England’s Freemasons: Modern Times

Freemason Symbol

The two World Wars had taken their toll on English Freemasonry.  Between 1918-1921 some 350 new lodges were created, and between 1945-1948 a further 600 new lodges came into existence.  Many of the new lodges had been created by servicemen wishing to continue the camaraderie, which they had built up in service to their country.

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill

In 1902, Sir Winston Spencer Churchill, was initiated into the Freemason order.  He would be remembered as England’s Prime Minister of the Second World War, seeing us through to victory.  In 1965 he died, the streets of London were crowded, as the people turned out to honour him, with a military funeral, befitting a great statesman of our time.

In 1926, the Salvation Army issued a communication to its officers, expressing opposition to secret societies.

King George VI and Freemason became King of England in 1936, crowned in 1937, and in 1938 invested as Past Grand Master of Freemasonry.

In the English Magazine of 1951, entitled “Theology” the Rev Walton Hannah published an article entitled; “Should a Christian be a Freemason?  The article created a storm within the Anglican Church.  In 1954, he went on to publish his anti-Masonic book; “Masons by Degrees.”

In 1957, the English Court ruled that Freemasonry was not a religion.

On the 14th June 1967, the Grand Lodge celebrated its 250th anniversary.

On the 18th March 1968, a meeting took place in London, to discuss the relationship between Freemasons and the Roman Catholic Church between Harry Carr and Cardinal Heenan.  The result of the meeting, anti-Masonic tracts sold in London’s Roman Catholic Churches, were removed from its shelves.

In January of 1970, the Scottish Rite released its first issue of the Northern Light Magazine.

King Edward VIII and Freemason died in 1972, he who abdicated England’s throne in 1936, to marry a divorced woman; Wallis Simpson.

On the 10th June 1992, some 12,500 Freemasons gathered to celebrate the 275th anniversary of the Grand Lodge.

Wikipedia Images

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Freemasons: England’s Public Years

Masonic Symbols

On the 24th June 1717, a date in Masonic history, the start of the “Freemasons Public Years,” a date never to be forgotten.  On this day four Masonic London Lodges, which had existed secretly, came together at the Goose and Gridiron Tavern in St.Paul’s Churchyard.  They declared they be the First Grand Lodge, which became known as the Premier Grand Lodge of England, and elected Anthony Sayer as their Grand Master.

John, the Duke of Montague, became Grand Master in 1721.  After his term of office, most Grand Masters were Peers of the Realm.

On the 24th June 1721, the Grand Lodges adopted the regulation, which required all lodges to secure a charter.

In 1723 “The Constitutions of the Free Masons,” was written and published by James Anderson, under the direction of the Grand Lodge.  In 1738 he published “The History and Constitutions of the Most Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Free and accepted Masons.”

Sir Christopher wren, Architect and Freemason remembered for building St.Paul’s Cathedral and many other churches across London, following the Great Fire of London died.

In 1725, the Grand Lodge of Ireland came into being, in a public diner, reminds one of how the English Grand Lodge was formed.  In 1736, the Grand Lodge of Scotland came into existence, with William St.Clair as its first Grand Master.

Chevalier Ramsay’s Oration of 1737, put forward links between Freemasons and Knights of the Crusades.  He was credited as the founder of Freemasonry’s higher degrees found in York and Scottish Rite’s.

The Antient Grand Lodge of England was formed in 1751, as rival to the Premier Grand Lodge of England.  In 1813 both groups merged, forming the United Grand Lodge of England.

In 1789, HRH The Prince of Wales was elected Grand Master of Freemasons in England, becoming King George IV in 1820, of the Royal House of Hanover.

In 1799, the English Parliament passes the Unlawful Societies act, and Freemasons were exempt from its provisions.

1802, saw the foundation of the Irish Masonic Female Orphan School.

In 1809, the Lodge of Promulgation is formed in England, its purpose to report on differences between the rituals of Moderns and Antients.  This led to one group; The United Grand Lodge of Antients in 1813, and the acceptance of England’s Masons.  This union led to standardisation of ritual procedures and regalia.

In 1816, The Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland was formed.

On the 13th September 1821, Pope Pius VII issued his opposition to the Craft (Freemasonry) with his Papal Bull of Ecclesiam.

In 1823, the Irish Parliament passed its Unlawful Oaths Act, directed at many organisations.  Some ten months after it came in, it was announced Freemasons were exempt from the act.

On the 1st August 1824, King Ferdinand VII of Spain, passed a law that all Freemasons were sentenced to death, without trial.

