8 Schools of Freemasonry – Romantic P8

The Romantic School – Masons who adhere to the premise that the Traditional History (and ritual) of Freemasonry have been practised since time immemorial.

In our previous articles we cover the premise that Masonic history can be broken down into two main premises– the ‘authentic’ and the ‘scientific’.

Then these are broken down into other sub-sections i.e., the esoteric/mystical/symbolic etc.

Masonic historian John Hamill describes the Romantic School in ‘Theories of Origin’ (from ‘The History of Freemasonry’, 1984):

The romantic school are in one sense following the Andersonian tradition, implicitly believing in the direct connection between operative and speculative Masonry, whether it goes back to Adam, Solomon, or the medieval builders.

They differ from the authentic school by the refusal to acknowledge, or possibly their ignorance of the many ways in which Freemasonry has altered and developed during the period for which records exist.

They are quite ready to believe that the ritual, either its basics or its complete detail, has been practised time immemorial.

In the October 2022 issue we focused on the Authentic School of Freemasonry – the premise being that the history and origins of Freemasonry must have factual and traceable roots. We looked at how Masonic scholar Albert G. Mackey separated the schools of Masonic history into two categories:

The Historic – embraces the period within which we have authentic documents in reference to the existence of the Order.

The Prehistoric – embraces the period within which we have no authentic memorials, and when we have to depend wholly on legends and traditions. In this article the focus is on the Prehistoric – the legends of the Craft.

In this final part of the 8 Schools of Freemasonry, we take a brief look at the main ‘romantic‘ legends.




Operative Masons
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Legends of the Craft – From Operative to Speculative

From: History of Freemasonry

There are universally accepted legends attributed to what is purported to be the ‘traditional history’ of Freemasonry namely: the building of King Solomon’s temple; the story of Prince Edwin and the Grand Lodge of York; and the Time Immemorial theory that the three symbolic Craft degrees date back to ancient Egypt, the Druids, Moses, Euclid, and the Essenes. Throw in the tenuous Knight Templar connection and you have a fine romance!

The earliest masonic texts each contain some sort of a history of the craft of masonry. The oldest known work of this type, The Halliwell Manuscript, also known as Regius Poem, dates from between 1390 and 1425.

This document has a brief history in its introduction, stating that the “craft of masonry” began with Euclid in Egypt, and came to England in the reign of King Athelstan (924–939).

Shortly afterwards, the Matthew Cooke Manuscript traces masonry to Jabal, son of Lamech (Genesis 4: 20–22), and tells how this knowledge came to Euclid, from him to the Children of Israel (while they were in Egypt), and so on through an elaborate path to Athelstan. 

This myth formed the basis for subsequent manuscript constitutions, all tracing masonry back to biblical times, and fixing its institutional establishment in England during the reign of Athelstan.

Shortly after the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge of EnglandJames Anderson was commissioned to digest these “Gothic Constitutions” in a palatable, modern form.

The resulting constitutions are prefaced by a history more extensive than any before, again tracing the history of what was now freemasonry back to biblical roots, again forging Euclid into the chain.

True to his material, Anderson fixes the first grand assembly of English Masons at York, under Athelstan’s son, Edwin, who is otherwise unknown to history. 

Expanded, revised, and republished, Anderson’s 1738 constitutions listed the Grand Masters since Augustine of Canterbury, listed as Austin the Monk. William Preston’s Illustrations of Freemasonry enlarged and expanded on this masonic creation myth.

In France, the 1737 lecture of Chevalier Ramsay added the crusaders to the lineage. He maintained that Crusader Masons had revived the craft with secrets recovered in the Holy Land, under the patronage of the Knights Hospitaller.

At this point, the history of the craft in Continental Freemasonry diverged from that in England.

Anderson’s histories of 1723 and 1738, Ramsay’s romanticisation, together with the internal allegory of masonic ritual, centred on King Solomon’s Temple and its architect, Hiram Abiff, have provided ample material for further speculation.

