklet there is one postcard showing  the goat – and in addition the red hot poker!

Here are four cartoons from the booklet:

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   WM – ‘Take special care Bro Salamander that you place one letter on each cheek. I trust this solemn Ceremony will make a lasting impression’.

Bro Salamander – ‘Never fear Mr Right Worshipful – practice has steadied my hand amazingly. Mr Candidate hold your rump a little higher if you please – it is just a mere flea bite’.

DC (?) – You are now one of the Elect and are to have a Seat (when your Bottom is healed) among the Disciples of St John’.

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Caption reads;   ‘An inspiring sermon, Vicar – see you later at the Lodge’.

In line with reporting, the cartoons picked up on the signs and grips etc depicting increasingly complex and probably physically impossible ways of Brethren exchanging the grips.

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St Jame’s Street – Mark Mason’s Hall?

     Caption reads; “Sometimes on a cold morning, I wish I’d never joined the Freemason’s,”

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Caption reads; Couldn’t we make an exception – just this once?’

Visitors to the Library and Museum at Great Queen Street often express surprise when cartoons are displayed. As commentary in the booklet says – ‘Freemasonry should be enjoyable or there is little point to it. Part of that enjoyment is surely an appreciation of the possibility of a humorous interpretation by other of some of our practices if taken out of context’.

The Mark Degree also features in the postcards; here are some examples with different publishers presenting different artwork.

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Caption reads; ‘A Candidate getting the Mark Degree. He’s marked all over as you can see’ – note the various Masonic symbols.

As well as the artwork it is also interesting to read the written message.

It reads;

Dear Brother, Just a Post Card to let you know I have not forgot you. Hope you are all about right now. I will soon be able to go to the fishing again. Most of the Peats will be home by this time I hope. This is the way to tell the Mason so if you see Andrew Smith or Bengie as we called him, coming down the Good Road with a goat in full chase you will know he’s a full Mason. Has Uncle Tom been at the small fishing this year or have you been.  How is Hunter and his gramophone getting on? I will perhaps send you some snaps of West Kilbride if I take any. With love I remain your loving brother, Jimmy.

Dated August 1920, Govanhill, Glasgow

And lastly with regards to the Mark Degree – that poker again!

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In the concluding look at the ‘Are You A Mason’ postcards we can see how the Initiation, Passing and Raising together with Signs, Grips and Password are depicted.

 

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Is the Mark Degree older than the Craft Degrees? A four-part article by Mike Lawrence – Part Two

We commence the second part of this article with a look at the term ‘Lodge’. A word often found in old manuscripts and spelt in a variety of ways for example: logia, logge, loygge, luge, ludge, a word derived from old French Gallic, meaning hut and which appears to have been used both in England and Scotland in three different senses:

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A) In both countries, the term lodge was used to designate a mason’s workshop that was generally erected in connection with all building operations. Hence, we read in the Vale Royal Abbey building accounts of 1278, that carpenters were paid to erect lodges. The same goes for masons’ lodges and workshops at Catterick Bridge in 1421, Kirby Muxloe Castle in 1481. Then we have details of repairs to masons’ lodges at Beaumaris Castle in 1330 and Westminster Abbey in 1413.

 

The lodge was in fact a workshop where masons cut, dressed and carved stone and it would be fair to say that they would also have taken their permitted breaks within its walls, as at the lodge attached to York Minster in 1370 and St Giles, Edinburgh in 1491. It is also most likely that within its walls, questions affecting the masons trade were discussed along with difficulties experienced during work, techniques, grievances and without doubt, superstitions, fables and stories passed down from the beginning of English squared stone building. We must bear in mind that the Regius MS c.1390 and the Matthew Cooke MS c.1450, our earliest MS contain both charges and the legendary history of the craft.

B) In both countries, the term lodge was often used to describe a group of masons working together on the same building operation. Thus we find references to them at York in 1352 which refers to by-laws and ordinances, Canterbury in1429 which refers to its members as the “masons of the Lodge“, Aberdeen in 1481 which refers to conditions of employment and Edinburgh in 1491 which refers to written statements of old established customs. In effect, it is highly probable that the lodges were in fact much older than the respective dates shown which is only the earliest traceable evidence and not necessarily the start or formation dates.

