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Freemasonry in Chelmsford

Becoming a Freemason in Chelmsford

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."

Political opposition

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.

The City of Chelmsford is a local government district in Essex, England. It is named after its main settlement, Chelmsford, which is also the county town of Essex. On 1 June 2012 Chelmsford was granted city status to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. The current district was formed on 1 April 1974 from the borough of Chelmsford, and most of the Chelmsford Rural District.

Parish councils : Boreham, Broomfield, Chignall (Chignal St James and Chignall Smealy), Danbury, East Hanningfield, Galleywood, Good Easter, Great Baddow, Great and Little Leighs, Great Waltham, Highwood, Little Baddow, Little Waltham, Pleshey, Rettendon, Roxwell, Runwell, Sandon (includes Howe Green), South Hanningfield, Springfield, Stock, West Hanningfield, Woodham Ferrers and Bicknacre, Writtle.

To the north-west it borders the district of Uttlesford and to the north-east the boundary is with the district of Braintree. It shares its eastern border with Maldon. To the south-east its borders the district of Rochford, to the south the district of Basildon and to the south-west it the borough of Brentwood. To the west the borough has a boundary with the district of Epping Forest. The total population of the area covered by the borough is 157,748 (ONS 2004 estimate). Approximately 60,000 live in the city and over 42,400 in the surrounding suburban and semi-rural parishes. Around 16,600 live in South Woodham Ferrers. The remainder of the population live in the surrounding rural areas, including the villages of Galleywood, Bicknacre, East, West and South Hanningfield, Boreham, Ford End, Pleshey, Highwood, Good Easter, High Easter, Chignal St James, Chignal Smealy, Howe Green, Roxwell, Great Leighs, Little Leighs, Broomfield, Great Waltham, Little Waltham, Great Baddow, Little Baddow, Danbury, Sandon, Rettendon, Runwell, Margaretting, Stock and Writtle. (Source: population derived from 2001 census). However this number is expected to rise dramatically, with 40,000 homes to be built in the metropolitan area of the borough which could bring the size of Chelmsford up to over 170,000 to be concentrated around Boreham Airfield, Broomfield, North Springfield and Beaulieu Park. These communities would be primarily built as an urban village design; a place to work, live and play. The rail links, both national and international, which run through the borough, are all operated by Abellio Greater Anglia. Two national rail services operate. The Great Eastern Main Line runs through the centre, stopping at Chelmsford railway station. Services via Chelmsford operate between London Liverpool Street and Ipswich, Clacton, Harwich, Braintree or Norwich. The Crouch Valley Line also runs through the far south-east tip of the borough, stopping at South Woodham Ferrers running services between Wickford and Southminster.

The Amsterdam Express, a rail/sea/rail international service owned by also stops in the borough at Chelmsford, connecting the town to the Netherlands, via the North Sea. There are several primary routes within the borough. One of these, the A12, is also a trunk road and runs from London and the M25, centrally in a north-easterly direction through the borough bypassing the city of Chelmsford onwards to Suffolk and Norfolk. Two other significant primary routes are the A130 which runs north-south across Essex and the A414, which begins as a primary route in Chelmsford but its terminus us Maldon in Essex. The A414 then runs west through Essex, meets the M11 and then its path continues into Hertfordshire via Harlow. Various other A- and B-Roads connect the borough, especially the city of Chelmsford to the rest of the county and beyond. There is, additionally, a large integrated bus network provided primarily by First Essex which connects the city to towns and villages across the county. Other smaller operators also provide services, such as Stephensons of Essex and TGM Group to name a few.

Becoming a Freemason in United Kingdom

Becoming a Freemason in England

Region          East of England

Non-metropolitan county   Essex

Admin HQ     Chelmsford

Incorporated 1 April 1974


 • Type           Non-metropolitan district council

 • Body           Chelmsford City Council

 • Leadership            Leader & Cabinet (Liberal Democrat)

 • MPs            Vicky Ford

Kemi Badenoch

John Whittingdale


 • Total           132.14 sq mi (342.24 km2)

Area rank      120th (of 317)

Population (mid-2019 est.)

 • Total           178,388

 • Rank          108th (of 317)

 • Density      1,300/sq mi (520/km2)

 • Ethnicity    94.6% White

2.0% S.Asian

1.3% Black

1.2% Mixed Race

Time zone     UTC0 (GMT)

 • Summer (DST)     UTC+1 (BST)

ONS code     22UF (ONS)

E07000070 (GSS)

OS grid reference    TL713070