Book Review – This Chequered Existence

This Chequered Existence

A History of Freemasonry in the Twentieth-century 1900-1999

By Paul Calderwood

The author of This Chequered Existence, Paul Calderwood, is a gentleman, freemason and scholar. Whilst without embossment, this book surely carries the imprimatur of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE).

The term ‘Chequered’ may raise hopes of ‘warts and all’ but highs and lows are covered with equanimous equipoise. Whilst researched and compiled with consummate academic rigor, the text is highly digestible and will be enjoyed by everyone with an interest in UGLE’s journey through the previous century. 

Based on an accumulation of substantial data, each chapter traces a major theme including:-  Royal endorsement, buildings, politics, religion, charity, and negative perceptions of Freemasonry.

Chapter 3, ‘Freemasonry Universal’, describes freemasonries by schisms rent asunder.

Chapter 7, ‘The Political World’, is a fascinating broad canvas making clear that whilst ‘politics’ in a lodge is forbidden, that ban does not, and cannot, apply to Grand Lodge or The Board of General Purposes.

Expansion on what is covered could fill volumes yet, the Author’s conclusions drawn from the data are initial and thereby allow readers great scope to draw alternative conclusions.  

Chapter 1, ‘Membership rise and fall’, seeks to provide a masonic sociology indicating that Freemasonry is for anyone with disposable income and facilitates social and economic mobility for those who look, sound and act the masonic part – regardless of educational background.

Chapter 2, ‘New Buildings’, provides much data but perhaps might have dilated on Freemasons Hall Great Queen Street, the Royal Masonic Hospital and others. These were completed in the 1930s in ‘Modernist’ style (from 1960s called Art Deco) which made bold statements of modernity and secularism; an appropriate masonic celebration of pure geometry, in contrast to the ecclesiastical gloom of gothic.

The chapters are well supported with a series of Appendices the first of which is a substantial list of prominent people in the public domain, whose masonic membership had been referenced in the national press.

Again data-packed, the other appendices expand on building usage and particular aspects of religion and charity.

However, for this reviewer, Freemasonry and religion are as tectonic plates in continuous collision.

It would have been helpful to:

(i) have light on the apparent oxymoron of ‘Regular’ Freemasonry being secular yet demanding belief in a personal, intercessory, deity;

(ii), light on why during the 20th Century, belief in TGAOTU was superseded by first ‘The’ then ‘a’ Supreme Being;

(iii), why the Landmark of ‘the immortality of the soul’ was dropped without explanation?

Regardless of Freemasonry being a religion, or not, it may well be perceived by religious leaders as competition for time, mind and money.

Claims that Freemasonry can make religious people better practitioners of their religion is anathema to religious leaders and it is not entirely clear from This Chequered Existence if Freemasonry is, in whole or part, claiming to be doing ‘God’s work’.

Seemingly, Freemasonry is only for ‘People of Faith’, as Chapter 4 is titled; yet not every atheist is either stupid and/or libertine: what could be unworthy about agnostically, not knowing?

This Chequered Existence is a must for every mason with an interest in the Twentieth-century masonic journey.

Any masons without such interest are recommended to give this book a try and likely will be pleasantly impressed, it abounds with really fascinating data.

It is not the last word and wouldn’t claim to be; rather, it is a most firm foundation for making sense of how we got to where we are; and, that by freeing ourselves from the mistakes of the past, we might build a masonic Twenty-first Century. 

Dr Paul Calderwood

 

V.W.Bro Dr. Paul Richard Calderwood PGSwdB is a specialist in this period of history, having been awarded the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy by Goldsmiths, University of London, for his thesis on the history of Freemasonry in the twentieth-century.

For his essay on Freemasonry and Architecture in twentieth-century Britain he was awarded the Norman B. Spencer Prize in 2010, by Quatuor Coronati Lodge No 2076, the premier lodge of Masonic research. 

Now a full member of that Lodge, he served for three years as its Secretary. Since 2017 he has been the Secretary of the Editorial Committee of QC and its Book Reviews Editor.

Appointed by UGLE as the Prestonian Lecturer for 2013, he is the author of Freemasonry and the Press in the twentieth century.

He has also contributed sections within a number of other books including The Treasures of English Freemasonry as well as Reflections on 300 Years of Freemasonry. A former journalist, Dr

Calderwood’s articles have appeared widely in a range of international journals.

He was initiated into Freemasonry in 1974 and is a former Assistant Metropolitan Grand Master in the Craft and Assistant Metropolitan Grand Superintendent in the Royal Arch.

