In 1996 we made an application to the Corporation of London for a blue plaque
to be erected on the site. We had scores
of letters of support for the plaque from around the world, which were sent to
Encouragement came from Germany, France, Spain, Australia, New Zealand and even as far away as Brazil. So, on 24 June 1997, the blue plaque was unveiled outside the site of the Goose and Gridiron tavern. Unfortunately, the building was to be demolished as part of the property boom
of the 1990s, when the whole of Paternoster Square was redeveloped.
And now, finally, we have had the unveiling for the second time of this plaque to the historical importance of the site of
the First Grand Lodge of Freemasonry in
The Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor, Alderman Michael Savory, said at the unveiling:
“Now 1717 was quite a year: on January 4th the Netherlands, Britain and France signed the Triple Alliance.
“Over Christmas a disastrous storm
hit the North Sea coast between the Netherlands and Denmark with thousands dying or losing their homes. Jeffrey Amherst, conqueror of Quebec, was
born in January and Horace Walpole
in September. Voltaire was sentenced
to a year in the Bastille for his satirical writings and Montevideo, in Uruguay,
was founded by the Portuguese.
“And on St John’s Day, 24 June 1717, the first Masonic Grand Lodge was founded very close to this site. Four London Lodges which met at various ale houses – the Goose & Gridiron in St Paul’s Churchyard, the Crown, Parkers Lane,
the Apple Tree, Covent Garden and
the Rummer & Grapes, Channel Row, grouped together under the first Grand Master, ‘a gentlemen’, one Anthony Sayer, with jurisdiction over the cities
of London and Westminster.
“Many thanks are due to the Goose and Gridiron Society for organising
this important plaque, and for all your work in researching and documenting establishments where Lodges used to meet, mainly ale and coffee houses.
It is much appreciated.
“I am very pleased to unveil this plaque marking the birth of the Masonic Lodges as we know them.”
RW Bro Peter Lowndes, Deputy Grand Master, said: “I am delighted to welcome you all and to thank the Lord Mayor for his kindness in agreeing to unveil this commemorative blue plaque.
“It is particularly nice, from my point of view, that this occasion should fall within your year as Lord Mayor, as we had such an enjoyable year together
with the 1991-1992 Board of Grand Stewards provided by the City authority over which he presides.
“This site is of major importance
not just to English Freemasonry but
to Freemasons throughout the world.
We are extremely grateful to the City authority over which you preside for providing this plaque.
“On this site until 1898 stood the wonderfully named ‘Goose and Gridiron Ale House’ where, on 24 June, 1717
four London lodges of Freemasons came together, formed themselves into a
Grand Lodge and elected Anthony Sayer, gentleman, as their first Grand Master.
“From that date, organised Freemasonry, as we understand it,
is said to have started. England, as
the first, is recognised throughout the world as the ‘Mother’ Grand Lodge,
and this site is regarded as a place
of pilgrimage by regular Freemasons throughout the world.
“From that small beginning in 1717,
the Grand Lodge of England has grown
to an association of over 275,000 members in over eight and a half thousand Lodges throughout England and Wales and in Commonwealth countries overseas.
“In the 288 years since its formation, members of our Grand Lodge have played an important part in the history and development of our country and
its traditions, a heritage of which we
are quietly proud.
“Members have also had a part to play in the development of this great
City of London, and are proud that their Grand Lodge had its origins here and that they are being celebrated today.
“This blue plaque will be a permanent memorial of those who came together on 24 June, 1717, who cannot have imagined the significance of the step they took and what has been built upon it.
“The plaque is the result of work done by the Goose and Gridiron Society, an association of Freemasons formed to research the early meeting places of Lodges in London, many of which were inns and taverns.
“They approached the City authorities about the possibility of marking the site
of the original meeting place of Grand Lodge. Happily, the City authorities agreed and, on behalf of Grand Lodge and its members, I thank them for doing so and for providing the plaque.”
Web site created by Mark Griffin