Friday, 07 December 2018 00:00

The Masonic Family: Rose Croix

A system of 33 degrees

The Ancient and Accepted Rite, or Rose Croix, is one of the oldest Orders, yet many Craft Freemasons know little about it. The Grand Secretary General explains how the Rite has attracted more than a quarter of a million members worldwide

Known outside England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland as the Scottish Rite, this order takes as its founding documents the Grand Constitutions of 1762 and 1786, the latter written by a group of eminent Freemasons under the titular direction of Frederick the Great. 

The first Supreme Council (as national governing bodies of the Rite are known) was founded in South Carolina in 1801, with responsibility for an area now known as the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States. A Supreme Council for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States was created in 1813, and it is from that body that England and Wales received its warrant of constitution in 1845.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Documents issued with this warrant instructed that membership be restricted to those of the Trinitarian Christian faith, but today (apart from the British Isles and three other countries) all Supreme Councils around the world use the Craft requirement of a belief in a Supreme Being.

The Rite consists of 33 degrees, of which (in most jurisdictions) the three degrees of Craft Freemasonry are accepted in lieu of the first three degrees of the Rite. Of the remaining 30, different jurisdictions work different degrees, but in England and Wales just five are worked: the 18°, 30°, 31°, 32° and 33°. The only one worked in chapters is the 18°, known by the grand title of Sovereign Prince of the Rose Croix of Heredom. It is from this that the Order gets its nickname in England and Wales: Rose Croix. 

EDUCATING THE MEMBERSHIP 

The 18° is a profound and complex ritual, and one much loved by the members of the Order. The other four degrees are worked only at the Order’s headquarters in London. The ‘intermediate degrees’ from the 4° to the 17° are not worked in this country; however, a group of ritualists, the King Edward VII Chapter of Improvement, demonstrate one or two of them each year around the country for the education of the membership. 

The 30° is roughly equivalent to Past Master and is awarded to those who have successfully completed a year in the Chair of their chapter. Degrees beyond the 30° are strictly limited, being granted by the Supreme Council for outstanding service to the Order. These promotions are not mere investitures at which a collar or sash is awarded, but a full ritual carried out by the Supreme Council itself. 

Promotion to the 33°, the highest of the Rite, is restricted to Members of the Supreme Council, Inspectors General (roughly equivalent to Provincial Grand Masters) and a few other very senior members of the Order. Past members of the 33° have included Their Majesties King Edward VII, Edward VIII and George VI, and more recently Their Royal Highnesses The Duke of Kent and Prince Michael of Kent. The Duke of Kent is Grand Patron of the Order, an office formerly held by his father, the first Duke.

The Supreme Council collectively acts as Grand Master of the Order. No Council Member can instigate change without the unanimous consent of the others, which removes opportunities for confrontation. This also helps to maintain a happy and productive environment while the Council strives to work in the best interests of the Order and its members.

The Order has a flat structure: there are no Provincial Grand Lodges. Rather, each District is overseen by an Inspector General. There is therefore no significant gap in communications between individual members and the Supreme Council, a fact much prized both by the membership and the Council itself. The Supreme Council for England and Wales is ‘in amity’ with more than 40 other countries around the world, meaning members within this jurisdiction may visit chapters in those countries, thus promoting masonic harmony across the Scottish Rite, the largest international masonic community after the Craft.

For further information, contact the Supreme Council on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FACTFILE

With their own terminology, structures and practices, each masonic Order is different from the next. Here we break down the origins, requirements and beliefs of Rose Croix.

Why is it called Rose Croix?

The nickname Rose Croix derives from the 18° of the Order, the Rose Croix of Heredom.

I have a friend who’s a member overseas, but he isn’t a Christian. Is he allowed to visit here?

Absolutely. So long as his jurisdiction is one of the 42 countries recognised by England and Wales, he would be welcome to visit any chapter here – subject to invitation, of course.

Where is it based?

The Order is based at 10 Duke Street, St James’s, London, traditionally known as the Grand East. It moved there in 1910 from its old headquarters, which had perhaps the most masonic address in London: 33 Golden Square!

What is the relationship between the Craft and Rose Croix?

Although neither formally recognises the other, in practice the relationship is an extremely close one. The Grand Master, Pro Grand Master and Deputy Grand Master are all members of the 33° and the Grand Master is the Grand Patron of the Order. Similarly, all nine Members of the Supreme Council are Grand Officers of UGLE.

Who runs it?