Currently he is the Deputy Provincial Grand Master of the Mark Province of South Wales and the Provincial Prior of the Knight Templar Province of Monmouth and South Wales.

Image credit: dyfedmarkmasons.co.uk

Article by: Gerald Reilly

Gerald Reilly was initiated in 1995 into St Osyth's Priory Lodge 2063. Essex. England (UGLE). 

He was a founder member of Josh Heller's Allthingsmasonic, and with Josh co-wrote 'The Temple that Never Sleeps' (Cornerstone Books, 2006) he is committed to the development of e-Freemasonry.

This Chequered Existence

By: Paul Calderwood 

This book is for anyone that wants to deal with the real facts and figures regarding the trends in the recent history of Freemasonry in England and Wales Although much has been written about Freemasonry hardly anything as substantial or so comprehensive as this study has been published previously to describe the history of the organisation’s development during the 20th-century.

This is all the more surprising since that century witnessed the greatest growth in the organisation’s history which extends over more than 300 years.

It was the century in which Freemasonry became ‘a mass movement’ drawing into its ranks much larger numbers of people than ever before and significantly re-shaping its social composition.

Although Freemasonry entered the 20th-century in Britain as a respected organisation, heavily patronised by royalty, praised by church leaders and well represented in government, it was by the end of the century on the defensive and facing a chorus of criticism and suspicion from parliament, the churches and the press, and endorsed in public by few.

The book examines the remarkable expansion of this significant organisation during this period, its royal connections and its role as a major force for good in the charitable sector. It also addresses important changes in its relationship with religious bodies and the media.

This book therefore attempts to trace the path of Freemasonry as it journeyed Highlights: There are many common theories about the rise and fall of Masonic membership and number of lodges in the twentieth-century.

This is the first volume to give the facts and figures displayed in easy to understand graphs and diagrams. Discover notable past and present Freemasons from lords and politicians, to priests and archbishops. See the focus of Masonic charity with details of the contributions lodges made to churches, charities and good

 

Freemasonry and the Press in the twentieth century

By: Paul Calderwood

By the end of the twentieth century, Freemasonry had acquired an unsavoury reputation as a secretive network of wealthy men looking out for each others’ interests.

The popular view is of an organisation that, if not actually corrupt, is certainly viewed with deep mistrust by the press and wider society.

Yet, as this book makes clear, this view contrasts sharply with the situation at the beginning of the century when the public’s perception of Freemasonry in Britain was much more benevolent, with numerous establishment figures (including monarchs, government ministers, archbishops and civic worthies) enthusiastically recommending Freemasonry as the key to model citizenship.

Focusing particularly on the role of the press, this book investigates the transformation of the image of Freemasonry in Britain from respectability to suspicion.

It describes how the media projected a positive message of the organisation for almost forty years, based on a mass of news emanating from the organisation itself, before a change in public regard occurred during the later twentieth-century.

This change in the public mood, the book argues, was due primarily to Masonic withdrawal from the public sphere and a disengagement with the press.

Through an examination of the subject of Freemasonry and the British press, a number of related social trends are addressed, including the decline of deference, the erosion of privacy, greater competition in the media, the emergence of more aggressive and investigative journalism, the consequences of media isolation and the rise of professional Public Relations.

The book also illuminates the organisation’s collisions with nationalism, communism, and state welfare provision. As such, the study is illuminating not only for students of Freemasonry, but those with an interest in the wider social history of modern Britain.

 

The Treasures of English Freemasonry 1717 – 2017 Hardcover

By: Richard Gan (Editor)

A true collector’s item, The Treasures of English Freemasonry 1717-2017 is a beautiful and unique publication produced in conjunction with the Library and Museum of Freemasonry.

 

Recent Articles: book reviews

Book Review - A Path to Providence: The Creation of the Middle Chamber Program

Masonic Education has regrettably been reduced to teaching protocol, traditions, and catechism while ignoring the esoteric essence of the ritual. By Shaun Bradshaw (Author), Ben Wallace (Author), Flynn Ryan (Cover Art)

more....

Book Review - A Glossary Of The Craft And Holy Royal Arch Ritual Terms

This handy little book describes the origins and original meanings of the sometimes obscure words used in our ritual by Brigadier A.C.F. Jackson

more....

Book Review - Making A Daily Advancement

In this work the author brings together a whole range of Masonic facts including the origins of our customs, our rituals and our practices, by Michael Lawrence

more....

