ISSUE 15, October 2005
Editorial
Historic: Nelson and Freemasonry
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's Speech
Grand Lodge: Quarterly Communication
Hurricane Katrina: Grand Charity Relief Chest
Royal Arch: John Knight
Masonic Embroidery: A stitch in time...
Travel: Walzing along the Danube
Specialist Lodges: Martial arts
Library & Museum: The two Freemasons' Halls
    Anniversary: Jersey's Liberation
Anniversary: Dorset's 225 years
Obituaries: Lord Swansea OSM
Pro Grand Master: Whither directing our course?
Charmian Hussey: A Mason's wife on Masonry
International: The Grand Lodge of Israel
Education: Sheffield's big plans
Education: Forthcoming events
Education: The Second Degree
Masonic Charities
Letters, Book Reviews, Gardening

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Above:
Charmian shortly after introducing the Anatolian Karabash breed into the UK
    Write a novel based on the imagination of your son, leave it in an attic for fifteen years, and then find it’s a best-seller. It is rare that someone sits down and writes a successful novel first time round, but Charmian Hussey has achieved that in a life that has seen her turn her hand to a variety of tasks.
     Wife of Oxfordshire Mason John Hussey, her book took 18 months to write, and reflects her love of the world’s indigenous tribes and her concern for the rainforests.
     But the literary world is a recent experience. Her career began in the fashion world where she modelled for top fashion and couture houses. She followed this with several years as a student of archaeology, culminating in a D.Phil at Oxford.
     For Charmian, Freemasonry has been an interesting part of her life, but it did not start out in a positive vein. She explains: “My previous husband was a Mason and his Masonry was very secretive, almost cloak and dagger. If he went to Lodge meetings I was not told about it, and he was always careful to lock away his regalia.
     “It was a subject which was not discussed and in which I was not included. There was certainly no suggestion that I should know that any of his friends were Masons.
     “I was very surprised when I met my present husband. He has a more relaxed attitude to Freemasonry and I have been included in ladies’ nights, which I have enjoyed enormously.
     “When I meet his friends, I’m delighted if I learn they are brother Masons. The history of Freemasonry fascinates me, and I’ve joined in some interesting discussions. I have been pleased to find there is not the obsessive secrecy I’d come to expect during my previous marriage. But that was in the 1960s. Maybe things were different then and Freemasonry was less open. I welcome the more open attitude now.”
     Although starting out in the fashion world, within a couple of years she had decided “to do something much more serious with my brain, and I was bitten by the bug of archaeology.”
     She enrolled as a student at the University of London, Institute of Archaeology, studying the conservation and restoration of antiquities.
     She adds: “Whilst on that course, I was asked by the British School of Archaeology in Iraq to help with the rescue and conservation of the carved ivories being excavated at the Assyrian site of Nimrud, near Mosul.
     The excavations had earlier been directed by Professor (later Sir) Max Mallowan, whom I had come to know at the London Institute.”
     Nimrud was the place where his wife Agatha Christie had written some of her most famous books whilst accompanying him on the excavations.
     There was a tradition that, on returning to England, some of those who had worked at Nimrud were invited by Max and Agatha to stay with them at Greenway House – their home at Churston Ferrers in Devon.
     Charmian received an invitation. She recalls: “It was a wonderful experience in a classic house-party situation. I stayed for about ten days. In many ways it was quite formal. Everyone dressed for dinner, of course. But we also had a lot of fun.
     “We had picnics on Dartmoor and sailed up and down the Dart with Max at the helm of his small boat. There were barbecues on the beach by the boathouse, and we trekked around antique shops, because Agatha’s son in- law was a great collector of porcelain.”
     She vividly remembers some wonderful conversations with the great mystery writer.
     “Agatha Christie has often been billed as an awkward and somewhat shy person, but I found her good to talk to, and she was an excellent hostess.
     “I had one especially memorable discussion with her, when I was brave enough to say I would like to be a writer. Agatha talked to me about the importance of the mix or recipe for a story – the proper balance of light and dark – humour, mystery and intrigue. Her advice stayed in my mind.”
     After four years as a student, Charmian spent two years in Turkey, working on archaeological sites and involved in her own research project, which would later form the basis for her doctor of philosophy degree in archaeology and anthropology at Oxford.


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