Freemasonry: The Naked Truth

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Freemasonry in Swansea

Becoming a Freemason in Swansea

Becoming a Freemason: There are a number of masonic manuscripts that are important in the study of the emergence of Freemasonry. Most numerous are the Old Charges or Constitutions. These documents outlined a "history" of Masonry, tracing its origins to a biblical or classical root, followed by the regulations of the organisation, and the responsibilities of its different grades. More rare are old hand-written copies of ritual, affording a limited understanding of early masonic rites. All of those which pre-date the formation of Grand Lodges are found in Scotland and Ireland, and show such similarity that the Irish rituals are usually assumed to be of Scottish origin. The earliest Minutes of lodges formed before the first Grand Lodge are also located in Scotland. Early records of the first Grand Lodge in 1717 allow an elementary understanding of the immediate pre-Grand Lodge era and some insight into the personalities and events that shaped early-18th-century Freemasonry in Britain.

Other early documentation is included in this article. The Kirkwall Scroll is a hand painted roll of linen, probably used as a floorcloth, now in the care of a lodge in Orkney. Its dating and the meaning of its symbols have generated considerable debate. Early operative documents and the later printed constitutions are briefly covered.

The schism between French and English Freemasonry is popularly supposed to originate at a general assembly of the Grand Orient de France in September 1877. Accepting a recommendation in a report by a Protestant minister, Frédéric Desmons, the assembly, on a majority vote, amended its constitutions to read "Its principles are absolute liberty of conscience and human solidarity". The words "Its principles are the existence of God, the immortality of the soul and human solidarity" were struck out. The United Grand Lodge of England's (UGLE) response was a resolution in March 1878 that "the Grand Lodge, whilst always anxious to receive in the most fraternal spirit the Brethren of any Foreign Grand Lodge whose proceedings are conducted according to the Ancient Landmarks of the Order, of which a belief in T. G. A. O. T. U. (the Great Architect of the Universe) is the first and most important, cannot recognise as ‘true and genuine’ Brethren any who have been initiated in Lodges which either deny or ignore that belief". Relations between the two governing bodies effectively ceased, purportedly because the French body had removed the requirement for a belief in a supreme being. However, UGLE had just entered into fraternal relations with the Grand Orient of Belgium, which had removed the Great Architect from its constitutions in 1872, a relationship which lasted until 1921. The reasons for the split are obviously deeper and more complex than the official records suggest.

Mutual distrust between English and French Freemasons was apparent in the 1850s, when French Masonic refugees were appalled at the relationship between UGLE and the Monarchy, aristocracy, and the Anglican church. The English distrusted the mysticism of French Masonry, and its ideals of Fraternity and Universality.

Desmons' review had been prompted by the Lausanne Congress of Supreme Councils of 1875. Eleven countries were represented at an attempt to unify the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. An agreement on colonial lodges would have seen the UGLE as the only recognised masonic Grand Lodge in British colonies, in spite of the Scottish and Irish lodges already flourishing there. The Scottish delegate, Mackersy, who also represented Greece, withdrew. His letter of withdrawal cited his jurisdiction's disagreement with any shift from the requirement for a member to believe in a personal god. He said that he believed the congress would agree to a non-requirement, or the specification of a vague universal principle. In avoiding ratifying a treaty which would obliterate Scottish lodges in the colonies, Mackersy sparked a debate that led to the removal of a requirement for an open volume of scripture in French lodges. The English interpretation of this as a slide towards atheism was probably partly prompted by the difficult political relationship between Britain and France at that time.

The gulf between UGLE and GOdF widened due to the French body's active engagement in politics, on a personal and organisational level. All discussion of politics and religion is expressly banned from English lodges.

Legacy of the Schism

During the First World War, many American lodges relaxed their opposition to the Grand Orient de France to allow servicemen to engage with other masons while in France. Many of these continue to allow their members to associate with continental Freemasons.

In December 1913, UGLE recognised a new Grand Lodge in France. The basis of this recognition was the series of obligations that the Independent and Regular National Grand Lodge of France (later the Grande Loge Nationale Française) imposed on its lodges. These were:

While the Lodge is at work the Bible will always be open on the altar.

The ceremonies will be conducted in strict conformity with the Ritual of the "Regime Rectifié" which is followed by these Lodges, a Ritual which was drawn up in 1778 and sanctioned in 1782, and with which the Duke of Kent was initiated in 1792.

The Lodge will always be opened and closed with invocation and in the name of the Great Architect of the Universe. All the summonses of the Order and of the Lodges will be printed with the symbols of the Great Architect of the Universe.

No religious or political discussion will be permitted in the Lodge.

The Lodge as such will never take part officially in any political affair but every individual Brother will preserve complete liberty of opinion and action.

Only those Brethren who are recognised as true Brethren by the Grand Lodge of England will be received in Lodge.

These "basic principles" were accepted by UGLE itself in 1929, and written into its constitutions.

