Freemasonry: The Naked Truth

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Freemasonry in Sheffield

Becoming a Freemason in Sheffield

Becoming a Freemason: Presumed to be from a lodge of operative masons, this document contains many features of speculative ritual. Hailed as the world's oldest masonic ritual, the Edinburgh Register House manuscript of 1696 starts with a catechism for proving a person who has the word is really a mason. Among other things, the person seeking entry is expected to name their lodge as Kilwinning, attributing the origin to Lodge Mother Kilwinning in Ayrshire. The first lodge is ascribed to the porchway of King Solomon's Temple, and the form of the lodge outlined in a question and answer session, the form of the answers often being highly allegorical. A fellow craft is further expected to know and explain a masonic embrace called the five points of fellowship. The second half of the document describes all or part of an initiation ritual as the "form of giveing the mason word".

Airlie MSThe Airlie MS was discovered in 2000 by Dr Helen Dingwall whilst undertaking unrelated research in Edinburgh Register House (which gave its name to the MS ritual referred to above) in the National Archives of Scotland. Of all the MSS of the Scottish School only the origins of the Airlie MS (1705) are known with certainty. It is named after the family who owned it - the Earls of Airlie. Because the ownership and therefore the location of the MS is known it is of immense importance in understanding the origins of Freemasonry before the Grand Lodge era (from 1717). The Airlie MS has been analysed and discussed in considerable detail in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum (AQC), Vol.117.

Trinity College, DublinOther manuscripts from Scotland and Ireland give early ritual that largely confirm the text of the Edinburgh Register House manuscript. They differ mainly in having the giving of the Mason Word as the first part of the text, followed by the catechism of the first and second degrees in the form of questions and answers. These include the Chetwode Crawley, the Kevan, and the Trinity College manuscripts. In the Trinity college text the Mason Word is actually written down as "Matchpin", and appears to be part of an early Master Mason's degree. The Chetwode Crawley MS, although discovered in Dublin, Ireland, refers in its catechism to the Lodge of Kilwinning, clearly demonstrating that it is of Scottish origin and is therefore part of the Scottish School referred to above.

The Haughfoot fragmentHaughfoot was a hamlet, consisting mainly of a staging post for horses and carriages, in the Scottish Borders near the village of Stow. It was in this unlikely location that a lodge was founded in 1702 by men who were mainly local landowners. The significance of this lodge lies in the fact that none of its members were stonemasons, confirming that modern Freemasonry was fully evolved in Scotland before the appearance of centralised authority in the form of Grand Lodges. The minute book of the lodge, which is extant, commences in 1702 and inside the front covers is the part which is identical to the last portion of the Edinburgh Register House and Airlie MSS. Although not complete (the missing part was almost certainly removed for reasons of secrecy) the Haughfoot fragment is sufficient to confirm that it was very likely to have been identical to the two previously mentioned MSS. The 'fragment' was probably retained because the minute of the first meeting of the Lodge commences immediately after this portion of ritual on the same page.

Graham ManuscriptThe Graham Manuscript, of about 1725, gives a version of the third degree legend at variance with that now transmitted to master masons, involving Noah instead of Hiram Abiff. The Graham Manuscript appears to have been written in 1726, and obvious scribal errors within it indicate that it was copied from another document. It turned up in Yorkshire during the 1930s, but its exact origin is unknown, Lancashire, Northumberland, and South Scotland all being suggested. The document is headed The whole Institution of free Masonry opened and proved by the best of tradition and still some reference to scripture, There follows an examination, in the form of the sort of question and answer catechism seen in the earlier rituals. In what appears to be the examination of a Master Mason, the responder relates what modern masons would recognise as that part of the legend of Hiram Abiff dealing with the recovery of his body, but in this instance the body is that of Noah, disinterred by his three sons in the hope of learning some secret, and the mason's word is cryptically derived from his rotting body. Hiram Abiff is mentioned, but only as Solomon's master craftsman, inspired by Bezalel, who performed the same function for Moses. The tradition of deriving Freemasonry from Noah seems to be shared with Anderson (see Printed Constitutions above). Anderson also attributed primitive Freemasonry to Noah in his 1738 constitutions.

The denomination with the longest history of objection to Freemasonry is the Catholic Church. The objections raised by the Catholic Church are based on the allegation that Masonry teaches a naturalistic deistic religion which is in conflict with Church doctrine. A number of Papal pronouncements have been issued against Freemasonry. The first was Pope Clement XII's In eminenti apostolatus, 28 April 1738; the most recent was Pope Leo XIII's Ab apostolici, 15 October 1890. The 1917 Code of Canon Law explicitly declared that joining Freemasonry entailed automatic excommunication, and banned books favouring Freemasonry.