​The earliest known ritual places the first masonic lodge in the porchway of King Solomon’s Temple. Following Anderson, it has also been possible to trace Freemasonry to Euclid, Pythagoras, Moses, the Essenes, and the Culdees.

Preston started his history with the Druids, while Anderson’s description of masons as “Noachides”, extrapolated by Albert Mackey, put Noah into the equation.

Following Ramsay’s introduction of Crusader masons, the Knights Templar became involved in the myth, starting with Karl Gotthelf von Hund’s Rite of Strict Observance, which also linked in the exiled House of Stuart.  

The murder of Hiram Abiff was taken as an allegory for the death of Charles I of England. Oliver Cromwell emerges as the founder of Freemasonry in an anonymous anti-masonic work of 1745, commonly attributed to Abbé Larudan.

Mackey states that;

“The propositions of Larudan are distinguished for their absolute independence of all historical authority and for the bold assumptions which are presented to the reader in the place of facts.”  

The anti-masonic writings of Christoph Friedrich Nicolai implicated Francis Bacon and the Rosicrucians, while Christopher Wren’s connection with the craft was omitted from Anderson’s first book of constitutions, but appeared in the second when Wren was dead.

Similarly, attempts to root Freemasonry in the French Compagnonnage have produced no concrete links.

Connections to the Roman Collegia and Comacine masters are similarly tenuous, although some Freemasons see them as exemplars rather than ancestors.

Thomas Paine traced Freemasonry to Ancient Egypt, as did Cagliostro, who went so far as to supply the ritual.

Time Immemorial

… a time in the past that was so long ago that people have no knowledge or memory of it …

James Anderson’s 1723 “The Constitutions of the Free-Masons. Containing the History, Charges, Regulations, &c. of that most Ancient and Right Worshipful Fraternity” relays the legendary ‘traditional’ history of Freemasonry ranging from the biblical Adam to the reign of King George in 1714.

Adam, our first Parent, created after the Image of God, the great Architect of the Universe, must have had the Liberal Sciences, particularly Geometry, written on his Heart;

for even since the Fall, we find the Principles of it in the Hearts of his Offspring, and which, in process of time, have been drawn forth into a convenient Method of Propositions, by observing the Laws of Proportion taken from Mechanism:

So that as the Mechanical Arts gave Occasion to the Learned to reduce the Elements of Geometry into Method, this noble Science, thus reduc’d, is the Foundation of all those Arts, (particularly of Masonry and Architecture) and the Rule by which they are conducted and perform’d (Year of the World 4003 before Christ)

No doubt Adam taught his sons Geometry, and the use of it, in the several Arts and Crafts convenient, at least, for those early Times;

for Cain, we find, built a City, which he call’d Consecrated, or Dedicated, after the Name of his eldest Son Enoch;

and becoming the Prince of the one Half of Mankind, his Posterity would imitate his royal Example in improving both the noble Science and the useful Art.

Nor can we suppose that Seth was less instructed, who being the Prince of the other Half of Mankind, and also the prime Cultivator of Astronomy,  would take equal Care to teach Geometry and Masonry to his Offspring who had also the mighty Advantage of Adam’s living among them.

But without regarding uncertain Accounts, we may safely conclude the old World, that lasted 1656 Years, could not be ignorant of Masonry;

and that both the Families of Seth and Cain erected many curious Works, until at length Noah, the ninth from Seth, was commanded and directed of God, to build the great Ark, which, tho’ of Wood, was certainly fabricated by Geometry, and according to the Rules of Masonry…


The ‘history’ spans many pages and thus began the widely accepted belief that Freemasonry was ‘time immemorial’.

Roscoe Pound, when pondering Rev George Oliver’s view:

How does Masonry seek to achieve its end? Oliver would answer by preserving, handing down and interpreting a tradition of immemorial antiquity, a pure tradition from the childhood of the race.