C) In Scotland, the word Lodge was also used to describe an organised body of masons associated with a particular town or district. In the Schaw Statues of 1598 &1599 we read that “Edinburgh shall be the first principle lodge and Kilwinning the second.” From the St. Clair Charters of 1601 & 1628 we learn of other territorial lodges at St. Andrews, Dundee and Glasgow to name but three. These lodges carried out certain official duties of a trade nature including the regulation of Apprentices, keeping records of the reception and entry of Apprentices, the admission of Fellow Crafts and assigning marks to members. Other duties included settling disputes between Masters and their servants, ensuring no cowans were employed, ensuring Masters did not employ Apprentices or Journeymen of other Masters, collecting funds by way of fees and fines, relief of the distressed, feasting at the expense of the candidate and conferring the Mason Word on qualified members.

But the organizational set up in both England and Scotland were different. Scotland had “Incorporations”. Very briefly, these existed in certain Scottish burghs for the ruling and governing of particular crafts. Established under what is called the “seals of cause”, they were rules and statutes made by the craftsmen and approved by the municipality. Part of the role of the Incorporations was to protect the public or consumer by seeing that the work was properly carried out by authorised and qualified craftsmen to an good quality level.

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In England there were “Craft Gilds”. Surprisingly, the term “Craft Gild” was an invention by 19th century historians who used it to distinguish a particular type of medieval municipal organisation which was concerned, like the Incorporations, with industrial trade regulation and quality, from that other municipal organisation, the “Merchant Gild” which was more concerned with the trading of goods for the whole town.

In medieval documents the organisation which we call a “Craft Gild” is described as a fellowship or mystery, the term has nothing to do with secrets or mysteries of ancient mythology as has long been believed, but the mystery of the craftsman’s trade or his skill, which he long considered his ‘secrets’ and which he would only pass on to an accredited apprentice.

However, since the beginning of the belief that there is a transitional link between stone/operative masons and non-operative or accepted masons, Masonic writers have wrongly devoted considerable space and time to the stone workers fraternities and their mysteries by mistakenly overlooking the fact that the secrets and mysteries of an artisan was his professional skill and not ritualized secrets or mysteries from an ancient civilization.

In essence, there is little evidence to prove that a mason’s fraternity of this kind existed at all in London before the13th or 14th centuries. For example, the names of those elected and sworn in, in 1328 from the various Mysteries in London to represent the government of these organisations included no masons whatsoever. But things change and in 1356, the introduction to the “Regulations for the Trade of Masons” state that, “unlike other trades, Masons had not been regulated in due manner by the folks of the trade” actually implying that there were no craft guilds or mysteries up to that date. However, it was another twenty years later in 1376, that we find the first specific reference to a permanent organisation of masons in London, when four masons were elected to the Common Council to represent the Mystery and the probability is that an organization for masons was established sometime between 1356 and 1376.

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There is some belief that mason’s organisations existed in towns like Chester and Newcastle, because of the evidence we have that masons participated and performed miracle plays in those towns. The trade regulations in the “York Memorandum Book” of 1376 to 1419, contains details of over forty trades, but no reference to masons, and the same is for Coventry. In Chester there is evidence of the participation in such plays appears in the late 16th century, while at Newcastle a Masons Company was incorporated in 1581 with certain duties which included the presentation of a Corpus Christi play. However, we do find specific mention of wallers, bricklayes, daubers and slaters who were granted Charters under Henry VI 1422-1471.

From the Ordinances of 1481 and 1521 it is clear that we have the London Masons Company, a medieval fraternity or mystery with an oligarchy formed or forming within it, as had happened in many other trades.

Interestingly we note here that “foreigns” or non-freemen were not allowed to be employed, while freemen are available. Restrictions were placed on apprentices, one allotted per member and two for liverymen or those that had twice been wardens. Restrictions on the employment of “foreigns” or non-freemen applied up to 1666, when the rebuilding of London, after the great fire, changed the monopolies once held by the mason’s trade.

