In 2010 the Library and Museum at Freemasons' Hall welcomed more than 30,000 visitors. For many visitors the highlight is the tour of the ceremonial rooms which is provided by Library and Museum staff. Freemasonry Today spent time with the team of tour guides to find out more
One of the longest serving guides is Mike Coleman. ‘The tour starts in the Museum with a brief history of the two eighteenth century Grand Lodges and the story of the Union. The route then goes through the Grand Officers’ Robing Room with its portraits of Royal Grand Masters, continues down the processional corridor, visits the Shrine and finishes in the Grand Temple. There we take the opportunity to answer visitors’ questions about the building and more generally about Freemasonry. We usually finish by reminding visitors to visit the shop.’
The tour takes about forty-five minutes. Guide Stephen Hoole likes to take time to point out items of interest in the Museum to his group at the end of the tour.
Trevor Lowman has recently joined the team of guides. One of the challenges he faced was learning all the information as there is a tradition that the guides do not use notes. ‘I hadn’t realised,’ he says, ‘just how much there was to know.’
Another new recruit, John Green, has enjoyed meeting visitors from all over the world. ‘I have met people from Israel, Canada, Brazil and Belgium – and that was just in my first week!’
Both of them have learnt a lot from the other guides, as Trevor admits, ‘I have also borrowed some of guide John Weightman’s jokes!’
DO THE TOUR
Colin Gurnett, another guide, would like to see even more visitors from London lodges. ‘Many members come to the building for their meetings and just see where they are meeting. It would be great if they could take time to do the tour and learn more about one of London’s great buildings.’
The weekday tours are free of charge and take place at 11 am, 12 noon, 2 pm, 3 pm and 4 pm. There is no need to book for individuals or small groups but, as events can be arranged at short notice which can mean that tours are curtailed, anyone making a special journey is advised to telephone to check the availability of tours.
On Saturdays there is just one tour, starting at 10.30 am which has to be pre-booked. According to Melrose Eccleston, who looks after bookings, ‘the Saturday tours are very popular and get booked up quickly – please don’t leave your arrangements to the last minute as we can only handle limited numbers on Saturdays.’
Freemasons’ Hall is increasingly being used for events and filming. Sometimes tour groups get to experience what goes on behind the scenes on a film set. Guide Michael Rhodes remembers one tour he led which had among its number ex-James Bond Pierce Brosnan taking a break from a photography assignment in the building. ‘He was a charming man and was wearing one of the most stylish suits I have ever seen!’
The Library and Museum can’t promise James Bond on every tour but you will be assured of a friendly welcome and a fascinating experience.
8 September 2010
A speech by Mrs Diane Clements, Director, The Library & Museum of Freemasonry
I am pleased to report that in the four years since I last spoke in this forum, the Library and Museum has continued to make good progress in meeting our objective of making the library, museum and archive collections here at Freemasons’ Hall available to as many people and to the widest possible range of audiences as we can, to try to improve the understanding of freemasonry and its role, past and present, in society.
The most obvious way that we do that is for the Library and Museum to be open free of charge every weekday. People join the regular guided tours of the ceremonial areas of the building. They are also attracted by our range of temporary exhibitions. Over the last four years the subjects of these exhibitions have included Freemasonry and the French Revolution, London Grand Rank and Masonic Charity. As someone who regularly has to respond to visitors’ comments such as “I didn’t know they allowed women in”, which is probably not something that any of you encounter, I was particularly pleased by our exhibition on Women and Freemasonry in 2008- even if it didn’t necessarily explain why I am here!. Our current exhibition The Masonic Emporium looks at the development of the commercial market for Masonic regalia and furniture. Visitor numbers have increased by 40% over the last four years. We have been able to cope with these additional numbers with our existing staff of guides thanks to working closely with other teams within the building especially security and maintenance.
The exhibitions may be temporary but we work to ensure that there is a legacy. This may be a book, an exhibition guide or an addition to the permanent museum displays or to the catalogue record for an item. For the exhibition on Freemasons and the Royal Society earlier this year- to mark the 350th Anniversary of the Royal Society- we worked with a freemason in North Yorkshire to produce a list of more than 350 freemasons who were also Fellows of the Society. This added significantly to our knowledge of “famous” freemasons. The list is available on the Library and Museum website. Amongst the names included are Sir George Everest of mountain fame, the psychologist Charles Myers who is generally credited with the first use of the term “shell shock” and the zoologist Edward Hindle who, during a long and distinguished scientific career, can also claim to have introduced the golden hamster as a domestic pet.
