Celebrating 300 years

The title deeds of the Craft

Director of Special Projects John Hamill traces the origins of the Antient Charges and what they reveal about masonic values

On the first occasion on which a brother is installed as Master of a lodge he is required to give his assent to a Summary of the Antient Charges and Regulations, read out to him by the Secretary. This summary first appeared in print in the second edition (1775) of William Preston’s Illustrations of Masonry, in which he outlined the installation ceremony and since 1827 has formed part of the Book of Constitutions.

Manuscripts

For something to be called a summary begs the question: ‘Of what?’ The charges and regulations are predominantly based on The Charges of a Freemason, first published in the first edition of the Constitutions, compiled by the Rev Dr James Anderson in 1723 and printed in every subsequent edition of the Book of Constitutions. They are divided into six sections: Of God and Religion; Of the Civil Magistrate; Supreme and Subordinate; Of Masters, Wardens, Fellows and Apprentices; Of the Management of the Craft in Working; Of Behaviour (with six subsections).

Anderson stated that he had ‘digested’ them from a series of old documents relating to masonry in England, Ireland, Scotland and ‘lodges overseas’. The latter was something of a pious fiction as there were no lodges overseas until the late 1720s.

These documents used to be known as the Old Manuscript Constitutions and are now, collectively, the Manuscript of Old Charges. More than 130 versions of them have survived (many now in the Library and Museum of Freemasonry) and more than 20 other versions have disappeared. Many of them are parchment rolls almost six feet in length and up to nine inches wide.

‘Some of the versions from the late 1600s in the final section begin to give us our first glimpses of ritual.’

The two oldest versions – The Regius Poem circa 1390 and the Cook manuscript circa 1420 – are in the British Library and their content applies only to stonemasons. The next oldest is the Grand Lodge No. 1 manuscript, which carries the date 1583 and includes elements relating to speculative masonry. The majority of the extant versions can be dated to the 1600s when we begin to get evidence of speculative lodges, and a small group are from the 1700s and appear to have been copied out of antiquarian interest.

There are differences between the surviving versions, but they have a common tripartite form. They begin with an invocation to God, followed by a history of the mason Craft, and end with a series of charges, that is the duties that a mason owed to God, the law, his employer, his family and society in general. Some of the versions from the late 1600s in the final section begin to give us our first glimpses of ritual and ceremonial.

Making a mason

In the custom of the times during which they were written, the historical section is an amalgam of legend, biblical stories, folklore and some facts tracing masonry almost back to Adam in the Garden of Eden. It includes many biblical, historical and legendary figures as at least promoters of masonry, if not in fact Grand Masters. When Anderson digested his version of the history he made no difference between operative and speculative masonry, giving birth to the idea that Freemasonry was a natural outgrowth from the operative Craft, an idea that has been much disputed by masonic historians over the past 50 years.

It is clear from some of the later versions of the Old Charges that reading of them was a part of the original ceremony of making a mason. Indeed, some masonic historians have characterised them as the ‘title deeds’ of the Craft. Their importance to us today is not only that they are the originals of the Antient Charges that we all subscribe to, but as evidence that the fundamental principles and tenets of the Craft are truly time immemorial, immutable and unchangeable.

Published in Features

Members of St Oswald Lodge No. 5170 were the first to see a newly restored copy of the extremely rare 1769 edition of the Book of Constitutions

Lodge members had been so impressed by a talk given by Vic Charlesworth on the creation of a museum at Warrington Masonic Hall that they resolved to help him in whatever way they could.

His hard work to restore a particularly rare edition of the Book of Constitutions – so rare in fact that even the Library and Museum of Freemasonry does not have a copy – struck a chord with those present, however the book was in several pieces and needed to be professionally rebound, the work estimated to cost more than £200.

After the talk, and without Vic’s knowledge, those present decided to help restore the illustrated book to its former glory. They had a whip round and in no time at all had raised £120. Within a couple of days further donations had been received and the remainder of the money had been donated.

Because of their generosity and initiative, Vic decided that the members of St Oswald Lodge should be the first to see the restored book, and he presented it at their next lodge meeting in order to thank them in person for their support. 

