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Freemasonry in Lincoln

Becoming a Freemason in Lincoln

Becoming a Freemason

The Dowland Manuscript was first printed in the Gentleman's Magazine in 1815. The contributor, James Dowland, wrote "For the gratification of your readers, I send you a curious address respecting Freemasonry which not long since came into my possession. It is written on a long roll of parchment, in a very clear hand apparently in the 17th century, and probably was copied from a MS. of earlier date." This earlier date is still estimated to be around 1550, making the Dowland the second oldest prose constitutions known. The wages mentioned in the text agree with other manuscripts known to originate in the second half of the sixteenth century. Unfortunately, the original is now lost.

The history is similar to that of the Cooke manuscript. In this case we are told that the first charges proceeded from Euclid's instruction of the sons of the Egyptian Lords. The Master Mason at the construction of the Temple of Solomon is a son of King Hiram of Tyre called Avnon. Again Masonry diffuses from the Temple and enters Saint Alban's England from France. The science suffers in the wars following Alban's death, but is restored under Athelstan. His son, now named as Edwinne, is the expert geometrician who obtains his father's charter for an annual assembly of masons, that should be "renewed from Kinge to Kinge". The assembly under Edwin is for the first time identified as having occurred at York. The articles and points are now replaced with a series of charges, in the form of an oath.

The emergence of York, and the appearance of the more modern form of the charges after a century of silence in the documentary record, have been linked by Prescott to government policy in from the second half of the sixteenth century, which allowed wage increases for London masons, while attempting rigid wage control in the North of England.

Grand Lodge No 1

This manuscript inexplicably appears in Hughan's Old Charges with a date of 1632, which Speth, the next editor, attributed to the terrible handwriting of Rev. Woodford, Hughan's collaborator. It is the first of the charges to bear a date, which is just discernible as 1583, on 25 December. The document is in the form of a roll of parchment nine feet long and five inches wide, being made up of four pieces pasted at the ends. The United Grand Lodge of England acquired it in 1839 for twenty-five pounds from a Miss Sidall, the great-granddaughter of Thomas Dunckerley's second wife. The handwriting is compatible with the date of 1583, although the language is older, leading Henry Jenner to propose that it was copied from an original up to a century older. The contents of Grand Lodge 1 tell the same tale as the Dowland manuscript, with only minor changes. Again, the charges take the form of an oath on a sacred book.

Within this manuscript and the Dowland we find a curious mason called Naymus Grecus (Dowland has Maymus or Mamus Grecus), who had been at the building of Solomon's Temple, and who taught Masonry to Charles Martel before he became King of France, thus bringing Masonry to Europe. This obvious absurdity has been interpreted by Neville Barker Cryer as a coded reference to Alcuin of York, possibly from a misunderstanding of one of his poems. In Carmen XXVI is the line, "Et Nemias Greco infundat sua poculo Baccho", expressing the wish that Nemias should fill Alcuin's cup with Greek wine. Nemias, or Nehemias, was Alcuin's code name for Eberhard, Charlemagne's cupbearer. Cryer presents the possibility that a misunderstanding allowed Nemias Greco to be assumed to refer to the Yorkshire saint and scholar.

Later manuscripts: At this point, the old charges had attained a standard form. What became known as the York Legend had emerged in a form that would survive into Preston's Illustrations of Freemasonry, a work of 1772 which was still being reprinted in the mid nineteenth century. The requirement for every new admission to be sworn to the Old Charges on the bible now meant that every lodge should have its own manuscript charges, and over a hundred survive from the seventeenth century until the period in the eighteenth when their use died out. Describing them all is beyond the scope of a single article, and unnecessary since differences are only in details, such as occasional clumsy attempts to deal with the absence of Edwin, Athelstan's son, from any historical record. Differences also occur in the specifics of the charges and the manner of taking the oath. A very few manuscripts have a separate Apprentice Charge. Families of documents have been identified, and two systems of classification exist. A few documents deserve special attention.

Lansdowne: This document was purchased by the British Government as part of a collection amassed by William Petty, Marquis of Lansdowne. It was bundled with papers from William Cecil, a prominent Elizabethan politician who died in 1598, and was assumed to belong to the same period. Analysis of the handwriting places it a hundred years later, and later papers have been found in Cecil's bundle. Lansdowne is still frequently cited as an Elizabethan document.

The Constitutions of the Free-Masons, "For the Use of the Lodges" in London and Westminster, was published in 1723. It was edited by the presbyterian clergyman, James Anderson, to the order of John Theophilus Desaguliers, and approved by a Grand Lodge committee under his control. This work was reprinted in Philadelphia in 1734 by Benjamin Franklin, who was that year elected Grand Master of Masons in Pennsylvania. It was also translated into Dutch (1736), German (1741), and French (1745).

