The RMBI's origins on stage
Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire Province’s demonstration team has produced a play that portrays how the RMBI came to be. The wrangling between the Grand Master, The Duke of Sussex (who had decided on an annuity) and Dr Robert Crucefix (who wanted to provide an Asylum for Worthy, Aged and Distressed Freemasons) has been condensed into a play called ‘In the Beginning’.
The 50-minute drama covers a series of events over a 20-year period.
Out of the shadows
As the Royal Arch marks two hundred years of recognition, Second Grand Principal George Francis explains its evolution and sometimes complex relationship with the Craft
What is the Royal Arch?
It’s a difficult concept to explain, even to a mason. Part of the problem is that the Royal Arch developed in a way that has been forgotten. The main idea goes back to the sixteenth century, if not before. Around the Tudor period there was Freemasonry which had come from the stonemasons, and the Royal Arch was the first attempt to branch off and do something extra. We have to be careful not to call the Royal Arch the ‘Fourth Degree’; that’s just one way to explain it to an outsider, but it is a completion of the Three Degrees. It gives you new insights and is the culmination of the first lessons and meanings – it completes the journey.
The Royal Arch dates back to the 1700s. Why is the bicentenary in 2013?
The people who started Grand Lodge in 1717 decided they were not going to include the Royal Arch and were going to stick to the main idea, or trunk. That’s really the start of the story, before then it’s all speculative. By 1750, another group who were also part of the main trunk said this isn’t quite how Freemasonry ought to be, that the Royal Arch was absolutely essential, so they were going to split off and do things differently. Suddenly two Grand Lodges were operating side by side and they gave one another inappropriate nicknames. The newer Grand Lodge members called themselves ‘the Antients’ (as they felt they were the real keepers of the flame) and called the other Grand Lodge ‘the Moderns’ – even though the Moderns had actually been established earlier. So you had this slight friction between them and they trundled along rather uneasily side by side.
How did the happen?
Eventually both lodges decided the situation was counter-productive and that they should join up. The Duke of Sussex was the main mover in this, heading up the Moderns, and the leader of the Antients was his brother, the Duke of Kent, who insisted that the combined organisation must have the Royal Arch as part of the journey. It wasn’t until 1813 that the Royal Arch became a formal part of the structure.
What else did the Duke of Sussex do?
One point the Duke of Sussex stipulated at the was that we should all wear the same regalia, and also that we were to use the same rituals and words. The second part never quite happened, so there are still differences in the rituals and wording used by different lodges. However, we’re greatly indebted to the Duke of Sussex; he was an interesting person and very left wing for a royal prince – he was anti-slavery, pro-Catholic (although not one himself) and pro-Jewish. These things were rather unfashionable at the time. He was very much a figurehead for the Whigs and people who wanted change. The Duke of Sussex was the one who said we are not going to be just Christian in the Freemasons, we’ll allow everybody in as long as they believe in God.
What’s the difference between the Craft and the Royal Arch?
We call the three main degrees, which have adopted the colour blue, the ‘Craft’ and we call members ‘brothers’ and ‘brethren’. Even the female masons call one another brother. In the Royal Arch, you become ‘companions’. You’ve made that additional step, you’re taking it a bit more seriously, so there’s a different atmosphere – it’s more intimate, you’re more closely linked. We meet up in chapters and have adopted the colour red as well as blue. It’s very much an eighteenth-century idea of a harmonious society.
Is the Royal Arch more complicated?
I try to get people to realise that you don’t have to understand everything that’s going on, you just have to enjoy it. There are interesting ideas and stories – some of it’s quite deep – but you don’t have to comprehend every single part. It’s quite fun exploring and finding out these things slowly. You’ve got to enjoy time with people, enjoy doing a bit of acting, listening to stories and maybe understanding something you didn’t understand before. That’s what it’s about really, doing things together.
Are more Freemasons coming to the Royal Arch?
Around forty per cent of Craft masons are in the Royal Arch and it’s a shame that it isn’t more.
Clearly there are some who really don’t want to go into the deeper meanings, which is fine because Freemasonry should appeal on different levels. But what I’m trying to express to the Craft is that you should really complete the journey, it’s not that much more time or expense and you’ll really enjoy it.
It completes the circle of understanding and the basic journey. This way of thinking is having some effect and our proportion of Craft masons is gradually rising.
How can you improve recruitment?
The problem is that when you come to Freemasonry, the Royal Arch is not explained because it’s difficult to describe. It sometimes doesn’t get mentioned until quite late on – someone might have been in masonry a couple of years before they come across it. We’re trying to change the perception that it’s just an optional extra and make sure that it’s explained at the outset. We thought at one stage we might go back to a Fourth Degree idea so everyone would be involved. It would be free of charge and there wouldn’t be any reason for not doing it. But the Royal Arch is slightly different so it shouldn’t really be an automatic stage; people ought to think about it, and we’re hoping the bicentenary will help to explain that.
What are you trying to achieve with the bicentenary appeal?
The Bicentenary Appeal is about three things: formal recognition, an appeal and an excuse for a party.
We added the appeal idea so we would have a legacy of our celebration, one that adds to the Fund we created in 1967 for the benefit of the Royal College of Surgeons. We’ve ninety thousand members in England and Wales and ten thousand abroad, and it is important when you’ve got such a big organisation to continue to show members what can be done, to not just sit back and do more of the same.
What do you do as the Second Grand Principal?
My role was traditionally carried out by the Deputy Grand Master but for various reasons the roles got split a number of years ago. It means that I can concentrate on the Royal Arch. I try to visit all forty-six Provinces as well as the Metropolitan Area of London and explain what’s happening at the centre, what the challenges are for the future and encourage our members generally. It’s an opportunity to speak to the Provinces on a different level and not just go through the motions.
Is the Royal Arch changing?
We try to alter the ritual as little as possible because it’s something that people have to learn by heart – you can’t keep changing it all the time. But part of my job is to find the things that we can improve to make it more enjoyable and exciting. My job is to also get the message out there that this is for younger chaps, too, and that we can add a bit more colour and a little less formality.
Find out about the discovery of an old manuscript that could reveal crucial elements about Royal Arch ritual here.
Something old, something new
The discovery of an old manuscript could reveal elements about Royal Arch ritual that have remained hidden for almost two centuries, as John Hamill discovers
As we prepare to celebrate the bicentenary of the acceptance by the whole Craft of the Royal Arch as being both an integral part and the completion of ‘pure ancient masonry’, a significant discovery has been made about the development of Royal Arch ritual.
In a large box full of old files and papers, in a strongroom at Freemasons’ Hall, was found a packet containing a slim, foolscap-size volume, bound in red leather with a Royal Arch symbol blocked in gold on its cover. Bound into it were fourteen sheets of paper closely written on both sides.
