The History Of Masonry
In England From The Fire Of
London, To The Accession Of George I
BOOK Iv - The History of Masonry in England
illustrations of masonry
The year 1666 afforded a singular and awful occasion for the
utmost exertion of masonic abilities. The city of London, which had been visited
in the preceding year by the plague, to whole ravages, it is computed, above
100,000 of its inhabitants fell a sacrifice,
had scarcely recovered from the alarm of that dreadful contagion, when a general
conflagration reduced the greatest part of the city within the walls to ashes,
This dreadful fire broke out on the 2d of September, at the house of a baker in
Pudding-lane, a wooden building, pitched on the outside, as were also all the
rest of the houses in that narrow lane. The house being filled with faggots and
brush-wood, soon added to the rapidity of the flames, which raged with such
fury, as to spread four ways at once.
Jonas Moore and Ralph Gatrix, who were
appointed surveyors on this occasion to examine the ruins, reported, that the
fire over-ran 373 acres within the walls, and burnt 13,000 houses, 89 parish
churches, besides chapels, leaving only 11 parishes standing. The Royal
Exchange, Custom-house, Guildhall, Blackwell-hall, St. Paul's cathedral,
Bridewell, the two compters, fifty-two city companies halls, and three city
gates, were all demolished. The damage was computed at 10,000,000 l. sterling.
After so sudden and extensive a calamity,
it became necessary to adopt some regulations to guard against any such
catastrophe in future. It was therefore determined, that in all the new
buildings to be erected, stone and brick should be substituted in the room of
timber. The King and the Grand Master immediately ordered deputy Wren to draw up
the plan of a new city, with broad and regular streets. Dr. Christopher Wren was
appointed surveyor general and principle architect for rebuilding the city, the
cathedral of St. Paul, and all the parochial churches enacted by parliament, in
lieu of those that were destroyed, with other public structures. This gentleman,
conceiving the charge too important for a single person, selected Mr. Robert
Hook, professor of geometry in Gresham college, to assist him; who was
immediately employed in measuring, adjusting, and setting out the grounds of the
private streets to the several proprietors. Dr. Wren's model and plan were laid
before the king and the house of commons, and the practicability of the whole
scheme, without the infringement of property, clearly demonstrated: it
unfortunately happened, however, that the greater part of the citizens were
absolutely averse to alter their old possessions, and to recede from building
their houses again on the old foundations . Many were unwilling to give up their
properties into the hands of public trustees, till they should receive an
equivalent of more advantage; while others expressed distrust. Every means were
tried to convince the citizens, that by removing all the church-yards, gardens
&c. to the out-skirts of the city, sufficient room would be given to augment
the streets, and properly to dispose of the churches, halls, and other public
buildings, to the perfect satisfaction of every proprietor; but the
representation of all these improvements had no weight. The citizens chose to
have their old city again, under all its disadvantages, rather than a new one,
the principles of which they were unwilling to understand, and considered as
innovations. Thus an opportunity was lost, of making the new city the most
magnificent, as well as the most commodious for health and trade, of any in
Europe. The architect, cramped in the execution of his plan, was obliged to
abridge his scheme, and exert his utmost labour, skill, and ingenuity, to model
the city in the manner in which it has since appeared.
On the 23d of October
1667, the king in person levelled in form the foundation stone of the new Royal
Exchange, now allowed to be the finest in Europe; and on the 28th September
1669, it was opened by the lord mayor and aldermen. Round the inside of the
square, above the arcades, and between the windows, are the statues of the
sovereigns of England. In the centre of the square, is erected the king's statue
to the life, in a Cęsarean habit of white marble, executed in a masterly manner
by Mr. Gibbons, then grand warden of the society.
In 1668, the Custom-house
for the port of London, situated on the south side of Thames-street, was built,
adorned with an upper and lower order of architecture. In the latter, are stone
columns, and entablement of the Tuscan order: and in the former, are pilaster,
entablature, and five pediments of the Ionic order. The wings are elevated on
columns, forming piazzas; and the length of the building is 189 feet; its
breadth in the middle, 27; and at the west end, 60 feet.
