In 1723, the newly formed Grand Lodge of England decided to write a set of rules to govern Freemasonry, and 300 years later, there’s an exhibition to celebrate their impact.
The exhibition has two parts. In the library, you can see how the Constitutions of 1723 spread from London across the world through rare examples published as they arrived in different countries. In the South Gallery, the story continues as you find out the context, content and consequences of this important book.
There are a lot of items in the display that are claimed to be important, such as the maul (wooden club) used by Sir Christopher Wren to lay the foundation stone at St Paul’s Cathedral. The labels are honest enough to say the items are reputed to be, or claimed to be, rather than absolutely what they say they are.
Something I had no idea had happened, is that Cleopatra’s Needle on the Embankment had chucks cut off the base and given away as souvenirs. There’s one in the exhibition, given to a Freemason lodge for their help in bringing the obelisk to the UK.
Most of the rest of the exhibition is a mixed collection of objects and documents from the past 300 years. There’s the story of how Freemasonry spread the USA, and also the first Black lodge being set up.
A large number of display boards tell some of the important moments in the Constitutions history, and of Freemasonry in general.
As an exhibition, it gives an insight into Freemasonry history, dotted around with cases of interesting objects to put the text displays into context.
The exhibition is in the library, and there’s also the permanent museum to visit if you haven’t been before.