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Freemasonry in Plymouth
Becoming a Freemason in Plymouth
Becoming a Freemason
Freemasonry describes itself as a "beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols". The symbolism is mainly, but not exclusively, drawn from the tools of stonemasons – the square and compasses, the level and plumb rule, the trowel, the rough and smooth ashlars, among others. Moral lessons are attributed to each of these tools, although the assignment is by no means consistent. The meaning of the symbolism is taught and explored through ritual, and in lectures and articles by individual Masons who offer their personal insights and opinions.
All Freemasons begin their journey in the "craft" by being progressively "initiated", "passed" and "raised" into the three degrees of Craft, or Blue Lodge Masonry. During these three rituals, the candidate is progressively taught the Masonic symbols, and entrusted with grips or tokens, signs and words to signify to other Masons which degrees he has taken. The dramatic allegorical ceremonies include explanatory lectures, and revolve around the construction of the Temple of Solomon, and the artistry and death of the chief architect, Hiram Abiff. The degrees are those of "Entered apprentice", "Fellowcraft" and "Master Mason". While many different versions of these rituals exist, with various lodge layouts and versions of the Hiramic legend, each version is recognisable to any Freemason from any jurisdiction.
In some jurisdictions, the main themes of each degree are illustrated by tracing boards. These painted depictions of Masonic themes are exhibited in the lodge according to which degree is being worked, and are explained to the candidate to illustrate the legend and symbolism of each degree.
The idea of Masonic brotherhood probably descends from a 16th-century legal definition of a "brother" as one who has taken an oath of mutual support to another. Accordingly, Masons swear at each degree to keep the contents of that degree secret, and to support and protect their brethren unless they have broken the law. In most Lodges the oath or obligation is taken on a Volume of Sacred Law, whichever book of divine revelation is appropriate to the religious beliefs of the individual brother (usually the Bible in the Anglo-American tradition). In Progressive continental Freemasonry, books other than scripture are permissible, a cause of rupture between Grand Lodges.
The historical record shows two levels of organisation in medieval Masonry, the lodge and the "guild". The original use of the word lodge indicates a workshop erected on the site of a major work, the first mention being Vale Royal Abbey in 1278. Later, it gained the secondary meaning of the community of masons in a particular place. The earliest surviving records of these are the laws and ordinances of the lodge at York Minster in 1352. These regulations were imposed by the Dean and Chapter of the Minster.
Nineteenth-century historians imposed the term "guild" on the "fellowships" of medieval tradesmen as an analogy with the merchant guilds. The masons were late in forming such bodies. The major employer of masons in medieval England was the crown, and the crown frequently employed masons by impressment. In other words, they were forcibly recruited when the need arose.
The Halliwell Manuscript, also called Regius Poem, is the oldest known document of masonic origin. It was published in 1840 by Shakespearean scholar and collector James Halliwell who dated it to 1390. A. F. A. Woodford, the pioneering Masonic scholar and a founder of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, agreed with this dating. More recently, historian Andrew Prescott has dated the text to the second quarter of the fifteenth century.
The poem may be seen as a response to a stream of legislation dating back to the Black Death, and the Statute of Labourers of 1351, in which Edward III attempted to fix wages at pre-plague levels. The earlier date follows the 1389 ordinance of Richard II requiring the guilds and fellowships to lay before him their Charters and Letters Patent, and the second follows the more serious legislation of 1425 banning the annual assemblies of masons.
In 1356, the preamble to regulations governing the Trade of Masons specifically states that, unlike the other trades, no body existed for the regulation of Masonry by masons. Finally, in 1376, four representatives of the "mystery" or trade are elected to the Common Council in London. This also seems to be the first use of the word "freemason" in English. It was immediately struck out, and replaced with the word "mason".
The poem claims that these assemblies were ordained by King Athelstan and that he also linked the wages of a mason to the cost of living.
The Cooke Manuscript, dating from about 1450, set the pattern for what Anderson called the "Gothic Constitutions", the older histories and regulations of the craft. After a brief blessing, these documents describe the seven Liberal Arts, assigning predominance to Geometry, which is equated with Masonry. They then proceed to a history of Masonry/geometry, finishing with King Athelstan, or Edwin, his brother or son depending on source, assembling England's masons to give them their charges. The regulations or charges follow, usually with instructions as to the manner in which a new mason should swear to them.