Friday, 14 September 2012 14:20

Coming together

Would the of the two Grand Lodges have gone ahead in 1813 if the Royal Arch had not been recognised? John Hamill takes a whistle-stop tour through Antient history

The earliest documentary evidence for the Royal Arch in England comes in the minutes of the Antients Grand Lodge. At their meeting on 4 March 1752, charges were laid against a group claimed to have been made masons ‘for the mean consideration of a leg of mutton’. Of one of the miscreants it was said that he had not ‘the least idea or knowledge of Royal Arch masonry’. A small detail, perhaps, but over the next 60 years the relationship between the Antients and the Royal Arch was to prove pivotal in shaping English Freemasonry.

1752: Antient recognition
At a meeting on 2 September 1752, the minutes of the Antients Grand Lodge record that ‘every piece of Real Freemasonry was traced and explained: except the Royal Arch’ by the Grand Secretary, Laurence Dermott. An Irishman who had become a mason in Dublin before moving to London, Dermott claimed to have entered the Royal Arch in Dublin in 1746.

1759: Part of the Craft
It was ordered at an Antients meeting on 2 March 1759 that ‘the Masters of the Royal Arch shall also be summoned to meet and regulate things relative to that most valuable branch of the Craft’. Those last few words encapsulate the Antients’ attitude to the Royal Arch. They regarded it as a part of the Craft and considered their lodge warrants as sufficient authority to work the Royal Arch. In later years they often called themselves ‘the Grand Lodge of the four degrees’. Dermott himself characterised the Royal Arch as ‘the root, heart and marrow of masonry’ and ‘the capstone of the whole masonic system’.

1771: Dermott protects
Dermott, who had a positive loathing for the premier Grand Lodge, was clearly far from happy when its members formed the first Grand Chapter in 1766. He had to wait, however, until 1771, when he had become Deputy Grand Master, before he could take action. During that year he engineered a question in the Grand Lodge as to whether or not the Grand Master was Grand Master ‘in every respect’. His successor as Grand Secretary, William Dickey, stated that he had heard it claimed that the Grand Master ‘had not a right’ to enquire into Royal Arch activities. The Masters of the Royal Arch were summoned to discuss this and other Royal Arch matters.

1773: Royal Arch regulates
In November 1773, Dermott got his way when it was agreed that ‘a General Grand Chapter of the Royal Arch shall meet on the first Wednesdays in the months of April and October in every year to regulate all matters in that branch of masonry’. Whether or not the General Grand Chapter ever met it is not possible to say as no minutes for it survive and there is no further reference to it in the Antients Grand Lodge minutes. If it did meet it can have had no greater status than as a special committee of qualified members of the Antients Grand Lodge. Any decisions it might have made would have to have been ratified by the Grand Lodge itself. Certainly there was no separate administration, list of Grand Officers or individual Chapters under the Antients system.

1794: In black and white
It was not until 1794 that regulations for the Royal Arch were printed, and these were incorporated as a supplement to their Book of Constitutions. These regulations would be used within their lodges as and when candidates came forward. Some Antients lodges had, by the 1790s, developed a regular progression of degrees within the lodge. After the three Craft degrees you moved towards the Royal Arch but first went through the Mark Degree, Passing the Chair (if the candidate was not already a Master or Past Master of a Lodge) and the Excellent Mason Degree. After the Royal Arch you could then join the Knights Templar followed by an early version of the Rose Croix, which they termed the Ne Plus Ultra of Masonry.

This progression was often depicted on the aprons worn by members of the Antients, which in addition to symbols of the Craft would include those for the degrees listed above. A very rare example of a multi-degree tracing board turned up some 20 years ago at an auction in Suffolk with other masonic artefacts, which had been in the possession of a local clerical family for more than 150 years. East Anglia had been a stronghold of the Antients and it may well have been commissioned by one of the local lodges.

1813: A very English compromise
That the Antients did much to foster the Royal Arch is beyond doubt. It could also be argued that it was their attitude towards the Royal Arch that preserved it and produced that very English compromise: the of the two Grand Lodges in 1813, by which the premier Grand Lodge acknowledged the Royal Arch as the completion of ‘pure ancient masonry’, provided that it was worked separately from the Craft in chapters rather than in lodges as had been the Antients’ custom.

I think it more than probable that had that compromise not been reached the Antients would have withdrawn from the negotiations, the would not have taken place and the future progress of English Freemasonry would have taken a very different path.

 

Published in SGC

Quarterly Communications of Grand Lodge 
12 September 2012 
Report of the Board of General Purposes 

Meetings in 2013

The Board of General Purposes will meet in 2013 on 12 February, 19 March, 14 May, 16 July, 17 September and 12 November.