This year also,
deputy Wren and his warden Webb finished the Theatrum Sheldonium at
Oxford, designed and executed at the private expence of Gilbert Sheldon,
archbishop of Canterbury, an excellent architect and able designer. On the 9th
of July 1669, the capestone of this elegant building was celebrated with joy and
festivity by the craftsmen, and an elegant oration delivered on the occasion by
Deputy Wren, at the same time also, built, at the expence of the
University, that other master-piece of architecture, the pretty museum near this
In 1671, Mr. Wren began to build that great fluted column called the
Monument, in memory of the burning and re-building of the city of London. This
stupendous pillar was finished in 1677. It is 24 feet higher than Trajan's
pillar at Rome, and built of Portland stone, of the Doric order. Its altitude,
from the ground, is 202 feet; the greatest diameter of the shaft or body of the
column, 15 feet; the ground plinth, or bottom of the pedestal, 28 feet square;
and the pedestal 40 feet high. Over the capital, is an iron balcony,
encompassing a cone 32 feet high, supporting a blazing urn of gilt brass. Within
is a large stair-case of black marble, containing 345 step, each step ten inches
and an half broad, and six inches thick. The west side of the pedestal is
adorned with curious emblems, by the masterly hand of Mr. Cibber, father to the
late poet-laureat Colley Cibber; in which eleven principal figures are done in
alto, and the rest in basso relievo. That to which the eye is
particularly directed, is a female, representing the City of London,
sitting in a languishing posture, on a heap of ruins. Behind her, is
Time, gradually raising her up; and at her side, a woman, representing
Providence, gently touching her with one hand, while, with a winged
sceptre in the other, she directs her to regard two goddesses in the clouds; one
with a cornucopia, denoting Plenty; the other, with a palm branch, the emblem of
Peace. At her feet is a bee-hive, to shew that, by industry and application, the
greatest misfortunes may be overcome. Behind Time, are the
Citizens, exulting at his endeavours to restore her; and beneath, in the
midst of the ruins, is a dragon, the supporter of the city arms, who
endeavours to preserve them with his paw. At the north end, is a view of the
City in flames, the inhabitants in consternation, with their arms
extended upward, crying for assistance. Opposite the City, on an elevated
pavement, stands the King, in a Roman habit, with a laurel on his head,
and a truncheon in his hand; who, on approaching her, commands three of his
attendants to descend to her relief. The first represents the Sciences,
with a winged head, and circle of naked boys dancing thereon, and holding Nature
in her hand, with her numerous breasts, ready to give assistance to all. The
second is Architecture, with a plan in one hand, and a square and pair of
compasses in the other. The third is Liberty, waving a hat in the air,
and shewing her joy at the pleasing prospect of the City's speedy recovery.
Behind the King, stands his brother, the duke of York, with a garland in
one hand, to crown the rising city, and a sword in the other, for her defence.
The two figures behind them, are Justice and Fortitude; the former
with a coronet, and the latter with a reined lion; while, under the pavement, in
a vault, appears Envy gnawing a heart. In the upper part of the back
ground, the re-construction of the city is represented by scaffolds and
unfinished houses, with builders at work on them. The north and south sides of
the pedestal have each a Latin inscription, one describing the desolation of the
city, the other its restoration. The east side of the pedestal has an
inscription, expressing the time in which the pillar was begun, continued, and
brought to perfection. In one line continued round the base, are these words:
"This pillar was set up in perpetual remembrance of the most dreadful burning of
this Protestant city, begun and carried on by the treachery and malice of the
Popish faction, in the beginning of September, in the year of our Lord 1666, in
order to the carrying on their horrid plot for extirpating the Protestant
religion, and old English liberty, and introducing popery and slavery." This
inscription, upon the duke of York's accession to the crown, was erased; but,
soon after the Revolution, restored again.
