Many of you will know that I left the Centre
of Research into Freemasonry at the
University of Sheffield on 1 March 2007 to
take up an appointment as manager of Library
Services at the University of Wales Lampeter.
My new post is an exciting opportunity
for me. The University of Wales Lampeter
was founded in 1822 by Thomas Burgess,
at that time Bishop of St Davidís, and is the
oldest university in England and Wales after
Oxford and Cambridge.
On his death in 1829, Bishop Burgess
bequeathed his collection of books and
manuscripts to his foundation. This forms the
kernel of a remarkable collection of 25,000
early printed books and manuscripts which
constitute the Universityís Foundersí Library,
one of the most unusual and interesting
libraries in Wales, and a major part of my job
will be to raise its profile.
I agonised for a long time before accepting
this post, since I have thoroughly enjoyed my
work in developing the Centre for Research
into Freemasonry and was keen to bring to
fruition the exciting plans we have developed
there. In the end, it was only my hopeless
addiction to libraries and the prospect of
living in a very beautiful part of the country
which made up my mind.
Having made my decision, I realised that it
was a good thing that I have decided to move
on. The main thrust of my work at Sheffield
over the past six years has been to emphasise
that Freemasonry forms an integral part of our
social history and should be approached in the
same way as other historical institutions.
However, there is a danger that those
researchers and curators who take an interest
in the history of Freemasonry are seen as in
some way divorced from the mainstream. I
hope that by moving on in this way, I will
demonstrate that this is not the case.
I will take with me many happy
memories. I have received superb hospitality
from Lodges and Chapters all over the
country and I would like to thank them all. I
have made many new friends, whose good
fellowship I will continue to value.
Above all, however, what I will remember
is the marvellous Library and Museum of
Freemasonry. The exploration of its
extraordinary collections and the unstinting
support I have received from all its staff, will
be my most abiding memory of my time in
developing the Centre for Research into
These happy memories were made
possible by the funders of the Centre at
Sheffield, for which I must thank the United
Grand Lodge of England, the Supreme Grand
Chapter of England, Yorkshire West Riding
Province and the Marquess of Northampton.
I should also mention the unstinting support
the Centre has received from many
individuals, particularly Trevor Broadley,
Nigel Buchanan, John Hamill, James Daniel,
Michael Lawson, James Newman, Viscount
Gough and Richard Crane.
The University of Sheffield has expressed
its continuing support for the work of the
Centre and will be advertising shortly for my
successor. The new Director will take forward
the MA in the History of Freemasonry and
Fraternalism recently approved by the
University, which will begin in October 2008.
My successor will also work closely with the
United Grand Lodge to develop plans for a
tercentenary history to be published in 2017.
The public seminars of the Centre for
Research into Freemasonry will be
continued during the interregnum under the
aegis of my colleague John Wade, and details
can be found elsewhere in this issue of MQ.
So farewell, and thanks. I will not be
giving up my interest in the history of
Freemasonry. I will be speaking at the
International Conference on the History of
Freemasonry in Edinburgh from 25-27 May
2007, and I look forward to seeing many of
I received many kind words and presents
on leaving Sheffield. The most splendid was
a beautiful portrait by William Hogarth of
John Pine, the first engraver to Grand Lodge,
presented to me by the Board of General
Purposes, the Committee of General
Purposes and the staff of the Library and
Museum of Freemasonry, which will have
pride of place in my office in Lampeter.
More unusual, and particularly touching,
was a beautiful square, presented to me by six
of the most loyal supporters of the Centreís
events (John Acaster, John Belton, Tony
Lever, Jack Thompson, Alan Turton and
John Wade), inscribed:
To Prof Andrew Prescott. We met upon the
level and parted on the square.
That was a truly Masonic thank you, and
I will treasure it.
Andrew Prescott was presented with this Hogarth print of John Pine, first engraver to Grand Lodge
Web site created by Mark Griffin