But not everyone can or wants to come to central London and so we have found a number of ways of taking knowledge of the collections and sometimes items from the collections to them. Cataloguing of the collections continues on all fronts and the information is available on our electronic catalogue on our website. We have now catalogued all our sheet music- over 1500 items- archive material including the records of erased lodges and thousands of prints and photographs of individuals. We have undertaken a detailed analysis of what is required to catalogue and photograph all the items in the museum collection – that is 40,000 objects and includes everything from a lodge jewel to the 1790 Grand Master’s throne which stands over 3 metres high - and are working towards completing that by 2017.
Research resources can be provided electronically- the charts of lodge family trees and an electronic version of Lane’s Masonic Records listing all lodges warranted by UGLE and its predecessors are already available on line and we are bringing the latter list up to date. We will be starting a two year project to digitise English eighteenth and nineteenth century Masonic periodicals this Autumn. This will enable this material -which is a rich source of Masonic history but sadly lacking in comprehensive indexes – to be searchable.
Although the Centre for Masonic Research at Sheffield University has now closed, we have found that researchers from many academic bodies in the UK and abroad now use the collections. Recent publications on individuals as diverse as an eighteenth century French journalist and a nineteenth century Jewish humanitarian as well as a study of the development of Blackpool as a seaside resort have all used information from our records.
Those researchers would be amongst the 2,000 or more readers who are registered to use the library and archive collections- it’s just as well that they don’t all visit at once!
Library and Museum staff provide an enquiry service for letters and emails and I estimate that we answer over 3000 queries a year. Recently we have assisted the Victoria and Albert Museum identify a Masonic ring, we have helped the Swindon Local Studies Library find out more about the history of an important building in the town- the Mechanics’ Institute, not the Freemasons’ Hall- and we have researched the Masonic career of a Victorian photographer for English Heritage. Over the last ten years we have researched over 15,000 names for family historians.
As well as talks to lodges and chapters, staff have given presentations at conferences organised by the Canonbury Masonic Research Centre and the International Conference on the History of Freemasonry in Edinburgh. Papers have been given to professional and specialist groups including the Decorative Arts Medals Society, the Social History Curators Group, the Families in British India Society, the Halstead Trust Family History conference and to academic conferences in Liverpool, Leiden and Bordeaux.
Material from the collections is lent to other museums and items have been lent recently to the People’s History Museum in Manchester, the Helena Thompson Museum in Workington and to museums in Austria and Corsica.
The loan to the Helena Thompson Museum was organised with the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland as part of their local awareness campaign. Our work with provinces and districts has, over the last two years, focussed on the Historical Records Survey- although I am aware that there were some light hearted local variations in that name. The HRS project aimed to survey the extent and condition of all lodge and chapter records in England and Wales. The 60% or so response rate, which was a fantastic achievement by local co-ordinators and thousands of lodge secretaries and chapter scribes, will ensure that local Masonic history makes a considerable contribution to freemasonry’s tercentenary.
Those lodges and chapters that took part in the survey are able to apply to the Library and Museum for a small grant to help with the conservation of their records. We expect this to be a competitive scheme as we will not have enough funding to meet all the demands but I would encourage all eligible lodges and chapters to have a go. Even a small amount of funding can assist with the purchase of more appropriate boxes or packaging which can really make a difference to improving the way records are kept. Details are available from the Library and Museum or from provincial secretaries
We have also provided support for provinces for their charity festivals and for members’ education.
I wanted to take the opportunity here to mention the work of the Masonic Libraries and Museums Group which is run by representatives of provincial libraries and museums and which Library and Museum staff support. Many of these collections have been featured in Freemasonry Today over the years. Not only do these provincial museums hold items of national interest, many are also significant in terms of the local history of their area. Over the last ten years this group has helped to foster new museums and libraries in several provinces so that the heritage of freemasonry can be preserved at a local level. If you haven’t been to visit your provincial museum recently I think you will be surprised!
