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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    This was a time when it was fashionable to be a Freemason. King George VI was an overt supporter and active member of the Craft. He had been a Past Grand Master Mason of Scotland and Provincial Grand Master for Middlesex, accepting the rank of Past Grand Master on his unexpected accession to the throne in 1936. Geoffrey Fisher had reached the top of his profession and there were many members of the clergy, not so prominent, who were also active Freemasons. His appointment to the highest office an Anglican clergyman can aspire to attain took place at the end of the war in 1945 and lasted until 1961.
    As Archbishop of Canterbury, his contributions to so many aspects of the religious and social structure in England had a telling effect on millions of individuals. Yet he will remain best remembered for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey on 22 June 1953, which followed on his marrying the then Princess Elizabeth to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in 1947.
    As Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher broke new ground in many areas. He had to cope with significant problems brought about by the rebuilding and peace process that followed the Second World War. He became a great traveller, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1950, to visit Australia. He visited New Zealand, all parts of Africa and the Far East, as well as Turkey, Egypt, Cyprus and, famously, Jerusalem in 1960 prior to a meeting with the Pope in Rome, the first such meeting since the reformation in the 16th century.
    He was particularly active in the World Council of Churches and the revision of the Canon Law. He was an influential man and his contributions to education in particular and his political and social views have remained as part of his legacy to the present time.
    As to Freemasonry, he continued with his membership, gradually decreasing attendance of his Lodges. He is recorded as having visited, for the last time, his mother Lodge, Old Reptonian No. 3725, in 1939.
    In February 1965, at the ripe old age of 78, he resigned from St Anselm Lodge No. 5166 in Chester and at the next meeting in October of the same year he was made an honorary member. He was a great man who derived much pleasure and pride from the Craft, and whose Masonic involvement has been of great moral and practical benefit to us all.
    Brother Geoffrey Fisher died peacefully on 15 September 1972 in the small village of Trent in Dorset, having achieved the greatest ambition of his heart, to become the assistant parish priest.
    As a postscript, there is an interesting Masonic connection with the current and 104th Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Reverend Rowan Williams, who, following an exchange of letters some weeks after his appointment, wrote to the Grand Secretary on 23 January 2003:
    Since my late father was a member of the Craft for many years, I have had every opportunity of observing the probity of individual members … I welcome the manner in which Freemasons have engaged in debate and especially the increasing openness of recent years. Their commitment to charitable causes and the welfare of the wider community is beyond question.



    Bibliography and credits Carpenter, Edward: Archbishop Fisher – His Life and Times, Canterbury Press, 1991. (Note: this is an 820-page voluminous and pedantically detailed book that, quite surprisingly, does not make one single reference to Bro Fisher’s extensive Masonic activities.) Companion Denzil Phillips, Scribe E of Chapter of Justice No 253. John Hart, as always
Left
The Archbishop with the American evangelist Billy Graham at Wembley Stadium in May 1954




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