Anderson was minister of the Presbyterian church in Swallow Street, London, which had once been Huguenot church, and one of its four Deacons was Desaguliers' father. At the time of his meeting with Desaguliers, he seems to have passed himself off as a Talmudic scholar. His reward for his labours was the copyright on the work. In time, and to Anderson's dismay, it was condensed into "pocket" editions over which he had no control and from which he received no income. It was expanded, updated, and re-published in 1738.

The historical section, which comprises almost half the book, has already been described. This is followed by the "Charges", general rules for the conduct of Freemasons, and Payne's Regulations, the specific rules by which Grand Lodge and the lodges under its control were to be governed. The ceremony for dedicating a new lodge was briefly outlined, and the work finished with a section of songs. For the first time, the old hand-written charges and constitutions was replaced by an accessible, printed condensation of all there was to being a Freemason, omitting only the ritual. Although the historical section was attacked at the time, and ever since, as being a work of obvious fiction, the work remains a milestone in masonic history. The "Antient Charges" published in the current Book of Constitutions of the United Grand Lodge of England have altered little from those originally published by Anderson.

In common with other trades or mysteries, medieval Masonry recognised three grades of craftsman;— the apprentice, the journeyman, and the master. An apprentice who had learned his craft became a journeyman, qualified to do all manner of masonic work. The master was also qualified as a project manager, often functioning as architect as well. He would sketch the day's work on a tracing board for execution by the journeymen and apprentices. The Schaw Statutes of 1598 show how this had evolved in the lodge system of Scottish Masonry. An apprentice, after serving his term of seven years, could elect to pay to join a lodge, becoming an "entered apprentice". (Alternatively, he could elect to freelance on the lower grades of building work as a "Cowan".) The journeymen were referred to as "fellows" or "fellows of the craft", which accords with the Regius poem's injunction (line 51) that masons should "calle other felows by cuthe". The members of the lodge were "Brithers" (brothers), a Scottish legal term for those bound to each other by oath. The Master was simply the mason in charge of the lodge, or one who had held that distinction.

While the swearing of some sort of oath goes back to the earliest records of organised Masonry, the first recorded ritual is not until 1696, in the Edinburgh Register House manuscript. From this, and from other documents of the same period, such as the Trinity College, Dublin manuscript of 1711, we can form an idea of the ritual of an operative lodge at the end of the 17th century. On taking of the oath of an Entered Apprentice a mason was entrusted with appropriate signs, a "Mason's Word", and a catechism. This was accompanied by much horseplay, which was probably excised as the craft became more gentrified. The fellowcraft was made to take a further oath, and entrusted with two further words and the "five points of fellowship", which in 1696 were foot to foot, knee to knee, heart to heart, hand to hand, and ear to ear. The distinction between a fellowcraft and a master is unclear, and in many documents they appear to be synonymous. As accepted masons became initiated, where the various words and signs could no longer be regarded as professional qualifications, the entered apprentice ritual and the fellowcraft/master were sometimes condensed into one ceremony.

In Pritchard's Masonry Dissected, an exposure of masonic ritual written in 1730 by a disillusioned ex-mason, we see for the first time something recognisable as the three degrees of modern Freemasonry. On being admitted to a lodge, a new mason naturally progresses through the degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason. There still remains the rank of Installed Master, which comprises the Master in charge of the lodge and its past masters, and involves its own ritual, words and signs, but entails being elected to take charge of the lodge for a year. These are the regular degrees and ranks of "craft" Masonry, common to all constitutions. Other, "higher" degrees are optional and require a mason to join a side-order, except in lodges constituted under the Grand Lodge of Scotland, which are empowered to confer the Mark Master Mason degree on Master Masons, as an extension to the second or Fellowcraft degree. (see main article, Freemasonry)

Lincoln (/ˈlɪŋkən/) is a cathedral city and county town of Lincolnshire in the East Midlands of England. The non-metropolitan district of Lincoln had a 2012 population of 94,600. The 2011 census gave the urban area of Lincoln, which includes North Hykeham and Waddington, a population of 130,200. Roman Lindum Colonia developed from an Iron Age settlement on the River Witham. The city's landmarks include Lincoln Cathedral, an example of English Gothic architecture and the tallest building in the world for over 200 years, and the 11th-century Norman Lincoln Castle. The city is home to the University of Lincoln and Bishop Grosseteste University, and to both Lincoln City FC and Lincoln United FC.