As I have mentioned on previous occasions, the Library and Museum has been awarded grants from external sources. This has continued with one recent grant enabling us to establish a properly racked paintings store and another contributing towards the conservation of our world class collection of Old Charges. The next few years will be challenging ones for cultural and heritage bodies as for many other groups and competition for more limited external funding will be intense. We monitor our cost base. The Library and Museum Council regularly reviews the performance of our professionally managed investment portfolio. The profits from the Shop here at Freemasons’ Hall are gift aided to the Library and Museum. Since 2003, the Shop has sold nearly 120,000 books- not all of them written by the Assistant Grand Secretary, more than 90,000 craft ties and 1,247 miniature Masonic teddy bears. Thank you for your support and do keep buying!
The Library and Museum already benefits from the support of Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter, the Friends of the Library and Museum and many individual lodges and chapters. As a registered charity we will be monitoring how the government encourages the development of charitable giving to make sure that we can take full advantage.
We are looking forward to making a major contribution to the Royal Arch bicentenary celebrations in 2013 with an exhibition and of course to the tercentenary in 2017. Before then, and probably along with every other museum and cultural institution in the country, we will be marking the 2012 Olympics in London. Our plans include an exhibition on Freemasonry and Sport which will cover the important role played by leading freemasons in the first London Olympics in 1908 as well as the Masonic involvement of sportsmen generally. We have already made contact with some sportsmen members to see how we can work together but I am always keen to hear about other initiatives and plans. We really would like our exhibition to reflect the personal sporting achievements of individual members.
In his recent interview in The Times the Grand Secretary’s role was described as “explaining the inner workings (of freemasonry) to a largely uncomprehending world”. I like to believe that a desire to comprehend is a factor in attracting more and more visitors to the Library and Museum and that our displays, exhibitions, guided tours and responses to enquiries can all help improve understanding. We in the Library and Museum are very happy to work alongside the Grand Secretary and the membership generally in that common cause.
8 September 2010
The Minutes of the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge of 9 June 2010 were confirmed.
Board of General Purposes
Meetings in 2011: The Board will meet on 8 February, 15 March, 10 May, 19 July, 20 September and 15 November.
Attendance at Lodges under the English Constitution by Brethren from other Grand Lodges
The Board considers it appropriate to draw attention to Rule 125 (b), Book of Constitutions, and the list of Grand Lodges recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England, which is published in the Masonic Year Book, copies of which are sent to lodge secretaries.
Only Brethren who are members of lodges under recognised jurisdictions may visit English lodges. They must produce a certificate, i.e. a Grand Lodge Certificate or other documentary proof of masonic identity provided by their Grand Lodge, should be prepared to acknowledge that a personal belief in TGAOTU is an essential landmark in Freemasonry, and should be able to produce evidence of their good standing in their lodges.
It is the Master’s responsibility to ensure that the requirements of Rule 125 (b) are met. It is particularly noted that the hazard of admitting a member of an unrecognised constitution arises not only in connection with overseas visitors or individuals resident in this country who belong to an unrecognised constitution overseas. There are lodges of unrecognised constitutions meeting in England, and care must be taken that their members are not admitted to our meetings.
Attendance at Lodges Overseas
The continuing growth in overseas travel brings with it an increase in visits by our Brethren to lodges of other jurisdictions, and the Board welcomes this trend. From time to time, however, Brethren become involved with masonic bodies which Grand Lodge does not recognise, e.g. in visiting a jurisdiction which, quite legitimately so far as it is concerned, accepts as visitors Brethren from Grand Lodges that are not recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England.
In this connection, Brethren are reminded that it is part of their duty as members of the English Constitution not to associate masonically with members of unrecognised constitutions, and should such a situation occur, they should tactfully withdraw, even though their visit may have been formally arranged.
To avoid this danger, and potential embarrassment to hosts, Brethren should not attempt to make any masonic contact overseas without having first checked, preferably in writing, with the Grand Secretary’s Office at Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ, that there is recognised Freemasonry in the country concerned and, if so, whether there is any particular point which should be watched.
The Board recommends that the terms of this warning should be repeated verbally in open lodge whenever a Grand Lodge Certificate is presented, and in print once a year in a lodge’s summons.