Swansea is a coastal city and county, officially known as the City and County of Swansea (Welsh: Dinas a Sir Abertawe) in Wales. The county area includes Swansea Bay (Welsh: Bae Abertawe) and the Gower Peninsula. Swansea's position on the southwest coast of Wales is within the historic county boundaries of Glamorgan and the ancient Welsh commote of Gŵyr. Swansea is the second largest city in Wales and the twenty-fifth largest city in the United Kingdom. Swansea is the second most populous local authority area in Wales with a population of 241,300 in 2014. Together with Neath and Port Talbot, Swansea formed a wider Urban Area of 300,352 in 2011. During the 19th-century industrial heyday, Swansea was the key centre of the copper-smelting industry, earning the nickname Copperopolis.

The Welsh name, Abertawe, translates as "mouth/estuary of the Tawe" and it is likely this name was used for the area before a settlement was established. The first written record of the Welsh name for the town itself dates from 1150 and appears in the form Aper Tyui. The modern name, Swansea, pronounced /ˈswɒnzi/ (Swans-ee, not Swan-sea), is derived from the Old Norse name of the original Viking trading post that was founded by King Sweyn Forkbeard (c.960–1014). Basically, it was the name of the king, 'Svein' or 'Sweyn' with the suffix of '-ey', "island" referring to either a bank of the river at its mouth, or an area of raised ground in marshland. However, the Norse termination -ey, can mean "inlet" and the name may simply refer to the mouth of the river. The area around Swansea has a unique archaeological history dating back to the Palaeolithic. Finds at Long Hole Cave on the Gower Peninsula have been interpreted as that of the first modern humans in Britain, and the same area is also home to the oldest ceremonial burial in Western Europe, discovered at Paviland in 1823, and dated to 22,000 BC The area also has many Bronze Age and Iron Age sites, such as the burial mound at Cillibion and the hill fort at Cil Ifor. There is also the remains of a Roman villa again on the Gower peninsula.

In 1887, Swansea was a township at the mouth of the river Tawe, covering 4,562 acres (1,846 ha) in the county of Glamorgan. There were three major extensions to the boundaries of the borough, first in 1835, when Morriston, St Thomas, Landore, St John-juxta-Swansea, and part of Llansamlet parish were added, and again in 1889 when areas around Cwmbwrla and Trewyddfa were included, and in 1918 when the borough was enlarged to include the whole of the ancient parish of Swansea, the southern part of Llangyfelach parish, all of Llansamlet parish, Oystermouth Urban District and Brynau parish. In 1889, Swansea attained county borough status, and it was granted city status in 1969, which was inherited by the Swansea district when it was formed by the merger of the borough and Gower Rural District in 1974. In 1996, Swansea became one of 22 unitary authorities with the addition of part of the former Lliw Valley Borough. The new authority received the name 'City and County of Swansea' (Welsh: Dinas a Sir Abertawe). Swansea was once a staunch stronghold of the Labour Party which, until 2004, had overall control of the council for 24 years. The Liberal Democrats were the largest group in the administration that took control of Swansea Council in the 2004 local elections until the 2012 council elections saw the council return to Labour control. For 2009/2010, the Lord Mayor of Swansea was Councillor Alan Lloyd, and in 2010/2011 Richard Lewis was the Lord Mayor. The Lord Mayor changes in May each year.

Becoming a Freemason in United Kingdom

Becoming a Freemason in Wales

Preserved county    West Glamorgan

Historic county         Glamorganshire

Principal Area          Swansea

Admin HQ     Swansea Guildhall

Town charter            1158–1184

City status     1969


 • Type           Principal area, City

 • Body           Swansea Council

 • Leader        Robert Stewart (Lab)

 • Welsh Parliament and UK Parliament Constituencies      

Swansea East

Swansea West


 • MPs           

Gower: Tonia Antoniazzi (Lab)

Swansea East: Carolyn Harris (Lab)

Swansea West: Geraint Davies (Lab)

 • MSs           

Rebecca Evans (Lab)

Mike Hedges (Lab)

Julie James (Lab)


 • Total           150 sq mi (380 km2)

Population (2016)

 • Total          

Unitary Authority area: 246,993 Ranked 2nd

Urban area within Unitary Authority: 179,485

Wider Urban Area: 300,352

Metropolitan Area: 462,000

Swansea Bay City Region: 685,051

 • Density      1,560/sq mi (601/km2)

 • Ethnicity   

97.8% White

1.5% Asian

0.3% Afro-Caribbean

Time zone     UTC0 (GMT)

 • Summer (DST)     UTC+1 (BST)

Post codes   


Area code(s) 01792

Vehicle area codes CP, CR, CS, CT, CU, CV

OS grid reference    SS6593

NUTS 3         UKL18

Police Force South Wales

Fire Service  Mid and West Wales

Ambulance Service            Welsh