ISSUE 17, April 2006
Historic: The Brother who designed the Spitfire
Travel: The charm of Kerala
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's speech and Quarterly Communication
Public Relations: Hottest spot in town
International: Emulation in Bulgaria and Mauritius takes a leap forward and Hungary's Royal Arch library
Library & Museum: Recent acquisitions
Masonic Bibles: Lodges and their Bibles
    Royal Masonic Girls' School: My thanks to the Freemasons
Holocaust: The Count of Auschwitz
Education: International conference on the history of Freemasonry and Events
Specialist Lodges: Masonry universal - via radio
Masonic Charities: Grand Charity continues to help those in need and New Masonic Samaritan Fund and Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys
Grand Charity: The Tsunami - one year on and Important Gift Aid information
Letters, Book Reviews, and Gardening

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Above (top): A 1765 Bible of the Excellent and Grand Royal Chapter, forerunner of Supreme Grand Chapter

Above: Proceedings of a public meeting held at Freemasons’ Hall in 1824 to honour James Watt, inventor of the steam engine, and a Mason.

Right: Another view of the Watt proceedings book, showing an engine and carriages on the fore-edge
    The first Freemasons’ Hall, built by Thomas Sandby, was used for both Masonic meetings and hired out for use by non-Masonic organisations. The archive collections held by the Library and Museum include a number of letters, documents and pictures of these non-Masonic meetings (see MQ, Issue No. 15).
    At a recent auction, Library and Museum staff noticed that one of the lots was a bound copy of the proceedings of a public meeting held at Freemasons’ Hall on 18 June 1824 to debate the issue of erecting a monument to James Watt, inventor of the steam engine, who was described as ‘a man whose inventions had so essentially promoted the prosperity and increased the resources of the British Empire’.
    Diane Clements, director of the Library and Museum, commented: “What particularly caught our eye was that the copy had a fore-edge painting of a steam train which sounded rather unusual.
    ‘We did not have any archive material about this particular meeting, but the book fits well with our recent cataloguing project about the history of the Hall and would also be an additional exhibit for our Summer Exhibition’.
    The auction, being out of London, staff did not have the opportunity to inspect the book but, following a successful bid, were amazed when it arrived. Bound in red morocco with gold blocking, the book was inscribed by both Sir Francis Chantrey and the artist of the charming fore-edge painting, William Maw Egley, neither of which had been included in the catalogue description.
    Diane Clements continued: ‘Sir Francis Chantrey was one of the major British sculptors of the 19th century. Having already made statues of Watt for Glasgow and Birmingham, he was eventually commissioned to produce the statue of Watt which was erected in Westminster Abbey as a result of this meeting.
    ‘Not only that, but he was a Freemason, a member of Somerset House Lodge, and we have two portrait busts by him in the current Freemasons’ Hall. This made a book which was already interesting, especially so’.

Click on the image above to see more detail

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