What immediately caught the eye at the top of the first page was the word ‘Approved’, followed by the florid signature of HRH Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, First Grand Principal 1810-1843, and the letters GMZ. The letters stand for Grand Master Zerubbabel, an alternative title for the First Grand Principal in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. At the foot of many of the pages the Duke’s initials appear, followed by the letters GMZ, and on the last page he had written ‘Approved. Newstead Abbey Nottingham November 2 1834’, followed by his full signature.
Newstead Abbey, once the family home of the poet Lord Byron, had been sold to Colonel Thomas Wildman, Provincial Grand Master for Nottinghamshire 1823-1859, and the Duke of Sussex was staying there as his guest.
The manuscript proved to be an introduction covering the testing of a candidate for membership of the Royal Arch and the ritual for the opening of a chapter, the admission of a new companion (including the Principals’ lectures) and the closing of the chapter. Having been approved and signed by the Duke of Sussex, it leaves no reason to doubt that the manuscript was the work of a special committee he set up in 1834 to establish what were the ceremonies of the Royal Arch. And herein hangs a tale.
Striving for unity
In 1813 the original Grand Chapter gave its First Grand Principal, the Duke of Sussex, full authority to make whatever arrangements he deemed necessary and proper for the Royal Arch once the of the two Grand Lodges had taken place.
The Grand Chapter did not meet again until 1817 – I suspect because the Duke was concentrating all of his efforts on ensuring that the Grand Lodge was successful – but its administrative officers continued to keep in contact with its chapters, who continued sending in their returns and their fees.
The so-called Antients Grand Chapter, which had never been more than a committee of qualified members of the Antients Grand Lodge, ceased to exist once the Craft was achieved, but its former lodges continued to work the Royal Arch as part of their lodge business.
In 1817, the Duke of Sussex summoned the original Grand Chapter and the members of the Antients’ former Royal Arch and ‘united’ them into the United Grand Chapter, a name that lasted a very few years until the present title of Supreme Grand Chapter was adopted. The administrative links between the Craft and Royal Arch were put into place but little else was done.
In 1834, there being some doubt as to what the proper ceremonies were, the Duke of Sussex set up a special committee to investigate and recommend to the Grand Chapter what they should be. This they did and their deliberations were approved by both the Duke and the Grand Chapter. It was ordered that they should be adopted by all of the chapters then in existence and those that might come into being in the future.
‘had it been known that the Grand Chapter had a written version of the agreed 1834 ritual, a fine storm would have ensued’
The special committee was given a time-limited charter as the Chapter of Promulgation, its remit being to give demonstrations of the ceremonies in London to which chapters were invited to send representatives. Therein lies the possible reason why this manuscript disappeared from view for so long.
At that time, ritual was passed on by rote and it was a heinous masonic crime to write down or print ritual material. Indeed, a number of characters, such as William Finch and George Claret, were charged with breaking their obligations by printing portions of the ritual or catechetical lectures. Were it to have become known that the Grand Chapter had a written version of the agreed 1834 ritual, a fine storm would have ensued.
With the seeming absence of any formal record of the special committee’s 1834 instructions, a certain degree of mythology has grown up. The discovery of this manuscript will enable us to establish what did happen and will greatly increase our knowledge of how Royal Arch ritual developed.
The Royal connection
With members of the Royal Family carrying out a vital role in Freemasonry, John Hamill counts the line of princes and dukes who have played their part over the past three hundred years
This year, the nation rightly celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen, but there is another significant royal and masonic anniversary of which many of the Craft may not be aware. It was the two hundred and seventy-fifth anniversary of the initiation of HRH Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales, the first member of the English Royal Freemasons, on 5 November 2012. The eldest son of King George II, Frederick Lewis did not come to the throne, as he died in 1751 at the early age of forty-four. This was some nine years before the death of his father, who was succeeded by Frederick Lewis’s son George, who went on to reign for sixty years as King George III.
Frederick Lewis was made a Freemason in what was termed an ‘occasional’ lodge, presided over by the Reverend Doctor JT Desaguliers, Grand Master in 1737. In the fashion of the day, the prince was made both an Entered Apprentice and a Fellowcraft at the meeting. A month later, another occasional lodge was held and he became a Master Mason. Due to lack of records for the period, we have no information as to what Frederick Lewis did in Freemasonry, other than that in 1738 he was Master of a Lodge. We know this because in the same year, the Reverend Doctor James Anderson published the second edition of The Constitutions of the Free Masons, which has a wonderfully flowery dedication to the prince ‘now a Master Mason and Master of a Lodge’.
It would be interesting to speculate if Frederick Lewis discussed Freemasonry within his family, for one of his brothers and three of his sons went on to become Freemasons. The youngest of his sons, Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland (1745-1790), had rapid promotions. He was initiated at an occasional lodge on 9 February 1767; was installed as Master of the Horn Lodge in April 1767 and in the same month elected a Past Grand Master of the premier Grand Lodge. In 1782 he became our first Royal Grand Master and held that office until his untimely death in 1790. He was also the first Royal Brother to enter the Royal Arch, being exalted in the Grand Chapter in 1772 and was its Grand Patron from 1774 until his death.
Henry Frederick introduced the next generation of royalty to the fraternity, with sons of King George III becoming Freemasons. Three of them went on to serve as Grand Master: George, Prince of Wales (later Prince Regent and King George IV) succeeded his uncle as Grand Master in 1791 and served until he became Prince Regent in 1812, when he was succeeded by his younger brother Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex. At the same time, their brother Edward, Duke of Kent, became Grand Master of the Antients Grand Lodge.
With two royal brothers at their head in 1813, the two Grand Lodges came together as the United Grand Lodge of England, with the Duke of Sussex as Grand Master. Sussex was determined that the would succeed, and put in place a number of procedures that today still form the basis of the government of the English Craft and Royal Arch.
The death of the Duke of Sussex in 1843 marked a twenty-five-year period without royal participation for the simple reason that – with the exception of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert – there were no princes of an age to join. That situation was happily rectified in 1868 when the then Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) became a Freemason on a visit to Sweden. In 1869 he was elected a Past Grand Master and in 1874 became Grand Master, holding office until he came to the throne in 1901 when he took the title of Protector of Freemasonry.
The Prince of Wales was soon joined by two of his brothers, the Duke of Connaught and the Duke of Albany, and brought in his son, the Duke of Clarence. The Duke of Connaught succeeded his brother as Grand Master in 1901 and was to be an active ruler until 1939. He was supported by his son Prince Arthur and by his great nephews, the then Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII and Duke of Windsor); the Duke of York (later King George VI); and the Duke of Kent, father of our present Grand Master. The Duke of Kent succeeded as Grand Master in 1939 but his rule was cut cruelly short when he was killed in an RAF air crash in 1942.
