ISSUE 16, January 2006
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

 Previous Page 
 Next Page 

A Bearskin’s Crimea – Colonel Henry Percy VC & His Brother Officers by Algernon Percy, Leo Cooper, £19.99. ISBN: 1844153096
    Amidst the wealth of books about the First and Second World War, the Crimean War is all too often overlooked. The names of Cardigan, Balaklava and Florence Nightingale, along with the Charge of the Light Brigade, provide mere token recognition of a conflict that for all its suffering has rarely attracted the attention of modern day historians.
    This book provides a timely reminder of the fighting, the conditions and the characters involved in the Crimean War.
    It is told principally through the eyes of a regimental officer in the Grenadier Guards, The Honourable Henry Percy, who was present at all the major battles of this grim conflict: the Alma, Balaklava, Inkerman and the Siege of Sebastopol.
    Percy was no ordinary commentator. He was wounded twice and his fearless leadership was rewarded when he received one of the first Victoria Crosses for his gallantry at Inkerman – ‘The Soldiers’ Battle’. Away from the battlefield, he had a direct access to, and knowledge of, the allied commanders and his candid criticism of some of their decisions makes for interesting reading.
    He also throws light on the character and work of Florence Nightingale and her nurses, based on his own experiences as a patient in Scutari Hospital.
    Interestingly, his brother, as a Member of Parliament, was closely involved in advancing the cause of women’s nursing at the same time. The most fascinating feature of this book, however, is Percy’s graphic accounts of bitter fighting and comradeship under extreme conditions. A Bearskin’s Crimea is both a poignant human story and a superb narrative of an oft-forgotten war.

Freemasonry in Music and Literature edited by Trevor Stewart, Canonbury Masonic Research Centre, £17.50 plus £2.50 p&p. ISBN 0954349814.
    Freemasonry is rich in music and literature, and this book contains nine papers in the second volume of The Canonbury Papers given at a conference in 2003.
    The papers range from the mid-15th century to the present and are international in perspective with subject topics from England, Germany, Russia, France, Holland, Austria, Scotland and Sweden.
    The extensive references and index will be of particular interest to those interested in pursuing further studies into this fascinating area of Masonic research.
    One taster is the paper on James Boswell, biographer of Dr Samuel Johnson. Boswell was a Scottish Mason, but a womaniser and heavy drinker. He tried to claim virtue in that he was a Mason. His wife was unimpressed, describing the Masons as “an indiscriminate, confused rabble.”
    There is a paper on the manifestation of Freemasonry in the works of Goethe, songs of 18th century English Lodges, some literary contexts of the Regius and Cooke MSS, and on Masonic songs, marches, odes, cantatas, oratorios and operas in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
    The 18th century was a prolific period in Masonic songbooks, as another paper reveals, while Hogarth’s Masonic narratives and Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado are examined.
    Michael Costa, a 19th century director of music at Covent Garden, is studied to show how his career in music and Masonry might be an indicator of changing perceptions to Freemasonry in the latter part of that period.
    A study of Russian Freemasonry, which can trace its origins back to the 1730s, is a fascinating insight, and inevitably no such book would be complete on music and Freemasonry without Mozart.
    This is a gem of a book and does full credit to the hard work of the Canonbury Masonic Research Centre which, since its foundation as a charitable trust in 1998, has done so much pioneering work.

John Jackson


What prompted you to write Pundits from Pakistan – On tour with India 2003–4?
The tour was fortunate timing. I was looking for something more than magazine journalism and wanted it to involve cricket.

What most surprised you about the tour?
Not being from a family divided by the horrific partition of 1947 or affected by the three subsequent wars, Pakistan had held little resonance for me beyond the stereotypes peddled in the mass media. To observe the unique attachment between the people of India and Pakistan was illuminating and touching. In many ways, the tour was a people’s peace movement allowed to blossom finally as a result of the thawing in political will. The numbers who crossed the border for the tour were the highest since the early years of Partition. To witness cricket as the catalyst to such a cultural, social and, to an extent, political dialogue between the two countries was an extraordinary thing.

When writing a book, do you have a preferred place of work and a favoured writing routine?
I often write to music. A bit of natural light or wind is important, too. All of Pundits from Pakistan was written in my bedroom, which is fairly big and silent by Bombay standards.

How do you relax?
Music, reading, surfing and watching cricket. A bit of whisky or tea generally improves things!

Who is your favourite author?
I think there are great books rather than great authors. Over the last couple of years I’ve enjoyed books by Naipaul, Coetzee and Dostoevsky.

Which book are you reading at present?
I’ve just finished Mike Marquese’s Chimes of Freedom, which added plenty of real context and insight to my affection for Bob Dylan’s exquisite stream of albums. I’m planning to read a Hemingway next.

 Previous Page 
 Next Page