The Order is headed by a Supreme Council of nine eminent members. The current Sovereign Grand Commander (Chairman of the Council) is Alan Englefield, formerly Provincial Grand Master for Oxfordshire and the first Grand Chancellor of UGLE.

How many members are there?

There are around 27,000 members, with around 24,000 in England and Wales and 3,000 in its Districts overseas. Worldwide there are many, many more, with more than a quarter of a million in the US alone.

Is the country divided into Provinces in the same way as the Craft?

Yes, although in this Order they are called Districts. Each is headed by an Inspector General.

What is the supreme council’s emblem?

It is a double-headed eagle surmounted by a crown and holding a sword between its claws. A triangle on top of the crown displays the number 33. Underneath reads ‘Deus Meumque Jus’, which translates as ‘God and my right’.

Is Rose Croix an ‘invitation only’ Order?

Absolutely not! Membership is open to all those who have been a Master Mason for at least one year and are prepared to sign a declaration that they profess the Trinitarian Christian faith.

How many people hold the 33°?

There are around 150 members of the 33° in England and Wales, of whom the large majority are current or past Inspectors General.

Published in More News

With the number of people experiencing loneliness in later life on the rise, the Masonic Charitable Foundation is committed to tackling the issue, as Chief Executive David Innes explains

We’re approaching the end of another year during which Freemasons have supported each other and members of their local communities through charitable work at both lodge and Provincial level, as well as through the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF). This year, your charity has supported around 5,000 Freemasons and their family members alongside 500 local and national charities – all thanks to your enduring support and generosity. 

I hope that for most of us, the festive season means spending cherished moments with our families and catching up with friends. As diaries fill up, it can sometimes be a challenge to visit everyone we would like to see before the New Year. In contrast, for many older people, Christmas can be blighted by a deep sense of loneliness. 

A HELPING HAND AT CHRISTMAS

Almost one million older people will spend Christmas Day alone this year, with only their television for company. The population is not only growing in size but also ageing; this means the number of people experiencing loneliness as they get older is increasing. More than half of people aged 75 and above live alone and 200,000 of them will not have had a single conversation with a friend or family member in the last month. As well as age, factors such as poor health and disability can also contribute to a sense of isolation. 

Through grants to local and national charities, Freemasonry is committed to tackling the issues of loneliness and social isolation in later life – and that doesn’t only apply to Christmas. We are excited to announce a new partnership between the MCF and 13 local Age UK branches that will support 10,000 people. It is our hope that the older people supported by this new initiative will live happier, healthier and more sociable lives. 

Within the masonic community, we are lucky to have a fantastic system of almoners looking out for those who are lonely, as well as those who are struggling with financial, health, family or care-related issues. Their work and our own is bolstered by a dedicated network of Freemasons including charity stewards, Visiting Volunteers, fundraisers and Festival Provinces, working together to help us spread goodwill this festive season and throughout the rest of the year.

Finally, I should like to take this opportunity to thank you for making our work possible, to remind you that we are your charity, and to urge you to get in contact with us should you need help.

Our online impact report celebrates all that Freemasonry and the MCF have achieved together this year. You can view it now at www.mcf.org.uk/impact

By looking beyond society’s upper ranks for its members, Irish and Antients Freemasonry became an integral part of the development of Middle America during the 18th century, as Dr Ric Berman explains

Think of Irish America and a series of images come to mind: Boston policemen, Philadelphia firefighters, Irish bars decked in green and white, or St Patrick’s Day, with the Chicago River dyed green. The images testify to the more than four million mainly Catholic migrants from the south of Ireland who dominated 19th and 20th-century migration to the US. 

However, in the 18th century, more than 300,000 Irish migrated to North America. Well over three-quarters were Ulster Presbyterians or ‘Scots-Irish’. It’s asmall number compared to later centuries, but at the time that was between 10 and 12 per cent of America’s white population. 

The Scots-Irish gravitated towards Pennsylvania and the North Carolina Piedmont, the plateau between the coastal plain and the Appalachians, where they comprised more than half the population.

ECONOMIC PRESSURES

The two main drivers for migration were financial hardship and reduced economic opportunity – a result of rising land rents and Britain’s anti-Irish trade legislation – as well as the pull of better economic prospects elsewhere. The impact was particularly harsh on Ulster’s Presbyterians, a mix of aspirational middle and lower-middle-class tenant farmers, tradesmen and artisans. Indeed, the situation became so severe that between 1720 and 1790, around half of Ulster’s Protestant population left. 