Plymouth is a port city in England on the south coast of Devon, approximately 37 miles (60 km) south-west of Exeter and 190 miles (310 km) west-south-west of London. Enclosing the city are the mouths of the river Plym and river Tamar, which are naturally incorporated into Plymouth Sound to form a boundary with Cornwall. Plymouth's early history extends to the Bronze Age when a first settlement emerged at Mount Batten. This settlement continued as a trading post for the Roman Empire, until it was surpassed by the more prosperous village of Sutton founded in the ninth century, now called Plymouth. In 1620, the Pilgrim Fathers departed Plymouth for the New World and established Plymouth Colony, the second English settlement in what is now the United States of America. During the English Civil War, the town was held by the Parliamentarians and was besieged between 1642 and 1646.
Throughout the Industrial Revolution, Plymouth grew as a commercial shipping port, handling imports and passengers from the Americas, and exporting local minerals (tin, copper, lime, china clay and arsenic). The neighbouring town of Devonport became strategically important to the Royal Navy for its shipyards and dockyards. In 1914, three neighbouring independent towns, viz. the county borough of Plymouth, the County Borough of Devonport, and the urban district of East Stonehouse were merged, becoming the County Borough of Plymouth. In 1928, it achieved city status. During World War II, due to the city's naval importance, the German military targeted and partially destroyed the city by bombing, an act known as the Plymouth Blitz. After the war, the city centre was completely rebuilt. Subsequent expansion led to the incorporation of Plympton, Plymstock, and other outlying suburbs, in 1967. The city is home to 262,100 (mid-2019 est.) people, making it the 30th-most populous built-up area in the United Kingdom and the second-largest city in the South West, after Bristol. It is governed locally by Plymouth City Council and is represented nationally by three MPs. Plymouth's economy remains strongly influenced by shipbuilding and seafaring but has tended toward a service economy since the 1990s. It has ferry links to Brittany (Roscoff and St Malo) and to Spain (Santander). It has the largest operational naval base in Western Europe, HMNB Devonport, and is home to the University of Plymouth. Upper Palaeolithic deposits, including bones of Homo sapiens, have been found in local caves, and artefacts dating from the Bronze Age to the Middle Iron Age have been found at Mount Batten, showing that it was one of few principal trading ports of pre-Roman Britannia dominating continental trade with Armorica. An unidentified settlement named TAMARI OSTIA (mouth/estuaries of the Tamar) is listed in Ptolemy's Geographia and is presumed to be located in the area of the modern city. An ancient promontory fort was located at Rame Head at the mouth of Plymouth Sound with ancient hillforts located at Lyneham Warren to the east , Boringdon Camp and Maristow Camp to the north .
The settlement of Plympton, further up the River Plym than the current Plymouth, was also an early trading port. As the river silted up in the early 11th century, mariners and merchants were forced to settle downriver, at the current day Barbican near the river mouth. At the time this village was called Sutton, meaning south town in Old English. The name Plym Mouth, meaning "mouth of the River Plym" was first mentioned in a Pipe Roll of 1211. The name Plymouth first officially replaced Sutton in a charter of King Henry VI in 1440. See Plympton for the derivation of the name Plym.
Becoming a Freemason in United Kingdom
Becoming a Freemason in England
Region South West England
Ceremonial county Devon
City status 1928
Unitary Authority 1998
• Type City Council
• Body Plymouth City Council
• Executive Labour
• Lord Mayor Sam Davey
• HQ Civic Centre Precinct
• Wards 20
• MPs Johnny Mercer (Moor View, Conservative)
Luke Pollard (Sutton & Devonport, Labour Co-op)
• Total 30.82 sq mi (79.83 km2)
Area rank 235th (of 317)
Highest elevation 509 ft (155 m)
Lowest elevation 0 ft (0 m)
Population (mid-2019 est.)
• Total 262,100
• Rank 62nd (of 317)
• Density 8,500/sq mi (3,300/km2)
• Demonyms Plymothian (formal)
Time zone UTC0 (GMT)
• Summer (DST) UTC+1 (BST)
Area code(s) 01752