Book Review - Nobly Born: An Illustrated History of the Knights Templar

The Templars were an unusual Order in that they lived both an active and contemplative life; making them effectively the first warrior-monks in the western world. by Stephen Dafoe

more....

Book Review - A Deserving Brother: George Washington and Freemasonry

Like several of America’s founding fathers, George Washington was a Freemason. In 'A Deserving Brother', Mark Tabbert presents a complete story of Washington’s known association with Freemasonry.

more....

Book Review - Taken by Surprise

Never again will a Freemason be caught out by a last-minute request to make a response. - Taken by Surprise by Yasha Beresiner

more....

book review - Whence Come You

The message of the book is essentially one of Freemasonry being unequivocally esoteric – spiritual – and that is something that many Masons may balk at but it is a topic that needs discussing rationally.

more....

Book Review - The Other Brotherhood: When Freemasonry Crossed the English Channel

An excellent book, being perfect for Freemasons and non-Freemasons alike who want to explore the origins of Freemasonry and to examine how it influenced French thought in the eighteenth century

more....

Book review - The Tracing Boards of the First Degree

The Tracing Board is a picture that encloses the quintessence of the ritual of the Degree and transmits it through symbols and images. By Enrico Marcia

more....

Book Review - Becoming a Craftsman -The Masonic Tutor's Handbooks: Volume 3

Becoming a Craftsman -The Masonic Tutor's Handbooks: Volume 3 - The relationship between a Fellowcraft and their Master is how the traditional wisdom of our Craft is passed on.

more....

Book Review - Freemasonry in London from 1785

This book is a well-researched study by a competent masonic scholar who has welded links from the changing scenes that arose in an era in which the most important step forward in organised Freemasonry was taken…

more....

Book Review - Meditations of a Flawed Ashlar

Many readers will probably be familiar with Bill Hosler – he is a much-respected and veteran American Freemason and a regular contributor to the Midnight Freemasons blog.

more....

Book Review - The Masonry of the «Moderns»: History and Rituality

The Masonic ritual world dates back to the 18th century, both from England and from France, which is still our most valuable reference.

more....

Book Review - Three Stages of Initiatic Spirituality - Angel Millar

Angel Millar is a well-known lecturer on Freemasonry, initiation, and esotericism as well as an artist and student of the martial arts. The author of several books.

more....

Book Review - The Rite of Seven Degrees

This book examines the deeply esoteric eighteenth-century Rite of Seven Degrees.

more....

Book Review - The Green Book of the Elus Coens

The Green Book of the Élus Coëns is the most fascinating insight yet into the secrets and mysteries of the eighteenth century’s most esoteric of masonic societies – The Order of Knight-Mason Elect-Cohens of the Universe.

more....

Book Review - Freemasonry for the Heart and Mind

Freemasonry for the Heart and Mind: A glance at Freemasonry during the Enlightenment and the American and French revolutions.

more....

Book Review - The Masonic Pageant

The Masonic Pageant is published by Cornerstone Book Publishers and features a nice foreword by Chris Hodapp, 33°.

more....

Book Review - Invisibles

It is reasonable to suggest that when published, Invisibles was the most comprehensive, comparative study, to date, of the Rosicrucian mega-meme.

more....

Book Review - Mnemonic Methods

Within this book 'Mnemonic Methods by Robert Fludd', translator Paul Ferguson introduces us to the English translation of two of Fludd's short treatises on memory

more....

Book Review - English Illuminati

This book gives us a deep look into the European occult revival of the late nineteenth century and some of its key figures…

more....

Book Review - Emulation: A Ritual to Remember

How does one begin to review a masonic classic which has faithfully served generations? Perhaps starting with the title Emulation: A Ritual to Remember.

more....

Book Review - The Rosslyn Hoax

Robert Cooper asks, would you like to know the truth about Rosslyn Chapel ?

more....

Book Review - Mastering Masonic Ritual

Mastering Masonic Ritual is focused on preparing for a successful and fulfilling journey around the floor to the Chair.

more....

Book Review - Companions of Christian Rosenkreutz

A review of Companions of Christian Rosenkreutz - Collected Papers 2008-2016

more....

Book Review - Freemasonry: Material Moral and Mystical

A review of Freemasonry: Material, Moral, and Mystical by Tony Baker

more....

Book Review - Three Distinct Knocks - John Meeks

"Why don't these new guys come back?" This is the question I often hear; and it is this same question that pushed me to write this book. - John Meek

more....

