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Freemasonry in Lichfield
Becoming a Freemason in Lichfield
Becoming a Freemason
The group of masons calling themselves the Grand Lodge of All England meeting since Time Immemorial in the City of York continued to issue written constitutions to lodges, as their authority to meet, until the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Surviving are York manuscripts numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 (3 missing), the Hope manuscript, and the Scarborough manuscript, which turned up in Canada. Of these, York 4 has been the subject of controversy since it was first described in print. It is dated 1693, and was the first of the Old Charges discovered to have a separate Apprentice Charge, or a set of oaths specially for apprentices. The controversy was caused by the short paragraph describing how the oath was to be taken. "The one of the elders takeing the Booke / and that hee or shee that is to be made mason / shall lay their hands thereon / and the charge shall bee given". Woodford and Hughan had no particular problem with this reading, believing it to be a copy of a much older document, and realising that women were admitted to the guilds of their deceased menfolk if they were in a position to carry on their trade. Other writers, starting with Hughan's contemporary David Murray Lyon, the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, insisted that the "shee" must be a scribal error for they, or a mistranslation of the Latin illi (they). Hughan failed to point out that the four lines in question are written in a competent hand in letters twice the size of the surrounding text, but riposted to Lyon that the Apprentice charge in York No 4, Harleian MS 1942, and the Hope manuscript outline the apprentice's duties to his master or Dame. Modern opinion seems resigned to letting York Manuscript number 4 remain a paradox.
Melrose No 2: The Lodge of Melrose successfully ignored the Grand Lodge of Scotland for a century and a half, finally joining in 1891 as the Lodge Of Melrose St. John No 1 bis. The original Melrose constitutions are lost, but a copy was made in 1674 by Andro Mein (Andrew Main). He appended a copy of a certificate issued to an apprentice by "his master frie Mason, in the Year of our Lord 1581, and in the raign of our Soveraign Lady Elizabeth the (22) year". Two other Scottish constitutions, the Kilwinning and the Aberdeen, declare that masons are liegemen of the King of England. This suggests an English origin of at least some of the Scottish Old Charges.
Printed constitutions: As the first Grand Lodge gathered momentum the Rev. James Anderson was commissioned to digest the "gothic constitutions" into a more palatable form. The result, in 1723, was the first printed constitutions. While manuscript constitutions continued to be used in unaffiliated lodges, their condensation into print saw them die out by the end of the century. Anderson's introduction advertised a history of Freemasonry from the beginning of the world. The York legend was therefore still employed, and persisted through reprints, pocket editions, and Preston's Illustrations of Freemasonry. Anderson's regulations, the second part of the book, followed on a set of charges devised by George Payne during his second term as Grand Master. Both charges and regulations were geared to the needs of a Grand Lodge, necessarily moving away from the simplicity of the originals. When a new Grand Lodge sprang up to carry the older rite, which they saw as abandoned by the "Moderns", their constitutions had a different approach to history. Ahiman Rezon parodied the old history of the craft, and Anderson's research. The charges and regulations of the Antients were derived from Anderson by way of Pratt's Irish Constitutions. Almost inevitably, the legendary history disappeared after the union of the two Grand Lodges in 1813.
Rituals: While over 100 manuscript 'constitutions' exist, documents detailing actual ritual are much rarer. The earliest, dating from 1696, is the Scottish Edinburgh Register House manuscript [MS], which gives a catechism and a certain amount of ritual of the Entered Apprentice and a Fellow Craft ceremonies. It was named after the building in which it was discovered, which houses the Scottish National Archives. The Trinity College Manuscript, discovered in Dublin, Ireland, but which is clearly of Scottish origin, has been dated to c.1710, is substantially the same in content. The recently discovered Airlie MS dated 1705 is therefore the second oldest known Scottish stonemasons' rituals. Although referred to as rituals these manuscripts are also aide memoires, or 'prompt sheets'. They therefore have three functions but for ease of reference they are commonly described as 'rituals'. The significance of these three rituals lie in the fact that they are 1) of Scottish origin 2) are based on the ceremonies used by Scottish stonemasons and 3) that they pre-date the existence of any Grand Lodge (essentially a 'Head Office'). Collectively they are known as the 'Scottish School'.
