Freemasonry: The Naked Truth

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Freemasonry in Worcester

Becoming a Freemason in Worcester

Becoming a Freemason: The Kirkwall scroll is a floor cloth which contains many masonic symbols, many more opaque images, and cryptic writing which may either be a code or badly painted Hebrew. It hangs on the west wall of the temple of Lodge Kirkwall Kilwinning No. 38(2) in Orkney, but is too long to be completely displayed. It is 18 ft 6in long and 5 ft 6in wide, and is composed of a full-width central strip stitched at each side to two half-width side strips. The left border appears to show the wanderings of the Israelites before they arrived in Egypt, and reads from top to bottom. The right shows their wanderings in the wilderness after the Exodus, with the route marked in years from 1 to 46, and branching many times at the end. The central cloth contains seven painted scenes and tableaux. The bottom scene shows an altar flanked by two pillars, all surrounded by more or less familiar masonic symbols. Working upwards, the second has an altar surrounded by a different set of symbols, the third has the altar and pillars together with the cherubim present on the arms of the Antient Grand Lodge of England, the Grand Lodge of Ireland and the United Grand Lodge of England. Above this is a schematic of the tabernacle of the Ark of the Covenant, followed by what may be the last judgement. The sixth shows a cross atop a pyramid, surmounted by a rainbow, surrounded by masonic and alchemical symbols, and at the top a naked woman, assumed by early authors to be Eve, sitting under a tree surrounded by animals. In the distance is a sea or lake full of fish, and beyond this are mountains. The whole is painted in oil, mainly in pale blue. In the top tableau the woman, fish and animals are pink, the sea green, and the tree and mountains brown.

Lodge minutes of 27 December 1785 state; - "Bro. William Graeme, visiting brother from Lodge no 128 Ancient Constitution of England was at his own desire admitted to become a member of this Lodge, and he accordingly signed the articles and Rules thereof". Seven months later he donated a floor cloth to the lodge, now generally assumed to be the Kirkwall Scroll. Archivist and Masonic historian Robert Cooper has presented evidence arguing that the scroll was made by William Graeme, or under his direction, and he dates it to the latter part of the 18th century on the basis of a detailed analysis of its symbolism.

Cooper's contribution was in response to claims of mediaeval origin for the scroll. Andrew Sinclair, a leading proponent of Freemasonry's descent from the Knights Templar, hailed it as a great mediaeval treasure, comparable with the Mappa Mundi in Hereford Cathedral. His claim arises from what opponents describe as an optimistic reading of radiocarbon dating, and creative interpretation of the panels. The Tabernacle is claimed to be King Solomon's Temple, with the tents removed in Sinclair's reproduction. Sinclair and his supporters also have trouble with lodge 128 of the Antients. It is variously claimed to be in Yorkshire, or Prince Edwin's Lodge in Bury (a Moderns Lodge constituted in 1803). In 1785, 128 was meeting in the Crown and Feathers, Holborn, London. Robert Lomas, a supporter of the early dating, now sees part of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in one of the altar inscriptions and much of the symbolism. This would place the document to the second half of the Eighteenth century in a conventional history of the Rite, but Lomas believes it to be mid-fifteenth, again based on radiocarbon dates, which make the side panels younger than the central strip. Realistically, agreement on the scroll, its context and symbolism is a long way off.

Since the middle of the 19th century, Masonic historians have sought the origins of the movement in a series of similar documents known as the Old Charges, dating from the Regius Poem in about 1425 to the beginning of the 18th century. Alluding to the membership of a lodge of operative masons, they relate it to a mythologised history of the craft, the duties of its grades, and the manner in which oaths of fidelity are to be taken on joining. The 15th century also sees the first evidence of ceremonial regalia.