Today, English Freemasonry is fortunate to still have Royal support. HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh became a Master Mason in Navy Lodge, No. 2612, of which he is still a subscribing member. HRH The Duke of Kent has been our Grand Master since 1967 and his wise counsel and great support in what has been a turbulent time for English Freemasonry, have been invaluable. His brother HRH Prince Michael of Kent has given long service as both Provincial Grand Master for Middlesex in the Craft and as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons.
To look back on two hundred and seventy-five years of Royal support is a wonderful sight and something that English Freemasons hope will continue long into the future.
Today the formation of a Grand Chapter would be widely reported. As John Hamill explains, such was not the case for the Excellent Grand and Royal Arch Chapter of England
As I wrote in the last issue of Freemasonry Today, the Royal Arch was brought into being by the signing of the document now know as the Charter of Compact on 22 July 1766, although the date was later tampered with. Strangely, there is no mention of that charter within the minutes of the chapter, which turned itself into the Grand Chapter. So exactly how did events pan out?
1765: The signing of a manifesto
On 12 June 1765, a group of twenty-nine companions met at the Turk’s Head Tavern in Gerrard Street, Soho and signed a manifesto by which they constituted themselves into an independent Chapter of Royal Arch Masons. The manifesto – a set of rules to govern the operation of the chapter – was copied into the minute book in an illuminated style and was signed by those present and then by every brother on his exaltation within the chapter.
1766: Grand Chapter catalyst
Among those who joined were many of the major figures then involved in the running of the premier Grand Lodge. Exactly a year after its formation, the success of the chapter was crowned by the candidate at the meeting on 11 June 1766 being the then Grand Master – Cadwallader, Lord Blayney. It would appear that this event was the catalyst for the formation of a Grand Chapter, although the minutes are silent on this matter, any discussion of the Charter of Compact, or even to its signing. The only reference in the minute book is in the accounts where it is noted that a Mr Parkinson was paid two guineas for engrossing the charter.
1769: Just a private chapter?
The chapter continued to work as a private chapter, regularly exalting new members and it is not until 1769 that the minutes begin to show evidence of it acting as a Grand Chapter. In that year it began to issue charters to form new chapters. Of these foundations five are still in existence today. It would appear from the minute books that the chapter continued a dual role as both a private chapter and a Grand Chapter until it evolved into Supreme Grand Chapter in 1817. From 1795 it began to function on a regular basis as we would expect today.
1778: Spreading the message
In 1778, the chapter began to organise Provinces with the appointment of Grand Superintendents, whose main function appears to have been to stimulate the formation of new chapters. Thomas Dunckerley, who did so much to promote the Royal Arch in the late eighteenth century between 1778 and his death in 1795, was appointed Grand Superintendent in no less than eighteen counties.
1795: Grand Lodge softening
Despite many of its leaders being involved in the Grand Chapter, the premier Grand Lodge consistently refused to acknowledge the Royal Arch as part of its system. By 1795 that attitude had softened and the premier Grand Lodge announced, rather condescendingly, that it had no objections to the Royal Arch as a separately organised society.
1809: Royal Arch an integral part
With HRH The Duke of Sussex becoming both Grand Master of the premier Grand Lodge and First Grand Principal of the Grand Chapter, the latter body gave him full powers to negotiate on their behalf whatever settlement could be achieved as to the position of the Royal Arch, once the of the two Grand Lodges had been carried through. It was as a result of that, and his position as Grand Master, that a compromise was achieved and the Royal Arch was accepted as an integral part of pure antient masonry.
1817: Birth of the Supreme Grand Chapter
The Grand Chapter continued to exist until 1817 when, with the Craft arrangements being almost completed, The Duke of Sussex turned his mind to the Royal Arch. The Grand and Royal Chapter merged with the former members of the Antients Royal Arch, with the Supreme Grand Chapter coming into being. Surprisingly after 1817, the dual nature of the original Grand Chapter – acting both as a regulatory body and a private chapter – continued with men of eminence being exalted within the Grand Chapter itself.
1832: Last exaltations
The last occasion the Grand Chapter acted as both regulator and private chapter was in May 1832 when the Marquis of Salisbury, the Marquis of Abercorn and Lord Monson were exalted at an emergency meeting of Grand Chapter.
13 June 2012
An address by RW Bro Dr JW Daniel, PJGW
MW Pro Grand Master, Distinguished Visitors, and Brethren
The last year in which the loyal freemasons of the English Constitution had occasion to celebrate a royal diamond jubilee was 1897. You will recall, however, that in the Charge after Initiation we are enjoined
'to be exemplary in the discharge of our civil duties…above all, by never losing sight of the allegiance due to the Sovereign of our native land…'
Of course, we demonstrate that allegiance at every masonic banquet when we honour the loyal toast to ‘The Queen’ – indeed, I doubt if there is any other organisation in Her Majesty’s dominions that has drunk her health more often over the last 60 years. But there have been no greater expressions of the English Craft’s allegiance and loyalty to the sovereign of its native land than at the two ‘Special Meetings’ of this Grand Lodge held in 1887 and 1897 to commemorate the golden and diamond jubilees of Queen Victoria, two of the largest Masonic meetings ever held in England. Both were held in the Royal Albert Hall, and the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) presided over both as Grand Master, yet neither is (yet?) included in the list of ‘Outstanding Masonic Events’ in the Masonic Year Book, and little has been said or written about them since. So, in this address of between 15 and 20 minutes, I will attempt to repair that loss, taking as my theme ‘Royal Jubilees and Loyal Freemasons’
First, though, the ‘back story’.
When HRH Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, was elected Grand Master in 1874, the close connection with the British Royal Family that had been broken with the death of HRH The Duke of Sussex, the Grand Master, in 1843, was restored. The Duke of Sussex and his brother, the Duke of Kent (sons of King George III), had supervised the of the two English Grand Lodges in 1813; the Duke of Kent was the father of Queen Victoria, and when he died, the Duke of Sussex gave her away at her marriage to Prince Albert, and Prince Albert Edward was the first of their four sons.
Although Prince Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales, had been a Freemason since his initiation in Sweden in 1868, and had been appointed as a Past Grand Master of the UGLE a year later, it was almost as an afterthought that he was formally offered the Grand Mastership in 1874 after the resignation of the Marquess of Ripon on his conversion to Roman Catholicism. I suspect that it was somewhat to the surprise of the Earl of Carnarvon, the Deputy Grand Master, that the Prince accepted the offer. However, the Prince immediately appointed Lord Carnarvon as his Pro Grand Master, and the earl then installed him as Grand Master in the Royal Albert Hall in April 1875 at a meeting which thousands of Freemasons attended.