Attendance at Lodges under the English Constitution by Brethren from other Grand Lodges

The Board drew 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 Secretaries of Lodges.

Attendance at Lodges Overseas

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.

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.

Prestonian Lecture 2013

The Trustees of the Prestonian Fund have appointed W Bro P.R. Calderwood as Prestonian Lecturer for 2013. The title of his Lecture is "As we were seen – the Press and Freemasonry".

Arrangements for the delivery of the Lectures to selected Lodges will be considered by the Board in November and applications are now invited from Lodges.

Applications should be made to the Grand Secretary, through Metropolitan, Provincial or District Grand Secretaries. The Board desires to emphasise the importance of these, the only Lectures held under the authority of the Grand Lodge.

It is, therefore, hoped that applications for the privilege of having one of these official Lectures will be made only by Lodges which are prepared to afford facilities for all Freemasons in their area, as well as their own members, to participate and thus ensure an attendance worthy of the occasion.

Grand Loge Nationale Française

Statements made by the President of the Board of General Purposes and the Grand Chancellor are available here.

Grand Lodge subsequently voted to approve the motion that recognition be withdrawn from the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) with immediate effect.

Conditional Recognition of a Foreign Grand Lodge

Nigeria

The Grand Lodge of Ireland currently has 20 Lodges meeting under its Provincial Grand Lodge of Nigeria and the Grand Lodge of Scotland has 45 Lodges meeting there under its District Grand Lodge of Nigeria.

It is the intention of the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland, following consultation with this Grand Lodge, to constitute from their Province and District respectively a Grand Lodge of Nigeria on 3 November 2012.

To date none of the 33 Lodges under our own District of Nigeria has indicated a desire to participate in the formation of the new Grand Lodge, but nevertheless the Board of General Purposes has agreed that an English deputation should attend the Inauguration in order to lend support to the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland.

By the time this Grand Lodge meets in December, the Grand Lodge of Nigeria will already have been constituted. The Board would prefer that the new Grand Lodge be recognised from the moment of its creation, rather than after a delay, and accordingly recommended this course.

A Resolution to this effect was approved.

Installed Masters’ Lodges

Since 1 January 2006 Installed Masters’ Lodges have been exempt from paying dues to Grand Lodge and the contribution to the Grand Charity, except in respect of those members who belong to no other Lodge. 

From time to time the Grand Secretary receives a request from a Lodge such as a Provincial Grand Stewards’ Lodge or a research Lodge, all of the Members of which are Installed Masters, to be considered an Installed Masters’ Lodge, and therefore entitled to the exemption. 

The Board wishes to remind Brethren that the exemption was introduced to recognise the special role traditional Installed Masters’ Lodges play in education and communication, and to make it plain that the exemption will not be granted to Lodges which are merely de facto Installed Masters’ Lodges.

At the same time the Board recognises that there exist certain Installed Masters Lodges which operate as such but are open to the Masters and Past Masters of a particular category of Lodges only, such as the City of London Lodge of Installed Masters, No. 8220. 

The Board has hitherto considered itself to be acting within the spirit and intent of Rule 269 and Rule 271 in determining such Lodges to fulfil the requirements of the proviso to those Rules. It considers, however, that the time has now come to regularise the situation by making such Lodges clearly the subject of the exemption.

Notice of Motion to amend the Book of Constitutions accordingly appeared on the Paper of Business.

Amalgamation

The Board had received a report that Hiraeth Lodge, No. 8834 had resolved to surrender its Warrant in order to amalgamate with Wenallt Lodge, No. 9082 (South Wales).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 had received a report that 15 Lodges had closed and voted to surrender their Warrants. The Lodges are: Portland Lodge, No. 637 (Staffordshire), Dalhousie Lodge, No. 860 (London), Cosmopolitan Lodge, No. 917 (London), John Hervey Lodge, No. 1260 (London), Clapton Lodge, No. 1365 (London), Victoria Park Lodge, No. 1816 (London), Raymond Thrupp Lodge, No. 2024 (Middlesex), Sheraton Lodge, No. 3019 (London), Westminster Hospital Lodge, No. 5292 (London), Priory of Lambeth Lodge, No. 6252 (London), Caslon Lodge, No. 6303 (London), Nile Lodge, No. 6476 (West Lancashire), Phoenix Lodge of Hanwell, No. 7317 (London), Lodge of Felicity, No. 7509 (Middlesex) and Rivermead Lodge, No. 8444 (Nottinghamshire).

