Visitors could scramble over them without
any supervision – the more remote sites had
no attendants and access was not restricted.
It was a paradise for our sons.
Masonry in Antigua
Your article on Nelson’s association with
Freemasonry (MQ, Issue No. 15) stirred
a memory. As a family we used to holiday
in Antigua. Nelson spent a great deal of time
on that island although the records show
he was not overly fond of it.
There is still Nelson’s dockyard in English
Harbour on the South side and it is a very
interesting place to visit. The Admiral’s Inn
there, in the days when we visited, used to
serve an excellent pumpkin soup.
As a result of the naval interests in the
area, Antigua’s main harbours were well
defended by a series of forts. In those days
many of these ancient forts were left
undisturbed and falling gently into decay.
One expedition found us examining the
ruins of Fort James, which once guarded the
north side of the entrance to the harbour at
St John’s, the capital. It is not – or at least,
was not – a tourist spot.
At the base of the front wall I discovered
the foundation stone. Although most of the
fort was unrestored, this stone was exposed,
clean and seemed to have been painted. The
attached photograph shows the inscription:
This first stone was laid by William Isaac
Matthew, The Provincial Grand Master with
his Grand Officers and The Right Worshipful
the Masters and The Wardens and Brothers
of The Three Lodges of Free and Accepted
Masons of Antigua, November 15th 1730.
If genuine, this predates the formation
of the United Grand Lodge of England
and is interesting in its own right, showing
an active Masonic interest in the building
of the island’s defences. I would welcome
further information on ancient Freemasonry
in this area.
Goose and Gridiron
I read with great interest the article by
Bernard Williamson on the unveiling of
a plaque commemorating the Goose and
Gridiron (MQ Issue 14). The discovery
of the photograph by Bernard led me to
consult some of the Transactions of the
Quatuor Coronati Lodge which have
been written about this famous inn.
It was there that I saw not only a line
drawing of the Goose and Gridiron –
which is very similar to the photograph –
but also a line drawing of the sign of the
Goose and Gridiron taken from the Daily
Graphic of 28 August 1894.
I wondered what had become of this
particular inn sign. I noted, from a look at
“British Inn Signs and Their Stories”, that
London had hundreds of old inn signs and
that 24 of them had been rescued and were
in the Guildhall Museum. The catalogue
mentions two items of interest: “The Goose
and Gridiron (St Paul’s)” and “The Goose
and Gridiron (1786)”.
I phoned the Guildhall (in 1994) to
discover that both objects had been
transferred to the Museum of London.
Having received a call from Jane Zeuner
of the Museum that the sign had been
found, I discovered that both had been
wrapped and put away for years.
I was truly amazed when I saw the sign.
I was determined to have it photographed,
and it was only through Jane’s valuable
assistance that I achieved what I thought
would be impossible. The photograph
was taken officially by the Museum and it
appeared on the front cover of the Masonic
Square magazine in June 1994.
Around 1713, one Ned Ward, who had
kept a tavern in Moorfields, published a
book titled A Vade Mecum for Malt Worms.
In it, the attractions of the Goose and
Gridiron are celebrated in verse. It then
goes on to state that “The rarities of the
Goose and Gridiron are: 1: The odd sign.
2: The pillar which supports the chimney.
3: The skittle ground on top of the house.
4: The watercourse running through the
chimney. 5: The handsome maid, Hannah.
The fact that an actual part of the Goose
and Gridiron – the sign which is the “soul”
of a pub – has survived after all these years is
little short of miraculous, given the many
thousands that existed since those times.
I think it would be wonderful if
permission could be sought to exhibit this
relic in the vestibule of Freemasons’ Hall.
Will fees be reduced?
It was with great interest that I read the
article based on the Pro Grand Master’s
speech (MQ, Issue No. 15), particularly
that part relating to the diminishing number
There can be many reasons for this
which can be discussed at length elsewhere.
However, one element which may hasten
the demise of some Lodges is the increase
in the Grand Lodge Fees.
I fully understand that essential work
must be carried out at Great Queen Street.
However, surely the proposed increase
should have been levied at a slightly higher
rate on each member, not at the current rate
on each member of an Order.
Thus, if a committed member of the
Craft is also a member of other Lodges,
Chapters and side Orders, he will pay the
same as a member of one Lodge.
Does the person who is a multiple member
use Great Queen Street that much more than
anyone else? Does my brother in the north
use Great Queen Street at all or does he
see it as being another Millennium Dome,
paid for, but which he may never visit?
Are London Masons being subsidised
by my brother in the north? I am fortunate
in that I have attended Great Queen Street,
but being in two Craft Lodges and one
Chapter, I am not visiting three times more
than when I was only in one Craft Lodge.
Once the work has been completed, will
the increase in fees be removed? With fees
now reaching £200 could we see brethren
only being members of one Lodge; will
non-dining/country members see it as not
being viable? These questions will only be
answered in the fullness of time. Once the
work has been completed, will the fees
reduce back to the current level? I doubt it.
Is this the time to review whether Great
Queen Street is still viable? Could the
unspoken be uttered, that of the Masonic
HQ being moved into a central location
for all English Masons? With a diminishing
Masonic population, increasing maintenance
fees, more burden will be put on less people.
Great Wakering, Essex
Web site created by Mark Griffin