Between 1825-1884, many Papal Bulls were received from Pope, against the Craft (Freemasonry):

13th March 1825 – Pope Leo XII – Quiograviora

21st May 1829 – Pope Pius VIII – Traditi

15th August 1832 – Pope Gregory – Mirari

9th November 1846 – Pope Pius IX – Qui Fluribus

20th April 1849 – Pope Pius IX – Quibus Quantisque Malis

8th December 1864 – Pope Pius IX – Quanta Cura

25th December 1865 – Pope Pius IX – Multiplires

12th October 1869 – Pope Pius IX – Apostolicae Sedis

21st November 1873 – Pope Pius IX – Esti Multa

20th April 1884 – Pope Leo XIII – Humanum Genus

In 1894 Pope Leo XIII established the Anti-Masonic Bureau.

In 1899 Leader Scott (Lady Lucy Baxter) published her book entitled “The Cathedral Builders,” about the so called missing link between Masons of the past and Freemasons of her time.

Wikipedia Image

Sources:
The Hiram Key by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas
Secret History of Freemasonry by Jeremy Harwood
The Brotherhood by Stephen Knight
Born in Blood by John Robinson

Knights Templar: Templecombe Head

Templecombe Head

Templecombe Head – Panel Painting

Just by chance, Molly Drew discovered a hidden treasure in 1945.  The painted face of a man looked down upon her, where the ceiling plaster of her cottage outhouse had fallen down.  This face had not seen the light of day, for some six hundred years or more.

This image became known as the “Templecombe Head,” a face amidst red, blue and green paint, faintly visible, painted on wooden panels, and supported by wire.

Bishop Wright the local Rector, removed the painting for cleaning and restoration.  In 1956 the painting was presented to St.Mary’s Church in Templecombe.

The image is that of a bearded man, either Jesus Christ or John the Baptist.  The style and detail of the painting are of a devotional style, but lacks signs of divinity; a halo or description.

How it came to be there, is anyone’s guess, but the area was the home of the Knights Templar.  With large scale arrests taking place and properties being searched.  Someone wanted to hide this simple painting, with the hope of retrieving it later… but that was not to be.

With the suppression of the Knights Templar, their lands and property fell into the hands of the Knights Hospitaller, who in turn lost it, when they backed the Pope not Henry VIII during England’s Tudor reign.

Knights Templar: Sibford Gower

Sibford Gower Area Map

Map of Sibford Area

In ancient times, a track linked south-west Britain to the region of Lincoln and York, avoiding swamps and forests, along the ridge of high ground, to the Cotswolds.  Four miles to the south of Sibford, near Hook Norton, it divides into two branch lines.  One heads north-east, passing to the south of Sibford parishes, crossing Cherwell, near Banbury.  The other headed northwards, over Oatley Hill, through Traitor’s Ford, along the Oxfordshire – Warwickshire county border and Sibford Gower’s eastern boundary, and along Edgehill scarp.

The two Sibfords and Burdrop hamlet stood on hill tops, close to springs, which fed into the River Stour and then into the River Severn.  Early man had to defend themselves from wild animals, marauding tribes, which led to settlements on hill tops with barricades.

William the Conqueror, rewarded fellow knights with parcels of land, for their participation in the “Battle of Hasting” in 1066, where he seized the English crown.

Domesday Book

The Domesday Book

According to the Domesday Book:

  • Henry de Ferrieres, was given 1,000 acres at Sibford Ferris.
  • William, the son of Corbician was given 1,000 acres at Sibford Gower.
  • Hugh de Grantmesnil was also granted 1,000 acres at Sibford Gower.

Knights Templar Land & Property:

  • In 1136 Queen Matilda, gave them the Manor in Cowley, upon which they built a church and preceptor.
  • In 1142, they obtained the land of Hensington.
  • In 1153, they obtained the Manor of Sibford Ferris, and the Chapel of Sibford Gower.
  • In 1156, Simon, Earl of Northampton, gave them Merton.
  • In 1185, Alan de Limsey, gave them Bradwell Manor and Church.
  • Around 1225, William of Wheatfield granted them land in Sibford Gower, for they already held land in neighbouring Sibford Ferris.
  • In 1225, the Manor of Littlemore and Horsepath, came to them on a lease.
  • Around 1239-1240, the Manor of Sandford-on-Thames was given to them, upon which they established a preceptor.
  • In 1279, they became patrons of the Priory of Littlemore.

With the end of the Knights Templar by order of the Pope, many Templars were seized and put on trial.  Their lands, their wealth passed into the hands of the Knights Hospitaller.