Freemasonry is declared to be:

[An] ancient and honourable institution: ancient no doubt it is, as having subsisted from time immemorial; and honourable it must be acknowledged to be, as by a natural tendency it conduces to make those so who are obedient to its precepts …

to so high an eminence has its credit been advanced that in every age Monarchs themselves have been promoters of the art, have not thought it derogatory from their dignity to exchange the sceptre for the trowel, have patronised our mysteries and joined in our Assemblies.

– The Charge to the Entered Apprentice

This passage is in the Charge given to every newly initiated Freemason during the Entered Apprentice Degree and so it is no wonder that many Freemasons believe that their honourable institution’s roots go back to ancient origins.

This ‘Traditional History’ is something that certainly adds to Freemasonry’s mysterious and elevated stature. However, there is no evidence to support the theory that Freemasonry was alive and kicking back in ancient Egypt, or biblical times.

So, where did this Traditional history originate? We need look no further than the Old Charges and other apocryphal manuscripts.

The York Legend –Old Charges, Operative Masons, and the York Grand Lodge


Operative Masons: Workers in stone, who construct material edifices, in contradistinction to Speculative Masons, who build spiritual edifices.

The Old Charges

Are you interested in the ‘musty old documents of the past’? This article first appeared in The Builder magazine, 1923


This legend has its symbolic feet firmly placed in both the time immemorial camp and that of the Operative masons.

The theory is that Freemasonry’s roots stretch as far back as ancient Egypt, the Old Testament, and the Mystery Schools, then fed into the work of the stone masons and their guilds, which then was the basis of Speculative Freemasonry.

Whilst there is no denying there are parallels drawn from myriad traditions within Freemasonry, there is little to no concrete historical evidence to back these theories up.

Conjecture and spurious claims abound, many of which are far more exciting and plausible for those who aspire to the more esoteric or spiritual schools of thought but there is rarely any factual basis to the claims.

​From Masonic scholars Albert Mackey:

According to the Halliwell Manuscript, or Regius Poem, probably written in the second quarter of the fifteenth century, the birth of organised English masonry occurred when King Athelstan convened a grand council of the mason’s trade.

Later manuscripts added detail, and by the time of Queen Elizabeth I the assembly was acknowledged to have occurred in York in 926.

It was convened by Athelstan’s youngest son, Edwin, who appears in no other history of the period.

This is usually referred to as the York Legend, or the Legend of the Guild.

The masonic manuscripts known as the Old Charges all retell some version of this legend.


Source: Mackey, “Encyclopedia of Freemasonry”

and G.W. Speth:

The earliest masonic documents are those of their early employers, the church, and the state.

The first claimed by modern Freemasons as the lineal ancestors of their own Charges relate to the self-organisation of masons as a fraternity with mutual responsibilities.

From the reign of Henry VI to the Elizabethan period, from about 1425 to 1550, surviving documents show the evolution of a legend of masonry, starting before the flood, and culminating in the re-establishment of the craft of masonry in York during the reign of King Athelstan.

By the seventeenth century the Old Charges had assumed a standard form. After an introductory prayer or blessing the Seven Liberal Arts are described, and rooted in Geometry.

There follows the story of the children of Lamech. His three sons invented masonry, metallurgy and music, and his daughter weaving.

Being forewarned of the destruction of the world by fire or flood, they wrote their science on two great pillars, one which would not sink, and the other fireproof.

The pillars were rediscovered after the flood, the knowledge passing from Hermes Trismegistus to Nimrod to Abraham, who carried it into Egypt where he taught it to Euclid.

Euclid in turn, taught geometry/masonry to the children of the Lords of Egypt, whence it passed back to the children of Israel who in due course used it to build the Temple of Solomon.

The diaspora of masons after the completion of the temple led to masonry arriving in the France of Charles Martel, whence it went to England under Saint Alban.

The knowledge was lost in the wars after the death of Alban, but at Edwin’s assembly at York he gave the masons their charges and had them bring any writings they had inherited.

Manuscripts in many languages were brought, and a book made showing how the craft was founded.

The enduring myth of the “Grand Assembly” was continued in the first printed constitutions of the eighteenth century, making York the birthplace of English masonry, and allowing the old lodge at York to claim precedence over all the other English Lodges.