Brethren should also be aware of the masonic convention that communications between Grand Lodges be conducted by Grand Secretaries. They should therefore not attempt without permission to make direct contact with the Grand Secretary of another Constitution. This does not preclude direct contact on a purely personal level between individual Brethren under different Grand Lodges.
Annual Dues in Lodges Abroad
Rule 269 of the Book of Constitutions provides that lower rates of annual dues shall be payable by lodges in districts and by lodges abroad not in districts, and that such dues are not to exceed fixed percentages of those paid by lodges in the Metropolitan Area of London or in provinces.
The Board has considered the matter and has concluded that the great improvement in communications in recent years has led to more time at Freemasons’ Hall being spent on district matters than in former days when such matters had perforce to be dealt with locally. As a result, the percentages no longer reflect the true cost of administering Freemasonry in districts and other lodges overseas.
It has been the Board’s policy for some years that the cost of administering English Freemasonry should be covered by the amounts levied each year in fees and dues, and it believes that this policy requires that the different categories of lodges should pay their way without excessive cross-subsidy.
The Board is anxious to stress that it does not intend to recommend that lodges abroad should pay Grand Lodge dues at the same rate as lodges in London and provinces, but it does recommend that the present percentage cap on dues for lodges abroad be removed to enable their dues to be set at rates that more closely reflect the administrative costs attributable to them. A Notice of Motion to amend the Book of Constitutions accordingly appeared on the Paper of Business.
Installed Masters’ Work
The Board has been asked to give guidance on which parts of the Craft ritual allocated to the Worshipful Master may be performed by Master Masons and which may only be carried out by an Installed Master. It notes that it is becoming increasingly common for Brethren who have not yet reached the Chair to be invited to undertake part of the work.
The Board considers that it is a matter for the Master, having regard to the custom of the individual lodge, to decide what arrangements should be made when allocating work to other Brethren. The Board, however, hopes that those portions of a ceremony that can properly be carried out by junior Brethren should not be allocated to them to the complete exclusion of Past Masters, and in particular of the more junior Past Masters, who having neither an office in the lodge nor an early prospect of receiving one may need to have their interest maintained.
It therefore recommends that both the administration of the obligations and the communication of secrets be the preserve of those who have reached the Chair, and it hopes that the Grand Lodge will endorse the following list as comprising the work that must be performed by an Installed Master:
the Ceremonies of Opening and Closing the Lodge;
the Ceremony of Initiation down to the end of the entrustment of the candidate with the secrets of the degree;
the Ceremony of Passing (including the test questions and the subsequent entrustment) down to the end of the entrustment of the candidate with the secrets of the degree;
the Ceremony of Raising (including the test questions and the subsequent entrustment) down to the end of the main part of the Ceremony, the Traditional History (but not necessarily the explanation of the Tracing Board) and the communication of the full secrets; and
the entire Ceremony of Installation, including the three Addresses, but excluding the Working Tools.
The Board has received a report that Lillistone Manor Lodge, No. 8030, has resolved to surrender its warrant in order to amalgamate with Lodge of Finsbury, No. 861 (London). The Board accordingly recommended that the lodge be removed from the register in order to effect the amalgamation. A resolution to this effect was approved.
Erasure of Lodges
The Board has received a report that seven lodges have closed and have surrendered their warrants. The lodges are: Greater London Lodge, No. 2603 (London), Cestr Leasowe Lodge, No. 3761 (Cheshire), Sincerity and Service Lodge, No. 5096 (London), Wellington Lodge, No. 5248 (Cheshire), Kalahari Lodge, No. 5524 (South Africa, Central Division), Gateway of Friendship Lodge, No. 8363 (London) and John Stephenson Lecture Lodge, No. 9571 (Northumberland). A resolution to this effect was approved.
Thirteen Brethren were expelled from the Craft.
The Library and Museum of Freemasonry
A talk was given by Diane Clements, Director of the Library and Museum of Freemasonry.
The most obvious way that this was done was by it being open, free of charge, every weekday, including to people joining the regular guided tours. In the past four years, visitor numbers had increased by 40 per cent thanks to the existing staff of guides working with others, especially security and maintenance.
