Freemasonry yesterday

Freemasons and their families will be familiar with Freemasonry Today, the quarterly magazine sent to all members. What they may not know is that there is a long tradition of magazines and newspapers published for a masonic audience.

These publications are important sources not only for understanding the issues within Freemasonry but for providing information about the individuals involved and the localities where lodges were based. Few complete series of these periodicals are held in libraries and they have only limited indexes.

The Library and Museum of Freemasonry based at Freemasons' Hall, Great Queen Street, London and partnered with King's College London Digital Humanities and Olive Software, has undertaken a ground breaking project to provide free access to searchable digital copies of the major English masonic publications from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries.

The major titles digitised for this project, which comprises approximately 75,000 pages, are as follows (shown with the dates of publication available digitally):

  • Freemasons' magazine: or, general and complete library (later The scientific magazine and Freemason's repository) 1793-8
  • The Freemasons' quarterly review 1834-49
  • The Freemasons' magazine and masonic mirror 1856-71
  • The Freemason 1869-1901
  • The Freemason's chronicle 1875-1901
  • Masonic illustrated: a monthly journal for freemasons 1900-1906

Access to this digital resource is free via the Resources page of the Library and Museum website and the Masonic Periodicals website.

The site also includes articles about the development of the masonic press.

 

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Carlisle masons are working on plans for what they believe will be the largest masonic exhibition ever held outside London. The nationally renowned Tullie House museum and gallery, noted for the range of its exhibitions and varied events programme, will act as host. The exhibition will run from 25 May to 7 July 2013 and show the history of Freemasonry in Carlisle in a national context.

John Beadle, Chairman of the Carlisle Group of Lodges, Provincial Grand Orator and Provincial Second Grand Principal Keith Beattie and Andrew MacKay of Tullie House have held several meetings with staff at the Library and Museum at Great Queen Street, London, to develop the exhibition plan. This includes the loan of several significant exhibits from London, including a Victorian punchbowl (above).

Just for the record

The Library and Museum website boasts a version of one of the most important compilations ever published about English lodges – and now you can contribute to its growth

In 1886, the historian John Lane published his Masonic Records – a listing of the dates, numbers and locations of all lodges established by the English Grand Lodges, from the foundation of the very first in 1717. Lane drew his information not only from the Grand Lodge’s own records but from ‘all quarters of the world’. The book was later revised to include information up to 1894.

Working with the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Sheffield, Lane’s original printed book was transferred into an electronic format and the Library and Museum has been adding information about lodges formed after 1894.

The entry for each lodge formed since then, including lodges subsequently erased, features the warrant date, number and meeting places. Soon, the Library and Museum will start to update the entries for lodges formed before 1894.

Now is your chance to help with this project – as the Director of the Library and Museum, Diane Clements, explains: ‘We have used all the resources we can find here at Freemasons’ Hall in London, including the Grand Lodge’s own records and yearbooks. If every lodge could check its own records and let us know of any discrepancies that would be really helpful.’

For lodges formed before 1894, a list (with dates) of where they have since met would help us complete this valuable research tool more quickly. You can contact us on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

The web address for Lane’s Masonic Records is www.hrionline.ac.uk/lane 

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There are a few places left for a free talk organised by the Library and Museum on Wednesday 20th March 2013 at 6pm

The speaker, Dr Audrey Carpenter, will be speaking about Desaguliers, a familiar figure in 18th century London, an important populariser of science and a key figure in the years after the formation of the Grand Lodge in 1717.

The talk will take place in the Library and Museum at 60 Great Queen Street and the event will last for about an hour.

No charge but booking is required. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Monday 18th March to book a place. All bookings will be acknowledged.

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The Library and Museum of Freemasonry’s new exhibition opens on 25th February 2013 

Encounters: Artists and Freemasonry explores individual artistic responses to the values of Freemasonry and its legendary history, its symbolism and stories over the last three centuries.

Drawing on the collections of the Library and Museum and with examples from across Europe, this exhibition includes the work of William Hogarth from the 1700s, the photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn from the 20th century and the Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha. There are also examples of the work of contemporary artists.

