Three hundred years of Freemasonry in England
Some Historians state that Freemasonry began in the Middle Ages when the great Cathedral and Religious buildings were built by stonemasons. However, whilst there are links to these times (and before!) modern day Freemasonry can be traced from around the end of the 17th century, and can be proven to be in existence at that time, and was formally recognised 300 years ago in 1717 with the formation of the first Grand Lodge in England.
This web-site has been created by the museum staff of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Hertfordshire to celebrate the tercentenary of the founding of the first Grand Lodge of Freemasonry in 1717. The site is particularly focussed as related to the history of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Hertfordshire as represented by the banners associated with the lodges, chapters and other masonic orders within the province and also a Chronicle of all the major milestones associated with Freemasonry as well as those that are particularly relevant within Hertfordshire.
Most, although not all, masonic orders have a banner that depicts the name, logo or standard and in many cases the names of the founders or the past Worshipful Masters, past First Principals, and past leaders of that particular organisation. There are many distinct styles and they often incorporate exquisite and beautiful embroidery. It should be noted that the majority of banners of Closed lodges, chapters etc... have been retained in storage whilst others have been framed and are displayed at the various masonic centres where they once met or indeed passed on to other orders - this being particularly true when a Craft Lodge closes and its banner has been donated to the linked Royal Arch Chapter. Unfortunately many old banners have either been lost or retired due to damage or wear and tear.
During the research stage of this project we have seen many banners that exhibit differing styles of skills ranging from needlecraft, crochet work, tatting tapestry and needlepoint amongst others.
Before attempting to address the various designs and colourful banners of the organisations under the general heading of Freemasonry within Hertfordshire, it is appropriate to understand the foundations that made up Freemasonry in the United Kingdom and its growth from the early days in the start of the 18th century.
The first Grand Lodge of England was created in 1717 and a brief history of its foundation and various emblems and banners is outlined here: