ISSUE 10, July 2004
Editorial
John Pine: A sociable craftsman
Jumping for Joy: Skydiving for charity
Quarterly Communication: Speeches of: the Grand Master, the Pro Grand Master and, Report of the Board of General Purposes
Supreme Grand Chapter: Address of the First Grand Principal and Report of the Committee of General Purposes
Royal Arch: Cheshire gives a lead
  Walking with the greats: Bath Masonic Hall
Motoring in style: Classic Vehicle Club
Masonic education: A daily advancement and Events for your diary
Travel: Portugal
Library & Museum of Freemasonry
Charities
International: A warm welcome in Malta
Masonic ritual: Spoilt for choice
Public relations: Sheffield; Dorset; Chelsea Flower Show; Freemasons' Hall
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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Masonic Education

Sheffield University





The work of the Centre for Research into Freemasonry is outlined by John Hamill
  
  











Sheffield University Arts Tower – home of the Centre for Research into Freemasonry


Freemasonry for too long was ignored as subject for serious academic research, mainly because Freemasonry was seen as a “secret society” and academics believed that they would not get access to prime source material to work on.
     The opening of the Centre for Research into Freemasonry, within the Humanities Research Institute of the University of Sheffield, has changed that view. The idea for the Centre came from within the Humanities Research Institute itself. Freemasonry was seen as a cross-discipline area for research involving social history, biblical studies, fine arts, the history of ideas and cultural studies. Their enthusiasm increased after a visit to Freemasons’ Hall in London, where they were shown the wealth of archival material and other resources which could be made available to researchers.
     The initial idea was to seek funding for a permanent Chair in Masonic studies within the University, which would have required a capital endowment of one million pounds. As discussions continued, the idea of a Centre emerged and Grand Lodge, the Province of Yorkshire West Riding and the Marquess of Northampton agreed to providing funding for the first three years.
     The first problem was to find a Director, and the University was very lucky to attract Dr Andrew Prescott, who was seconded from the British Library. Not a Freemason, in a little over four years he has become addicted to Masonic research and is gaining an international reputation as a speaker to both Masonic and academic audiences. With enormous energy he has also tackled the administrative problems of setting up the Centre and organising its programmes. After three years of hard work, Dr Prescott was invited to become the full time Director of the Centre with the rank of full Professor.
     The core activities of the centre are regular public seminars led by experts in the particular topic and conferences on a Masonic theme in co-operation with other departments of the University and outside organisations. The Centre now has half a dozen postgraduate students working towards a Doctorate, amongst whom is our Past Grand Secretary, Jim Daniel. Professor Prescott is now working on courses leading to a Master of Arts degree and is looking to use new technology to provide “distant learning” facilities for those who cannot get to Sheffield.
     Technology will be central to the work at the Centre. Already a CD Rom has been produced giving searchable access to the various editions of William Preston’s Illustrations of Masonry, and an on-line version of John Lane’s Masonic records 1717 – 1895, which lists details of all the lodges formed under the Grand Lodges of England during that period, is being worked on. The Centre has its own web site which gives details of its activities and access to papers given. Its address is www.shef.ac.uk/~crf.
     An exciting development is the possibility of a physical centre. The Humanities Research Institute is moving to new premises and the plans include space for the Centre for Research into Freemasonry. That will, of course, require additional funds, but will enable the Centre to expand its work, which is seen as an important part of Grand Lodge’s policy of better informing the public about Freemasonry. The Centre is registered as a Charity, and Grand Lodge and Supreme Grand Chapter have agreed to continue providing core funding up to 2009. The Centre is well worth our support and lodges and individuals can contribute to its funds.

John Hamill is Director of Communications at the United Grand Lodge of England