To mark the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society staff worked with North Yorkshire Province to produce a list of more than 350 masons who were also Fellows of the Society. The list is available on the Library and Museum website and include Sir George Everest of mountain fame, psychologist Charles Myers, generally credited with the first use of the term ‘shell-shock’, and zoologist Edward Hindle who, as part of his distinguished scientific career, introduced the golden hamster as a domestic pet.
Cataloguing of the collections continued and information was available on the electronic catalogue on the website. Staff had catalogued all the sheet music – over 1,500 items – and archive material including the records of erased lodges and thousands of prints and photographs of individuals.
They had also undertaken a detailed analysis of what is required to catalogue and photograph all the items in the museum collection – 40,000 objects.
They will be starting a two-year project to digitise English eighteenth and nineteenth-century masonic periodicals this autumn, which will become available in comprehensive indexes and searchable. There are also more than 2,000 readers registered to use the archive collections.
Library and Museum staff also answer more than 3,000 queries a year and had given presentations at conferences and presented papers to professional and specialist groups. Material from the collections had been lent to other museums at home and abroad.
Work with provinces and districts has focused on the Historical Records Survey, which aimed to discover the extent and condition of all lodge and chapter records in England and Wales. The 60 per cent or so response rate, which was a fantastic achievement by local co-ordinators and thousands of lodge secretaries and chapter scribes, would ensure that local masonic history made a considerable contribution to Freemasonry’s tercentenary.
The Masonic Libraries and Museums Group is run by representatives of provincial libraries and museums and which Library and Museum staff support. Over the past ten years this group has helped to foster new museums and libraries in several provinces so that the heritage of Freemasonry could be preserved at a local level.
The Library and Museum has been awarded grants from external sources. One recent grant enabled them to establish a properly racked paintings store, another contributed towards the conservation of the world-class collection of Old Charges. Profits from the shop at Freemasons’ Hall are gift-aided to the Library and Museum. Since 2003, the shop had sold nearly 120,000 books, more than 90,000 Craft ties and 1,247 miniature masonic teddy bears.
The Library and Museum was looking forward to making a major contribution to the Royal Arch bicentenary celebrations in 2013 with an exhibition and to the tercentenary in 2017.
They would also be marking the 2012 Olympics in London. Plans include an exhibition on Freemasonry and Sport which will cover the important role played by leading masons in the first London Olympics in 1908 as well as the masonic involvement of sportsmen generally.
Venue: The Library and Museum of Freemasonry, Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London, WC2B 5AZ
Exhibition dates: Thursday 1 July – Thursday 23 December 2010
Exhibition free of charge to all visitors
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm. Museum closed at weekends
Visitor information: www.freemasonry.london.museum or 020 7395 9257
At the beginning of July, the Library and Museum of Freemasonry in Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London, opened an exhibition showing the development of the commercial production of masonic regalia, jewels, lodge furniture and dining ware. The exhibition, ‘The Masonic Emporium’, charts the development of the Freemason as a consumer and the creation of companies to serve the production and sale of these specifically produced goods for this specifically masonic market which had never existed before.
By around 1800 masonic regalia and objects such as glassware and pottery were being produced in greater quantities and with a variety of designs but some uniformity in style began to emerge. In the Royal Arch, for example, two distinct designs for jewels had evolved, one for Royal Arch masons affiliated to the Premier Grand Lodge and another for Antient Grand Lodge members.
Manufacturing techniques such as transfer printing were also encouraging repetition of design on larger numbers of items or enabled the same design to be repeated on different objects used in lodges such as plates, mugs, ale-jugs and loving-cups.
But it was the union of the Premier and the Antients Grand Lodges in 1813 that provided the impetus for the expansion of the masonic market. The new United Grand Lodge laid down a specific set of rules as to what a Freemason under the English Constitution could wear in his lodge and these were published as part of the Book of Constitutions.
The standardisation of regalia, together with the increasing number of lodges established as the 1800s progressed, made it easier for manufacturers to undertake ‘mass’ production, ensuring a range of competitively priced products. As additional masonic degrees appeared, each with its own governing body, they too produced their own sets of rules governing their distinctive regalia; these were duly sold by the same retailers.