One of the problems relating to the mason’s trade which one might have considered part of their “ordinances and records” might concern the control or issue of mason’s marks. The Blacksmiths, helmet makers, bladesmiths and braziers of London were all subject to regulation by way of the maker’s marks, but certainly in London no provision regulating the use of marks has been traced in the Masons ordinances, nor has any book survived in the archives, although masons marks can be found on the earlier built Westminster Abbey.

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Having said that, documents dated 1452 do in fact refer to marks and we are told: “A fellow who has learned the work may appear before his Master and, on exhibiting proof of his skill, the Master may award him a mark…and…the master shall within 14 days of his becoming a Fellow, deliver to the new craftsman his mark.”

End of part two.

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Is the Mark Degree older than the Craft Degrees? A four-part article by Mike Lawrence – Part One

Being a review of the long-held belief that the Mark Degree, more than any other, appears to be connected to or resembles operative masonry and therefore predates the Craft in its practice.

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For over twenty-five years I have been researching, writing and lecturing on the subject of Freemasonry. During my time of study, I have purposely stayed within the confines of realistic fact, actual records and authors that are generally regarded as bona fide Masonic historians and not sensationalists. Many of these authors to whom I refer are now dead, but their aims were to promote Masonic knowledge for knowledge sake, not purely for monetary gain.

Therefore, as boring as it may sound, I have never allowed and do not submit myself to read 90% of Masonic publications both old and new, that took or continues to take Freemasonry into the realms of pure fantasy, romantic hypothesis and sheer speculation, and which are and always have been, detrimental to the craft. I guess we cannot blame these authors for writing such things as our first “Books of Constitution” (1723 & 1738), which were sanctioned by Grand Lodge, were no more than historical works of fiction.

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These as we know, were freely exported to America, translated into French and German and as masonry is universal, probably reached every corner of the world. Ultimately, these innocent books infiltrated all Masonic belief, indoctrinated scores of Masonic writers and underpinned the belief that Freemasonry was something that it was not. I personally believe it was the cleverest unintentional hoax of all time.

Incidentally, the copyright of these two “Books of Constitution” belonged to James Anderson, and although as explained sanctioned by Grand Lodge, he was the sole financial beneficiary. In fact, in 1735, when a certain book entitled, “A Pocket Companion for Freemasonry” was published by William Smith, Anderson not only persuaded Grand Lodge to allow him to produce a second copy of his work, particularly as copies of the first edition were now exhausted, but encouraged Grand Lodge to resolve that the Masters and Wardens of the Lodges should discourage their members from buying Smiths book.

But this article is not about Dr. James Anderson, but rather to examine the question:

“Is the Mark Degree older than the Craft Degrees?”

Born from the assumption that brethren who are advanced to the rank of a Mark Master Mason make, soon after their admission, which is that the Mark Degree, more than any other, would appear to be connected to or resemble Operative Masonry, and therefore predate the Craft. Of course, by Operative Masonry I mean that class or fraternity of men that by their skills during the Middle Ages built those wonderful cathedrals and churches which have stood against all odds and in many cases defied the laws of gravity and continue to grace England’s skyline to this very day. Therefore, we can honestly say that in the whole Masonic system, no Degree seems to lay claim to having a greater antiquity than the Mark Degree as it appears to connect or forge links between the modern day system and the much older operative system?

Let us begin by looking at the start of the squared stone building industry in England in the early Middle Ages. Early medieval buildings in Britain consisted mainly of wood and clay (wattle and daub); therefore, the artisans engaged in these buildings were general carpenters and daubers, not masons. In fact, both Britons and Scots were unfamiliar with stone building which involved the use of squared stone and mortar.

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It was probably the Church that introduced the art and it was evident from early in our history that craftsmen from abroad had to be brought to England to do any form of squared stone work. For example, in 674, Benedict Biscop brought craftsmen from Gaul to help build a stone church, in the Roman style, at Wearmouth Abbey. In 709, St. Wilfred, according to a 12th century chronicler, brought masons from Rome to build his church. Further records by Bede in the 7th century, make references to stone churches in Lastingham and Lincoln.

Now there is little doubt that once this art of building and carving was introduced some knowledge was acquired by native artisans, but the likely hood that early building work was performed by local masons, as their own specialist occupation is probably untrue, as their main occupation was connected with agriculture, as in England, stone working during the first millennium was more a by-occupation of farming.