In his address to the Prince Lord Carnarvon emphasised what he saw as the key aspect and value of ‘English’ freemasonry, namely its alliance with
‘social order and the great institutions of the country, and, above all, with the monarchy, the crowning institution of all.’
That was the first sound of the theme of loyalty that was to be heard ever more clearly and frequently as the Queen’s reign and the Grand Mastership of her son continued. Lord Carnarvon also claimed that Freemasonry’s ‘works of sympathy and charity’ had earned it ‘respect even in the eyes of the outer world’. And for his part the newly installed Grand Master added that
as long as Freemasons do not, as Freemasons, mix themselves up in politics so long I am sure this high and noble order will flourish, and will maintain the integrity of our great empire.
The Times described the event as a ‘gathering unequalled alike in the numbers and social status of those who took part in it’, representing ‘the largest association of English gentlemen’, an event that marked out the difference between freemasonry as practised in England, with its ‘solemn protestation of its loyal, religious, and charitable principles’, and continental freemasonry where it was ‘quite possible that under the pressure of past tyranny Freemasonry was really used…as a means of revolutionary agitation.’ Indeed, the favourable press the Craft then received as ‘a perfectly innocuous, loyal and virtuous Association’, constituted a high-water mark in the public recognition of ‘English’ freemasonry at the outset of the last quarter of the nineteenth century.
The Prince of Wales thus got off to a flying start as Grand Master. He was the head of an ancient and well respected institution that was perceived to be socially useful and, above all, loyal to the monarchy that crowned the largest empire the world had ever seen and over which he would eventually preside. The Empire was still growing apace and the Craft under the English, Irish and Scottish Grand Lodges grew with it. At every Masonic function throughout the Empire, Freemasons drank the Queen’s health. Even in the Dominion of Canada and the colony of South Australia, where the majority of the British lodges had broken away to form their own Grand Lodges, their new Grand Lodges insisted that they remained loyal to the British Crown.
Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in June 1887 provided just the right context for the celebration of the renewed close relationship between the Royal family and the Craft. The major event was to be a ‘Special Meeting’ of Grand Lodge, at the Royal Albert Hall, to move a loyal Address to the Queen, but two additional ideas were put forward early in that jubilee year, only to fade away in the following months.
First, the Prince of Wales, with the Queen’s approval, decided in 1886 that the nation should commemorate the jubilee by erecting the ‘Imperial Institute of the United Kingdom, the Colonies, and India’, and he called on institutions and individuals to subscribe to the Fund he had set up for that purpose. So in January 1887, Lord Carnarvon, the Pro Grand Master, dutifully wrote to each lodge under the English Constitution to ask it to consider his suggestion that it make a voluntary subscription to the Fund of not more than a guinea per head (about £85 in today’s money). Although he announced in April that the initial response was largely in favour of the idea, and the intended Masonic collection was then announced in The Times on 25 April, the amount actually collected appears to have been so insignificant that the Masonic contribution received no further mention either in Grand Lodge - or indeed at the Albert Hall meeting, the proceeds of which were donated to the Masonic charities rather than to the Imperial Institute.
The second idea was more imaginative but had an even shorter life. At the March Quarterly Communication the Master of Mizpah Lodge moved that
'to perpetuate the memory of the Jubilee…it be resolved that the Grand Lodge of England do prepare forthwith a Foundation Stone…to be ultimately placed, if possible, upon the ground in or near the original site of King Solomon’s Temple…and that the rebuilding of the said Temple as a “House of Prayer for all Nations” shall be proceeded with as soon as necessary funds be provided.'
Although the proposer claimed that the expense to Grand Lodge would be but £25, and despite his argument that Queen Victoria was ‘quite equal in glory to King Solomon’, the minutes of the meeting record that ‘The motion not being seconded fell to the ground.’ On the other hand, and to support needy regalia manufacturers, Grand Lodge then proceeded to carry the motion ‘That Past Masters be entitled to wear a distinctive Collar.’
Thousands of Freemasons attended the Special Meeting on 13 June 1887. The Prince of Wales presided as Grand Master. At his side sat his younger brother, the Duke of Connaught (the Provincial Grand Master for Sussex and the District Grand Master for Bombay, and whom he had also appointed as a Past Grand Master). The Senior Warden was none other than the Grand Master’s eldest son, Prince Albert Victor. His Highness the Maharaja of Kuch-Behar added imperial lustre to the occasion, and the wider universality of the Craft was demonstrated by deputations from the Irish and Scottish Grand Lodges, a Past DepGM from New York City, a general from Hawaii, and a bishop representing the Grand Lodge of British Columbia. In opening the proceedings the Grand Master reminded the brethren that ‘Loyalty and Philanthropy’ were two of the Craft’s proudest tenets. He then invited the Grand Secretary to read the proposed Address, and, as this extract will show, loyalty was its keynote:
We, your Majesty’s most loyal and faithful subjects…most respectfully desire…to assure your Majesty of our fervent and unabated attachment to your Throne and Royal person. Founded as our ancient Institution is on principles of unswerving loyalty to our Sovereign and fidelity to our country, we rejoice to think that the great increase of our Order in all parts of your Majesty’s Dominions is in unison with the welfare of the nation and the maintenance of the established Institutions of the land…
In moving the motion, the Pro Grand Master, Lord Carnarvon, declared that
'in English Freemasonry order and law and loyalty to our Sovereign are the pillars of our ancient Institution'.
He reminded the audience that the Queen was ‘the daughter of a Freemason, that her uncles had been in Freemasonry, that her Royal sons are Freemasons, and that she has a Grandson in the Order’, and he repeated the claim that of all her subjects ‘there are none who are animated with more heartfelt loyal devotedness to her Throne than the Freemasons of England.’ The Address was adopted ‘unanimously amidst loud cheering’. Having signed it, the Grand Master ‘called on the Brethren for three cheers for Her Majesty’ and then joined in the singing of all three verses of the National Anthem, led by the Grand Organist, none other than ‘Brother Sir Arthur Sullivan.’ A Golden Jubilee Jewel had already been commissioned for all members of the Craft at the time of the celebration, and, in further support of my theory that Craft was designed by and for regalia manufacturers, the Grand Master ended the jubilee celebration by appointing and investing about 100 ‘deserving Brethren’ with Past Grand ranks.
When the ‘loyal and dutiful’ Address was eventually presented to the Queen at Osborne on 2 August 1887 by a deputation from Grand Lodge, led by the Prince of Wales, she received it with pleasure and commented:
I observe that the Society of Freemasons increases in numbers and prosperity in proportion as the wealth and civilization of my Empire increases. I heartily appreciate the charitable efforts which have always distinguished your Society. I thank you sincerely for your affectionate devotion to my throne and person.