Many Islamic anti-Masonic arguments are closely tied to both antisemitism and Anti-Zionism, though other criticisms are made such as linking Freemasonry to Al-Masih ad-Dajjal (the false Messiah in Islamic Scripture). Some Muslim anti-Masons argue that Freemasonry promotes the interests of the Jews around the world and that one of its aims is to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to rebuild the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. In article 28 of its Covenant, Hamas states that Freemasonry, Rotary, and other similar groups "work in the interest of Zionism and according to its instructions ..."
Many countries with a majority Muslim population do not allow Masonic establishments within their borders. However, countries such as Turkey and Morocco have established Grand Lodges, while in countries such as Malaysia and Lebanon there are District Grand Lodges operating under a warrant from an established Grand Lodge.
In Pakistan in 1972, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, then Prime Minister of Pakistan, placed a ban on Freemasonry. Lodge buildings were confiscated by the government.
Masonic lodges existed in Iraq as early as 1917, when the first lodge under the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) was opened. Nine lodges under UGLE existed by the 1950s, and a Scottish lodge was formed in 1923. However, the position changed following the revolution, and all lodges were forced to close in 1965. This position was later reinforced under Saddam Hussein; the death penalty was "prescribed" for those who "promote or acclaim Zionist principles, including Freemasonry, or who associate with Zionist organisations."
See also: Anti-Masonry and Suppression of Freemasonry
In 1799, English Freemasonry almost came to a halt due to Parliamentary proclamation. In the wake of the French Revolution, the Unlawful Societies Act banned any meetings of groups that required their members to take an oath or obligation.
The Grand Masters of both the Moderns and the Antients Grand Lodges called on Prime Minister William Pitt (who was not a Freemason) and explained to him that Freemasonry was a supporter of the law and lawfully constituted authority and was much involved in charitable work. As a result, Freemasonry was specifically exempted from the terms of the Act, provided that each private lodge's Secretary placed with the local "Clerk of the Peace" a list of the members of his lodge once a year. This continued until 1967, when the obligation of the provision was rescinded by Parliament.
Freemasonry in the United States faced political pressure following the 1826 kidnapping of William Morgan by Freemasons and his subsequent disappearance. Reports of the "Morgan Affair", together with opposition to Jacksonian democracy (Andrew Jackson was a prominent Mason), helped fuel an Anti-Masonic movement. The short-lived Anti-Masonic Party was formed, which fielded candidates for the presidential elections of 1828 and 1832.
Erlangen Lodge revival, meeting in 1948
Lodge in Erlangen, Germany. First meeting after World War II with guests from US, France and Czechoslovakia, 1948.
In Italy, Freemasonry has become linked to a scandal concerning the Propaganda Due lodge (a.k.a. P2). This lodge was chartered by the Grande Oriente d'Italia in 1877, as a lodge for visiting Masons unable to attend their own lodges. Under Licio Gelli's leadership, in the late 1970s, P2 became involved in the financial scandals that nearly bankrupted the Vatican Bank. However, by this time the lodge was operating independently and irregularly, as the Grand Orient had revoked its charter and expelled Gelli in 1976.
Conspiracy theorists have long associated Freemasonry with the New World Order and the Illuminati, and state that Freemasonry as an organisation is either bent on world domination or already secretly in control of world politics. Historically Freemasonry has attracted criticism, and suppression from both the politically far right (e.g., Nazi Germany)and the far left (e.g. the former Communist states in Eastern Europe).
Freemasonry is viewed with distrust even in some modern democracies. In the UK, Masons working in the justice system, such as judges and police officers, were from 1999 to 2009 required to disclose their membership. While a parliamentary inquiry found that there had been no evidence of wrongdoing, the government believed that Masons' potential loyalties to support fellow Masons should be transparent to the public. The policy of requiring a declaration of masonic membership by applicants for judicial office (judges and magistrates) was ended in 2009 by Justice Secretary Jack Straw (who had initiated the requirement in the 1990s). Straw stated that the rule was considered disproportionate, since no impropriety or malpractice had been shown as a result of judges being Freemasons.