At that time the French were more architecturally advanced than the English, and it took the Norman Conquest before we begin to see the substitution of stone, for wood and clay. In was the Norman influence that led to the development of stone building in this country which started almost immediately after the invasion of 1066 with the building of, cathedrals and castles, followed by abbeys and priories.

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The use of stone and brick in domestic architecture was a later development still, at first used only for chimneys. In was not until the 17th century that they were commonly used in house building.

So the first records we have of a group of stone cutters being brought together as a group or brotherhood was at the building of Magdeburg cathedral in Germany in 1211. This coincides with Milners “History of Winchester” which tells us that in 1211, Bishop Lucy established a company of workman to further the building of the cathedral.

The erection of abbeys, priories, cathedrals, churches and castles implies that the Church and the Crown were the principle employers of masons and this had a profound effect on the organisation of the industry. For example, the typical medieval artisan was his own master, he owned or purchased his own material, worked it with the assistance of an apprentice or journeyman and sold what he had produced. It was his own business.

However, the medieval mason was, by design, a wage earner, who was employed by an agent acting on behalf of the church or crown for whom the building was being erected. Occasionally called a contractor, or in some cases an independent small-scale employer who specialised in supplying rough-dressed stone, ashlars, and moldings.

Records show us that in general medieval building sites had a “Clerk of the Works” who would oversee the financial operation and the “Master of the works” who would oversee the technical side and in many cases prepare the plans and drawings. There were generally two or three types of stone-workers employed on the work and these were:

1) Hewers or Freemasons, who dressed the stones with mallet and chisel.  The superior craftsmen belonging to this category and were able to elaborately carve and shape stone.  They were also occasionally employed as setters. Their work was mainly carried out on site.

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2) Layers or Roughmasons, who laid ashlars. They often roughly dressed stones with an axe or scappling hammer and also laid finished stone, these could work on site if laying or at the quarry.

3) Quarriers, who mainly uncovered the stones, split and broke them and in some cases carried out some rough hewing or dressing with broaching axes and obviously worked at the quarry.

 

As a final note to this section, work on a medieval building site stopped during the winter months which was generally around November through to March and the majority of those employed where either dismissed or suspended. This was because the mortar used was subject to low temperatures, frosts and snow. Having said that, Freemasons who were responsible for caving and shaping often continued their work throughout the winter in their site hut.

So, this ends the first section which sets out to show how the stone building industry first started in England and how this trades’ employment conditions were quite different from most other trades. Next, we look at the organisation of Masons in England and Scotland in the high Middle Ages.

Approximate Historical Periods

Dark Ages                                                            4th – 7th Century

Early Middle Ages                                            8th – 10th Century

High Middles Ages                                           11th – 13th Century

Late Middle Ages                                             14th – 15th Century

Medieval Period                                               5th – 16th Century

The Reformation                                              1517 – 1648

The Renaissance                                              14th – 17th Century

Opening up of the New World                      16th Century

End of part one

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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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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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The Development of the Trigradal System – Part 1 of 6

The Development of the Trigradal System

The Prestonian Lecture 1925

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 by Bro. Lionel Vibert P.A.G.D.C.

Prepared in this format by Bro. Mike Lawrence

The Three Degrees, as we have them in the Craft today, are a development at the hands of speculative craftsmen of a Gild system which consisted originally, as far as we can ascertain, of a simple oath of admission for the apprentice, a lad in his teens, and a formal ceremony of admission to full membership, with possibly a secret rite associated with the mastership. By the days of Grand Lodge this had come to be a system of two degrees only, the Acceptance and the Master’s Part. In, or just before 1725 the Acceptance was divided up to form the E.A. and F.C. degrees, and by 1730 the trigradal system was definitely established. But the form of working which we practice today cannot be said to have come into existence until after the ritual had been agreed on by the Lodge of Reconciliation. That ritual was rehearsed at the Especial Meeting of Grand Lodge, held on the 20th May, 1816, but it is probably the case that the Lodge of Reconciliation did not arrange a set form of words for the whole of each ceremony and did not intend to do so.