An obvious destination was England, especially London, which many used as a staging post before leaving for America. For those with little education and narrow skillsets, life was tough and work irregular and poorly-paid. But despite the barriers, a large minority began to prosper, and it was from this stratum of aspirational London-Irish society that Antients Freemasonry was born.

There is a reason the London Irish formed or joined what became known as Antients’ lodges: the majority were excluded from English Freemasonry, a schism that must have felt very real to this group. The divide was both religious and social. Religious, because the Grand Lodge of England (the ‘Moderns’) had to some extent secularised its form of Freemasonry and moved away from past spirituality. And social, because many English Freemasons viewed themselves as an elite and did not wish to associate with the Irish newcomers.

But even Antients Freemasonry was not for the poor. Membership and dining fees – along with the obligatory charitable contributions – excluded most working men. But those who could afford it found many reasons to remain: a relatively exclusive space for fraternal association; a quasi-spiritual experience; and an opportunity for self-improvement. 

Moderns Freemasons were associated with loyalty to Britain, while Antients Freemasonry become the chosen fraternal association for many at the forefront of patriotic opposition

THE CALL OF THE WEST

While tens of thousands of Irish travelled to England in the 18th century, even more sailed west. Those with agricultural leases and businesses sold up and used the proceeds to fund their fares and acquire land. Those with less money travelled as indentured labourers and worked to pay off their debts. They sailed for Charleston, Baltimore, New York and Boston, but especially Philadelphia, the first port of call for the vast majority. 

Pennsylvania was a destination in itself, as well as a distribution point for onward settlement. A minority of migrants were already Freemasons when they arrived in America, with others initiated afterwards as they moved west to settle the back-country of Pennsylvania and Virginia, and southwest along the wagon trails to the Piedmont. 

The chartering of Antients, Irish and Scottish lodges in America’s Middle Colonies is documented from the late 1750s. The Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, formerly Philadelphia Lodge, No. 4, was especially active, warranting lodges across Pennsylvania as well as Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and North and South Carolina. 

Irish and Antients Freemasonry were also transported to America by the British military, many of whose regiments were deployed to Ireland and granted travelling warrants by the Grand Lodge of Ireland before crossing the Atlantic. Others regiments received warrants directly from the Antients Grand Lodge in London, which was keen to encourage America’s ‘right worshipful and very worthy gentlemen’ to join its version of the Craft. Still more operated without a formal charter.

What is significant is that across the Piedmont, and in North Carolina in particular, the establishment of Antients, Irish and Scottish lodges marked the path of Scots-Irish migration and the westward development of America’s frontier. Among many examples are Old Cone Lodge at Salisbury and Phalanx Lodge at Charlotte, both established on the then-western bounds of North Carolina, with each town settled by Scots-Irish migrants travelling down the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. 

Lodges at Warrenton and Fayetteville were established on the Fall Line Road that carried migrants south from Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Others further west mark Scots-Irish settlements in the 1780s and 1790s, as the frontier pushed towards the Blue Ridge Mountains. They include Caswell Brotherhood Lodge, Rutherford Fellowship Lodge, and Independence Lodge in Chatham County. And as with their counterparts in London, the minutes show that each lodge comprised leading figures in the community. 

In the run-up to the War of American Independence in 1775 and throughout the conflict itself, many, albeit by no means all, Moderns Freemasons were associated with loyalty to Britain. Some were forced to flee; others faced fines and the confiscation of their assets. In contrast, Antients Freemasonry had become the chosen fraternal association for many at the forefront of patriotic opposition. 

After Independence, Antients Freemasonry was elevated politically, and endowed with Enlightenment virtues and high moral principles. It flourished, with a greater accessibility and inclusiveness that changed American Freemasonry’s social demographics. 

Unlike the Moderns, Antients Freemasonry sourced its members from a broad social spectrum, while at the same time laying claim to a ritual and history dating back to time immemorial – an approach laid out by the London Irish some four decades before. 

By moving the organisation beyond the confines of society’s upper ranks, identifying it with the common good, and providing charity and mutual assistance to a broader spectrum of beneficiaries, Antients Freemasonry became integral to the development of America’s economy and society, and thus to its success.

Published in Features

Commemorating the membership of the Earl of Middlesex, the Sackville medal was to usher in a new era of diverse and exquisite masonic lodge jewels

The exhibition Bejewelled: Badges, Brotherhood and Identity at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry features more than 150 masonic jewels and traces their history, creation and meaning. But one shining item dates from the very beginning of this story, and would lead to all other lodge jewels.

