« AnteriorContinuar »
although the general tradition is that the first Grand Lodge was held at Auldby, near York ; and as Auldby was a seat of Edwin, this tradition gives confirmation of the above account.
After the death of Athelstane, the Masons were ispersed, and remained in an unsettled state till 960, A. C., in the reign of Edgar. St. Dunstan then encouraged them, which partially revived their lodges. However, in 1041, A. C., under Edward the Confessor, it flourished, who, with the assistance of Leofrick, Earl of Coventry, rebuilt Westminster Abbey, the earl being appointed Superintendant of Masons, by whom many other superb structures were erected.
In 1066, Gundulph, Bishop of Rochester, and Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury, who were both architects and patrons of the Masons. Under their auspices the famous Tower of London was begun, although only finished during the reign of William Rufus, who likewise rebuilt London Bridge with wood, and in 1087 first constructed the palace and hall of Westminster.
Masonry flourished under the auspices of Henry the first, and during Stephen's reign the society were employed in building a chapel at Westminster, (now the House of Commons, Gilbert de Clare, the Marquis of Pembroke, being the President of the lodges. In Henry the II.'s time, the lodges were under the superintendance of the Grand Lodge of the Knight 'Templars, who in the year 1155 employed them in the erection of their temple in Fleet street, London, They continued under the patronage of the order until 1199, when John, succeeding Richard the first in the throne of England, Peter de Colechurch was then appointed Grand Master. Peter de Rupibus succeeded Colechurch, and Geoffrey Fitz Peter acted as his deputy. On the accession of Edward the first, in 1272, the superintendence of the craft was entrusted to several noblemerí, amongst others to Walter Giffard, Archbishop of York. By these architects, Westminster Abbey, which had been begun in 1220, was finished. During the reign of Edward the II. the craft were employed under the auspices of Walter Stapleton, Bishop of Exeter, who had been appointed their Grand Master in 1307, in building Exeter College, in Oxford, and Clare Hall, in Cambridge.
Edward the III. patronized the fraternity. He revised the ancient charges, added several useful regulations to the original code then in existence. He appointed several de puties under him to inspect the proceedings. William Wykeham was the Grand Master, on the accession of Richard the II., who founded, at his own expense, the new college at Oxford, and Winchester College. After the accession of Henry IV., Thomas Fitz Allan, Earl of Surrey, became Grand Master, by whom Battle Abbey was founded, and the Guildhall, in London, built. During the reign of Henry the V., Henry Chichely, Archbishop of Canter: bury, was appointed Grand Master, under whom the lodges and communications of the fraternity were very frequent.
In 1425, however, during the reign of Henry the VI., an act was made to prevent the meetings of lodges and chapters. It was pretended that by such meetings the good course and effect of the labourers were violated in subversion of the law. This act, however, through the influence of Archbishop Chicheley, was never put in force, and who continued still to preside over them. Dr. Anderson, in the first edition of the book of constitutions, makes the following comment upon this act: “It was made in ignorant times, when true learning was a crime, and geometry condemned for conjuration. The king, it is presumed, was then too much influenced by the illiterate clergy, who were not Masons nor understood architecture, (as the clergy of some former years.")
In 1442, Henry the VI. was initiated in masonry. He
spared no pains to perfect himself. He perused the ancient charges, revised the constitution, and honoured them with his sanction. The example of the sovereign was followed by many of the nobility. The King presided over the lodges, nominating William Wanefleet, Bishop of Winchester, Grand Master. During his reign, the following colleges were built and founded : Magdalen College, Oxford; King's College at Cambridge, as also Christ College. Margaret of Anjou, his queen, founded Queen's College, of the same place.
About this time James I. of Scotland protected the Masons; who, after his return from captivity, became a zealous patron of the art. He presided in the lodges. His office entitled him to regulate every thing in the fraternity, which could not come under the jurisdiction of the courts, and to prevent litigations* amongst brethren, both master and mason, builder and founder, appealed to him, or in his absence to his Deputy, or Grand Warden, whose residence was nearest to the parties.