It was not till 1838 that Claret published his first ritual (his name was first appended to the edition of 1840) he having been present at two meetings of the Lodge of Reconciliation as a visitor acting as candidate. He was P.M. of Lodges 12 and 228, and the work appeared in successive editions till 1866. The most that can be claimed for it is that it represents the form into which the working had settled down by this time in Claret’s own Lodges.

For all practical purposes it is our present‑day working, as taught in the Lodges of Instruction, and the statement that the system as we have it today is the system as agreed on after the Union of the two Grand Lodges is after all sufficiently accurate for most people, for we are pretty safe in assuming that such modifications as were introduced after the Lodge of Reconciliation had ceased to function were all addressed to matters of detail; but there were subsequent modifications, and the claims put forward today to an absolutely exact knowledge of the ceremonies as they were rehearsed in 1816 were not unfairly described by Bro. Hextall, is A.Q.C. in 1910, as illusory, for the very reason that in 1816 they were not stabilised in their entirety.

And it should be clearly understood that the Ritual as rehearsed in 1816, with or without later modifications, was not by any means universally adopted, and it is not universal under the United Grand Lodge today. It was not enjoined by Grand Lodge, although the contrary is frequently asserted.

At the present time the two leading schools of Instruction, differ in their version of the Obligations, while in the Provinces the phraseology is often still further departed from, and was probably never adopted verbatim, nor was it taken that it was intended to be so adopted. Variations in the opening ceremonies exist in many Provinces which are of considerable interest, as a wording is often preserved which is to be found in mid‑eighteenth century exposures, and has clearly been maintained unaltered from pre‑Union days.

The phrase of the official record of the meeting of Grand Lodge in June, 1816, when the final result of the labours of the Lodge of Reconciliation was dealt with, is that the several ceremonies recommended are with two alterations approved and confirmed; not by any means enjoined. The Lodge of reconciliation were strongly opposed to any part of them being reduced to writing and an attempt to do so by a certain Bro. L. Thompson was visited with severe censure. And the Craft as such was by no means unanimous in approval.

Certain brethren declared that the Lodge of Reconciliation had not done what they were directed to do by the articles of Union, and had altered all the ceremonies and language of Masonry and not left one sentence standing. And while this is no doubt the language of controversy, it is clear, if pre‑Union exposures are at all to be relied on, that the ceremonies were not merely recast but were substantially varied in material particulars; and the phraseology used by the members of the Lodge of Reconciliation themselves certainly suggests that they considered they had been given a free hand with regard to the material at their disposal.

It was in 1730 that Samuel Prichard published his Masonry Dissected, the first occasion when the Third Degree purported to be exposed; and this was the commencement of a whole series of these exposures, many of which were reprinted over and over again in edition after edition. It would be misleading to accept these publications at their face value; but we can avail ourselves of them as affording some indication of what may have been the practice of the Lodges of the period, correcting them by our own experience.

We have then, in Masonry Dissected, first published in 1730, Jachin & Boaz 1762, Hiram 1764, Shibboleth 1765, and Tubal Kain 1777, a series in which, except for certain changes in the Third Degree, the text is preserved, almost verbatim from 1730 right up to just before the Union, and it purports to be the working of the Grand Lodge of the Moderns.

Jachin & Boaz also specifies certain points in which the Antients and Moderns differ, and gives the Antient working as well. Another exposure, Three Distinct Knocks, first published in 1760, expressly claims to give the Antient ritual, but is practically identical with Jachin & Boaz, except with regard to the words of the two first degrees and the prayers used by the Antients. These two also give an Installation Obligation, with a word and grip for the Master; the Wardens take the Obligation but are not given the word and grip. It is generally understood that this ceremony was practised by the Antients but neglected by the Moderns.

Other alleged exposures are translations from the French, such as Solomon in all his Glory, and yet others are manifestly mere catchpenny productions of no validity, such as the Master Key to All Freemasonry of 1760. All these need not detain us.

But with this body of evidence in our possession we can gather a very good idea of the practice in both Grand Lodges before the Union, and we can appreciate that what then took place was more than a mere reconciliation of two systems not in themselves really very dissimilar, as far as the Craft degrees were concerned.