The Board recommended that they be erased. A Resolution to this effect was approved.

Report of Library and Museum Trust

Board had received a report from the Library and Museum Charitable Trust.

Assuring the Future of Freemasonry

Grand Lodge received a talk entitled 'Assuring the Future of Freemasonry: making the Craft relevant to all generations'.

List of new Lodges for which Warrants have been granted

26 April 2012: No. 9874 Terpsichore Lodge (Stamford, Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire).
13 June 2012: No. 9875 Armed Forces Lodge (Newport, Monmouthshire) and No. 9876 Cambria Meridian Lodge of Installed Masters (Rhyl, North Wales).

Meetings of Grand Lodge

Quarterly Communications of Grand Lodge will be held on 12 December 2012, 13 March 2013, 24 April 2013 (Annual Investiture), 12 June 2013, 11 September 2013 and 11 December 2013.

Meetings of Grand Chapter

Supreme Grand Chapter will meet 14 November 2012, 25 April 2013 and 16 October 2013.

 

Published in UGLE
Wednesday, 14 December 2011 09:11

Grand Lodge takes stand over GLNF

President of the Board of General Purposes Anthony Wilson made a statement concerning Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) at the September Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge

Having previously expressed concern over the turbulence within GLNF, the President said the situation has subsequently deteriorated. ‘There appears to be no sign of it improving,’ he confirmed. ‘We cannot ignore the lack of harmony. Nor can we overlook the fact that a significant proportion of the membership of the GLNF apparently no longer recognise the leadership of its Grand Master.’

While the present situation continues, the recommendation of the Board is that relations with the GLNF be suspended. ‘I should emphasise that the suspension of relations does not force any of the brethren who are currently also members of lodges under the GLNF to resign from those lodges,’ he added. Anthony Wilson did, however, draw attention to the possibility that for so long as the GLNF is recognised by UGLE as the sovereign Grand Lodge, any UGLE brethren who are also members of a French lodge that formally repudiates that jurisdiction (even temporary) may find that Rule 176 in the Book of Constitutions requires them to make a choice, in the future, between severing their links with that lodge and remaining members of the Craft in the UGLE constitution.


The full statement by Anthony Wilson, President of the Board of General Purposes, can be found here.

Published in UGLE

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION OF GRAND LODGE

14 SEPTEMBER 2011

REPORT OF THE BOARD OF GENERAL PURPOSES

 

Board of General Purposes

The Board of General Purposes will meet in 2012 on 14 February, 20 March, 15 May, 17 July, 18 September and 13 November.

 

Attendance at lodges under the English Constitution by Brethren from other Grand Lodges

The Board draws attention to Rule 125 (b), Book of Constitutions, and the list of Grand Lodges recognised by the UGLE, 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 which are not recognised by the UGLE.

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.

 

Grande Loge Nationale Française

At the June Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge the President made a statement relating to the turbulence existing in the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) and indicated that the Board would continue to monitor the situation closely.

The Board regrets that the situation within the GLNF has deteriorated. Notwithstanding the letter its current Grand Master wrote to our Pro Grand Master, he failed to relinquish his mandate on 27 June. This has done nothing to ease the discord.

Some 600 lodges or more have dissociated themselves from the Grand Lodge or have indicated that they will be doing so. This means that their members, unless they have dual membership with lodges that remain under the GLNF or a lodge in another jurisdiction with whom this Grand Lodge is in amity, would cease to be able to visit our lodges. It would be an impossible task for our lodges to know which French masons could visit us and which could not.

Harmony within lodges and with fellow masons has always been one of the customs and usages of Freemasonry. This is a fundamental principle urged upon candidates at their initiation. Indeed, it is so fundamental that it has never been considered necessary to enshrine it as a Rule in the Book of Constitutions, though the Antient Charges which are published as a part of the Book of Constitutions urge the cultivation of brotherly love, ‘avoiding all wrangling and quarrelling, all slander and backbiting’.

The Board considers that the GLNF may be in breach of paragraph 8 of the Principles for Grand Lodge Recognition –‘That the principles of the Antient Landmarks, customs, and usages of the Craft shall be strictly observed’ – which are also included with the Book of Constitutions.