With the “Dissolution of the Monasteries” in 1538, Sibford Gower Chapel, formerly a Knights Templar building, was stripped bare.

(Image) Sibford Gower area map: Banburyshire Maps
(Image) Domesday Book: National Archives

Knights Templar: Gothic Architecture

Gothic Cathadral - PI

Design of Gothic Cathedral

Gregorio Papareschi, was appointed to the post of Pope Innocent II, in the year 1130, supported to the Papal throne by Bernard of Clairvaux.

Pope Innocent II

Pope Innocent II

Following his appointment, to the Papal throne, Pope Innocent II, approved the request made by the Knights Templar, granting them the right, to build and run their own churches.  Overnight the Templar’s became answerable to only one person; the Pope, and out of reach of most authorities.  They could hold their own court, impose taxes, and no longer did the church hold any pressure over them.  They were their own men, and becoming a powerful order.

They planned and developed their own style of buildings, one which was French Gothic by design.  This new style was born in 1134.

The Templar’s mentor and spiritual leader; St.Bernard of Clairvaux, showed his flair, and his designs were used for the building of the north tower at Chartres Cathedral.

Gothic architecture dates back to the 12th century, it was to be an exciting time in Medieval European history, with the development of a new style of buildings.  Many a knight had served in the Holy Land, on the Crusades, and many had been influenced by the buildings and engineering styles used.

Gothic architecture evolved over a 300 year period, with bright and airy interiors, pointed arches to emphasize light and soaring spaces, ribbed vaulting, flying buttresses, tall spires and gargoyles.

The early forms of Gothic architecture was predominately used for the building of cathedrals, and later used in the building of castles, palaces and bridges.

Gothic architecture first emerged in northern France around 1140.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

The Gothic style of building was soon taken up by the English, and used in Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.

Gothic architecture in Medieval England was developed from Norman building styles, which related to buildings from 1200 – 1500.

Early English Style: 1200 – 1300

Decorated Style: 1300- 1400

Perpendicular Style: 1400 – 1500

Gothic churches and buildings were different to Normans, on their style and way of construction.

  • Stone blocks lined side by side was the choice of Normans, but Gothic buildings used many a shaped stone.
  • Hollow walls favoured by Normans, became solid under Gothic builds, thus they could handle far greater weight.
  • The use of pointed arches strengthened buildings, compared to Normans round arches.

Cathedral roofs were much larger, and buttresses were installed to take extra weight, alongside the nave and into the foundations.  These changes spread additional weight around the building, creating additional strength.

Wikipedia Images

St.Mary’s Church – Fordingbridge

st-marys-church-fordingbridge

St.Mary’s Church – Fordingbridge

In the quaint village of Fordingbridge in Hampshire, sits St.Mary’s Church, built in the latter part of the 12th century, out of ironstone and flint, sitting upon a former Saxon building.

The building, once the property of the Templar knights, dressed in their distinctive white mantles with a red cross, highly skilled warriors for God.  With the arrest of their Grand Master; James de Molay, the order was disbanded by the Pope.  Much of their property, past into Hospitaller’s hands, including St.Mary’s Church.

In the early years of the 13th century, the church underwent some major building works, starting with the addition of two aisles to enlarge the nave, followed up with a chapel.

st-marys-church-fordingbridge-tower

Fordingbridge Tower

In the 14th century, the church received its finishing touches; north and south porches were added, with a tower giving it that elegant feel, built of ashlar blocks.  The tower holds eight bells, dating back to 1654.

A fragment of the initial church build, can be observed over the door, leading to the choir vestry; an ox head carving.  A 14th century piscine is located in the east wall of the south aisle, under a trefoil canopy.

font-fordingbridge-church

Fordingbridge Font

The church contains a Purbeck 14th century marble font, decorated with two trefoil panels, standing upon a circular stem.

The 13th century chapel has a 15th century hammer-beam roof, decorated with carved roof bosses, including a Tudor Rose and Green Man.  At the end sections of the hammer-beam roof, one can find carved figures holding heraldic shields, complimented with various symbols, including a mitre and crown.

The Chancel Arch is of 13th century, and come the 16th century a brass dedicated to the Bulkley family dated 1568 was fitted. It showed a man and wife kneeling at prayer desks with three sons and five daughters.

Situated above the north door; a wooden coat of arms of King George I.

The tomb of Captain James Seton can be found in the churchyard, the last man to be killed in a duel on English soil.

A reredos was installed in 1820 and the organ in 1887.

(Image) St.Mary’s Church: British Listed Buildings
(Images) Church Tower & Font: Wikipedia