A lodge in Florence struck the Sackville medal in 1733 to commemorate the membership of Charles Sackville, Earl of Middlesex. The lodge seems to have been independently created, as no warrant from England exists. 

The medal was not intended to be worn. It was struck by lodge members in honour of their Master and was meant to be kept as a memento, and as a gift to visiting Freemasons. That said, all three copies in the Library and Museum show signs of being used as jewels. One has a hole pierced into it while the others have had clasps fitted and later removed. It was from this beginning that the immense diversity of lodge jewels began.

As one would expect given its age, the medal wears its masonic influences lightly. On the obverse is a classical raised bust of Sackville naming him ‘magister’ (master) and on the reverse sits a figure of Harpocrates, the Greek god of secrecy, carrying a horn of plenty with the inscription ‘Ab Origine’ (to the founders). 

More overt is the perfect ashlar surrounded by stonemasons’ tools resting at the figure’s feet. But until research in the early-20th century proved there was a lodge in Florence, there was still debate about whether the medal was even masonic. The mason’s tools here are strewn around and the square and compasses are not yet given prominence. Interestingly, at his request, the medal does not refer to Sackville’s noble titles, and this may show that to be Master of a lodge was already considered an honour. 

One other famous, or even infamous, member was Tommaso Crudeli. A local man, he became the lodge Secretary, but on 25 June, 1737, the lodge was condemned by the Chief Inquisitor in Rome and closed down. Crudeli was arrested in an effort to discover the activities and members of the lodge. Although interrogated for several years, he did not reveal the names of his fellow Freemasons and his release was eventually negotiated. His health broken, he died shortly afterwards, taking his masonic secrets with him.

The Sackville medal is one of many exquisite and historic examples on display in Bejewelled: Badges, Brotherhood and Identity at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry until 24 August 2019. Open from 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday. Admission is free.

Published in More News
Friday, 07 December 2018 00:00

Quatuor Coronati's US Conference

In a landmark art deco building just over the Potomac River from Washington, DC, Quatuor Coronati’s American Conference saw academic and masonic speakers looking at ‘Freemasons in the Transatlantic World’

Just as Hurricane Florence hit the East Coast on 12 September, research lodge Quatuor Coronati (QC) was holding a three-day conference at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia. Fortunately for QC, the National Memorial was spared anything beyond a moderate breeze. 

Themed ‘Freemasons in the Transatlantic World’, the conference followed a tercentenary event in Cambridge, England in 2016, and a symposium at Freemasons’ Hall. The US event attracted an audience of more than 180 from across North and Latin America, Europe and even Singapore.

TOURS OF THE MEMORIAL

Delegates heard presentations from world-class academic and masonic speakers, including Paul Monod, Jackie Ranston and Susan Mitchell Sommers – academics with a significant interest in Freemasonry – and members of QC Lodge John Acaster, Dr Ric Berman, Bob Cooper, Adam Kendall and Andreas Önnefors.

Friday’s programme covered Freemasonry in the Caribbean; Scottish-American Freemasonry; French lodges; and Freemasonry in North America. It concluded with a demonstration Universal Lodge meeting in the Memorial’s North Lodge Room, attended by Richard J Bautista, Grand Master of DC and his team, including Akram Elias, Past Grand Master of DC. 

Delegates had full access to the Memorial over the weekend, with informal tours conducted by Mark Tabbert, the Director of Museum and Library at the Memorial and another member of QC Lodge.

Saturday’s papers covered religion and Freemasonry, colonial Freemasonry, and the Freemasons of Jamaica, a beautifully illustrated paper delivered by Jackie Ranston. The afternoon concluded with delegates gathering for dinner at Theismann’s Restaurant and Bar, situated on the edge of Alexandria’s Old Town and long a favourite among local Freemasons. 

VARIED PROGRAMME

Sunday’s events were led by Brent Morris, Managing Editor of The Scottish Rite Journal and a member of QC. A plenary paper was delivered by Oscar Alleyne, recently elected Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of New York, exploring the role of men of colour in early Freemasonry. The morning concluded with an animated discussion and question and answer session, and the event wrapped up with a guided tour of DC.

Like many QC events, the conference was targeted principally, although not exclusively, at members of QC’s Correspondence Circle, established in 1886 to share QC’s research papers and encourage masonic scholarship. Membership of the Circle is not limited to UK masons, and the organisation functions as an international association, with around a third of members based in North America.