And just to round off a remarkable year, Grand Lodge, in September 1887, gladly accepted the Grand Master’s suggestion that Provincial and District Grand Masters be allowed to award a number of Past Provincial or District Grand ranks.
Queen Victoria completed the sixtieth year of her reign in 1897, and her Diamond Jubilee was celebrated even more grandly and widely. By then even more of the terrestrial globe was painted red, and the number of lodges on the role of this Grand Lodge alone had grown from 646 in 1837 to 2,220. In 1837 there had been only three Grand Lodges in the British Empire (England, Ireland and Scotland) but by 1897 a further twelve had been established, all independent, sovereign bodies but whose members, as British subjects, still owed their loyalty to ‘Her Imperial Majesty The Queen-Empress’.
However, I did not find any formal announcement of Grand Lodge’s intentions to honour that Diamond Jubilee until I came across one in The Times of 1 May 1897 after an article starting with the sentence
'The Greek Government have taken a fresh step, and a long step, towards meeting the demands of Europe'.
In a section headed ‘The Queen’s reign’ I read first that the Grand Secretary had sent out invitations to Freemasons to support the Pro Grand Master by attending ‘a Masonic service to commemorate the record reign of Her Majesty the Queen’ at Southwark Cathedral on 27 May; and then the announcement of the Masonic celebration to be held in the Albert Hall on 14 June, the proceeds from which were to be divided between the ‘Prince of Wales Hospital Fund’ and the three Masonic charities.
The idea of calling on loyal Freemasons to mark a royal jubilee by raising money for a purpose other than the Masonic charities again met with some opposition. On this occasion, however, a compromise was reached. Seven thousand Freemasons attended the Albert Hall celebration, and the sale of tickets produced £7,000 (more than half a million pounds in today’s money), half of which went to the Prince’s Hospital Fund, and the rest to the three Masonic charities.
The Grand Master, HRH The Prince of Wales, presided, as in 1887, and among those present were the Grand Masters of Ireland, Scotland and South Australia, and His Highness the Rajah of Kapurthala, the 25 year-old head of the eponymous princely Indian state, then within the British Empire.
In his opening remarks the Grand Master repeated his belief that
'there is no body in her Majesty’s dominions who are more orderly or more loyal that the Freemasons'
and in these extracts from the proposed address to the Queen you will again note the emphasis on loyalty:
'We, your Majesty’s most faithful and loyal subjects, the Free and Accepted Masons under the United Grand Lodge of England, venture...on this, the completion of the 60th year of your Majesty’s reign over these Kingdoms and the vast Empire of the British Crown, humbly to offer our dutiful and heartfelt congratulations, and to express our continued and unswerving loyalty to your Majesty… No class of your Majesty’s subjects outvies in loyal attachment to the Throne and devotion to your Majesty’s person than the Ancient Institution of English Freemasonry… '
The motion to present the address to the Queen was carried by acclamation, and the address was there and then signed by the Grand Master – whereupon, according to The Freemason’s Chronicle
'Bro Sadler, Grand Tyler, seized the pen with which the important document had been completed, probably recognising its value as a memento of this most unique celebration. No doubt we shall hear in good time that the pen has been added to the collection of interesting articles in the possession of Grand Lodge, and in which our Grand Tyler takes so great and lively an interest'.
MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, this is that very pen. Bro Sadler subsequently suggested that brethren who had yet to donate to the Prince of Wales’ Fund could write their cheques with it. I have no idea how many brethren took up that idea, but the pen, and this, the inkstand used on 14 June 1897, are still kept in the Library and Museum.
The Grand Master then invested the Raja of Kapurthala as a Past SGW, the Grand Master of South Australia as a Past JGW and the Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells as a Past Grand Chaplain, before going on to make sixty further appointments to past Grand Rank, most of whom were present to be invested. There was one notable absentee, however, from the District Grand Lodge of Egypt, who was nevertheless appointed as a Past JGW, namely Major-General Sir Horatio Herbert Kitchener. His apology for absence, if he sent one, might have mentioned that he was instead leading his Egyptian and British armies up the Nile to Khartoum to avenge the murder of General Gordon.
Before the meeting closed the Earl of Lathom, on behalf of Grand Lodge, presented the Grand Master with a jewel in commemoration of the great event, a jewel set with 62 diamonds and which is now on display in the Library and Museum, together with examples of the other jewels specially commissioned by Grand Lodge for the Queen Victoria’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees. HRH expressed his thanks and, on retiring from the Hall, he ‘turned and bowed three times before disappearing from view’. (The Home Secretary took only a month to acknowledge the Queen’s receipt of Grand Lodge’s ‘loyal and dutiful address’, and, following the example set in 1887, Provincial and District Grand Masters were empowered to confer a large number of Past ranks.)
But we did not celebrate the 1897 Diamond Jubilee only at that special meeting of Grand Lodge, or with additional Masonic ‘bling’. Loyal Masons in full regalia attended cathedral and church services from Axminster in Devon to Bridgetown in Barbados and from Durham to Llandaff; the Freemasons of Kent presented the east window to the Chapter House of Canterbury Cathedral; at a ceremony in Leicester, Bro Sir Israel Hart laid the foundation stone of the new Jewish synagogue and the Mayor, Bro Marshall, laid a second stone to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee; the Scarborough brethren installed electric light in the Hospital and Dispensary; the Nottinghamshire brethren put on a concert and a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Nottingham Castle – specially illuminated by electric light for the occasion – to which ‘non-Masons and ladies’ were admitted, the Masons being ‘at liberty to appear in the clothing and jewels of any Degree to which they may belong; and Constitutional Lodge in Beverley, Yorkshire, held its own ‘special meeting’ when a ‘handsome moose deer head’ was presented to the Earl of Londesborough.
Full reports of the Albert Hall event appeared in the press. This extract from The Evening Standard encapsulates the depiction of the English Craft at that time:
'The great meeting of Freemasons at the Royal Albert Hall was remarkable for the presence of many of the Indian Princes now present in the country, and it was stated…that the Indian Christians, Parsees, Hindoos, and Mohammedans met together in the Lodges, irrespective of religion and caste, and dined and held social intercourse with each other… Happily, Freemasonry has not been converted in Great Britain or her colonies into a political machine, as has been the case in Europe, but has held itself aloof from all subjects alien to its constitution and purposes, foremost among which stand charity and goodwill towards men…There can be no doubt that the Masonic body exercises a large influence for good, and that it is an institution that has a beneficial effect upon public life in England.'
So, Brethren, those were some snapshots of how our predecessors celebrated the golden and diamond jubilees of Queen Victoria. How times have changed! But, Brethren, I am sure you will agree with me that our loyalty to the sovereign of our native land, and indeed to all our principles, remains unabated.
