ISSUE 13, April 2005

The Campbells are coming: At speed!
Travel: Warming to Iceland
Royal Masonic Family: The Six Masonic Sons of George III, Part II
Quarterly Communication: Address of the Pro Grand Master and: Report of the Board of General Purposes
The flying eye hospital
Beamish Museum: The million pound project
  Wigan Grand Lodge: The Liverpool rebels
Chelsea Lodge: That's entertainment
Re-enactment: The way we were and: The Russian connection
Community Service: Weathering the storm
Faith and Freemasonry: God and the Craft
Education: Researching Freemasonry on the Internet and: Masonic events
Freemasons Hall: Masons at War
Grand Charity: Report and grant list and: Support for Asian tsunami
Masonic Charities: Reports from the Masonic charities
Obituaries, Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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Magus: The Invisible Life of Elias Ashmole, published by Signal Publishing, £17.99. Distributed by Lewis Masonic 01986 895433. ISBN 0-9543309-2-7

    Elias Ashmole is the first known Mason to have written down the occasion of his initiation – in 1646. That has made him a famous figure in Freemasonry, but who actually was he?
    A royalist during the Civil War, he was undoubtedly a great figure – founder of the Royal Society, Windsor Herald, astrologer to Charles II and the man who gave his name to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, the world’s first purpose-built public museum.
    From Ashmole’s birth in Lichfield in Staffordshire, Tobias Churton has managed a well-researched and intriguing insight to a man who rose from yeoman stock to walk the corridors of power by sheer ability.
    Here is a fascinating insight into the academic world of 17th century society as science was beginning to feel its way into the hearts and minds of men. Ashmole, in this sense, was a torchbearer, and Toby Churton has done Ashmole proud.
John Jackson


What prompted you to write the Myths & Heroes?
I have always loved myths and legends. But, in the last few years, I have made several great journeys, for example in the footsteps of Alexander the Great in the late nineties, on which I was fascinated to see how often completely mythic tales have survived such a well documented historical character. That got me thinking about how stories are changed and reworked over time, how history can become myth, and how myths are retold to suit different needs and political cultures. I thought it would be fun to explore these ideas on the ground with four famous myths. It’s a departure from the tyranny of straight narrative history!

The book involved extensive travelling. Do you have a highlight?
No question – Tibet. To go on foot into Western Tibet, and to visit Mount Kailash, the most sacred place in the world to Hindus and many Buddhists, was a moving and exhilarating experience. To reach the ruins of Tsaparang with its surviving temples (subject of Lama Govinda's wonderful 1947–1949 journey The Way of the White Clouds) capped it all.

What is your next project?
I am working on a long-term literary project on the creation of England in the tenth century in the time of King Athelstan (a king who by the way as some of your readers may know, has a strange Masonic connection – he is credited in a late medieval manuscript with having brought the text of Euclid into Britain!). With my partners and colleagues at Mayavision we are developing a television series on the culture and history of India.

When writing a book, do you have a preferred place of work and a favoured writing routine?
No routine, I’m afraid! Because I am busy making films – shooting and editing – I have to snatch writing moments where and when I can. I have a little room in our office attic in New Oxford Street, looking over the rooftops, where I like to write.

How do you relax between projects?
These days as a small, independent company, we hardly get any time between projects. But a half-term trip to Venice or Paris is a real treat; the Picasso Museum or a cup of coffee in one of the old cafes around St Germain is my idea of heaven. If possible, we like to spend summer holidays on our favourite Greek island, with plenty of walking over goat paths, with drink stops in rural chapels and a little seaside taverna at the end of the trek at sunset!

Do you have a favourite author?
Shakespeare, of course: he is inexhaustibly wonderful (Age shall not wither his infinite variety!!). I also love reading John Donne.

Which book are you reading at present?
Due to the recent series, I have been heavily into non-fiction, scholarly commentaries, such as Geoffrey of Monmouth, Malory and Apollonius of Rhodes etc. For relaxation, I recently reread W G Sebald’s Austerlitz, which is a marvellous book. I love Sebald’s distinctive voice and felt like I had lost a friend when he died in a car crash a year or two ago, still not 60.

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