The evidence of substantial disharmony within the GLNF is overwhelming. However, the Board is reluctant at present to recommend withdrawal of recognition from a Grand Lodge with which the UGLE has been in amity for nearly 100 years. It therefore recommends that with immediate effect relations with the GLNF be suspended, that is to say that:

1. Our Brethren should no longer be permitted to join or to visit Lodges under the GLNF; and

2. Our lodges should no longer be permitted to elect as a joining member or admit as a visitor any Brother who is a subscribing member of a lodge under the GLNF, unless he is also a subscribing member of a lodge under UGLE or under a Grand Lodge, other than the GLNF, recognised by UGLE.

This suspension would not force any of our Brethren who are currently also members of lodges under the GLNF to resign from any such lodges, nor would it prevent such Brethren from continuing to exercise, as members of lodges under the GLNF, such rights, including those of visiting, as they enjoy under the GLNF.

A Resolution to give effect was approved.

The Board hopes that it will not be too long before harmony is restored within the GLNF so that we may resume normal relations with our Brethren in France.

 

Amalgamation

Sir James Martin Lodge No. 4255 has resolved to surrender its Warrant in order to amalgamate with Semper Vigilans Lodge No. 3040 (London).

A resolution that the lodge be removed from the register in order to effect the amalgamation was approved.

 

Erasure of Lodges

The Board had received a report that 23 lodges had closed and have surrendered their Warrants. The lodges are: Athenaeum Lodge No. 1491 (London), Lombardian Lodge No. 2348 (London); King George V Lodge No. 3529 (East Lancashire), Providence Lodge No. 3697 (London), Doric Lodge No. 4073 (Yorkshire, West Riding), St Helen’s Lodge of Integrity No. 4151 (West Lancashire), Portman Lodge No. 4747 (London), Pandora Lodge, No. 4966 (London), Winckley Lodge No. 5438 (West Lancashire), Woodland Lodge No. 5478 (East Lancashire), Estreham Lodge No. 5494 (London), Eureka Lodge No. 5505 (East Lancashire), Temple of Friendship Lodge No. 5886 (Surrey), Magnum Bonum Lodge No. 6613 (London), Fellowship and Peace Lodge No. 7002 (London), Hackney Brook Lodge No. 7397 (London), New Era Lodge No. 7400 (Hertfordshire), Teddington St Mary’s Lodge No. 7469 (Middlesex), Brookmans Park Lodge No. 7655 (Hertfordshire), Summa Petens Lodge No. 7682 (London), Tavistock Lodge No. 8376 (Surrey), Bi-Centenary Lodge of Nottinghamshire No. 9070 (Nottinghamshire) and Star and Phoenix Lodge No. 9286 (London).

The Board recommendation that they be erased was approved.

In 1993 a Warrant was granted for Lodge of Shankar No. 9526 (Bombay) and in 1996 a Warrant was granted for Universal Lodge No. 9644 (Guyana). Both Warrants were issued, but neither lodge has been, or is now likely to be, consecrated.

The Board recommendation that the lodges be formally erased was approved.

 

Masonic Communications in an Electronic Age

The Grand Secretary gave a talk to Grand Lodge on the above subject.

 

List of Approved New Lodges

28 April 2011: No. 9866 Abuja Lodge, Abuja, Nigeria and No. 9867 The Leeds Lodge, Leeds Yorkshire, West Riding.

 

Expulsions from the Craft

Twelve members have been expelled from the Craft.

 

Quarterly Communication meetings

The Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge will meet on 14 December 2011, 14 March 2012, 25 April 2012 (Annual Investiture), 13 June 2012, 12 September 2012 and 12 December 2012.

 

Supreme Grand Chapter meetings 

The Supreme Grand Chapter will meet on 9 November 2011, 26 April 2012 and 14 November 2012.

 

Report of the Council of the Library and Museum Charitable Trust for the year ended 31 January 2011

The Library and Museum of Freemasonry at Freemasons’ Hall in London is open to the public, free of charge, Monday to Friday 10 am–5 pm. The book, object and archive collections are available for the enjoyment of visitors of all ages by way of the permanent displays and increasing online resources which are also available for those who cannot visit in person. Temporary exhibitions highlight aspects of the collections.

During 2010 the Library and Museum organised two exhibitions: Freemasons and the Royal Society and The Masonic Emporium. Both exhibitions drew extensively on the Library and Museum’s own collections.