MW Pro Grand Master, at Grand Lodge’s celebration of the Golden Jubilee in 1887 the Prince of Wales led the assembly in giving three cheers for Queen Victoria. I am assured that it is your wish that we celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at least as enthusiastically.
The Pro Grand Master warmly confirmed this.
The Grand Director of Ceremonies then called the Brethren to order and led them in three hearty cheers for Her Majesty the Queen.
When England took control of Mauritius in 1810, first British governor and Freemason Sir Robert Townsend Farquhar brought unity to the island, writes Mary Allan
On the wall of the Mauritius Turf Club, the oldest turf club in the southern hemisphere, there is a portrait of a man in his prime. He sits framed between winged caryatids. His attire has a faded grandeur, while his expression is subdued, almost quizzical. Around his neck is a blue ribbon from which hangs a masonic jewel. The man is Sir Robert Townsend Farquhar, who in December 1810 became the first British governor of Mauritius after its capitulation by the French.
Born in 1776, Farquhar attended Westminster School, where in 1789 he became a King’s Scholar. Just before his seventeenth birthday, he left formal education and set sail for India, where he took up a position as a writer with the East India Company. It was the beginning of a career that saw him progress rapidly through the company until 1804 when he was installed as Lieutenant Governor of Prince of Wales Island (Penang). In 1810, Farquhar was declared Governor of Mauritius and, apart from one further home leave, spent more than a decade dealing with the problems of an island where French colonial ways continued much as before the British takeover.
Farquhar’s career has proved relatively easy to research but his masonic trail was harder to piece together, not least because it did not begin in India, where lodges were already in existence. Nor did Farquhar join at any other point in the Far East. Instead, he waited until his first home leave, when his brother, Thomas Harvie, an active member of the Lodge of Friendship, No. 3 (now No. 6) proposed his nomination on 11 December 1806. This ancient lodge, constituted in 1721, held its meetings at The Thatched House Tavern, St James’s Street, London, a mere stride from his brother’s No. 16 residence.
Farquhar’s initiation took place on 12 February 1807 and although he rarely attended masonic meetings over the next two years, records show that he went through his second and third degree ceremonies on the same day, 9 February 1809, prior to his return to India. Lodge minutes for May of that year state: ‘Robert Townsend Farquhar having sailed to India was ordered that he be considered an Honorary Member during his absence.’
Members of the lodge included HRH the Duke of Sussex, politicians, bankers and high-ranking military men, several of them noted as ‘abroad’. The lodge’s status is further emphasised by a donation of fifty guineas in 1812 towards a ‘jewel’ for Lord Moira to mark his service as Acting Grand Master.
Was the jewel among Lord Moira’s luggage when he visited Mauritius on his way to take up his new position as Governor-General of India in 1813? Did he wear it on 19 August when he, together with Farquhar and the island’s Freemasons, paraded through the capital, Port Louis, to lay the foundation stone of St Louis Cathedral?
a lodge in his honour
Farquhar had fully embraced the concept of Mauritian fraternity from the moment he stepped ashore on 4 December 1810. By 1816 the first British lodge had been founded, Faith and Loyalty, No. 676, and Farquhar was recognised as Provincial Grand Master.
There is no record of Farquhar attending his lodge when he returned on home leave between 1818 and 1820, but following his resignation from governorship in 1823 he signed the Tyler’s Book of the Lodge of Friendship, No. 3 on 11 December. This was his last appearance at the lodge and his subscription to the United Grand Lodge of England ceased in 1824. In the lodge notes on officers holding high rank, Sir Robert Townsend Farquhar of Bruton Street, London, is listed as Provincial Grand Master of Mauritius. His rank as ProvGM, patented 1811, is confirmed in the Masonic Year Book. This patent was awarded during Lord Moira’s term as Acting Grand Master on behalf of the Prince Regent.
In the 19th century the appointment of a Provincial Grand Master did not presuppose the existence of a lodge or lodges in the county or territory for which he was appointed. There are instances that show that an appointment of a Provincial Grand Master was occasionally simply ‘an honour conferred’ and nothing more. The issue of a Patent of Appointment was almost certainly all that was necessary for Farquhar to be established in the office.
In 2010, to mark the bicentenary of the British takeover of Mauritius and to honour the first British Governor and Provincial Grand Master, the then first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mauritius, Lindsay Descombes, consecrated a new lodge, Sir Robert Farquhar Research Lodge, No 16. In his inaugural speech, he saluted Farquhar for bringing unity to Mauritius: ‘History tells us that [Farquhar] did a remarkable job to bring entente cordiale, peace and understanding between the French settlers and the English rulers.’
Sir Robert Townsend Farquhar is the subject of a book, "The Man and the Island" by Michael and Mary Allan, which was published to coincide with the bicentenary of the British takeover of the island
Hello and welcome to this tour of three of the historic masonic sites in the City of London that are inextricably linked with Freemasonry and its development. We start our journey on the spot where once stood the entrance to the Goose and Gridiron Ale-house, some fifty metres north of the last step leading to St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is here that the foundation of the undisputed first Grand Lodge in the world took place on 24 June 1717.
Unfortunately, and rather surprisingly, there appear to be no mementos of this historic tavern situated in what was St. Paul’s Church Yard and the only surviving item, now in the Museum of London, is the pub sign. Up until the Great Fire of London in 1666, the Goose and Gridiron was known as the Mitre. After being devastated in the blaze, it was rebuilt and renamed The Lyre, on account of the tavern’s musical associations (a musical society met on its premises), and took as its sign Apollo’s lyre surmounted by a swan. However, this image was often unrecognised and misinterpreted and a new name was born from the error: Goose and Gridiron.
battle for the blue plaque
It was in this tavern that four London lodges came together to launch Freemasonry, electing Anthony Sayer (1672-1741/2) – the ‘oldest Master Mason and then Master of a Lodge’ – as its Grand Master. It must be noted here, however, that the only source for all the information we have about the premier Grand Lodge in 1717 is from James Anderson’s reports that were published more than two decades later in 1738.
Moving on now, if you look to your right you will see, on the last column of the building you are facing, the official blue plaque commemorating the foundation of the Grand Lodge. It simply states:
Near This Site
The Grand Lodge
First Met in 1717
Nonetheless, after eight years of perseverance, on 15 June 2005, the then Lord Mayor, Alderman Very Worshipful Brother Michael Savory, finally unveiled the blue plaque that we are now so proud of.
foundations of freemasonry
It is interesting to consider how amazed our founding forefathers would no doubt be at the spread of Freemasonry through the four quarters of the globe. You see, the four lodges did not originally meet with the aim of forming a Grand Lodge. Rather, their decision to unite stemmed from a need to strengthen each individual lodge’s membership. Indeed, in unity they found this strength and it was at the initiative of other lodges wishing to join the group that a Grand Lodge was declared and formed as a controlling body. Freemasonry has never looked back.