Details of how to join QC’s Correspondence Circle can be Details of how to join QC’s Correspondence Circle can be found at www.quatuorcoronati.com

Published in Features

How did a renowned masonic jeweller come to play a pivotal role in the union of the two Grand Lodges? Dr James Campbell explores the life and times of Thomas Harper

Visit any masonic meeting in England or Wales and you will find members dressed in the same aprons: sky-blue with rosettes for Master Masons; sky-blue with plumb rules for those who have been through the Master’s Chair; and garter-blue for Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge Officers, with standard jewels suspended from their collars. While this regalia is well known, the people who came up with these designs have been largely forgotten. One of them was Thomas Harper (c. 1736-1832).

UNIFYING DESIGNS

Before 1813 there was no standard masonic regalia. There were special aprons that denoted rank, but huge variations remained in the designs – as can still be seen today in Scottish masonry. 

When the two Grand Lodges of England and Wales (the Premier or Moderns and the Antients) came together on 27 December 1813 to form the United Grand Lodge of England, an effort was made to standardise designs, including warrants, certificates, the ritual and the regalia. The Duke of Sussex, the new Grand Master, formed a Board of Works charged with working out the details. The first meeting was held on 7 February 1814. The minutes survive and record that Thomas Harper was in the chair. 

There are some people for whom Freemasonry is an agreeable but small part of their otherwise busy lives, and others whose lives become so devoted to Freemasonry that it defines them. The latter was most definitely the case for Thomas Harper. 

Harper’s origins remain obscure: we know nothing about where he was born or where he grew up. His first appearance in the historical record is because of his Freemasonry. We know that he was by 1774 a member of Lodge of the Antients, No. 190, in Charlestown, South Carolina. It is believed he probably first became a mason in 1761 in Bristol before setting sail for the American colonies. 

A loyalist, Harper returned in 1781 with his wife and child, moving to London and setting himself up as a silversmith. He registered his mark at Goldsmith’s Hall and soon distinguished himself as a jeweller, rising to eminence in the City and acting as Master of the Turner’s Company in 1798, 1813 and 1829. 

It is chiefly as a jeweller that Harper is remembered today. He made jewellery for several livery companies, but his principal output was in masonic jewels of all kinds. These are exceptionally fine and have become the most sought-after of all masonic jewels, instantly recognisable by his maker’s mark featuring his initials ‘TH’ on the reverse. His shop was in Fleet Street and he later moved to nearby Arundel Street.

There are some people whose lives become so devoted to Freemasonry that it defines them. This was most definitely the case for Thomas Harper

ANTIENTS AND MODERNS

Harper’s skill as a jeweller was such that it has largely overshadowed his other achievements and involvement in the Craft. To say that Harper was a keen Freemason is an understatement. On his return to England he had joined Lodge No. 5 of the Antients, now Albion Lodge, No. 9, whose most prominent member was Laurence Dermott, the first Grand Secretary, and the driving force behind the formation of the Antients Grand Lodge. 

Harper rose quickly through the ranks of the Antients, being elected their Junior Grand Warden in 1785, Senior Grand Warden from 1786-88 and Deputy Grand Secretary from 1792-1800, before being elected Deputy Grand Master in 1800 and serving until the Union. He became a member of the Antients’ Grand Master’s Lodge, No. 1 and became Senior Warden in 1788, Master in 1793 and Treasurer from 1794-1829. 

Harper was also prominent in the rival Moderns Grand Lodge. He had joined Globe Lodge, No. 13 (now no. 23) in 1787, which was then, as now, one of the lodges that nominated a Grand Steward and in 1794 his name was put forward, although it is not clear whether he took up the office. 

INTRIGUE AND EXPULSION

In 1792, Harper had joined William Preston’s breakaway Lodge of Antiquity (No. 1 in the Moderns, now No. 2), helping organise its reunion with the remainder of the Lodge No. 1 in 1792, becoming its Treasurer from 1792-1803. He was thus for a brief time Treasurer of both Lodge No. 1 of the Antients and of Lodge No. 1 of the Moderns. His membership of both Grand Lodges was not without incident and he was briefly expelled from the Moderns in an intrigue in 1803 – but the expulsion was reversed in 1810. 

After Dermott’s death in 1788, Harper took over producing the constitutions of the Antients (mysteriously entitled Ahiman Rezon). Like Dermott, he believed in the reunion of the two Grand Lodges, and became a prime mover in this effort. He was ideally placed as Deputy Grand Master of the Antients and a previous member of several Moderns’ Lodges, and played a leading part in the proceedings. 