The rebuilding of the city of
London was vigorously prosecuted, and the restoration of St. Paul's cathedral
claimed particular attention. Dr. Wren drew several designs, to discover what
would be most acceptable to the general taste; and finding persons of all
degrees declare for magnificence and grandeur, he formed a design according to
the very best stile of Greek and Roman architecture, and caused a large model of
it to be made in wood; but the bishops deciding that it was not sufficiently in
the cathedral stile, the surveyor was ordered to amend it, and he then produced
the scheme of the present structure, which was honoured with the king's
approbation. The original model, however, which was only of the Corinthian
order, like St. Peter's at Rome, is still kept in an apartment of the cathedral,
as a real curiosity.
In 1673, the foundation stone of this magnificent cathedral, designed by
deputy Wren, was laid in solemn form by the King, attended by Grand Master
Rivers, his architects and craftsmen, in the presence of the nobility and
gentry, the lord mayor and aldermen, the bishops and clergy, &c. During the
whole time this structure was building, Mr. Wren acted as master of the work and
surveyor, and was ably assisted by his wardens, Mr. Edward Strong and his
St. Paul's cathedral is planned in the form of a long cross; the walls
are wrought in rustic, and strengthened, as well as adorned, by two rows of
coupled pilasters, one over the other; the lower Corinthian, and the upper
Composite. The spaces between the arches of the windows, and the architecture of
the lower order, as well as those above, are filled with a variety of
The west front is graced with a most magnificent portico, a
noble pediment, and two stately turrets. There is a grand flight of steps of
black marble that extend the whole length of the portico, which consists of
twelve lofty Corinthian columns below, and eight of the Composite order above;
these are all coupled and fluted. The upper series support a noble pediment,
crowned with its acroteria; and in this pediment is an elegant representation in
bas relief, of the conversion of St. Paul, executed by Mr. Bird, an artist whose
name, on account of this piece alone, is worthy of being transmitted to
posterity. The figures are well executed: the magnificent figure of St. Paul, on
the apex of the pediment, with St. Peter on his right, and St. James on his
left, produce a fine effect. The four Evangelists, with their proper emblems, on
the front of the towers, are judiciously disposed, and skilfully finished; St.
Matthew is distinguished by an angel; St. Mark, by a lion; St. Luke, by an ox;
and St. John, by an eagle.
To the north portico, there is an ascent by twelve
circular steps of black marble, and its dome is supported by six grand
Corinthian columns. Upon the dome is a well-proportioned urn, finely ornamented
with festoons; over the urn is a pediment, supported by pilasters in the wall,
in the face of which are carved the royal arms, with the regalia, supported by
angels. Statues of five of the apostles are placed on the top, at proper
The south portico answers to the north, and, like that, is
supported by six noble Corinthian columns; but as the ground is considerably
lower on this side of the church than the other, the ascent is by a flight of
twenty-five steps. This portico has also a pediment above, in which is a phoenix
rising out of the flames, with the motto, RESURGAM, underneath it; as an emblem
of rebuilding the church. A curious accident is said to have given rise to this
device, which was particularly observed by the architect as a favourable omen.
When Dr. Wren was marking our the dimensions of the building, and had fixed on
the centre of the great dome, a common labourer was ordered to bring him a flat
stone from among the rubbish, to leave as a direction to the masons. the stone
which the man brought happened to be a piece of a grave-stone, with nothing
remaining of the inscription but this single word, in large capitals, RESURGAM;
and this circumstance left an impression on Dr. Wrens' mind, that could never
afterwards be erased. On this side of the building are likewise five statues,
which correspond with those on the apex of the north pediment.
At the east
end of the church is a sweep, or circular projection for the altar, finely
ornamented with the orders, and with sculpture; particularly a noble piece in
honour of king William III.
The dome, which rises in the centre of the whole,
is superlatively grand. Twenty feet above the roof of the church is a circular
range of thirty-two columns, with niches placed exactly against others within.