Book Review - Soldier and Mason

Soldier and Mason: The Life of Charles Warren Napier-Clavering

more....

Book Review - Bohemian Masonic Glass

A completely unique narrative publication mapping the phenomenon of glass production for the needs of Masonic lodges

more....

Book Review - This Chequered Existence

Gerald Reilly reviews this new book covering the near-modern history of Freemasonry in England and Wales during the 20th-century.

more....

Book Review - The EA, FC, MM Handbooks

Essential reading for every Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason - these seminal books by J.S.M Ward are what every Mason needs!

more....

Book Review - The Freemasons who won America's War for Independence

Find out who were the Freemasons who won America's War for Independence

more....

Book Review - Black Freemasonry: From Prince Hall to the Giants of Jazz

A book review of Black Freemasonry: From Prince Hall to the Giants of Jazz by Cécile Révauger 

more....

Book Review - Cagliostro the Unknown Master

The book review of the Cagliostro the Unknown Master, by the Editor of the book

more....

Book Review - Crime and the Craft

Crime and the Craft reveals that the Freemasons have been involved in treason, murder, conspiracy, fraud, and scandal from the time of the English Civil War to the 1980s.

more....

Book Review - Focus on Ric Berman

Focus on Ric Berman a British historian who writes about the intersection of freemasonry, politics and society.

more....

Book Review - The Temple That Never Sleeps

Freemasons and E-Masonry Toward a New Paradigm

more....

Book Review - The Secret School of Wisdom

The Authentic Rituals and Doctrines of the Illuminati is a pioneering text

more....

Book Review - Charles Warren: Royal Engineer in the Age of Empire

Sir Charles Warren, the Police Commissioner who failed to catch 'Jack the Ripper'

more....

Book Review - Freemasonry and the Press in the Twentieth Century

During the latter part of the twentieth century, the Press and Freemasonry had a tense relationship.

more....

Book Review - Who was Hiram Abiff?

Every Freemason must have at some point asked himself the above question.

more....

The Masonic Book Club (MBC)

The new MBC will have a different business model than the old.

more....

Book Review - Jesse James and the Lost Templar Treasure

Lost Templar Treasure: Secret Diaries, Coded Maps, and the Knights of the Golden Circle 

more....

Book Review - The Enigma of the Royal Arch

Holy Royal Arch What's it all about

more....

Book Review - The Craft

Review of the new book The Craft by John Dickie, Professor of Italian Studies at University College London

more....

Book Review - For Hills and Valleys

For Hills and Valleys, Mobile Schools and Republicanism in the Zêzere Valley By Aires Henriques

more....

33 and Beyond: The Royal Art of Freemasonry

33 & Beyond: The Royal Art of Freemasonry, is perhaps the most fascinating and important documentary ever made on the on the subject matter of Freemasonry.

more....

Book Review - History of Freemasonry in Bessarabia

Book review by guest reviewer Gheorghe Bichicean on the History of Freemasonry in Bessarabia by Alexandru Rufanda

more....

Game Review - On The Square

A new board game based on The Freemasons

more....

dvd review

A MIGHTY GOOD MAN / THE TRUE STORY OF THE ROSICRUCIANS (double dvd)

A drama-documentary of the life of Elias Ashmole including a reconstruction of the first personally recorded Free Masonic Initiation into a Lodge anywhere in the world.

more....

Prestonian Lecture 2020/21

This year's Prestonian Lecture - ‘A System of Morality – Aristotle and the Making of the Ritual’ - is authored, and presented by Professor G.R. Boys-Stones PAGDC.

more....

The Lost Keys of Freemasonry

Introduction to The Lost Keys of Freemasonry by Manly P. Hall

more....

Book Review - History of the Grand Orient of Italy

In depth book review in to the History of the Grand Orient of Italy by the author

more....

Book Review – Freemasonry It's Hidden Meaning

Youtube Book review by Baruti KMT-Sisouvong

more....

Book: by Gerald Reilly

The Temple That Never Sleeps

by Josh Heller and Gerald Reilly

Freemasons and E-Masonry Toward a New Paradigm

A revolutionary book for every Freemason.The two authors, American and UK Masons, present a radical view of Freemasonry for both today and tomorrow.

In addition to their ideas are those of numerous Internet Masons (E-Masons) from around the world who, by sharing the experience of their own Masonic journey, have provided stunning personal insight into the viability of the Craft in the Internet Age.

This book will challenge your understanding of Freemasonry today and how it might transform for future generations.

