ISSUE 18, July 2006
Editorial
Archbishop Fisher: A Godly man and a Brother
Travel: The train takes the strain
Quarterly Communication: Annual Investiture speech by the Grand Master and Speech of the Pro Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes
Supreme Grand Chapter: Speech by the First Grand Principal and Report of the Committee of General Purposes Grand Lodge of New York: Speech by the Pro Grand Master
   Specialist Lodges: Keeping their eyes on the ball
Education: Planning ahead for the Chair and Events and New premises for Masonic research
Royal Opera House: A right Royal occasion
Royal opening: Beamish Museum
Digital records: Saving our past for the future
Library & Museum: The hall in the garden
Queen's Birthday: Masons played a prominent part
International: A Mason and the Foreign Legion
Masonic Charities: Grand Charity and NMSF and RMBI and RMTGB
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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   The designation of Archbishop of Canterbury is an ancient office tracing its origins to St Augustine in 597ad. He is the head of the Church of England and of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
    In the long and distinguished list of these archbishops only one has been a Freemason: His Grace, The Right Honourable and Most Reverend Dr Geoffrey Francis Fisher (1887-1972). He took to Freemasonry, as he did to all aspects of his life, with gusto, joined Orders beyond the Craft and participated in its affairs to his dying day.
    Four other Archbishops of Canterbury (Michael Ramsey 1961; Donald Coggan, 1975; Robert Runcie, 1980 and George Carey 1991) bridged the gap between Fisher and the current Archbishop the Reverend Rowan Williams. None appear to have made as much impact on the Church and society in general as Geoffrey Fisher did. His high rank and profile as a Churchman and simultaneous activities as a Freemason did not escape the notice of those who wished to decry Freemasonry. His dignity and pride in the Craft overcame all criticism.
    Geoffrey was the last of 10 children, born near Nuneaton in Warwickshire on 5 May 1887. The Fishers have a longstanding pedigree tracing their priestly origins as far back as the last decade of the 10th century and a monk named John Fisher, in the Anglo-Saxon Benedictine Abbey of Burton.
    His father Henry, a gentle and scholarly hyperactive priest and his good-natured loving mother, encouraged Geoffrey to pursue his inclination toward an academic life. He was well prepared when he took the post of assistant master at his old school, Marlborough, in 1911. Deviating from family tradition, he went up to Oxford in 1906, instead of Cambridge, which his immediate ancestors had all preferred.
    He enjoyed the antiquity and ambiance of Exeter College, founded in 1314. Qualified now in Theology, he was ordained a priest in 1913 at Wells Theological College in Salisbury and a year later, at the astonishingly young age of 27, he was appointed Headmaster of Repton, the prestigious and respected public school in Derbyshire, founded in the 16th century.
    It is during his headmastership that Geoffrey Fisher was initiated into the Old Reptonian Lodge No. 3725 at Freemasonsí Hall, London on 11 January 1916. He was passed in October and made a Master Mason on 9 January 1917. This was the start to a long and continued successful Masonic career.
    Records of his undoubtedly successful 18-year stint as headmaster at Repton are scattered with incidents, which show him to have been both strict and at times ruthless in pursuing what he saw as justified discipline. Bro the Rev Neville Barker Cryer, my colleague and well-known Masonic historian, told me that he was ordained a priest by Geoffrey Fisher in 1959 at Adiscombe. At the time, and on various occasions that followed, Geoffrey Fisher never deviated from a scholastic, master-to-pupil approach in his communication with fellow priests and parishioners.
Below left
Archbishop Fisher, Freemason and High Churchman

Below right
The Archbishop at the moment he crowns Elizabeth II at her coronation in Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953

  


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