These are terminated by their entablature, which supports a handsome gallery,
adorned with a balustrade. Above these columns is a range of pilasters, with
windows between; and from the entablature of these, the diameter decreases very
considerably; and two feet above that, it is again contracted. From this part
the external sweep of the dome begins, and the arches meet at 52 feet above. On
the summit of the dome, is an elegant balcony, and from its centre rises the
lantern, adorned with Corinthian columns. The whole is terminated by a ball, on
which stands a cross, both of which are elegantly gilt.
This noble fabric is
surrounded, at a proper distance, by a dwarf stone wall, on which is placed the
most magnificent balustrade of cast iron perhaps in the universe, four feet six
inches in height, exclusive of the wall. In this inclosure are seven beautiful
iron gates, which, together with the balusters, in number about 2500, weigh 200
tons and 85 pounds.
In the centre of the area of the grand west front, on a
pedestal of excellent workmanship, stands a statue of queen Anne, formed of
white marble, with proper decorations. The figures on the base represent
Britannia, with her spear; Gallia, with the crown in her lap
Hibernia, with her harp; and America, with her bow. These, are the
colossal statues with which the church are adorned, were executed by the
ingenious Mr. Hill.
A strict regard to the situation of this cathedral, due
east and west, has given it an oblique appearance with respect to Ludgate-street
in front; so that the great front gate in the surrounding iron rails, being made
to regard the street in front, rather than the church to which it belongs, the
statue of queen Anne, that is exactly in the middle of the west front, is thrown
on one side the straight approach from the gate to the church, and gives an idea
of the whole edifice being awry.
Under the grand portico, at the west end,
are three doors, ornamented at the top with bas relief. The middle door, which
is by far the largest, is cased with white marble, and over it is a fine piece
of basso relievo, in which St. Paul is represented preaching to the Bereans. On
entering the door, the mind is struck by the extend of the vista. An arcade,
supported by lofty and massy pillars on each hand, divide the church into the
body and two aisles; and the view is terminated by the altar at the extremity of
the choir; subject, nevertheless, to the intervention of the organ standing
across, which forms a heavy obstruction. The pillars are adorned with columns
and pilasters of the Corinthian and Composite orders; and the arches of the roof
and enriched with shields, festoons, chaplets, and other ornaments. In the
aisle, on one hand, is the consistory; and opposite, on the other, the morning
prayer chapel. These have very beautiful screens of carved wainscot, which are
Over the centre, where the great aisles cross each other, is
the grand cupola, or dome, the vast concave of which inspires a pleasing awe.
Under its centre is fixed in the floor, a brass plate, round which the pavement
is beautifully variegated; but the figures into which it is formed, can nowhere
be so well seen as from the whispering-gallery above. Here the spectator has at
once a full view of the organ, richly ornamented with carved work, and the
entrance to the choir directly under it. The two aisles on the side of the
choir, as well as the choir itself, are inclosed with very fine iron rails and
The altar-piece is adorned with four noble fluted pilasters, painted
and veined with gold, in imitation of lapis lazuli, and their capitals
are double gilt. In the intercolumniations below, are nine marble pannels, and
above are six windows, in the two series. The floor of the whole church is paved
with marble; and within the rails of the altar, with porphyry, polished, and
laid in several geometrical figures.
In the great cupola, which is 108 feet
in diameter, the architect seems to have imitated the Pantheon at Rome,
excepting that the upper order is there only umbratile, and distinguished by
different coloured marbles; while, in St. Paul's, it is extant out of the wall.