Lichfield (/ˈlɪtʃfiːld/) is a cathedral city and civil parish in Staffordshire, England. Lichfield is situated roughly 16 mi (26 km) north of Birmingham, 8.1 miles (13.0 km) southeast of Rugeley, 9 miles (14 km) northeast of Walsall, 7.9 miles (12.7 km) northwest of Tamworth, 13 miles (21 km) southwest of Burton Upon Trent and 18 miles (29 km) southeast of the county town of Stafford. At the time of the 2011 Census the population was estimated at 32,219 and the wider Lichfield District at 100,700.
Notable for its three-spired medieval cathedral, Lichfield was the birthplace of Samuel Johnson, the writer of the first authoritative Dictionary of the English Language. The city's recorded history began when Chad of Mercia arrived to establish his Bishopric in 669 AD and the settlement grew as the ecclesiastical centre of Mercia. In 2009, the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork, was found 5.9 km (3.7 mi) south-west of Lichfield. The development of the city was consolidated in the 12th century under Roger de Clinton, who fortified the Cathedral Close and also laid out the town with the ladder-shaped street pattern that survives to this day. Lichfield's heyday was in the 18th century, when it developed into a thriving coaching city. This was a period of great intellectual activity, the city being the home of many famous people including Samuel Johnson, David Garrick, Erasmus Darwin and Anna Seward, and prompted Johnson's remark that Lichfield was "a city of philosophers". Today, the city still retains its old importance as an ecclesiastical centre, and its industrial and commercial development has been limited. The centre of the city has over 230 listed buildings (including many examples of Georgian architecture), and preserves much of its historic character.
The origin of the modern name "Lichfield" is twofold. At Wall, 3.5 km (2.2 mi) south of the current city, there was a Romano-British village, Letocetum, a Common Brittonic place name meaning "Greywood", "grey" perhaps referring to varieties of tree prominent in the landscape such as ash and elm. This passed into Old English as Lyccid, cf. Old Welsh: Luitcoyt, to which was appended Old English: feld "open country". This word Lyccidfeld is the origin of the word "Lichfield". The form "Licitfelda" is recorded c. 710 - c. 720. Popular etymology has it that a thousand Christians were martyred in Lichfield around AD 300 during the reign of Diocletian and that the name Lichfield actually means "field of the dead" (see lich). There is no evidence to support this legend, as with many folk etymologies. The Lichfield Greenhill Bower takes place annually on Spring Bank Holiday. Originating from a celebration that was held after the Court of Arraye in the 12th century, the festival has evolved into its modern form, but has kept many of its ancient traditions. After a recreation of the Court of Arraye at the Guildhall, a procession of marching bands, morris men and carnival floats makes its way through the city and the Bower Queen is crowned outside the Guildhall. There is a funfair in the city centre, and another fair and jamboree in Beacon Park. The Lichfield Festival, an international arts festival, has taken place every July for 30 years. The festival is a celebration of classical music, dance, drama, film, jazz, literature, poetry, visual arts and world music. Events take place at many venues around the city but centre on Lichfield Cathedral and the Garrick Theatre. Popular events include the medieval market in the Cathedral Close and the fireworks display which closes the festival. Triennially the Lichfield Mysteries, the biggest community theatre event in the country, takes place at the cathedral and in the Market Place. It consists of a cycle of 24 medieval-style plays involving over 600 amateur actors. Other weekend summer festivals include the Lichfield Folk Festival and The Lichfield Real Ale, Jazz and Blues Festival. Lichfield Heritage Weekend, incorporating Dr Johnson's Birthday Celebrations, takes place on the third weekend in September with a variety of civic events including live music and free historical tours of local landmarks.
Area 14.02 km2 (5.41 sq mi)
• Density 2,412/km2 (6,250/sq mi)
OS grid reference SK115097
• London 110 miles (180 km) NNW
Becoming a Freemason in England
Becoming a Freemason in United Kingdom
Post town LICHFIELD
Postcode district WS13, WS14
Dialling code 01543
Ambulance West Midlands