As a reward he was made a member of both the Board of Works and the Board of General Purposes in 1814, the ruling committees of the new United Grand Lodge of England. In these capacities he became involved in the designs for new jewels, aprons and certificates. 

Harper also produced aprons alongside his business in masonic jewellery. He supplied Sir John Soane’s apron when he joined Grand Master’s Lodge, No. 1 in 1813. Both the apron and the receipt are retained in Sir John Soane’s Museum. 

Harper chaired the first meeting of the Board of Works, which discussed the masonic jewels to be attached to the collars of the various officers. In the following weeks the coat of arms of the new Grand Lodge and the form of the aprons were discussed, with Harper present and involved in all of them. 

It may be going too far to say he designed it, but Harper was undoubtedly an important influence on the regalia we have today, and a key player in forming modern Freemasonry.

Published in Features

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

Published in Culture

Whetting the appetite  for learning

 Researching Freemasonry can sometimes  be daunting. For busy new members, this  book provides a useful starting point

As Freemasons, we are encouraged to make a daily advancement in masonic knowledge, so that we can review the tenets and teachings of Freemasonry in order to develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and ideally build a better world for all. 

This book seeks to promote daily study and has been laid out in the form of a calendar, with brief nuggets of masonic knowledge for each day of the year. The aim is to encourage active research, and the short paragraphs are well-suited to stimulating just that.

WELL-RESEARCHED

The quality of masonic learning depends on quality sources, and the book is well-researched. Readers are introduced to a wide variety of masonic facts, covering practical, philosophical and historical aspects of Freemasonry, including degrees beyond the Craft. 

Thought-provoking and occasionally humorous, the book provides good material for daily advancement, but also gives useful suggestions on how to explain Freemasonry to non-members. For example, calling the temple a ‘lodge room’ can make it easier to explain where Freemasons conduct the core of what they do. By making masonic language less complicated and mysterious, the book can also help break down some of the prejudices within the wider community.

Anyone who only wants to have a brief masonic daily reading and cannot spare the time for full-on research can now make an advancement in masonic knowledge without it impacting on their work or family life. Making A Daily Advancement could make an ideal gift for new initiates.

Review by Sergio Prezioso

Making A Daily Advancement, Mike Lawrence, published by Lewis Masonic, 270 pages, £19

Published in Culture

A royal tragedy

Henry II was a titan of the 12th century, but  his legacy today is almost forgotten

An image in the chronicle of Matthew Paris, monk of St Albans, shows Henry IIin conversation with a group of stonemasons. Five hundred years later, in his Constitutions of 1738, author James Anderson did not make much of Henry II in his history of Freemasonry. Yet masons remain fascinated by this image of Henry talking to a man holding a level.

PHILOSOPHER KING

King of the North Wind provides a fascinating portrait of a king who used ambition, determination, charisma and blitzkrieg warfare to forge a kingdom that stretched from the Scottish border to the Pyrenees. Living on near to no sleep, he spent his life on the road, criss-crossing his realm to hold together the largest empire England would rule until the 17th century.

Gold draws a portrait of a philosopher king: a platonic prince raised by scholars with an interest in everything around him. At Henry’s court, every day was a school day, according to contemporary French cleric Peter of Blois. The 12th-century historian Gerald of Wales called Henry the ‘Alexander of the West’ – the sort of man who would have stopped at a building site to ask his master builder and masons about their work.

THE BATTLE WITHIN

The book’s dramatic structure carries the reader towards the great battle in Henry’s life – the one against himself. And just as with many other great heros, Henry fails.

The young prince started life hungry, ambitious and confident but ended it an exhausted man, with his wife and children repeatedly striving to arrange his death.

Anyone interested in medieval Anglo-French history will appreciate the vast amount of detail in the book, which is a timely and welcome addition to the growing popular literature on the Plantagenets.

Review by DKS

King of the North Wind: The Life of Henry II in Five Acts, by Claudia Gold, published by William Collins, 352 pages, £25

Published in Culture
Friday, 23 November 2018 00:00

Competition: Vote for your favourite tie

United Grand Lodge of England's social tie competition has been inundated with submissions, and now it's your chance to vote for the winning entry from two finalists

Please click here to vote for your favourite design.

You have until midday on 9th January 2019 to vote, with the winning entry turned into a tie in spring 2019.

Published in More News
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