The following state of the order was considerably interrupted by the civil war then raging between the houses of York and Lancaster, which brought it almost entirely into neglect. Under the auspices of Robert Beauchamp, Bishop of Sarum, in 1471, who had been appointed G. M. by Edward IV., it revived. He repaired the castle and chapel at Windsor, for which he was honoured with the title of Chancellor of the Garter. During the reigns of Edward V. and Richard III. it again declined, but came again in repute on the accession of Henry VII., in 1485. It was then patronised by the master and fellows of the order of St. John of Rhodes, (now Malta,) who, at a Grand Lodge meeting in 1500, chose Henry for their protector. On the 24th of June, 1502, a lodge of masters was formed in the palace, at which the King presided as G. M.; and after appointing his wardens, proceeded in great state to Westminster Abbey, where the foundation stone was laid of that excellent piece of Gothic architecture, called Henry the VII.'s Chapel. The cape stone of this building was celebrated in 1507. The following noble structures were all finished in this reign: The Palace of Richmond, the College of Brazen-nose in Oxford, as also Jesus and St. John's College in Cambridge.
* How desirable would it be, if Masons had recourse to the Grand Master, instead of petty litigations amongst brethren.
Cardinal Wolsey was appointed G. M. by Henry VIII., who built Hampton Court, White Hall, Christ Church College, Oxford, and several other noble edifices, all of which upon the disgrace of that prelate in 1530; were forfeited to the crown.
Wolsey was succeeded in 1534 by Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, who employed the fraternity in building St. James' Palace, Christ Hospital, and Greenwich Castle. Cromwell, who was beheaded in 1540, was succeeded by John Touchet, who built Magdalen College in Cambridge. In 1547, the Duke of Somerset became Superintendant of Masons, who built Somerset House, in the Strand, London, which stands the admiration of the present generation.
The Duke of Somerset was succeeded by John Poynet, Bishop of Winchester, who presided over the Lodges until the death of the King in 1553. The Craft then remained some time without a patron, until the reign of Elizabeth, when Sir Thomas Sackville became G. M. A curious circumstance happened during her reign, which certainly merits a passing notice.
Hearing that the Masons usually held their lodges at York, and that they were in possession of many secrets, which under no circumstances they ever revealed, and besides being jealous of all secret assemblies, she sent an armed force to break up their assemblies. The design was pre
vented by the interposition of Sackville, the G. M., who took care to initiate some of the officers whom she sent on this duty, in the secrets of the order. They made such favourable reports to the queen, that her orders were countermanded, and she never attempted afterwards to disturb their meetings. In 1567, Sir Thomas Sackville resigned the grand mastership in favour of Francis Russell, Earl of Bedford, and Sir Thomas Gresham. The former took charge of the brethren in the north, while the latter superintended the meetings at the south, where the society augmented considerably, owing to the favourable reports made to the queen. All records were kept at York, where all appeals were made before the general assembly.
On the 7th of June, 1566, Sir Thomas Gresham appeared publicly in his capacity as G. M., and laid the foundation stone, with great solemnities, of the Royal Exchange, London. This edifice was completed in November, 1567. Queen Elizabeth opened the same in person, on which occasion the queen dined with the G. M. She was now more than ever satisfied that the fraternity of Masons did not interfere in state affairs; she became reconciled to their meetings, and from this time Masonry made great progress.
Several great works were carried on, under the supervision of Sir Thomas Gresham, who was succeeded as G. M. by Charles Howard, Earl of Effingham, who continued to preside until the year 1558, when George Hastings was chosen G. M., and remained in office till the decease of the queen in 1603.
During the reign of James the First, Masonry flourished in the kingdom. About this time, the celebrated Inigo Jones was appointed General Surveyor to the king. He was named G. M. of England, and was deputed by the king to preside over all the Lodges. Several learned men became members of the fraternity, which caused the society to increase in numbers as well as in reputation. Under the