 

Recent Articles: by Gerald Reilly

Pure Ancient Masonry; P3. The Master, Building Better Character

Part 3: The Master, Building Better Character - Being raised is a transition from knowledge to wisdom.
Also preparation for leadership and management, demonstrated by election to Master of a Lodge.

more....

Pure Ancient Masonry; P2. A Fellow of the Craft

Part 2: A Fellow of the Craft, Building Better Knowledge. Pure Antient Masonry consists of four parts. ‘Building the Temple’ is the fundamental Masonic allegory for building better people; this must be understood as a seamless whole:

more....

Pure Ancient Masonry; - P1. An entering apprentice

Part 1. An entering apprentice: Building Better Communities; Pure Antient Masonry consists of four parts. ‘Building the Temple’ is the fundamental Masonic allegory for building better people to build a better world

more....

Pure Ancient Masonry; - Introduction

This series will consider the defining characteristics, lessons and benefits of Three Degrees, the Order of the Royal Arch and when conjoined, Pure Ancient Masonry. 

more....

The Christianising of British Freemasonries - P4

This concluding article in the series considers the separation of British freemasonries from the Grand Orient of France (GOdF) and maintaining fraternity with the Prussian Grand Lodge of the Three Globes.

more....

The Christianising of British Freemasonries - P3

Discover the battle for the 'soul' of Masonry. Part 3. French Perdition: ‘…for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness’?

more....

The Christianising of British Freemasonries - P2

How might the battle for the souls of Freemasonries be identified in a way that ensures thriving in the 21st Century? There is no guarantee of the immortality of the soul of Freemasonry! ‘We study the past in order to free ourselves from it.’ (Hariri)

more....

The Christianising of British Freemasonries - P1

This four-part series considers: 1. the separation of British Freemasonries from the Grand Orient of France (GOdF); and, 2. maintaining fraternity with the Prussian Grand Lodge of the Three Globes.

more....

The Holy Land and the Holy Sites - P4

Fourth instalment of the four-part series, considers ‘masonic’ aspiration and activity regarding the Holy Land and The Holy Sites

more....

The Holy Land and The Holy Sites - P3

Third instalment of the four-part series, considers ‘masonic’ aspiration and activity regarding the Holy Land and The Holy Sites

more....

The Holy Land and The Holy Sites - P2

The four-part series will consider ‘masonic’ aspiration and activity regarding the Holy Land and The Holy Sites

more....

The Holy Land and The Holy Sites - P1

In this four-part series, we will consider ‘masonic’ aspiration and activity regarding the Holy Land and The Holy Sites

more....

Science & Citizenship - P4

Science and Citizenship: Towards a 21st Century Masonic Mindset.
Part 4: Towards a Universal Civil Society.

more....

Science & Citizenship - P3

Towards a 21st Century Masonic Mindset: Part 3 ‘Freemasonries’ and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

more....

Science & Citizenship - P2

Towards a 21st Century Masonic Mindset: Part 2: ‘Freemasonries’ and Religiosity.

more....

Science & Citizenship - P1

Towards a 21st Century Masonic Mindset: Part 1: ‘Freemasonries’ and Governance.

more....

The Royal Arch – ‘the fourth step in regular Freemasonry’

United Grand Lodge of England, has now designated the Royal Arch, the fourth step in regular Freemasonry, it therefore must be concluded that…publications…should now be revised, and based on attracting to the benefits of the four steps.

more....

The Royal Arch: Back to Basics

In the Royal Arch ceremony, the sojourners are buried with their tools in a vault. The sun, at its highest, provides enlightenment and the principal sojourner is returned to the former companions of his toil

more....

The Unlawful Societies Act of 1799

Rebellious Freemasons and the 21st century

more....

Book Reviews: by Gerald Reilly

Book Review - Emulation: A Ritual to Remember

How does one begin to review a masonic classic which has faithfully served generations? Perhaps starting with the title Emulation: A Ritual to Remember.

more....

Book Review - Mastering Masonic Ritual

Mastering Masonic Ritual is focused on preparing for a successful and fulfilling journey around the floor to the Chair.

more....

Book Review - This Chequered Existence

Gerald Reilly reviews this new book covering the near-modern history of Freemasonry in England and Wales during the 20th-century.

more....

Book Review - The Temple That Never Sleeps

Freemasons and E-Masonry Toward a New Paradigm

more....

masonic knowledge

to be a better citizen of the world

share the square with two brothers

click image to open email app on mobile device

Share this article ....

Contents