More than 4,000 brethren from all over the world descended on London’s Royal Albert Hall for the Tercentenary celebration on Tuesday, and the crowd included Masons from 136 grand lodges around the globe. The evening included dramatic a presentation that portrayed our history and heritage, and how central both Freemasons and Freemasonry have been to Western history.
This is being heralded as the largest gathering of Grand Masters in history. There were 130 at a welcoming event on Monday. The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra provided the musical accompaniment against the backdrop of a colossal 55ft gold Square and Compasses and dramatic light show incorporating the All Seeing Eye.
After the performance, the Grand Master was processed on to the stage and all the Rulers were seated in their normal thrones. The Deputy Grand Master then read a letter of loyal greetings sent to Her Majesty The Queen and the reply received sending ‘warm good wishes to you all for a most successful event’.
The Grand Master, as Permanent Master of the three Time Immemorial Lodges (Lodge of Antiquity No. 2, Royal Somerset House and Inverness Lodge No.IV, and Lodge of Fortitude and Old Cumberland No.12), then called upon his three Deputy Masters and was presented with the Volume of the Sacred Law, the Square and Compasses and the Wren Maul.
Other highlights included the return of the Soane Ark – the Ark of the Masonic Covenant – as the Deputy Grand Master announced that following 30 years in the making, a replica had been made to the original design. This was brought onstage where it was dedicated by the Grand Master.
The Wren Maul (below) referred to earlier is a longstanding treasured Masonic artifact, though American Masons probably aren’t aware of it. Legendarily, it is said that this setting maul was given to the operative lodge that met at the Crown Ale House in Parker’s Lane by Sir Christopher Wren himself, and had been used by King Charles II to level the foundation stone of St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1675.
That lodge became Lodge No. 2 with the founding of the premier Grand Lodge. (Since the Duke and Duchess of Kent live at Wren House of Kensington Palace, in London, handing him the Wren Maul is a nicely appropriate gesture.)
The Goose and Gridiron Lodge No. 1 is the only one of the original four founding lodges still in existence. Today, the lodge at the Goose and Gridiron is now Lodge of Antiquity, No. 2. It was known to be in existence in 1691 and may have been the lodge within the London Masons Company that Elias Ashmole attended in 1682. It became Lodge No. 1 of the premier Grand Lodge in 1717 and until 1760 was known by the name of the tavern at which it met.
For those who were unable to attend, or would like to watch it back, you can view a screening of the Tercentenary celebrations by clicking here
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