The exhibition is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm, from Monday 25th February to Friday 20th September 2013.

Admission free.

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Details of the 150 oil paintings in the collection at Freemasons' Hall in Great Queen Street are now available online as part of a joint project between the Public Catalogue Foundation and the BBC to put on line all the oil paintings in the UK. More than 200,000 paintings at 3,000 venues across the UK are to be included.

Freemasons' Hall is just one of many institutions (including many Oxford and Cambridge colleges) that are not in public ownership which have joined the project for the benefit of wider public awareness and research. For more information see: www.bbc.co.uk/yourpaintings You can search for the Library and Musuem of Freemasonry as a venue to see all the paintings at Great Queen Street.

The Library and Museum of Freemasonry has been working with the Public Catalogue Foundation for the last two years to have all the pictures photographed and to provide details of the artists.

Amongst the pictures shown is this one showing the interior of the Grand Temple in 1869 with the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) shown alongside the Grand Master, the Earl of Zetland. Several of the other pictures are of unknown freemasons so if you have any suggestions of who the sitter might be then please get in touch with the Library and Museum on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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With visitors invited to explore Freemasons’ Hall, director of the Library and Museum Diane Clements explains to Caitlin Davies how this is leading to greater transparency

Covent Garden is one of London’s tourist hot spots and this sunny Saturday in September is no exception. The area is crowded with people sightseeing, shopping and visiting bars. But at the end of Long Acre, where it meets the corner of Great Queen Street, is another city attraction altogether. It’s a large, almost monumental, stone building with little to identify its purpose to those who don’t know.

Come a little closer, however, and a plaque states it was opened in 1933 by Field Marshall HRH The Duke of Connaught, Knight of the Garter and Most Worshipful Grand Master. This is Freemasons’ Hall and today it sports a welcoming sign as part of the annual celebration of the capital’s architecture – ‘Open House London’. Now in its twentieth year, the scheme has seven hundred and fifty buildings opening their doors for free, from iconic landmarks to private homes. A steady stream of people head through the Tower entrance to Freemasons’ Hall, where a steward hands out a leaflet. ‘Welcome to Freemasons’ Hall,’ he says. ‘It’s a self-guided tour.’ ‘People often walk or cycle past and have never been in,’ says Diane Clements, who is overseeing today’s proceedings and is director of the Library and Museum of Freemasonry. ‘People don’t know what they’re going to see – there is a sense of amazement when they get inside, the building is far more elaborate than you might think. The fact that they can come in shows how open we are and helps address misconceptions about Freemasonry.’ Diane has run the Library and Museum for thirteen years, and relishes the opportunity to work with a world-class collection of objects that have interesting stories to tell. ‘The public has a continuing desire to learn about Freemasonry. I’d like to think the Library and Museum has played a part in improving their understanding.’

Wandering at will

Each year thirty thousand people visit the Library and Museum, and most come for organised tours of the Grand Temple. Freemasons’ Hall has taken part in Open House London since 2000 and the logistics of running the event are considerable. ‘For Open House we couldn’t get enough people through the doors using our usual guided method,’ explains Diane, ‘so it’s the only time you are basically given a leaflet and left to look around.’ Her role is to make sure that the two thousand, five hundred visitors on Open Day have ‘an enjoyable and informative visit’, and over the years she’s learnt to always ‘wear comfortable shoes’.

On the right of the cloakroom a sign shows visitors where to start, then there’s a murmur of voices and creaking of knees as people go up the stairs. The building has a library feel to it, but this changes in the first vestibule, which is flooded with glorious yellow light reflected from the stained glass windows. A man crouches to take a picture of a small golden figure, part of the shrine designed by Walter Gilbert. Meanwhile, a woman from West Sussex says she wasn’t sure what to expect: ‘My dad is in a lodge and I always thought he just meant he went to a room somewhere. But it’s fantastic. It’s really beautiful.’ Another visitor, Dermot, just happened to walk past this afternoon. And what did he imagine was inside? ‘That’s the thing,’ he replies, ‘I didn’t know what to expect.’ For a lot of people it is curiosity that has brought them here today.