The Pantheon is no higher within than its diameter; St. Peter's is two
diameters; the former shews its concave too low, the latter too high: St. Paul's
is proportioned between both, and therefore shews its concave every way, and is
very lightsome by the windows of the upper order. These strike down the light
through the great colonnade that encircles the dome without, and serves for the
abutment, which is brick of the thickness of two bricks; but as it rises every
way five feet high, it has a course of excellent brick of 18 inches long,
banding through the whole thickness; and, to make it still more secure, it is
surrounded with a vast chain of iron, strongly linked together at every ten
feet. This chain is let into a channel, cut into the bandage of Portland stone,
and defended from the weather by filling the groove with lead. The concave was
turned upon a center, which was judged necessary to keep the work true; but the
center was laid without any standards below for support. Every story of the
scaffolding being circular, and the ends of all the ledgers meeting as so many
rings, and truly wrought, it supported itself.
As the old church of St. Paul
had a lofty spire, Dr. Wren was obliged to give his building an altitude that
might secure it from suffering by the comparison. To do this, he made the dome
without, much higher than within, by raising a strong brick cone over the
internal cupola, so constructed as to support an elegant stone lantern on the
apex. This brick cone is supported by a cupola formed of timber, and covered
with lead: between which and the cone are easy stairs, up to the lantern. Here
the spectator may view contrivances that are truly astonishing. The outward
cupola is only ribbed, with the architect thought less Gothic than to stick it
full of such little lights as are in the cupola of St. Peter's, that could not
without difficulty be mended, and, if neglected, might soon damage the timbers.
As the architect was sensible that paintings are liable to decay, he intended to
have beautified the inside of the cupola with mosaic work; which, without the
least fading of colours, would be as durable as the building itself: but in this
he was over-ruled, though he had undertaken to procure four of the most eminent
artists in that profession from Italy, for the purpose. This part, therefore, is
now decorated by the pencil of Sir James Thornhill, who has represented the
principal passages of St. Paul's life, in eight compartments. These paintings
are all seen to advantage by means of a circular opening, through which the
light is transmitted with admirable effect from the lantern above; but they are
now cracked, and sadly decayed.
Divine service was performed in the choir of
this cathedral for the first time on the thanksgiving day for the peace of
Ryswick, Dec: 2, 1697 ; and the last stone on
the top of the lantern laid by Mr. Christopher Wren, the son of the architect,
in 1710. This noble fabric, lofty enough to be discerned at sea eastward, and at
Windsor to the west, was begun and completed in the space of 35 years, by one
architect, the great sir Christopher Wren; one principal mason, Mr. Strong; and
under one bishop of London, Dr. Henry Compton: whereas St. Peter's at Rome was
155 years in building, under twelve successive architects, assisted by the
police and interest of the Roman see, and attended by the best artists in
sculpture, statuary, painting, and mosaic work.
The various parts of this
superb edifice I have been thus particular in describing, as it reflects honour
on the ingenious architect who built it, and as there is not an instance on
record of any work of equal magnitude having ever been completed by one
While the cathedral of St. Paul's was carrying on, as a national
undertaking, the citizens did not neglect their own immediate concerns, but
restored such of their halls and gates as had been destroyed. In April 1675, was
laid the foundation stone of the present Bethlehem-hospital for lunatics, in
Moorfields. This is a magnificent building, 540 feet long, and 40 broad, beside
the two wings, which were not added until several years afterward. The middle
and ends of the edifice project a little, and are adorned with pilasters,
entablatures, foliages, &c. which, rising above the rest of the building,
have each a flat roof, with a handsome balustrade of stone. In the centre is an
elegant turret, adorned with a cloak, gilt ball, and vane. The whole building is
brick and stone, inclosed by a handsome wall, 680 feet long, of the same
materials. In the center of the wall, is a large pair of iron gates; and on the
piers on which these are hung, are two images, in a reclining posture, one
representing raving, the other melancholy, madness. The expression
of these figures is admirable; and they are the workmanship of Mr. Cibber, the
father of the laureat before mentioned.
The college of Physicians also, about
this time, discovered some taste in erecting their college in Warwick-lane,
which, though little known, is esteemed by good judges a delicate
The fraternity were now fully employed; and by them the following
parish churches, which had been consumed by the great fire, were gradually
rebuilt, or repaired:
Allhallows, Bread-street, finished 1694; and the
steeple completed 1697.
