ISSUE 16, January 2006
Editorial
Historic: Sherlock Holmes incarnate
Travel: In the Footsteps of the Incas
Sport: Batting for England
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's speech and Quarterly Communication
Supreme Grand Chapter: First Grand Principal's speech and Committee of General Purposes
Royal Masonic Girls' School: Stories in windows
Specialist Lodges: Brotherhood of the Angle
    Napoleonic Wars: A Mason's Word
International: Macedonia: New Grand Lodge consecrated and Enthusiasm unbound
Grand Lodge: Development of Freemasons' Hall
Masonic Rebels: Rise and fall
Bristol Museum: A Phoenix from the Ashes
Freemasonry and Religion: United in diversity
Library and Museum: Most glorious of them all
First Aid: Masons learn to shock
Education: The Third Degree and Forthcoming events
Masonic Charities, Letters, Book Reviews, Gardening

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Above
Masonic furniture made by French prisoners and purchased from them by Royal Sussex Lodge No. 353
    The French army, just like the British, had a long tradition of having travelling Lodges attached to their military. The first Lodge in the French army was La Parfait, constituted in 1759. So it is not surprising that Lodges sprang up in most of the 50 cantonments in the UK.
    The French rule was that seven Master Masons could form a Lodge in a town where there was no Lodge, and they became “loge en instance”. In at least four cases, the French applied to Lord Moira, Grand Master of the Ancients Grand Lodge, to hold meetings.
    They were held under the provision of the Antients and in association with the Grand Orient of France. The Lodge permit for Des Vrais Amis de l’Odre Ashby-de-la- Zouch is still extant. The brethren of Royal Sussex Lodge No. 353 bought the lodge furniture from the French prisoners. Still on view in the Burton Masonic hall are the floor cloths and furniture bought from the French Lodges before their repatriation.
    The French Lodges had names which reflected their circumstances, among them De l’Esperiance (hope), De l’infortunes (the unfortunate ones) and De la Paix Desiree (hope for peace).
    Lodges were not only accessible in the parole towns. In Portsmouth, for example, upon the prison ship the Guildford, a Monsieur A. Lardier wrote in his book Historie des Pontons of a Lodge held in the hull of the ship in such a confined space that, although he was “less than the ordinary stature of ordinary men we were obliged to bend almost double, so limited was the space.”
    He added: “The Master of the Lodge, who was as Sovereign Prince Rose Croix, presided from a rickety three-legged bench which he struggled throughout the ceremony to keep stable. The remainder of the brethren were obliged to sit upon the floor ‘in the manner of Turks or Tailors’.” The floor work must have been particularly impressive, for this was not an occasional Lodge, but one of a regular programme of meetings held by our zealous French brothers.
    The Freemasons of Poole raised funds to assist British prisoners of war in France and even entertained a French prisoner brother. One Englishman captured by the French, on discovering that he was a fellow Mason, had him billeted with brothers in Verdun. During his captivity, which lasted from 1803 to 1814, Napoleon personally provided Christmas dinner for the English Freemasons.
    Then there is the story of the ‘amity’ biscuit. A Captain Jacques le Bon captured the brig Oak in 1813, and upon discovering that the captain was a fellow Mason, released him. Not only that, he also presented him with a small dog which had been owned by an English Mason who had been recently captured.
    The dog had a biscuit suspended around its neck. Captain le Bon stated that he would not even keep a brother’s dog in captivity, nor would he see it want for food. The biscuit, mounted and framed, is the prize possession of Lodge of Amity No. 137 at Poole.
    There are numerous memories of the French brethren still visible in England, ranging from Lodge furniture, Masonic artefacts in museums, through to grave stones in English churchyards, memorials to French brothers who had given their Parole – their Word.

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