The increase in masonic membership during the nineteenth century gave important purchasing power to this new market. In 1837, when Queen Victoria ascended the British throne, there were around five hundred lodges in Britain and the Empire. At her death in 1901 the number of lodges had reached almost two thousand. All these lodges needed special masonic equipment and all the new members needed their regalia.
New products were developed. For example, Richard Spencer’s catalogue illustrated a range of styles of collecting boxes. George Kenning invented his patent hanger to go over the shoulder to protect the formal clothing. The hanger provided a vehicle both for displaying the large number of jewels that it was then fashionable to wear and a convenient form of storage when not in use.
In March 1869 the final piece opening the way towards the Freemason as consumer fell into place: the first edition of Kenning’s weekly masonic newspaper, The Freemason, appeared. Kenning declared that its purpose was to have press representation for ‘a society so admirable and so extensive [with] so many members of talent and influence’.
But, importantly, the eight-page paper provided Kenning and many other businesses with the space to advertise to and Brother Higman’s Masonic Bouquet, sold in stoppered bottles and ‘greatly admired for its richness and permanency of fragrance’. As a result Freemasons were established as keen consumers for the increasing range of products that Kenning and others were supplying.
Purpose-built Masonic Halls
By the 1850s it was becoming much more common for individual lodges, or groups of lodges, to meet in dedicated masonic halls rather than rent space in other buildings such as pubs and taverns. As more lodges were established, or enlarged their membership, dedicated halls became affordable. Victorian morality and a desire for respectability also played a part, attitudes epitomised by the reaction of John Havers, a surgeon and chairman of the committee that redeveloped Freemasons’ Hall in London in the 1860s, who told fellow members: ‘It appears to me a disgrace and reproach that the most ancient, influential and by far the most wealthy Grand Lodge in the world should longer permit its headquarters to be used as a Tavern’.
Lodges had a long history of purchasing jewels and certain items of lodge furniture but now had to become significant consumers of masonic chairs, candlesticks and pictures of the Grand Master to furnish these halls. The regalia manufacturers produced comprehensive illustrated catalogues so that lodges outside London and across the Empire could purchase from them. Lodge Llynfi, No. 2965, in Glamorgan spent over £70 in 1903 (nearly £6,000 in today’s money) on furnishings.
All photographs courtesy The Library and Museum of Freemasonry, London.
The first edition of The Freemason was published by George Kenning on Saturday 13 March 1869. Its front cover featured an engraving of the façade of the new Freemasons’ Hall in Great Queen Street. The newspaper was sent by rail to agents, listed in early issues, in major towns who were responsible for its distribution via railway station bookstalls and other shops. The first edition comprised eight pages with the last page devoted to advertisements for a range of goods and services.
Within a year of its first publication, the paper had doubled in size and claimed a circulation of half a million readers a year. Although it is impossible to verify this claim, the size of the paper and the number of advertisements would certainly indicate some success. Out of sixteen pages of the edition published on 11 December 1869, four and a half pages were devoted to advertisements including the first two pages and the back two pages.
As well as advertisements for masonic regalia, books and meeting places, Miss C. Wickins advertised piano lessons in Lower Norwood and the Hydro-Carbon Light Company and Shrewsbury’s boilers were advertising their products (possibly in anticipation of winter weather). Adverts for patent medicines, foodstuffs such as Colman’s British Cornflour and Cooney’s Mustard competed for the attention of readers alongside Henry Newman’s astringent toothpaste. Kenning had found a ready market for his newspaper and the Freemasons reading it could enjoy, or at least aspire to, the products of Victorian consumer society.
The Grand Master attended the celebrations of the Mark Degree as John Hamill explains
History was made at the Royal Albert Hall on 26 October when the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, and the Pro Grand Master, Lord Northampton, in their Craft capacities and regalia officially attended the celebrations of another Masonic Order
The occasion was the 150th anniversary of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, of which HRH Prince Michael of Kent is Grand Master. Over 5,000 attended the ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall, but such was the call for tickets that over 600 others met in the Grand Temple at Freemasons’ Hall to watch the proceedings on giant television screens directly linked to the Albert Hall.
In addition to many Mark Masons, the ceremony was attended by non-Masons and ladies, including the Mark Grand Master’s wife, HRH Princess Michael of Kent, and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.