Allhallows the Great, Thames-street,
Allhallows, Lombard-street, 1694.
St. Alban, Wood-street,
St. Anne and Agnes, St. Annes's-lane, Aldersgate-street, 1680.
Andrew's Wardrobe, Puddledock-hill, 1692.
St. Andrew's, Holborn, 1687.
Anthony's, Watling-street, 1682.
St. Augustin's, Watling-street, 1683; and
the steeple finished 1695.
St. Bartholomew's, Royal Exchange, 1679.
Benedict, Grace-church-street, 1685.
St. Benedict's, Threadneedle-street,
St. Bennet's, Paul's Wharf, Thames-street, 1683.
Fleet-street, 1680; and farther adorned in 1699.
St. Christopher's, Threadneedle-street, (since taken
down to make room for the Bank,) repaired in 1696.
St. Clement Danes, in the
Strand, taken down 1680, and rebuilt by sir Christopher Wren, 1682.
Clement's, East Cheap, St. Clement's-lane, 1686.
St. Dennis Back,
St Dunstan's in the East, Tower-street, repaired in
St. Edmond's the King, Lombard-street, rebuilt in 1674.
St. James, Garlick-hill, 1683.
St. James, Westminster,
St. Lawrence Jewry, Cateaton-street, 1677.
London-bridge, 1676; and the steeple in 1705.
St. Margaret, Lothbury,
St. Margaret Pattens, Little Tower-street, 1687.
St. Mary Abchurch, Abchurch-lane, 1686.
St. Mary's-hill, 1672.
St. Mary's Aldermary, Bow-lane, 1672.
Magdalen, Old Fish-street, 1685.
St. Mary Somerset, Queenhithe,
St. Mary le Bow, Cheapside, 1683. This
church was built on the wall of a very ancient one in the early time of the
Roman colony; the roof is arched, and supported with ten Corinthian columns; but
the principal ornament is the steeple, which is deemed an admirable piece of
architecture, not to be paralleled by that of any other parochial church. It
rises from the ground a square tower, plain at bottom, and is carried up to a
considerable height in this shape, but with more ornament as it advances. The
principal decoration of the lower part is the door case; a lofty, noble arch,
faced with a bold and well-wrought rustic, raised on a plain solid course from
the foundation. Within the arch, is a portal of the Doric order, with
well-proportioned columns; the frieze is ornamented with triglyphs, and with
sculpture in the metopes. There are some other slight ornaments in this part,
which is terminated by an elegant cornice, over which rises a plain course, from
which the dial projects. Above this, in each face, there is an arched window,
with Ionic pilasters at the sides. The entablature of the order is well wrought;
it has the swelling frieze, and supports on the cornice an elegant balustrade,
with Attic pillars over Ionic columns. These sustain elegant scrolls, on
which are placed urns with flames, and from this part the steeple rises
circular. There is a plain course to the height of half the scrolls, and upon
this is raised an elegant circular series of Corinthian columns. These support a
second balustrade with scrolls; and above there is placed another series of
columns of the Composite order; while, from the entablature, rises a set of
scrolls supporting the spire, which is placed on balls, and terminated by a
globe, on which is fixed a vane.
St. Mary Woolnoth's, Lombard-street,
repaired in 1677.
St. Mary, Aldermanbury, rebuilt 1677.
St. Michael, Basinghall-street, 1679.
Royal, College-hill, 1694.
St. Michael, Queenhithe, Trinity-lane,
St. Michael, Wood-street, 1675.
St. Michael, Crooked-lane,
St. Michael, Cornhill, 1672.
St. Mildred, Bread-street, 1683.
Mildred, Poultry, 1676.
St. Nicholas, Cole-abbey, Old Fish-street,
St. Olive's, Old Jewry, 1673.
St. Peter's, Cornhill, 1681.
Sepulchre's, Snow-hill, 1670.
