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 Foundation Stone is now in the foyer of the Royal Opera House
   The London theatre now known as the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, home of the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet, is the third theatre on this site. The first Covent Garden Theatre, built by John Rich, opened in 1732, but burnt down in 1808.
    The second, designed by Robert Smirke, opened the following year but suffered the same fate and was destroyed by fire in 1856. It was quickly replaced by the present building, which opened in 1858.
    Constructed at great speed, by the 1990s the fabric of the building was in serious need of extensive renovation and repair, while its technical facilities had advanced little since the 1930s. Mounting opera and ballet performances had become increasingly difficult and costly due to the theatreís technical limitations, and it could soon have been in danger of being closed on health and safety grounds alone.
    The opportunity was therefore taken not only to bring the building up to current standards of safety, but to redevelop the whole site as a more appropriate home for two large resident companies, including all the technical facilities that are now taken for granted in a modern opera house.
    In the course of this redevelopment, it was decided that an object of considerable historic interest, hitherto visible only to those working inside the theatre, should be restored to view not far from its original position on the exterior.
    When it was decided to rebuild after the loss of the first theatre in 1808, the Prince of Wales, later George IV, was invited to lay the foundation stone of the new building on 31 December that year. This was a major public event in which Freemasonry played a prominent role. The ceremony is described in detail in The Gentlemanís Magazine for January 1809:


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