The latter was present as President of the National Osteoporosis Society, to which Mark Grand Lodge, as a tangible celebration of its anniversary, gave a cheque for £3 million. This is to fund a major project to provide mobile diagnostic and treatment facilities to cover areas where reasonable access to hospitals is lacking.
The ceremony also included a PowerPoint presentation on the history of the Mark Degree by Brother James Daniel (Past Grand Secretary of the Craft), the dedication of special banners for the five Lodges which had formed Mark Grand Lodge in June 1856, and a musical interlude provided by the choir of the Royal Masonic School for Girls and two gifted instrumentalists from the school.
The ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall was the culmination of a week of celebratory events including a special exhibition mounted at the Library and Museum of Freemasons’ Hall, a dinner at the Guildhall, and a reception for overseas visitors at the Drapers’ Hall.
A collection of papers was published on various aspects of the Mark by leading Masonic historians under the title Marking Well, edited by Professor Andrew Prescott, of the Centre for Research into Freemasonry at Sheffield University.
Henry Sadler was a great Victorian Mason to whom Masonic researchers owe a great deal, says David Peabody
Masonic historians are familiar with the name of Henry Sadler, but many brethren of today are unaware of the debt of gratitude that all Freemasons owe him.
Henry Sadler was born on 19th October 1840 in the Village of Shalford, Essex, just north of Braintree. Little is known of his early life, but he became a merchant mariner at the age of 15, and by 1862 he was in London, where he spent two years as a commercial traveller.
It was at this time that Sadler's connection with Freemasonry began, when he was initiated in the Lodge of Justice No. 147. In 1865 Freemasons' Hall was greatly expanded, and Sadler was employed by the Grand Secretary's office as assistant to Charles Bryant Payne, the Grand Tyler, where he assisted in the arrangements for the quarterly meetings of United Grand Lodge and Supreme Grand Chapter.
Sadler's other duties at Freemasons' Hall included that of housekeeper, for which living accommodation was provided. He would arrange the letting and the booking of rooms, and maintain the Hall in general.
The census for 1881 confirms there were 12 people listed as residents in the Hall - Sadler, his wife Elizabeth, their six children, Elizabeth's older sister Ann, a servant, Eliza, the Irish door porter Nan Stanton, and Caleb Last, the house porter.
In 1879 Sadler became Grand Tyler and Grand Janitor, in which positions he assisted in many consecrations of Lodges and Chapters, thus becoming a well-know figure in London Masonry.
About this time, Sadler began his interest in the 'doings' of our Masonic predecessors, as he referred to it. As Grand Tyler and housekeeper, he had the ideal opportunity to look through all the old bookcases and cupboards and familiarise himself with their contents. At the same time, he started to catalogue the archives and collections that he came across.
He also began to make regular contributions to the Masonic press such as The Freemason and The Freemason's Chronicle.
This enabled him to share the information that he had found, and brought him into contact with the likes of leading Masonic figures such as R.F. Gould, G.W. Speth and John Lane, thus Sadler's reputation began to grow.
However, in 1883 a calamity affected Freemasons' Hall. In early May of that year a fire broke out in the main Temple, completely gutting the roof, with the loss of the magnificent portraits of the Rulers of the Craft.
The statue of the Duke of Sussex that stood at the back of the dais was recovered and repaired. Fortunately, it had only been affected by smoke and water. A report in The Daily Telegraph and reprinted in The Freemason dated 13th May 1883, read: 'It should be added that the regalia of Grand Lodge have escaped destruction as well as the throne used on special occasions when the Prince of Wales presides.
"As to the origin of the fire, there appears to be little doubt that it was owing to a high beam which ran through a flue communicating with the kitchen of the tavern, becoming ignited.
"It is due to Bro Henry Sadler, Grand Tyler, who resides on the premises, to say that but for his early discovery of the fire the whole of the buildings would in all probability have been destroyed."
On 6th February 1986, John Hamill, then Librarian, received a letter from a Miss Florence Watt, one of Sadler's granddaughters, informing him that she had been left some photographs of the fire by her mother.
She then made a visit to the Grand Lodge Library and Museum and donated three photographs, one of which was taken after the fire. Miss Watt then recalled a story of her mother remembering being carried down the main staircase by her father on the night of the fire.