Follow me now please, past Paternoster Square, Goldsmiths, The Saddlers’ Hall and Guildhall Yard, and let us make our way into the passage entrance of Mason’s Avenue. Now, once we move twenty metres into the alleyway, we are standing in front of the Select Trust Building.
Let me first point out that the whole of this two- hundred-yard-long avenue has not changed in four centuries. The imitation Tudor-style buildings are recent, of course, but the shape and size of the alley has remained identical and right here, on what is now 12-15 Mason’s Avenue, stood the Hall of the Worshipful Company of Masons, one of the City of London Livery Companies with which our society is closely, and at times quite wrongly, identified.
The Masons Company has its earliest record dating to 1356 and received its Grant of Arms in 1472. By then the building on this site was already functional and it was only demolished in 1865, some four hundred years later. As a reminder of the old days, the present building, which was completed in 1980, has the beautiful stained-glass windows with masonic emblems incorporated into the design. A gilded inscription embedded into the wall serves as a further reminder. It reads:
On This Site Stood
The Hall Of The
A 1463 – 1865 D
For our third and sadly last stop on this tour, let us walk the short distance to the Royal Exchange. From this vantage point you have a particularly good view of the main entrance to the Bank of England, which is popularly known as ‘The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street’.
The Bank of England has been situated in this area since its inception in 1694, with three bank buildings rising on this same site since 1734. As an interesting aside, did you know that the Bank of England was the first purpose-built bank in the British Isles? Another notable, and quite surprising fact is that the Bank of England remained a private entity until the Parliament Act of 1946, after which it was finally nationalised.
soane’s speedy advancement
Returning to the building, Sir John Soane (1753-1837) was the bank’s third architect and worked on it for forty-five years (1788-1833). However, the only part of his work that still remains is ‘the curtain wall’, which is the elongated windowless screen wall that you can see along the front. This wall encloses the whole of the block, which consists of an area of three and a half acres containing the premises of the bank.
The Duke of Sussex, who was elected as the new Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813, favoured Soane’s architectural work. As such, when the Duke of Sussex directed the extension of the Grand Lodge premises in Great Queen Street, one of his many dynamic and innovative activities, it was Soane who undertook and completed the task.
On 25 November 1813, an emergency meeting of the Grand Master’s Lodge, No. 1, under the Grand Lodge of the Antients, was held at the Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand. At this meeting Soane was initiated as an Entered Apprentice, passed to the degree of a Fellowcraft and raised to the degree of a Master Mason. In addition, following the inauguration of the United Grand Lodge of England, Soane was formally appointed President of the Board of Works and given the appropriate high masonic rank of Grand Superintendent of Works – both a well-deserved and speedy advancement by any standard.
This brings us to the end of our tour in which I hope to have shown you the significance of the City of London to the history of Freemasonry, along the way unearthing a few masonic gems that you may not have known existed. Thank you very much for joining me – I hope you have enjoyed your trip and I wish you a safe journey home.
In New Zealand, many of Wellington’s citizens will be aware of a perfectly ordinary road called Majoribanks Street running out of town from Courtenay Place. They may perhaps know that it should correctly be spelled Marjoribanks and pronounced Marchbanks. However, they are less likely to know that it commemorates a man who, although having never visited the island country in the Pacific, may truly be numbered among the founding fathers of the nation.
Stewart Marjoribanks was the third of five sons of Edward Marjoribanks of Lees, just north of the Scottish border with England, all of whom distinguished themselves in their various fields. The eldest brother, John, remained in Scotland, became Lord Provost of Edinburgh (twice), an MP and Depute Grand Master of Scotland. Campbell, Stewart and Edward all came to London around the turn of the century, while James became a judge in India.
Campbell twice became chairman of the East India Company, Stewart a most successful owner of a fleet of merchantmen and Edward a senior partner in Coutts & Co. Bank. It is, incidentally, perhaps in the family friendship with Thomas Coutts that the key to their extraordinary and sudden prominence lies. They were in any case a very talented group, but a helping hand never comes amiss.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to pin down Stewart’s early career to precise dates, but a letter from 1820 mentions that in that year he was expecting to be returned unopposed as MP for Hythe. This election conferred on him the ancient title of ‘Baron of the Cinque Ports’ (founded originally to defend the coast from the French) and the right to bear the canopy at the coronation of George IV while girt with a sword (which is still in possession of Watford Lodge).
Involved and Influential
Stewart’s masonic career began in February 1811, when he was initiated into the Lodge of Friendship, No. 6, a ‘Moderns’ lodge of great prestige meeting in Bond Street. Although the final achievement of the union was still a couple of years in the future, concrete steps were already being taken, in which members of this lodge took a leading part. Stewart made his masonic reputation as a member of this lodge, for he became Senior Grand Warden in 1823, the year before joining the equally prestigious Royal Alpha Lodge. This is traditionally the lodge of the Grand Master and in due course Stewart served as Deputy Master to the Duke of Sussex.
Much more is known about Stewart’s membership of Bamborough Lodge, No. 580, which he joined in 1830, and which was eventually renamed and numbered as Watford Lodge, No. 404. Here he is well remembered as an assiduous, authoritative and kindly member, and can be recalled physically through his portrait by John Lennell, which still hangs in the Temple in the west. He came to Watford when he and Campbell bought Bushey Grove House as their country seat. Stewart joined the Royal Arch in Cyrus Chapter, No. 21, in 1813 and became a founder of the Chapter of Friendship, No. 3 (now No. 6), in 1824, in which year he became Assistant Grand Sojourner (AGSoj).
As a member of Watford Lodge, Stewart was a distinctly big fish in a moderate pond. He apparently introduced a number of well-known men to the lodge, culminating in the agreement of the Duke of Sussex to become an Honorary Member. He was Worshipful Master for two consecutive years from 1835 to 1836 (the lodge numbered some seventy-one masons) and was elected again in 1841, although ill health appears to have prevented his installation. He is said to have been regular in attendance except when his Parliamentary duties kept him away, though with advancing years he was unable to play a very active part after turning seventy. He married a lodge widow, Lady Rendlesham, but the union produced no children. He appears to have been a popular and effective member of the lodge and promoter of its interests.
It is worth remembering that Stewart’s masonic career coincides with the first generation of the United Grand Lodge of England after the resolution of the schism between the Moderns and the Ancients which had so marred the half century previous to 1813. The Duke of Sussex, as Most Worshipful Grand Master, must have felt that Stewart, with his easy personality and well-reputed integrity, was an ideal friend and support.