There is no clear mechanism by which these local trade organisations became today's Masonic Lodges. The earliest rituals and passwords known, from operative lodges around the turn of the 17th–18th centuries, show continuity with the rituals developed in the later 18th century by accepted or speculative Masons, as those members who did not practice the physical craft gradually came to be known. The minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) No. 1 in Scotland show a continuity from an operative lodge in 1598 to a modern speculative Lodge. It is reputed to be the oldest Masonic Lodge in the world.

Royal Arch Chapter in England, beginning of c20

View of room at the Masonic Hall, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England, early 20th century, set up for a Holy Royal Arch convocation

Alternatively, Thomas De Quincey in his work titled Rosicrucians and Freemasonry put forward the theory that suggested that Freemasonry may have been an outgrowth of Rosicrucianism. The theory had also been postulated in 1803 by German professor; J. G. Buhle.

The first Grand Lodge, the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster, later called the Grand Lodge of England (GLE), was founded on St John's Day, 24 June 1717, when four existing London Lodges met for a joint dinner. Many English Lodges joined the new regulatory body, which itself entered a period of self-publicity and expansion. However, many Lodges could not endorse changes that some Lodges of the GLE, which came to be known as Moderns, had made to the ritual, and a few of these formed a rival Grand Lodge on 17 July 1751, which they called the "Antient Grand Lodge of England." These two Grand Lodges vied for supremacy until the Moderns promised to return to the ancient ritual. They united on 27 December 1813 to form the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE).

The Grand Lodge of Ireland and the Grand Lodge of Scotland were formed in 1725 and 1736, respectively, although neither persuaded all of the existing lodges in their countries to join for many years.

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.

Also around 1450 the will of a mason from Beverley gives a tantalising glimpse into the emergence of masonic regalia. An inventory of John Cadeby's possessions mentions several zonae (girdles). Two were silver mounted, and one of these had the letters B and I in the middle, indicating Boaz and Jachin, the twin pillars of Solomon's Temple. He also owned a writing table and six English books, making him comfortably well-off and literate.

The following century and a half produced few new manuscripts. The Dowland manuscript, whose original is now lost, and Grand Lodge No 1, for the first time locate Edwin's assembly of Masons at York. The Lansdowne, originally dated to this period, is now thought to date from the 17th century.

During this period the Reformation occurred. It was at one time assumed that the church was the major employer of masons, and with the Dissolution of the Monasteries the lodges disappeared. It was also believed that the craft "guilds" were abolished in England in 1547. On the death of Henry VIII, Archbishop Cranmer sought to advance the reformation by the abolition of guilds and fellowships. In 1548, "The bill of conspiracies of victuallers and craftsmen" was passed, revoking their monopolies. In 1549 it was repealed, presumably because they were too useful to the government. The government continued to be a major employer of masons, who in London had moved from a fellowship to a corporation. While this was not chartered until 1666, the state used it in the sixteenth century to procure and indent masons for building projects. In addition, masons were increasingly employed by private individuals. The Saints day parades by the various crafts, enacting plays about their various patron saints, were however suppressed. Robert Cooper, the archivist of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, believes that the lost mystery play of the masons may survive in the ritual of contemporary masonic lodges.

Worcester is a cathedral city and the ceremonial county town of Worcestershire, in England, 30 miles (48 km) south-west of Birmingham, 101 miles (163 km) north-west of London, 27 miles (43 km) north of Gloucester and 23 miles (37 km) north-east of Hereford. The estimated population in 2019 was 102,791. The River Severn flanks the western side of the city centre, which is overlooked by Worcester Cathedral. The Battle of Worcester in 1651 was the final one in the English Civil War, where Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army defeated King Charles I's Royalists. Worcester is the home of Royal Worcester Porcelain, composer Edward Elgar, Lea & Perrins, makers of traditional Worcestershire sauce, University of Worcester, and Berrow's Worcester Journal, claimed as the world's oldest newspaper. The trade route past Worcester, later part of the Roman Ryknild Street, dates from Neolithic times. It commanded a ford over the River Severn, which was tidal below Worcester, and fortified by the Britons about 400 BCE.