The Royal Society exhibition marked the 350th anniversary of its founding. Work related to the exhibition resulted in the online publication of a searchable biographical listing of nearly 400 Freemasons who were also Fellows of the Society. Loans to the exhibition were made by Alma Mater Lodge, No. 1492, in Cambridge. The Royal Society provided images from their collections.

In The Masonic Emporium the Library and Museum explored the growth of a commercial market for masonic items and the businesses which developed to supply it in the 19th century. The exhibition was supported by Toye, Kenning and Spencer, who kindly lent photographs and documents from their archives and specimen items from the manufacturing process. A number of objects were lent from private collections. A free illustrated exhibition guide was published for this exhibition.

Tours 

A record number of more than 30,000 visited the Library and Museum during the year (2009–2010: 25,622) of whom approximately 60% were not Freemasons. For many visitors the highlight was the tour of the ceremonial areas provided by Library and Museum staff. The Library and Museum and the ceremonial rooms of Freemasons’ Hall were opened on Saturday, 18 September 2010 for London Open House. More than 2,500 visitors were received that day.

Provision of research resources

Increasing use is being made of the Library and Museum as a research resource with over 170 new readers registered during the year (2010: 200). The issue of books and documents has continued to increase steadily. Many enquiries are dealt with by mail or increasingly electronically.

A new version of the Library and Museum website was launched in November 2010 designed with easier navigation and with more images to convey the variety of the collections. This provided the opportunity to reissue the series of downloadable Information Sheets on a range of frequently requested topics. Also included on the site is guidance for lodges and chapters about the care of their records.

Cataloguing

Good progress continued to be made with over 650 museum items catalogued (2010: 509). This included the collection of 18th century plated and pierced metal Masonic jewels. In addition, 2,755 books (2010: 4,810) and 1,835 detailed archive records (2010: 1,385) were added to the catalogue. Work has continued on cataloguing the print and photograph collection and over 1,500 images are now available.

Conservation

Following the Historical Records Survey which was undertaken in 2008–2010, the Library and Museum co-ordinated a grant scheme to support conservation work on lodge and chapter records. The scheme attracted 35 applications from lodges and chapters in 18 Provinces and 12 grants were made. It is intended to administer a similar grants scheme in 2011. Library and Museum staff also gave several presentations at Provincial offices on conservation.

Acquisitions

Donations of regalia, books and artefacts have continued to enable the Library and Museum to expand its collections and the Council is grateful for the generosity of all donors.

Raising awareness of the Collections

Members of staff spoke at lodges around the country and at meetings of family history societies and local and specialist history groups. The Curator, Mark Dennis, presented a paper on masonic regalia at the International Costume Conference in Athens in April.

Director Diane Clements and Archivist and Records Manager Susan Snell, presented papers at the Women and Freemasonry conference organised by the University of Bordeaux in May and these will be published in 2011-2012.

Susan Snell also spoke to the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain and gave a paper to the British Records Association conference in December on Masonic charity.

In November 2010 a joint event, Freemasonry and Ancient Egypt, was run with the Petrie Museum at University College, London. Due to the success of this event it was repeated early in 2011.

Plans for future periods

One of the most important resources used by the Library and Museum are the membership registers maintained by UGLE for the century or so after the 1880s. These exist as unique volumes. During 2011 the Library and Museum is undertaking a project to microfilm these volumes to assist with their future preservation.

For 2011 the temporary exhibition programme will include Building Solomon’s Temple and The Patriot Freemason: Freemasonry in American Society. Work continues on documentation, cataloguing and re-storage.

Financial Review

As at 31 January 2011 the consolidated net assets of the Library and Museum Charitable Trust were £2,719,700 (2010: £2,634,699).

The activities of the Library and Museum are funded by donations, fees charged for genealogical research and booking fees for Saturday tours. The Friends of the Library and Museum established in 2001 enables individuals (whether Freemasons or not), lodges and chapters to support the Library and Museum by way of an annual subscription.

Friends receive regular Newsletters and can attend special events. The Friends scheme is open to all those interested in developing their understanding of the varied collections of the Library and Museum and who wish to contribute to their development and care.

The Library and Museum’s trading subsidiary, Letchworth’s (Freemasons’ Hall, London) Limited made a Gift Aid contribution to the Library and Museum of £92,202 (2010: £75,740).

This Report comprises extracts from the Annual Report and Accounts for the year ended 31 January 2011. For a copy of the full Annual Report and Accounts please write to the Director.

Published in UGLE

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