St. Stephen's, Coleman-street, 1676.
Stephen's, Walbrook, behind the Mansion-house, 1676. Many encomiums
have been bestowed on this church for its interior beauties. The dome is finely
proportioned to the church, and divided into small compartments, decorated with
great elegance, and crowned with a lantern; the roof is also divided into
compartments, and supported by noble Corinthian columns raised on their
pedestals. This church has three aisles and a cross aisle, is 75 feet long, 36
broad, 34 high, and 58 to the lantern. It is famous all over Europe, and justly
reputed the master-piece of sir Christopher Wren. There is not a beauty, of
which the plan would admin, that is not to be found here in its greatest
St. Swithin's, Cannon-street, 1673.
St. Vedast, Foster-lane,
While these churches, and other public buildings, were going
forward under the direction of sir Christopher Wren, king Charles did not
confine his improvements to England alone, but commanded sir William Bruce,
bart. Grand Master of Scotland, to rebuild the palace of Holyrood-house at
Edinburgh; which was accordingly executed by that architect in the best Augustan
During the prosecution of the great works above described, the
private business of the Society was not neglected, but lodges were held at
different places, and many new ones constituted, to which the best architects
In 1674, the earl of Rivers resigned the office of Grand Master,
and was succeeded by George Villiers, duke of Buckingham. He left the care of
the brethren to his wardens, and sir Christopher Wren, who still continued to
act as deputy. In 1679, the duke resigned in favour of Henry Bennett, earl of
Arlington. Though this nobleman was too deeply engaged in state affairs to
attend to the duties of masonry, the lodges continued to meet under his
sanction, and many respectable gentlemen joined the fraternity.
On the death
of the king in 1685, James II. succeeded to the throne; during whose reign the
fraternity were much neglected. The earl of Arlington dying this year, the
lodges met in communication, and elected sir Christopher Wren Grand Master, who
appointed Gabriel Cibber and Mr. Edward Strong his wardens. Masonry continued in a declining
state for many years, and a few lodges only occasionally met in different
At the Revolution, the Society was so much reduced in the south of
England, that no more than seven regular lodges met in London and its suburbs,
of which two only were worthy of notice; the old lodge of St. Paul's, over which
sir Christopher had presided during the building of that structure; and a lodge
at St. Thomas's-hospital, Southwark, over which sir Robert Clayton, then lord
mayor of London, presided during the rebuilding of that hospital.
King William having been privately
initiated into masonry in 1695, approved the choice of sir Christopher Wren as
Grand Master, and honoured the lodges with his royal sanction; particularly one
at Hampton Court, at which it is said his majesty frequently presided during the
building of the new part of that palace. Kensington palace was built during this
reign, under the direction of sir Christopher; as were also Chelsea hospital,
and the palace of Greenwich; the latter of which had been recently converted
into an hospital for seamen, and finished after the design of Inigo Jones.
a general assembly and feast of the masons in 1697, many noble and eminent
brethren were present; and among the rest, Charles duke of Richmond and Lenox,
who was at that time master of a lodge at Chichester. His grace was proposed and
elected Grand Master for the following year, and having engaged sir Christopher
Wren to act as his deputy, he appointed Edward Strong senior and Edward Strong
junior his wardens. His grace continued in office only one year, when he was
succeeded by sir Christopher, who continued at the head of the fraternity till
the death of the king in 1702.
During the following reign, masonry made no
considerable progress. Sir Christopher's age and infirmities drawing off his
attention from the duties of his office, the lodges decreased, and the annual
festivals were entirely neglected . The old
lodge at St. Paul, and a few others, continued to meet regularly, but consisted
of few members . To increase their numbers, a
proposition was made, and afterwards agreed to, that the privileges of masonry
should no longer be restricted to operative masons, but extend to men of various
professions, providing they were regularly approved and initiated into the
Order. In consequence of this resolution, many new regulations took place, and
the Society once more rose into notice and esteem.
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