ISSUE 21, April 2007
Historic: Philanthropist and scientist: Sir Henry Wellcome
Travel: In Darwin's footsteps
Grand Secretary: Interview with Nigel Brown
Quarterly Communication: Speech by the Pro Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes
Faith and Freemasonry: A Salvationist and the Craft
Young Mason: Keep up the tradition
Freemasons' Hall: Refurbishment
Ladies Groups: Cheshire Ladies Circle
   Library and Museum: Masonry and music - the role of the organ
Specialist Lodge: A new Lodge for showmen is consecrated
Serving the community: Two Masons win major rescue awards
Spain: How a Cleveland Mason found his Spanish roots
Wales: Welsh Mason lands national sporting award
Hospices: The Craft's historic links with hospices
Ancient Craft: Herefordshire's ancient boat builder
Education: Forthcoming events and Andrew Prescott and Own free will and accord and First Universities Scheme Initiate
Masonic Charities: Latest from the four main Masonic charities
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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© National Portrait Gallery, London

Samuel Wesley by William Dickinson, published in 1778 by J. Walker, after John Russell
There was an abortive attempt to organise another festival in 1861 which failed due to the rivalry between the city’s two choral societies, the Leeds Choral Society led by Robert Senior Burton iv and William Spark’s own Madrigal and Motet Society, and so it was not until 1873 that another festival got underway.
    The musical director of these first festivals was the eminent London conductor (and Freemason) Sir Michael Costa. He and William Spark first met in 1852 in Bradford when the foundation stone of St George’s Hall was laid, an event conducted with full Masonic ceremonial. They met again at the first Bradford Music Festival in the following year. Spark was the younger of the two men by about 10 years and admits in his book Musical Memories that he felt somewhat frightened by Costa’s austere manner and sharp conversation.
    A shared love of music and possibly also their Freemasonry brought the two men closer: Spark was later invited to dine with Costa at his house in Eccleston Square in London and Costa travelled to Leeds for Spark’s installation as Master. Spark believed that Costa was “the most popular chef d’orchestre that ever resided in England”.
    The exhibition also addresses the question of what is the future of Lodge music. Pipe organs are steadily disappearing from Masonic halls to be replaced by electronic keyboards and the declining number of organists means that even these keyboards become redundant and are replaced by a CD player.
    Although the pipe organs installed in Masonic halls were often modest affairs designed to support corporate singing, a modern researcher has recently called for them to be recorded on the National Pipe Organ Register even if they cannot be retained.
    “The tonal consistency of these modest English instruments, by whichever organ builder, across many decades and in all parts of the country, makes it possible to view these Masonic pipe organs of the 19th and early 20th centuries as a distinct type. They not only represent a significant part of English Freemasonry’s cultural heritage but, arguably, they also make a distinctive contribution to the nation’s wider cultural heritage. However, as a consequence of their private location and their modest scale, these instruments have been overlooked by the organ cognoscenti, and are unlikely to compete successfully for public funding towards the cost of their maintenance or restoration. Indeed, it is the costs of maintaining these otherwise modest and unremarkable instruments that has led to many being removed and replaced by electronic alternatives, without any systematic attempt to record what is lost” v Some pipe organs have been preserved.
    One example is the organ by Norman and Beard Ltd of London (1912) in the Lodge room known as The Greek Temple, at the Great Eastern Hotel, Liverpool Street Station, London. This imposing and highly decorated Edwardian space is Grade 1 listed and so the survival of its otherwise typically modest Masonic pipe organ has been guaranteed by its being integral to the Lodge room’s original design.
    Despite the completeness of the furniture and fittings in this Lodge room it is no longer used for Masonic meetings, but the instrument is intact and playable. At Freemasons’ Hall itself, a fine one-manual chamber organ c. 1793 in an attractive mahogany case, by Robert & William Gray of London, is currently being carefully restored by Michael Broadway for use in Lodge Room 3.

The Freemasons’ Liber Musicus exhibition runs until May at the Library and Museum.

This article draws on a talk given by the author, who is Director of the Library & Museum of Freemasonry, to Leeds and District Lodge of Installed Masters No. 7918 in March 2005.

    i. Robert Dennis Chantrell (1793-1872) was briefly a member of Lodge of Fidelity in 1838-39, then Savile Lodge (then No. 677) from 1839-45, joining from Lodge of Unanimity No 179 in Wakefield.
    ii. Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876) was initiated in Palladian Lodge No. 141 (now No. 120), Hereford on 17 September 1833 (shown as Westley in the register) and joined St George’s Lodge No. 129 (now No. 112) in Exeter on 10 December 1835. He resigned in 1840. No details of any Lodge memberships in Leeds are known.
    iii. J W Reddyhoff, History of the Lodge of Fidelity No 289: 1792-1992, (Leeds, 1994).
    iv. Robert Senior Burton (1820-1892) was initiated in Lodge of Fidelity in 1845 but his membership appears to have lapsed the following year.
    v. Andrew Pink, English Masonic Lodges, Pipe Organs and National Heritage 2007 The author wishes to acknowledge Andrew’s work in the preparation of this article.

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