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Freemasonry in Gloucester
Becoming a Freemason in Gloucester
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.
Gloucester is a cathedral city and the county town of Gloucestershire in the South West of England. Gloucester lies on the River Severn, between the Cotswolds to the east and the Forest of Dean to the west, 19 miles (31 km) east of Monmouth, and 17 miles (27 km) east of the border with Wales. Including suburban areas, Gloucester has a population of around 150,000. It is a port, linked via the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal to the Severn Estuary.
Gloucester was founded by the Romans and became an important city and colony in AD 97 under Emperor Nerva as Colonia Glevum Nervensis. It was granted its first charter in 1155 by Henry II. In 1216 Henry III, aged only ten years, was crowned with a gilded iron ring in the Chapter House of Gloucester Cathedral. Gloucester's significance in the Middle Ages is underlined by the fact that it had a number of monastic establishments, including St Peter's Abbey founded in 679 (later Gloucester Cathedral), the nearby St Oswald's Priory, Gloucester founded in the 880s or 890s, and Llanthony Secunda Priory, founded 1136. The town is also the site of the Siege of Gloucester in 1643, during which the city held out against Royalist forces in the First English Civil War. A major attraction of the city is Gloucester Cathedral, which is the burial place of King Edward II and Walter de Lacy, and features in scenes from the Harry Potter films. Other features of interest include the museum and school of art and science, the former county jail (on the site of a Saxon and Norman castle), the Shire Hall (now headquarters of the County Council) and the Whitefield memorial church. A park in the south of the city contains a spa, a chalybeate spring having been discovered in 1814.
Economically, the city is dominated by the service industries, and has strong financial, research, distribution and light industrial sectors. Historically it was prominent in the aerospace industry. In 1926 the Gloucestershire Aircraft Company at Brockworth changed its name to the Gloster Aircraft Company because international customers claimed that the name "Gloucestershire" was too difficult to spell. A sculpture in the city centre celebrates Gloucester's aviation history and its involvement in the jet engine. From the city's Roman name, Glevum, Anglo-Saxon migrants after 410, with their fledgling feudal structure, the Kingdom of Wessex, culturally overwhelmed the area's Romano-Celtic society and changed the city's name from Caerloyw, Gloucester's name in modern Welsh, while recognising the presence of the Roman fort. Caerloyw is: caer (meaning "fort, stronghold or castle") and loyw, a lenition of gloyw as it would have been pronounced by many speakers, means "bright/shiny/glowy". A variant of the term -cester/chester/caster instead of the Welsh caer was eventually adopted. The name Gloucester thus means roughly "bright fort". Mediaeval orthographies include Caer Glow, Gleawecastre and Gleucestre.
Gloucester was incorporated by King Richard III in 1483, the town being made a county in itself. This charter was confirmed in 1489 and 1510, and other charters of incorporation were received by Gloucester from Queen Elizabeth I and King James I. Gloucester was the site of the execution by burning of John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester, in the time of Queen Mary in 1555. In 1580, Gloucester was awarded the status of a port by Queen Elizabeth I. The Siege of Gloucester in 1643 was a battle of the English Civil War in which the besieged parliamentarians emerged victorious.
The 16th and 17th centuries saw the foundation of two of Gloucester's grammar schools: the Crypt School in 1539 and Sir Thomas Rich's School in 1666. Both still flourish as grammar schools today, along with Ribston Hall and Denmark Road High School. In the 19th century the city grew with new buildings including Wellington Parade including the grade II listed Picton House (c.1825). During the Second World War, two petroleum storage depots were constructed in Gloucester. A Government Civil Storage depot with six 4,000-ton semi-buried tanks was constructed on the Berkeley Canal in 1941/42 by Shell-Mex and BP and connected to the pipeline that ran from the Mersey to the Avon. It was also connected to the Air Force Reserve Depot and a Shell Mex and BP facility for road and rail loading. Due to severe tank corrosion, it was demolished in 1971/2 and disposed of in 1976. The second depot was an Air Force Reserve Depot with four 4,000-ton semi-buried tanks constructed in 1941/42 by Shell, Shell-Mex and BP at the Monk Meadow Dock on the Canal. Originally, delivery was by road, rail and barge and pipeline. It was also connected to the docks and to the Shell Mex and BP installation for rail and road loading facilities and the civil storage site. It was transferred from the Air Ministry to the Ministry of Power in 1959, closed in the 1990s and disposed of in the later 2000s. Gloucester's most important citizens include Robert Raikes (founder of the Sunday School movement) who is still commemorated by the name of Robert Raikes' House in Southgate Street. Its most infamous citizen was Fred West. In July 2007, Gloucester was hit badly by a flood that struck Gloucestershire and its surrounding areas. Hundreds of homes were flooded, but the event was most memorable because of its wider impact – about 40,000 people were without power for 24 hours, and the entire city (plus surrounding areas) was without piped water for 17 days. In 2009, Gloucester Day was revived as an annual day of celebration of Gloucester's history and culture. The day originally dates from the lifting of the Siege of Gloucester in 1643, during which the city held out against Royalist forces during the First English Civil War.
Becoming a Freemason in United Kingdom
Becoming a Freemason in England
Region South West England
Non-metropolitan county Gloucestershire
Status Non-metropolitan district, city
Admin HQ Gloucester
• Type Non-metropolitan district council
• Body Gloucester City Council
• Leadership Mayor & Cabinet (Conservative)
• MPs Richard Graham
• Total 15.65 sq mi (40.54 km2)
Area rank 280th (of 317)
Population (mid-2019 est.)
• Total 129,128
• Rank 179th (of 317)
• Density 8,200/sq mi (3,200/km2)
• Ethnicity 84.6% White British
4.6% White Other
2.9% Black or Black British
2.9% Mixed Race
Time zone UTC0 (GMT)
• Summer (DST) UTC+1 (BST)
Area code(s) 01452
ONS code 23UE (ONS)
OS grid reference SO832186