Source: G. W. Speth, AQC

​The Temple Legend – King Solomon, Architectural Styles and the Three Degrees



Frontispiece – Book of Constitutions 1723
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

The Rev. James Anderson is well known to all Freemasons as the compiler of the “Book of Constitutions”, yet little is known of his own origins within the Craft.

Masonic Blogs – 1723 constitutions

1723 constitutions.com masonic blog marks the tercentenary of the publication in London of The Constitutions of the Freemasons – the ‘1723 Constitutions’


The following from Albert Mackey’s “Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry”:

Where and when his connection with Freemasonry commenced has not yet been discovered, but he must have been a fairly prominent member of the Craft, because, on September 29, 1721, he was ordered by the Grand Lodge, which had been established in London in 1717, to “digest the old Gothic Constitutions in a new and better method.”

On the 27th of December following, his work was finished, and the Grand Lodge appointed a committee of fourteen learned Brethren to examine and report upon it.

Their report was made on the 25th of March, 1722; and, after a few amendments, Anderson’s work was formally approved, and ordered to be printed for the benefit of the Lodges, which was done in 1723.

This is now the well-known Book of Constitutions, which contains the history of Freemasonry or, more correctly, architecture, the Ancient Charges, and the General Regulations, as the same were in use in many old Lodges.

In 1738 a second edition was published.

Anderson tells us, in the second edition of his Constitutions, that in the year 1717 Grand Master Payne “desired any Brethren to bring to the Grand Lodge any old writings and records concerning Masons and Masonry, in order to show the usages of ancient times, and several old copies of the Gothic Constitutions were produced and collated” (constitutions 1738, page 110);

but in consequence of a jealous supposition that it would be wrong to commit anything to print which related to Freemasonry, an act of Masonic vandalism was perpetrated.

For Anderson further informs us (page 111D, that in 1720, “at some private Lodges, several very valuable manuscripts, for they had nothing yet in print, concerning the Fraternity, their Lodges, Regulations, Charges, Secrets, and Usa yes, particularly one written by Mr. Nicholas Stone, the Warden of Inigo Jones, were too hastily burnt by some scrupulous Brothers, that those papers might not fall into strange hands.”

The recent labors of Masonic scholars in England, among whom the late William James Hughan deserves especial notice, have succeeded in rescuing many of the old Masonic manuscripts from oblivion, and we are now actually in possession of more of these heretofore unpublished treasures of the Craft than were probably accessible to Anderson and his contemporaries

Mackey then points to why James Anderson may have been drawn to the Temple legend:

In the Seventeenth Century German archaeology, full of vigor and beginning to employ “scientific methods,” discovered so many things about ancient Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple that a great public interest was aroused.

One of the manifestations of the latter was the excitement occasioned by the exhibition of a large-scale model of the Temple, attributed to Chancellor Schott.

This was taken over to London in 1723 and again in 1730, and there attracted endless throngs; newspapers were filled with it; clergymen preached about it; the Royal Family held a special view.

At the same period John Senex, publisher, sold innumerable copies of a plan and drawings, which was at about the time he was publishing Anderson’s 1723 Book of Constitutions, and was Junior Grand Warden.

A long description of the Temple written by the already-famous Sir Isaac Newton some years before his death was published, and ran through one edition after another.

If any Mason will ponder the Allegory of the Temple in the Second Degree and the Rite of Hiram Abiff in the Third he can see for himself how weighty is the hypothesis that both were fabricated in their present form at the time when the Jewish Temple and the Greek Temple, as it were, met in London.

Two great traditions crossed, and the point of crossing lay in the center of Freemasonry.

It is obvious that the form and inspiration of the Allegory in the Second Degree is Greek in origin, and that in the Third it is Hebrem.

It is possible, and to an unknown extent it is probable, that the germ, or first simple form, of each had existed in the Craft long before Palladio; but the form as now used has stamped on it too many of the hallmarks of the Eighteenth Century to make any doubt feasible of its origin.

