A year-long exhibition marking 300 years since the publication of The Constitutions of the Free-Masons opened last week at the Museum of Freemasonry in London.
The origins of modern Freemasonry are still greatly debated. However, it is widely accepted among Masonic scholars that it evolved from the guilds of medieval stonemasons.
The first Grand Lodge, which later became the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), was founded at the Goose and Gridiron Pub in London in 1717. It currently supervises more than 7,000 local Lodges across the country.
In 1723, the Grand Lodge published its first rule book – The Constitutions of the Free-Masons.
‘The 1723 Constitutions was based on Enlightenment foundations, values that lie at the core of modern Freemasonry in England and internationally,’ explains Richard Berman, PhD, FRHistS.
There have been many notable Freemasons throughout history, including HRH Prince Philip; Sir Alexander Fleming; Sir Winston Churchill; Sir Ernest Shackleton, and Rudyard Kipling.
The exhibition, 1723 – Inventing the Future, will showcase objects from the museum’s collections that have never previously been on public display.
Among them is a box that contained the miniature masonic working tools of Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond; a maul purported to have once belonged to architect Sir Christopher Wren, and a personal copy of the 1723 Constitutions once owned by John, 2nd Duke of Montagu, the first noble Grand Master of the society.
To accompany the exhibition, a website (www.1723constitutions.com) has been created, offering insights into the principles of Freemasonry, the people involved, and the impact of the Constitutions across the globe.
The exhibition is free, and is running until 23 December 2023. To find out more about it, including opening times, visit: www.museumfreemasonry.org.uk/whats-on/inventing-future.