Lincoln's economy is based mainly on public administration, commerce, arable farming and tourism, with industrial relics like Ruston (now Siemens) still in existence. However, many of Lincoln's industrial giants have long ceased production there, leaving large empty industrial warehouse-like buildings. More recently, these have become multi-occupant units, with the likes of Lincs FM radio station (in the Titanic Works) and LA Fitness gym taking up space. The main employment sectors in Lincoln are public administration, education and health, which account for 34 per cent of the workforce. Distribution, restaurants and hotels account for 25 per cent.

Like many other cities, Lincoln has developed a growing IT economy, with many e-commerce mail order companies set up, along with a plethora of other, more conventional small industrial businesses. One reason behind the University of Lincoln was to increase inward investment and act as a springboard for small companies. Its presence has also drawn many more licensed premises to the town centre around the Brayford Pool. A small business unit next door to a university accommodation building, the Think Tank, opened in June 2009.

County council building on Newland: The Extra motorway services company is based on Castle Hill, with most new UK service areas being built by Swayfields, which is the parent company. There are two main electronics companies in the town: Chelmsford-based e2V (formerly Associated Electrical Industries before 1961) is situated between Carholme Road (A57) and the Foss Dyke next-door to Carholme Golf Club; and Dynex Semiconductor (formerly Marconi Electronic Devices) is in Doddington Road (B1190) near the A46 bypass and near North Hykeham. Bifrangi, an Italian company making crankshafts for off-road vehicles (tractors) using a screw press is based at the former Tower Works owned by Smith-Clayton Forge Ltd.

Lincoln is the hub of a wider area encompassing satellite settlements such as Welton, Saxilby, Skellingthorpe and Washingborough, which look to Lincoln for most service and employment needs. Adding them to the city's population raises it to 165,000. Lincoln is the main centre for jobs and facilities in Central Lincolnshire, and performs a regional role over much of Lincolnshire and parts of Nottinghamshire. According to a document entitled "Central Lincolnshire Local Plan Core Strategy", Lincoln is within a "travel-to-work" area with a population of about 300,000.

Since 1994 Lincoln has gained two universities, in association with its growth in the services sector. New blocks of flats, restaurants and entertainment venues have appeared. Entertainment venues linked to the universities include The Engine Shed and The Venue Cinema.

In 2021, Lincoln joined the UK's Key Cities network.

The city is a tourist centre for those visiting historic buildings that include the cathedral, the castle and the medieval Bishop's Palace.

Waterside Empowerment 2002 sculpture

The Collection, of which the Usher Gallery is now part, is an important attraction, partly in a purpose-built venue, it currently contains over 2,000,000 objects, and was one of the four finalists for the 2006 Gulbenkian Prize. Any material from official archaeological excavations in Lincolnshire is eventually deposited in The Collection, so that it continues to grow. Other attractions include the Museum of Lincolnshire Life and the International Bomber Command Centre.

Tranquil destinations close by are Whisby Nature Reserve and Hartsholme Country Park (including the Swanholme Lakes SSSI), while noisier entertainment can be found at Waddington airfield, Scampton airfield (base of the RAF's Red Arrows jet aerobatic team), the County Showground or the Cadwell Park motor racing circuit near Louth.

Early in December the Bailgate area holds an annual Christmas Market in and around the Castle grounds, shaped by the traditional German-style Christmas markets as found in cities, including Lincoln's twin town Neustadt an der Weinstrasse. In 2010, for the first time in its history, the event was cancelled due to "atrocious" snowfalls across most of the United Kingdom.

Becoming a Freemason in United Kingdom

Becoming a Freemason in England

Region          East Midlands

Ceremonial county Lincolnshire

City status     1072

Incorporated 1 April 1974

Administrative centre         Guildhall and Stonebow


 • Type           Non-metropolitan district

 • Body           City of Lincoln Council

 • Leadership            Leader and cabinet

 • Executive  Labour

 • Mayor         Sue Burke (Lab)

 • Council Leader    Ric Metcalfe (Lab)


 • City and borough 13.78 sq mi (35.69 km2)

Population (mid-2019 est.)

 • City and borough 97,541

 • Rank          245th (of 317)

 • Density      1,780/sq mi (687/km2)

 • Ethnicity    95.6% White

0.8% Asian

0.8% Irish

0.5% Chinese

0.5% African

Demonym(s) Lincolnian

Time zone     UTC+0 (Greenwich Mean Time)

 • Summer (DST)     UTC+1 (British Summer Time)

Postcode areas       


Dialling codes          01522

ONS code     32UD (ONS)

E07000138 (GSS)

OS grid reference    SK9771

Primary airports       Humberside Airport (outside Lincoln), East Midlands Airport

Councillors   33

Member of Parliament        Karl McCartney (Con)