 

 

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The Prestonian Lectures – Part 1

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Prepared in this format by Bro. Mike Lawrence

EXTRACT FROM THE GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS FOR DECEMBER 5TH, 1923

 “In the year 1818, Bro. William Preston, a very active Freemason at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries, bequeathed £300 3 per cent. Consolidated Bank Annuities, the interest of which was to be applied “to some well‑informed Mason to deliver annually a Lecture on the First, Second, or Third Degree of the Order of Masonry according to the system practised in the Lodge of Antiquity” during his Mastership. For a number of years the terms of this bequest were acted upon, but for a long period no such Lecture has been delivered, and the Fund has gradually accumulated, and is now vested in the M.W. the Pro. Grand Master, the Rt. Hon. Lord Ampthill, and W. Bro. Sir Kynaston Studd, P.G.D., as trustees. The Board has had under consideration for some period the desirability of framing a scheme which would enable the Fund to be used to the best advantage; and, in consultation with the Trustees who have given their assent, has now adopted such a scheme, which is given in full in Appendix A [See below], and will be put into operation when the sanction of Grand Lodge has been received.”

The Grand Lodge sanction was duly given and the “scheme for the administration of the Prestonian fund” appeared in the Proceedings as follows:-

APPENDIX A SCHEME FOR ADMINISTRATION OF THE PRESTONIAN FUND

1. The Board of General Purposes shall be invited each year to nominate two Brethren of learning and responsibility from whom the Trustees shall appoint the Prestonian Lecturer for the year with power for the Board to subdelegate their power of nomination to the Library, Art, and Publications Committee of the Board, or such other Committee as they think fit.

2. The remuneration of the Lecturer so appointed shall be £5. 5s. 0d. for each Lecture delivered by him together with travelling expenses, if any, not exceeding £1. 5s. 0d., the number of Lectures delivered each year being determined by the income of the fund and the expenses incurred in the way of Lectures and administration.

3. The Lectures shall be delivered in accordance with the terms of the Trust. One at least of the Lectures each year shall be delivered in London under the auspices of one or more London Lodges. The nomination of Lodges under whose auspices the Prestonian Lecture shall be delivered shall rest with the Trustees, but with power for one or more Lodges to prefer requests through the Grand Secretary for the Prestonian Lecture to be delivered at a meeting of such Lodge or combined meeting of such Lodges.

4. Having regard to the fact that Bro. William Preston was a member of the Lodge of Antiquity and the original Lectures were delivered under the aegis of that Lodge, it is suggested that the first nomination of a Lodge to arrange for the delivery of the Lecture shall be in favour of the Lodge of Antiquity should that Lodge so desire.

5. Lodges under whose auspices the Prestonian Lecture may be delivered shall be responsible for all the expenses attending the delivery of such Lecture except the Lecturer’s Fee.

6. Requests for the delivery of the Prestonian Lecture in Provincial Lodges will be considered by the Trustees who may consult the Board as to the granting or refusal of such consent.

7. Requests from Provincial Lodges shall be made through Provincial Grand Secretaries to the Grand Secretary, and such requests, if granted, will be granted subject to the requesting Provinces making themselves responsible for the provision of a suitable hall in which the Lecture can be delivered, and for the Lecturer’s travelling expenses beyond the sum of £1 5s. 0d., and if the Lecturer cannot reasonably get back to his place of abode on the same day, the requesting Province must pay his Hotel expenses or make other proper provision for his accommodation.

8. Provincial Grand Secretaries, in the case of Lectures delivered in the Province, and Secretaries of Lodges under whose auspices the Lecture may be delivered in London, shall report to the Trustees through the Grand Secretary the number in attendance at the Lecture, the manner in which the Lecture was received, and generally as to the proceedings thereat.

9. Master Masons, subscribing members of Lodges, may attend the Lectures, and a fee not exceeding 2s. may be charged for their admission for the purpose of covering expenses.

Thus, after a lapse of some sixty years the Prestonian Lectures were revived, in their new form, and, with the exception of the War period (1940-1946), a Prestonian Lecturer has been appointed by the Grand Lodge regularly each year.

Extract from The Collected Prestonian Lectures 1925 – 1960 – edited by Harry Carr

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