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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Late last year a member of the public brought in to the Library and Museum a large 1765 Bible seeking further information about it. It was just possible to discern the inscription on the leather binding, which read

    This belongs to
    E.G. and R.C.
    Held in the Turks Head
    Gerrard Street

The binding was also decorated with a triple tau and an arch. Library and Museum staff concluded that the Bible was that used by the Excellent Grand and Royal Chapter, the governing body for the Royal Arch Degree formed by members of the Premier Grand Lodge on 12 June 1765 and which was known to have met at the Turk’s Head Tavern.
    The following year, when Lord Blayney was elected First Principal of the Excellent Grand and Royal Chapter, he caused the Grand and Royal Chapter of the Royal Arch of Jerusalem to be established by signing the Charter of Compact. It is from that body that the Supreme Grand Chapter of today has descended.
    Although, at the 12 June 1765 meeting, the Excellent Grand and Royal Chapter had enacted bye laws for its conduct which had included descriptions of regalia, there was no specific reference to a Bible, and its existence had not been known. It may be the oldest surviving artefact associated with the Royal Arch.
    After some much needed restoration work, which included the cleaning of many years of black boot polish from the binding, the Bible now forms part of the Library and Museum’s new display case on the Royal Arch Degree.
    The Library and Museum collects material from all kinds of fraternal and friendly societies to set Masonry in its wider historical context, particularly the relationship between Freemasonry and non-Masonic fraternities and friendly societies.
    The Library and Museum recently purchased a pocket watch, auctioned as ‘Masonic’, although it is actually from the friendly society, the Oddfellows, and dates from the 1830s. The Oddfellows are the largest of the Friendly Societies, with their origins in the late 1700s.
    Up to the creation of the Welfare State in 1948 they provided sociability, moral leadership and above all financial support for their members. They still exist and provide financial services.
    The Oddfellows, like Masons, made many objects for use in their homes with symbolism on them and some are of fine quality like this watch. The three masks featured on the watch were part of the original Oddfellow ritual. This extremely dramatic ritual ceased to be performed after the early 1800s and a more sedate nine-level system replaced it.
    There are many different groups or ‘Unities’ of Oddfellows with different regalia, but the common symbol of them all is the heart in an open hand, symbolising that deeds and gifts are meaningless unless motivated by the heart.

A watch from the 1830s of the Oddfellows fraternal society

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