ISSUE 19, October 2006
Historic: Rabbi and Mason
Travel: Morocco's exotic charm
Quarterly Communication: Address by the Pro Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes
Working with Youngsters: The Grand Master goes fishing
Community Relations: Saying it with flowers
International: Spanish Freemasonry under the microscope
   Events: Grand Lodge Award; Royal Masonic Variety Show
Specialist Lodges: Masonry on the canal
Freemasonry and Society: A Churchman's view of Masonry
Education: Toast of the town and Events
Young Masons: The Universities Scheme
Library & Museum: The Freemasons's Tontine
Masonic Charities: The Grand Charity and NMSF and RMTGB and RMBI
Book reviews

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   The Hall in the Garden: Freemasons’ Hall and its place in London, Library & Museum of Freemasonry, Lewis Masonic, £14.99. ISBN 0 85318 264 7.
A Masonic building has stood in Great Queen Street in London’s Covent Garden since shortly after organised Freemasonry began in England with the forming of the first Grand Lodge in 1717.
    The first foundation stone was laid on 1 May 1775 and the Hall was dedicated on 23 May 1776. Since then there has been a gradual expansion of the original site which was not to be completed until the 20th century.
    Even in the 18th century, keeping building costs within budget was difficult, the original structure reaching £15,000 instead of the estimated £6,500.
    Today’s Freemasons’ Hall is a popular venue for outside organisations, as it has been virtually since its foundation, such bodies as the Church Missionary Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society using it in the 19th century.
    For a unique insight into much of the history of Freemasonry, this splendid and lavishly illustrated book produced by the Library & Museum of Freemasonry, is a goldmine of information.
    Details of the building of the present structure, erected in honour of the fallen of World War I, will particularly interest the reader, with excellent photographs showing the famous landmark rising into the sky.
    There is also a poignant section explaining the role of Freemasons’ Hall during the Second World War.
John Jackson


What inspired you to begin writing the Matthew Hervey novels?
Long reading about Wellington’s army and about Britain in the early 19th century, a time I have always found particularly interesting because it was a ‘heroic’ period, and one on a political and industrial cusp. And the horse was still essential to warfare. I had re-read Hornblower in the late eighties, and then O’Brian and I became convinced that stories of men in ‘the never-ending war’ would continue to appeal; and that the question ‘what happened then’ – the time after Waterloo, when everyone thinks we were at peace because Europe was – would intrigue.

When and why did you develop your interest in 19th century military history?
No professional army officer could fail to be interested in the army’s history. The army is formed by its history, perhaps more than any other institution, and to understand the present you therefore have to understand the past. And although you have to be careful about applying the ‘lessons of history’, if you ignore them you will likely as not repeat the same mistakes. The 19th century was a great canvas for the army, and one on which little things – individuals and seemingly minor events – could have a great impact.

Company of Spears is the eighth novel in your acclaimed series featuring Matthew Hervey. Do you envisage continuing the series or have you any further projects in the pipeline?
The series will continue, but I have little idea where to. Hervey is now 37, a particularly interesting age for a soldier. But I am also writing a book of nonfiction, and, without giving too much away, I believe it will complement the fiction. And after that there are several other books to write besides the Hervey series. I do also prize my journalism, particularly my book reviews for The Times and The Spectator.

When writing a book, have you a preferred place of work and a favoured writing routine?
Yes and yes, though it doesn’t always follow that I work where and when I prefer. The army taught me how to concentrate, and some of my best writing has been done in a notebook on the Underground from Heathrow to the Cavalry Club. I have a study, east-facing, with a glorious pastoral prospect of Banffshire – a lovely, unknown county – and I like to write between 8.45 and lunchtime, and then for a couple of hours in the evening, depending on who is here.

Who is your favourite author?
This is tricky, because other than Jane Austen, to whom I turn when I want to converse with the gentry of Hervey’s time, there is no author to whom I return often enough to think favourite. Except the poets. If you want to write good prose, you must read poetry. In my case, Milton, Pope, Keats and Myles Coverdale, of whom few have heard.

Which book are you reading at present?
Zoë Anderson’s history of The Royal Ballet.

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