Benevolence at its best
A look the First World War’s impact on Freemasonry and its charitable activity
Written by staff at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, English Freemasonry and the First World War gives a glimpse into the rich history of Freemasonry during the period of the ‘Great War’, as it was known before 1939. This is not a history of the war itself, but contains an illustrated synopsis of its impact on English Freemasonry, the deeds of various Freemasons and their unwavering desire to help those in need, in spite of the ongoing conflict.
The book is full of images taken from the extensive Library collections. Together with illustrations of jewels and paper artefacts, they show how war changed the relationship between international Grand Lodges and jurisdictions, as well as between individual lodges and Freemasons. With many English lodges having members from across Europe, the outbreak of war had very real consequences.
CHARITY IN HARD TIMES
The book provides wonderful examples of the charity and sheer generosity of lodges and brethren, matched with pictorial evidence of hospitals, ambulances, concerts and festivals, and how injured brethren, their families and communities were supported.
With this year marking the centenary of Armistice Day, the history set out in the book feels even more poignant. Hopefully the book will be a basis for other volumes which further explore the history of Freemasonry against the background of the First World War.
This is an excellent addition to any Freemason’s library, or to that of anyone with an interest in the history of the Craft. With so many lodges mentioned by name, this book should be popular with lodge historians too.
Review by Jonathan Lowe
English Freemasonry and the First World War, by the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, published by Lewis Masonic, 96 pages, £14.99