Meanwhile, Stewart’s business expanded apace from his premises in King’s Arms Yard. At first it appears that he traded mainly with India and China, which fitted in well with the interests of his brother Campbell and Thomas Coutts; but before long he turned to the Australia run (he invested substantially in the Australian Agricultural Company) and the growing interest in New Zealand through the New Zealand Company. We have evidence from one of his captains – Cole of the ‘Mellish’ in 1822 – that he was very much looked up to as a model for emulation, while in 1826 his captains clubbed together to present him with a gift of silver plate ‘in view of his much appreciated way of conducting himself towards them’.
As far as New Zealand was concerned, Stewart was very much the right man in the right place at the right time. He was well placed to win government contracts for the transport of troops and stores, but his major role seems to have been in implementing the official policy of encouraging emigration after the Treaty of Waitangi by transporting potential settlers of all classes, especially from Scotland. Here he was assisted by his distant cousin Alexander Marjoribanks of that ilk, chief of the family – it was not then recognised as a clan. Alexander’s prestige stood a great deal higher than his character warranted, but he did take ship to New Zealand and then on to New South Wales in 1840-41 and wrote very readable books about both colonies. To judge by the volume of Scottish settlers, the publicity gained was well worthwhile.
Round Peg in a Round Hole
As it happens, one of the ship’s officers kept a diary of the first leg of this trip and most entertaining it is – he makes clear that he is torn between respect for Alexander’s rank and contempt for his unworthy behaviour. He records with disapproval Alexander’s marriage on board to his maid and it is notable that no such marriage is officially recorded anywhere, nor did the lady proceed to New South Wales.
Bearing in mind the savagery of the Mãori wars that followed, one could be in two minds about the effects of Stewart’s work on New Zealand. However, the impression is of a diligent, conscientious and kindly businessman, ‘a round peg in a round hole’. As the 1840s progressed, ill health drove him into virtual retirement. Campbell had died in 1840 but Stewart lived on to the age of eighty-seven. Childless, he left Bushey Grove House to his nephew Edward (my great-grandfather), who promptly bankrupted himself by destroying it and building a monstrosity
in its place. And the explanation of the spelling and pronunciation of Majoribanks Street? A mystery, lost in the mists of history. Even the Marjoribankses themselves have no convincing explanation.
Yasha Beresiner visits the Sussex Masonic Centre
Standing at the entrance to the Sussex Masonic Centre in the heart of Brighton, you can catch the smell of the sea just a few hundred yards away. This centre, containing both masonic temples and administrative offices, was established in 1898 and must be one of the most convenient in England; it is only a two-minute walk from Brighton Station.
The museum is under the capable administration of the curator and librarian, Reginald Barrow, who takes great pride in the artefacts that are displayed in the various rooms on three floors of interconnected buildings.
Among the numerous important items in the museum’s extensive collection is an eighteenth century Meissen porcelain figurine representing Augustus II of Poland and Elector of Saxony (1670-1733). He is wearing a simple masonic apron and holding a scroll of the masonic constitutions in his right hand, indicating his authority. By his left arm, on a pedestal, stands a mops (pug dog). This dog represents symbolically how Freemasonry survived in Germany, Prussia and elsewhere in Europe under the adverse conditions following the Papal Bull of April 1738 forbidding Roman Catholics from joining the fraternity.
The secret Order of the Mopses was founded in 1740 by German Roman Catholics with the support of Augustus II, who became its Grand Master. Because his favourite animal was the mops, this became the symbol of the Order and gave it its name; the Order worked an elaborate, if somewhat outlandish, ritual which imitated Freemasonry. This rare and attractive figurine was made in the Meissen factory around 1740 and is attributed to the German sculptor Johann Joachim Kaendle (1706-1750), who sculpted exclusively for the Meissen factory and was known for his representations of animals.
The museum also preserves a folder containing the original proofs and completed drawings by the famous John Harris, whose tracing boards continue to decorate many lodge rooms throughout the country. John Harris, a painter of miniatures and an architectural draughtsman, came on the scene in 1815, two years after the union of the two Grand Lodges. He was initiated in 1818 and from the beginning was fascinated by the symbolic portrayals on tracing boards. He soon revolutionised the concept of the designs, which ultimately led to the standardisation of tracing boards throughout the constitution.
In 1823, somewhat business minded, Harris dedicated a set of his miniature tracing boards to the Duke of Sussex, the first Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England. This act naturally popularised his designs and his tracing boards soon became fashionable and in demand by the majority of lodges. A true breakthrough, however, came in 1845 when an invitation by the Emulation Lodge of Improvement was made for artists to submit designs for tracing boards. John Harris’ designs won hands down and he never looked back.
In the same folder are several pages of printer’s proofs and hand-coloured manuscript designs of Harris’ efforts. Among the most striking images are two third degree miniature boards with evocative mortal emblems. These printed boards indicate on their margin that they won the third prize and were published in 1849.
The realistic rendering of the skull and bones within the coffin is decorated by a multicoloured ribbon brim which is further enhanced by the dark black shadow of the coffin. A scroll on the lower half depicts an intricate setting of the innermost shrine of the tabernacle, the Sanctum Sanctorum. Seven branched Menorahs decorate the aisles, whilst three figures – Hiram King of Tyre, Hiram Abiff and King Solomon – stand in front of the Ark of the Covenant on the chequered floor of the Temple. The reversed ciphers and Hebrew letters are characteristic of third degree tracing board. The question as to why Harris depicted the ciphers ‘3000’ in reverse has never been satisfactorily explained; he may have misunderstood the Hebrew tradition of writing from right to left. In any case, these tracing boards were never formally adopted.
One object in the museum that brings to mind the widespread nature of Freemasonry is a scrimshaw drinking horn. The word immediately creates the vision of ancient mariners intent on painstaking and delicate etching on ivory or bone. The genre covers an enormous range of themes and it is only natural the symbolism of Freemasonry should also be represented. This excellent example of a horn, from around 1845, is in pristine condition with its intricate masonic emblems clearly visible.
Central to the design is an arch which appears supported by the square and compasses and headed by the all-seeing eye. In the centre the three masonic candlesticks are placed on the chequered floor and below are representations of the third degree coffin and the pentagram. Along the sides, emblems of various orders beyond the craft are identifiable; they have been carefully and clearly engraved. The detail of the carving is enhanced by crossed lines and deeper etching which creates shadows and contrasts further beautifying this rare object.
A prominent piece we saw on display is the apron worn by HRH the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) whilst attending meetings in Brighton. It is mounted in a lavish and heavy oak frame and above it is the unusual twisted Tyler’s sword, popularly referred to as ‘the flaming sword’, in allusion to the weapons carried by the cherubs guarding the entrance to Eden.
For those who may be interested in visiting the museum, the curator and librarian Reginald Barrow can be contacted at the centre on 01273 737404