And, more extraordinary still, Freemasonry itself had received its origin, form, and substance from the Gothic, begun in the Twelfth Century, and Masonry was probably always pure Gothic until the Palladian period;

thus the three greatest architectural styles—and an architectural style is the principal public form always taken by a culture— became embodied together in the Three Degrees.

Matthew Arnold was later to say that European civilization consists of a union of two civilizations, the Greek and the Hebraic; in reality it was a union of three, for the great Medieval civilization had as large a part in shaping our modern civilization as either of the other two; and it helps to explain the largeness, the power, the inexhaustibleness of Freemasonry, that it combined the three within itself.

The Knights Templar Link in the Chain

Another romantic legend that has been attached to Freemasonry is that of the Crusader knights.

The earliest documented link between Freemasonry and the Crusades is the 1737 oration of the Chevalier Ramsay.

He claimed that European Freemasonry came about from an interaction between crusader masons and the Knights Hospitaller. 

This theory is repeated in the earliest known “Moderns” ritual, the Berne manuscript, written in French between 1740 and 1744.

Ramsay was initiated as a Templar by his mentor François Fénelon into the non-Masonic French Ordre du Temple with his friend Philippe II, Duke of Orleans as Grandmaster around 1710. 

After the death of Fenelon and the Duke of Orleans, Ramsay was initiated into Freemasonry around 1730.

Since Ramsay’s Templarism predated his relationship with Freemasonry by some 20 years, this is the likely source for the introduction of Templarism into Freemasonry.

Source: Wikipedia

Several authors have attempted to link the Templars to the timeline of Freemasonry through the imagery of the carvings in Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland, where the Templars are rumoured to have sought refuge after the dissolution of the order.

In The Hiram Key, Robert Lomas and Christopher Knight describe a timeline starting in ancient Egypt, and taking in Jesus, the Templars, and Rosslyn before arriving at modern Freemasonry.

These claims are challenged by Robert Cooper, Masonic historian and former curator of the Grand Lodge of Scotland’s library and museum, in his book The Rosslyn Hoax.

Source: Wikipedia


Mackey, Albert Gallatin, Edward L Hawkins, and William J Hughan. An encyclopaedia of freemasonry and its kindred sciences : comprising the whole range of arts, sciences and literature as connected with the institution, 1927.

G. W. Speth, Quatuor Coronatorum Antigrapha, Vol I, 1888, part III, vi–vii

“Theories of Origin” Excerpt from Chapter one, The History of Freemasonry by Bro. John Hamill http://www.themasonictrowel.com/Articles/History/origin_files/theories_of_origin.htm

Wikipedia contributors, “History of Freemasonry,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=History_of_Freemasonry&oldid=1103982432 (accessed November 29, 2022).

Wikipedia contributors, “Knights Templar (Freemasonry),”Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,  https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Knights_Templar_(Freemasonry)&oldid=1124103176 (accessed November 29, 2022).

The Old Charges http://theoldcharges.com/

Article by: Philippa Lee. Editor

Philippa Lee (writes as Philippa Faulks) is the author of eight books, an editor and researcher.

Philippa was initiated into the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons (HFAF) in 2014.

Her specialism is ancient Egypt, Freemasonry, comparative religions and social history. She has several books in progress on the subject of ancient and modern Egypt.  Selection of Books Online at Amazon

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The point within a circle embordered by two perpendicular parallel lines, with the Holy Bible resting on the circle, is one of the most recognizable symbols in Freemasonry. It is also one which always raises a question. How can two lines be both perpendicular and parallel?

Mackey's 25 Masonic Landmarks

"The first great duty, not only of every lodge, but of every Mason, is to see that the landmarks of the Order shall never be impaired." — Albert Mackey (1856)

Salt, Wine, and Oil

It is common knowledge that the ancient wages of a Fellowcraft Mason consisted of corn, wine, and oil.
Many however, object to this assertion. How can corn be associated with these ancient wages when—clearly—corn was first discovered in the New World? Discover how 'corn' may in fact be 'salt'!