Fielding questions

‘All our buildings are chosen for the quality of their architecture, that’s our criteria,’ explains Victoria Thornton, director of Open-City, which runs Open House London. ‘Some, like Freemasons’ Hall, may have a quiet façade, behind which lies real exuberance.’

In the second vestibule, steward Peter Martin is presiding over a table of free literature and says the event is even busier than last year. Eric from Kent has been to several Open House events today. ‘I started at Lloyds and worked my way along Fleet Street. I’ve seen Unilever and Doctor Johnson’s house… the stained glass is awesome here.’

The question of gender is a popular one. In the third vestibule a woman asks a steward if only men can join Freemasonry. He explains women can join one of two Grand Lodges in England, but they are not allowed in the men’s Grand Temple, and vice versa.

In the Grand Temple there are fold-down seats like a theatre and it’s here that many visitors take the opportunity for a rest. Voices are respectfully hushed. ‘It is contemplative,’ says Diane. ‘There’s never a huge noise in here. It’s not like the Sistine Chapel – we don’t have to say “Quiet please.”’ One steward answers a barrage of questions about rituals and pledges. ‘Is it true the Queen is a Freemason?’ asks one visitor. The answer is no.

An outside walkway leads to the Library and Museum where an exhibition traces the relationship between Freemasonry and sport. The tour ends at the exit on Great Queen Street, where members arrive for their lodge meetings and are watched with interest by departing visitors, one of whom takes a final snap.

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When craft becomes art

Artists have been associated with Freemasonry since the 18th century. For some, Freemasons and their lodges were a useful source of patronage, while others responded to the values of Freemasonry and its legendary history, incorporating its symbolism and stories in the art they produced. Drawing on the collections of the Library and Museum and with examples from across Europe, an exhibition at Freemasons’ Hall will explore those individual artistic responses.

William Hogarth and Alvin Langdon Coburn looked at Freemasonry within their established fields of satirical prints and photography, respectively. Many artistic styles and media across three centuries are featured, including examples of contemporary artists.

Sir James Thornhill, Hogarth’s father-in-law and the leading decorative painter of the early 1700s, was a keen Freemason. His artistic work includes the frontispiece for the 1725 engraved list of lodges. It was engraved by John Pine and Thornhill’s design shows an architect with a set of building plans that he is showing to a king, clearly a reference to masonic ceremonies.

Alphonse Mucha was a Czech artist whose poster and advertisement designs frequently featured young women in flowing robes, and were typical of the Art Nouveau style of the late 1800s. In the 1920s he designed the jewels for the then newly formed Grand Lodge of Czechoslovakia.

The exhibition is open from 25 February 2013 to 20 September 2013 and admission is free

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The name Teddy Baldock is enshrined in the record books as Britain's youngest ever world boxing champion. Born in Poplar on May 23rd, 1907, boxing was in his blood, his grandfather having been a bare-knuckle fighter. At the tender age of 13 Baldock turned professional, his brilliant boxing skills and colourful style saw him rise to be a top liner at the Royal Albert Hall. After a successful trip to America where the young Englishman took part in 12 contests within 3 months, winning 11 and drawing 1, the popular fighter was offered the chance to fight for the then-vacant world bantamweight title.

At 19 Teddy Baldock defeated American Archie Bell at the Royal Albert Hall for the world championship, in one of the greatest bouts between boxing's little men. His continued success helped secure his place as a British sporting idol, the Prince of Wales being one of his avid supporters. He went on to capture British, European and Commonwealth honours.

In 1929 he was initiated into the Cosmopolitan Lodge No. 917, Mark Masons Hall, London.

Unfortunately at the age of 24, and after a distinguished career of over 80 contests with only 5 losses, Baldock was forced to retire due to injuries he had sustained in the ring. He remained a hero in the East End of London long after his heyday. His wedding commanded front page news in a number of national newspapers and was filmed by no less than 3 news companies including Pathe and Movietone.

