The Independent Magazine for Freemasons
After the momentous Tercentenary Year celebrations, there is much to reflect on with regards to the past 300 years of English Freemasonry. The sheer volume of discoveries and documentation of the myriad characters and events that shaped those years is immense and of course, as all good historical research requires, there is an evolving need to re-evaluate and perhaps even revise portions of that history. Recent research by eminent scholars Dr Andrew Prescott and Prof Susan Mitchell Sommers underscore that need quite adequately and their assertion that the date we should be celebrating is 1721, has certainly initiated much debate, of which you can read more of in the article ‘1717 and All That’.
Amongst all the Tercentenary celebrations, there were many events that may have been missed but nonetheless exhibited important parts of the Craft’s history and their key players. The Sir John Soane’s Museum in London, collaborated with Factum Foundation, UGLE and master woodcarvers Houghtons of York to recreate one of the most beautiful pieces of symbolic lodge furniture - the ‘Masonic Ark of the Covenant’, which was commissioned from Sir John Soane to house the ‘Articles of the Union’ when the two grand lodges were joined in 1813. This remarkable creation was recently exhibited alongside Sir John’s designs, his regalia and a selection of his vast library in an exhibit at the Soane Museum, entitles Soane’s Ark and Symbolism. The Ark was then ‘returned’ to pride of place in the Grand Temple at Freemason’s Hall, London. Our cover shows the design for the ‘Masonic Ark of the Covenant’ by eminent architect and Freemason, Sir John Soane – you can read more about this extraordinary artefact and the man who created it in our article ‘Sir John Soane and the Masonic Ark of the Covenant’.
However, as we move towards the future of Freemasonry and how it can evolve, it seems that some things have not changed. Sadly the perception of the Craft has made no advancement in the media and public opinion and it was acutely poignant that the Guardian newspaper chose the last day of the Tercentenary Year to make a comment on the Organisation and its members. Since that date, they have published no less than eleven articles and opinion pieces about Freemasonry in a direct and discriminatory manner. In an unprecedented move the UGLE responded with the facts and requested a retraction and apology; when neither were forthcoming and the onslaught continued, Dr David Staples, the Chief Executive of UGLE, decided that ‘enough is enough’ – our ‘Comment’ on page 16-17 covers the issue in more detail. Do let us know your views and/or experiences in regard to this chain of events.
And finally, it is with great pleasure that I take the helm of this prestigious magazine from Mike Kearsley - whom I hope is taking the opportunity to relax in his retirement. As an author of several books on Freemasonry (writing under the name Philippa Faulks), and as former publishing manager and editor of over 35 Masonic books, I bring a reasonable pedigree to the table. I am honoured to have inherited some superb regular contributors, whilst bringing in new voices. Our new columnist, author and mentor Craig Weightman, will be offering an exciting ‘Quarterly Advancement’ each issue, to assist you in your Masonic knowledge. We will regularly ‘Meet the Author’ of Masonic books, indulge in a bit of general knowledge with our Masonic A-Z, and bring you news, views and events. And, of course, please do continue to send in your valuable news and views.
With no more ado I wish you happy reading, and until next time…