How Holy is Holy Ground?

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5

The Secret Language of the Stone Masons

We know of Masons' Marks but lesser known are the 'argots' used by the artisans - in part 2 of a series on the social history of the Operative Masons we learn how the use of secret languages added to the mystery of the Guilds.

So mote it be

The phrase appears in the Regius Poem. It is customary in contemporary English to end prayers with a hearty “Amen,” a word meaning “So be it.” It is a Latin word derived from the Hebrew word - Short Talk Bulletin - Vol. V June, 1927, No.6

Egypt's 'Place of Truth' - The First Operative Stone Masons' Guild?

Was ancient Egypt's 'village of the artisans' the first operative stone masons' guild? And was their use of 'identity marks' a forerunner of the Mason's Marks of the cathedral builders of the Middle Ages? Read on for some possible answers…

The Pieces of Architecture and the Origin of Masonic Study

Discover the journey of the Apprentice – from Operative to Speculative. This journey has been carried out since the times of operative Freemasonry but today the initiate works in the construction of his inner temple.

The Builders' Rites - laying the foundations operatively and speculatively

The cornerstone (also ‘foundation’ or ‘setting’ stone) is the first stone to be set in the construction of the foundations of a building; every other stone is set in reference to this.

If Found on the Level

Applying the working tools to achieve our peculiar system of morality.

Euclid's 47th Proposition

We take an in-depth look at the 47th Proposition of the 1st Book of Euclid as part of the jewel of the Past Master.

The Cable Tow Unbound

The Cable Tow: Its Origins, Symbolism, & Significance for Freemasons - Unbinding the significance of the cable tow.

The Great Journey

We examine at one of the most impressive moments of the initiatory ceremony, a certain rite known as Circumambulation, and ask what is its meaning and purpose ?

On the Level

So, what is the Level? And why do we use it in Freemasonry?

The Pigpen Cipher

What is the mysterious pigpen or Masonic cipher that has been used for centuries to hide secrets and rituals?

The Story of the Royal Arch - The Mark Degree

Extracted from William Harvey's 'The Story of the Royal Arch' - Part 1 describes the Mark Degree, including the Working Tools.

Ashlars - Rough, Smooth - Story of a Stone

How we can apply the rough and smooth Ashlars with-in a masonic context

The Chamber of Reflection

A detailed look at the Chamber of Reflection: A Revitalized and Misunderstood Masonic Practice.

Faith, Hope & Charity

Exploring the origin and symbolism of Faith, Hope and Charity

The Noachite Legend and the Craft

What is it to be a true Noachidae, and what is the Noachite Legend and the Craft ?

Jacob’s ladder

In Masonic rituals, Jacob’s ladder is understood as a stairway, a passage from this world to the Heavens.

Meaning of the Acacia

What is the meaning of the Acacia and where did it originate ?

The Feasts of St John

What is the connection with the Feasts of St John and Freemasonry

Forget Me Not

The Forget-Me-Not and the Poppy - two symbols to remind us to 'never forget' those who died during the two World Wars.

The Two Pillars

Biblical history surrounding the two pillars that stood at the entrance to King Solomon's Temple

Judaism and Freemasonry

Is there a direct link between Judaism and Freemasonry?

The Beehive

The symbolism of the beehive in Masonry and its association with omphalos stones and the sacred feminine.

Corn Wine Oil

The Wages of an Entered Apprentice

The North East Corner

An explanation of the North East corner charge which explores beyond one meaning Charity -
Extracted from William Harvey – the Complete Works

The Two Headed Eagle

A brief look at the origins of the two headed eagle, probably the most ornamental and most ostentatious feature of the Supreme Council 33rd Degree Ancient and Accepted (Scottish ) Rite

A Masonic Interpretation

A Muslim is reminded of his universal duties just as a Freemason. A Masonic Interpretation of the Quran's First Two Chapters

Audi Vide Tace

The three Latin words -{Listen, Observe, Be Silent}. A good moto for the wise freemason

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