In all probability this may have been young Florence, who would have been five at the time. In the last paragraph of the letter she states: "The Sadler family had a lucky escape when the fire broke out, which incidentally my grandfather was told was caused by the builders running a beam through the chimney of the boiler that heated the Temple, and it caught fire. The Temple almost backed on to the main building, and the family had to go down the staircase which was on that side of the building."
In 1887 Sadler was appointed sub-librarian of the United Grand Lodge of England in appreciation of all the work he had carried out in preserving the records and archives of Grand Lodge. In a 1904 publication, Sadler relates his story of the origins of the Library and Museum:
"As far back as the year 1837, the desirability of establishing a Library and Museum at the headquarters of the English Craft was enunciated by John Henderson, Grand Registrar and President of the Board of General Purposes, who at the Quarterly Communication on the 6th of September in that year, proposed 'That it is expedient to form a Masonic Library and Museum in connection with Grand Lodge.
"This motion, having been duly seconded, it was: 'Resolved that it be referred to the Board of General Purposes to consider and report on the mode of forming, preserving and regulating a Masonic Library and Museum.
"John Henderson may, therefore, be fairly designated the father of the valuable collection of books and relics of the past that form so attractive a feature of the buildings in Great Queen Street."
Sadler then informs us that it was Dr Robert Crucefix, vice-president of the Board of General Purposes, who made the first donation by presenting the Library with four volumes of The Freemasons' Quarterly Review, handsomely bound.
On 27th February 1838 the Board of General Purposes made the following statement: "That a room on the ground floor be set aside for the purposes of a Masonic Museum and Library. That a sum of money not exceeding £100.00 be placed at the disposal of the Board for the purpose of providing for the reception of books, manuscripts and objects of Masonic interest, and for commencing the formation of a Library and Museum. That for the present time it will be convenient to appoint the Grand Secretaries ex-official curators of the Library and Museum."
Dr George Oliver appears to have been the next contributor to the Library, when on 28th May 1838, he presented three volumes of his well-know works.
Sadler then tells us that on 5th September: "Brother George William Turner, Past Master of Lodges 53 and 87 had presented eighty volumes of books to the Library of Grand Lodge." The Lodges have now been renumbered Strong Man No. 45 and Mount Lebanon No. 73.
It was in 1887 that Sadler published his ground-breaking work on the origins of the Antients Grand Lodge. He had already rediscovered Morgans Register, the first register and minute book of the Antients, and the Charter of Compact.
However, it was in Masonic Fact and Fiction that he finally proved that there had been no schism with the Premier Grand Lodge, and that the Antients were mainly unattached Masons from Ireland. With the publishing of Masonic Fact and Fiction, Sadler's reputation grew, and by 1907 he had published six more books and many papers and other contributions.
On his retirement as Grand Tyler and Grand Janitor in 1910, an office he held for 31 years, he was appointed the first Librarian and Curator to Grand Lodge.
Sadler was a member of many Lodges and Chapters, and in 1903 he was elected a full member of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, the premier Lodge of Masonic research, for his achievements in Masonic research, becoming Master in 1911.
Unfortunately, Sadler died on 15th October that year, and was buried in the Great Northern Cemetery, New Southgate, London.
Of all the many eulogies and written obituaries on Henry Sadler, one in particular sums up the man, and was given on 8th November 1911 by Edmund Dring.
"It is difficult on this sad occasion for one so young in years, compared to our late Master. I remember well the occasion on which I first met Bro Sadler. It was now nineteen years ago, and the brusque manner in which he chided me for an unconscious indiscretion was distasteful to me, although it was deserved.
"When, soon afterwards, I got to know him more thoroughly, I wondered however I could have resented his fraternal caution, for I quickly found that beneath his epidermis brusqueness, there was a kindliness and paternal solicitude the extreme depth of which I never fathomed.
"His writings are already historical, his life and work will become historical, but future generations will unfortunately never be able to appreciate his deep modesty, to feel his affectionate regard, or realise that in all matters of vital and most questions of Masonic interest and antiquarianism, they have lost their expositor.
"His knowledge was so far-reaching and his extreme willingness to help real students at all times so well-known, that every Brother throughout the world who was interested in Masonic history must personally mourn his loss."
David Peabody is secretary of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, the premier Lodge of Masonic research.