In 1983, the Church issued a new code of canon law. Unlike its predecessor, the 1983 Code of Canon Law did not explicitly name Masonic orders among the secret societies it condemns. It states: "A person who joins an association which plots against the Church is to be punished with a just penalty; one who promotes or takes office in such an association is to be punished with an interdict." This named omission of Masonic orders caused both Catholics and Freemasons to believe that the ban on Catholics becoming Freemasons may have been lifted, especially after the perceived liberalisation of Vatican II. However, the matter was clarified when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a Declaration on Masonic Associations, which states: "... the Church's negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who enrol in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion." For its part, Freemasonry has never objected to Catholics joining their fraternity. Those Grand Lodges in amity with UGLE deny the Church's claims. The UGLE now states that "Freemasonry does not seek to replace a Mason's religion or provide a substitute for it."

In contrast to Catholic allegations of rationalism and naturalism, Protestant objections are more likely to be based on allegations of mysticism, occultism, and even Satanism. Masonic scholar Albert Pike is often quoted (in some cases misquoted) by Protestant anti-Masons as an authority for the position of Masonry on these issues. However, Pike, although undoubtedly learned, was not a spokesman for Freemasonry and was also controversial among Freemasons in general. His writings represented his personal opinion only, and furthermore an opinion grounded in the attitudes and understandings of late 19th century Southern Freemasonry of the US. Notably, his book carries in the preface a form of disclaimer from his own Grand Lodge. No one voice has ever spoken for the whole of Freemasonry.

Free Methodist Church founder B.T. Roberts was a vocal opponent of Freemasonry in the mid 19th century. Roberts opposed the society on moral grounds and stated, "The god of the lodge is not the God of the Bible." Roberts believed Freemasonry was a "mystery" or "alternate" religion and encouraged his church not to support ministers who were Freemasons. Freedom from secret societies is one of the "frees" upon which the Free Methodist Church was founded.

Since the founding of Freemasonry, many Bishops of the Church of England have been Freemasons, such as Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher. In the past, few members of the Church of England would have seen any incongruity in concurrently adhering to Anglican Christianity and practising Freemasonry. In recent decades, however, reservations about Freemasonry have increased within Anglicanism, perhaps due to the increasing prominence of the evangelical wing of the church. The former archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, appeared to harbour some reservations about Masonic ritual, whilst being anxious to avoid causing offence to Freemasons inside and outside the Church of England. In 2003 he felt it necessary to apologise to British Freemasons after he said that their beliefs were incompatible with Christianity and that he had barred the appointment of Freemasons to senior posts in his diocese when he was Bishop of Monmouth.

In 1933, the Orthodox Church of Greece officially declared that being a Freemason constitutes an act of apostasy and thus, until he repents, the person involved with Freemasonry cannot partake of the Eucharist. This has been generally affirmed throughout the whole Eastern Orthodox Church. The Orthodox critique of Freemasonry agrees with both the Catholic and Protestant versions: "Freemasonry cannot be at all compatible with Christianity as far as it is a secret organisation, acting and teaching in mystery and secret and deifying rationalism."

Regular Freemasonry has traditionally not responded to these claims, beyond the often repeated statement that those Grand Lodges in amity with UGLE explicitly adhere to the principle that "Freemasonry is not a religion, nor a substitute for religion. There is no separate 'Masonic deity,' and there is no separate proper name for a deity in Freemasonry."

Christian men, who were discouraged from joining the Freemasons by their Churches or who wanted a more religiocentric society, joined similar fraternal organisations, such as the Knights of Columbus for Catholic Christians, and the Loyal Orange Institution for Protestant Christians, although these fraternal organisations have been "organized in part on the style of and use many symbols of Freemasonry".

There are some elements of Freemasonry within the temple rituals of Mormonism.

Sheffield is a city and metropolitan borough in South Yorkshire, England. The name derives from the River Sheaf which runs through the city. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, with some southern suburbs annexed from Derbyshire, the city has grown from its largely industrial roots to encompass a wider economic base. The population of the City of Sheffield is 584,853 (mid-2019 est.) and it is one of the eight largest regional English cities that make up the Core Cities Group. Sheffield is the second-largest city in the Yorkshire and the Humber region and the third-largest English district by population. The metropolitan population of the city of Sheffield is 1,569,000.