Charcoal from the Forest of Dean enabled Romans to operate pottery kilns and ironworks. They may have built a small fort. There is no sign of municipal buildings to indicate an administrative role. In the 3rd century CE, Roman Worcester occupied a larger area than the subsequent medieval city, but silting caused the abandonment of Sidbury. Industrial production ceased and the settlement contracted to a defended position along the lines of the old British fort at the river terrace's southern end. The form of the place name varied over time. At its settlement in the 7th century by the Angles of Mercia it was Weogorna. After centuries of warfare against the Vikings and Danelaw it had become a centre for the Anglo-Saxon army or here known as Weogorna ceastre (Worcester Camp). The Weorgoran were probably a sub-tribe of the larger kingdom of the Hwicce, which occupied present-day Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and western Wiltshire. In 680, Worcester was chosen as their fort over the larger Gloucester, and the royal court at Winchcombe as the episcopal see of a new bishopric, suggesting there was already an established and powerful Christian community. Oswald and Eadnoth

Worcester became a centre of monastic learning and church power. Oswald of Worcester, appointed Bishop in 961, was an important reformer alongside the Archbishop of York. The last Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Worcester, St Wulfstan or Wulstan, was a reformer, who remained in office until he died in 1095.The city also became a focus of violent tax resistance against the Danish Harthacanute in 1041. The townspeople tried to defend themselves by occupying the Severn island of Bevere, two miles up river. After Harthacnut's men had sacked the city and set it alight, agreement was reached and the populace returned to rebuild. Rail reorganisation in 1922 saw the Midland Railway's routes from Shrub Hill absorbed into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway.

During the Second World War, the city was chosen to be the seat of an evacuated government in case of mass German invasion. The War Cabinet, along with Winston Churchill and some 16,000 state workers, would have moved to Hindlip Hall (now part of the complex forming the Headquarters of West Mercia Police), 3 miles (4.8 km) north of Worcester and Parliament would have temporarily seated in Stratford-upon-Avon. The former RAF station RAF Worcester was located east of Northwick. A fuel storage depot was built for the government in 1941/1942 by Shell Mex & BP (later operated by Texaco) on the eastern bank of the River Severn, about a mile south of Worcester. There were six 4,000 ton semi-buried tanks for the storage of white oils. It had no rail or road loading facilities, but distribution could be carried out by barge through the Diglis basin and the depot could receive fuel either by barge or by the GPSS pipeline network. It was at one time used as a civil reserve storing gas oil and then aviation kerosene for USAFE. In the early 1990s it was closed, and sold for housing in the 2000s. In the 1950s and 1960s large areas of the medieval centre of Worcester were demolished and rebuilt. This was condemned by many such as Nikolaus Pevsner who described it as a "totally incomprehensible... act of self-mutilation". There is however still a significant area of medieval Worcester remaining, examples of which can be seen along City Walls Road, Friar Street and New Street. The current city boundaries date from 1974, when the Local Government Act 1972 created the non-metropolitan district of Worcester, comprising the former county borough with the parishes of Warndon and St. Peter the Great County. City status transferred from the county borough to the new district.

Becoming a Freemason in United Kingdom

Becoming a Freemason in England

Region          West Midlands

Non-metropolitan county   Worcestershire

Status            Non-metropolitan district, city

Admin HQ     Worcester


 • Type           Non-metropolitan district council

 • Borough council  Worcester City Council (Shared)

 • MPs            Robin Walker (Conservative)


 • Total           12.85 sq mi (33.28 km2)

Area rank      296th (of 317)

Population (mid-2015)

 • Total           101,328

 • Rank          239th (of 317)

 • Density      7,900/sq mi (3,000/km2)

Time zone     UTC0 (GMT)

 • Summer (DST)     UTC+1 (BST)



Area code(s) 01905

ONS code     47UE (ONS)

E07000237 (GSS)

OS grid reference    SO849548