Tragically in 1971 Teddy Baldock died penniless. Without the discipline of the sport he had acquired a taste for the "good life", drinking and gambling accounting for much of his earnings. The bombing of London during World War 2 also destroyed a number of properties in which he had invested.

On the 8th March his ashes were interred in the Garden of Remembrance at Southend Crematorium. The man who had thrilled packed boxing arenas with his noble art was completely forgotten - until now.

Teddy Baldock's Grandson, Martin Sax, a former Colour Sergeant in the Royal Marines, recently co-wrote and published his grandfather's life story, Teddy Baldock - The Pride of Poplar. Since the success of the book he has started The Teddy Baldock Sports Benevolent Fund, registered charity no. 1146653, which was set up to assist people who have been severely injured in sport and to offer disadvantaged youths an opportunity to get involved in sport.

A life-size bronze statue has also been commissioned, to be erected outside the Langdon Park DLR Station, Poplar, East London, only yards from where Teddy Baldock grew up. This is in conjunction with the development of the new state-of-the-art Spotlight Youth Centre which aims to provide opportunities for local young people and help tackle some of their problems, including training and education needs, teenage pregnancy, obesity, substance abuse and gang violence. It is hoped that as well as promoting the charity, the statue will act as an inspiration to the local youth as well as commemorating the achievements of a local hero and Britain's youngest ever world boxing champion.

Teddy Baldock currently features in the exhibition Game, Set and Lodge: Freemasons and Sport held at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry in London from July – December 2012.

If you are interested in supporting the charity including the statue project, further details can be found at the Big Give website www.thebiggive.org.uk or by contacting Teddy's grandson, Martin via the website www.teddybaldock.co.uk

 

On the 28th May 2012, W Bro Terence Osborne Haunch celebrated 70 years of being a mason

The occasion was marked by a lunch at the Longmynd Hotel, Church Stretton where Terry was presented with not one but two 70 year Certificates. The forty guests, including five present and past Provincial Grand Masters, heard of a remarkable man and a Masonic journey which led him to a career at Grand Lodge.

RW Bro Robin Wilson, Provincial Grand Master of Nottinghamshire, into whose Province WBro Terry was initiated in 1942, presented their certificate first. RW Bro Peter Taylor, Provincial Grand Master of Shropshire then presented a certificate on behalf of the Province to which Terry moved in 1996.  He then detailed Terry’s extensive Masonic career including the many Orders of which he is a member, and remembered his time as a Prestonian Lecturer.

Terry was initiated into Vernon Lodge No.1802 together with his brother Douglas in the midst of the Second World War. He soon found himself on a troop-ship ending up in Khartoum.   It was there three years later that Major TO Haunch, following a conversation with a brother officer and Mason, took his 2nd and 3rd degrees.    Terry recalled trying to give proofs that he had been initiated and luckily still had the receipt of his dues to Vernon Lodge which his father sensibly suggested he take with him just in case!

After the war Terry qualified as an Architect and worked in local government.  A big change beckoned and in 1966 his place of employment became Great Queen Street.  After 6 years as Assistant Librarian Terry was appointed Grand Lodge Librarian and Curator of the Museum where he distinguished himself for ten years until his retirement in 1983.

W Bro Terry moved to Church Stretton in 1996 to be near his family.  His brother lived next door to W Bro Frank Stewart, a member of Caer Caradoc Lodge and Chapter No 6346, and not long afterwards Terry found himself a joining member of both.  He is also a member of the Shropshire Installed Masters Lodge No.6262.  Terry’s academic background did not go unnoticed and he soon became a mainstay “lecturer” around the Province and beyond, especially in demand to give talks when a Lodge or Chapter did not have a Candidate.  What a privilege it was to hear those talks because the range and depth of Terry’s Masonic knowledge is profound. Visitors to his house were also aware that Terry keeps his own not inconsiderable Masonic library there, and he has been a constant source of information, encouragement and advice to Shropshire’s Masons ever since his arrival there.

Now 94 years of age, Terry has understandably had to curtail his Masonic activities somewhat but he remains in reasonable health and we hope for many more years of his fellowship and perhaps another certificate!

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