The city is in the eastern foothills of the Pennines, and the valleys of the River Don and its four tributaries, the Loxley, the Porter Brook, the Rivelin and the Sheaf. Sixty-one per cent of Sheffield's entire area is green space, and a third of the city lies within the Peak District national park. There are more than 250 parks, woodlands and gardens in the city, which is estimated to contain around 4.5 million trees. Sheffield played a crucial role in the Industrial Revolution, with many significant inventions and technologies having developed in the city. In the 19th century, the city saw a huge expansion of its traditional cutlery trade, when stainless steel and crucible steel were developed locally, fuelling an almost tenfold increase in the population. Sheffield received its municipal charter in 1843, becoming the City of Sheffield in 1893. International competition in iron and steel caused a decline in these industries in the 1970s and 1980s, coinciding with the collapse of coal mining in the area.

The 21st century has seen extensive redevelopment in Sheffield, along with other British cities. Sheffield's gross value added (GVA) has increased by 60% since 1997, standing at £11.3 billion in 2015. The economy has experienced steady growth averaging around 5% annually, greater than that of the broader region of Yorkshire and the Humber. The city has a long sporting heritage and is home to both the world's oldest football club, Sheffield F.C., and the world's oldest football ground, Sandygate. Games between the two professional clubs, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday, are known as the Steel City derby. The city is also home to the World Snooker Championship and the Sheffield Steelers, the UK's first professional ice hockey team. The name, Sheffield, has its origins in old English and derives from the name of a principal river in the city, the River Sheaf. This name, in turn, is a corruption of shed or sheth, which refers to a divide or separation. The second half of the name Sheffield refers to a field, or forest clearing. Combining the two words, it is believed that the name refers to an Anglo-Saxon settlement in a clearing by the confluence of the River Don and River Sheaf. The area now occupied by the City of Sheffield is believed to have been inhabited since at least the late Upper Paleolithic, about 12,800 years ago. The earliest evidence of human occupation in the Sheffield area was found at Creswell Crags to the east of the city. In the Iron Age the area became the southernmost territory of the Pennine tribe called the Brigantes. It is this tribe who are thought to have constructed several hill forts in and around Sheffield.

Following the departure of the Romans, the Sheffield area may have been the southern part of the Brittonic kingdom of Elmet, with the rivers Sheaf and Don forming part of the boundary between this kingdom and the kingdom of Mercia. Gradually, Anglian settlers pushed west from the kingdom of Deira. A Britonnic presence within the Sheffield area is evidenced by two settlements called Wales and Waleswood close to Sheffield. The settlements that grew and merged to form Sheffield, however, date from the second half of the first millennium, and are of Anglo-Saxon and Danish origin. In Anglo-Saxon times, the Sheffield area straddled the border between the kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports that Eanred of Northumbria submitted to Egbert of Wessex at the hamlet of Dore (now a suburb of Sheffield) in 829, a key event in the unification of the kingdom of England under the House of Wessex.

Becoming a Freemason in United Kingdom

Becoming a Freemason in England

Region          Yorkshire and the Humber

Ceremonial county South Yorkshire

Historic county         Yorkshire

Urban core and outlying areas


Some southern suburbs

Founded       c. 8th century

Town charter            10 August 1297

City status     1893

Administrative HQ   Sheffield Town Hall


 • Type           Metropolitan borough and city

 • Governing body   Sheffield City Council

 • Lord Mayor            Tony Downing (Labour)

 • Executive  Labour

 • Council Leader    Bob Johnson (Labour)


 • City 142.06 sq mi (367.9 km2)

 • Urban         64.7 sq mi (167.5 km2)

Area rank      108th

Population (mid-2019 est.)

 • City 584,853 (Ranked 3rd)

 • Density      4,100/sq mi (1,583/km2)

 • Urban         685,368

(Sheffield urban area)

 • Urban density       10,600/sq mi (4,092/km2)

 • Metro          1,569,000

 • Ethnicity   

Ethnic groups

Demonym(s) Sheffielder

Time zone     UTC+0 (Greenwich Mean Time)

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



Area code(s) 0114

Police South Yorkshire

Fire and Rescue     South Yorkshire

Ambulance   Yorkshire




International airports          Doncaster/Sheffield (DSA)

GDP   US$ 38.8 billion

– Per capita  US$ 26,157

Councillors   84