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The Lodge St Michael Organises Two Lectures by the Prestonian Lecturer

The Lodge St Michael was privileged to have the opportunity to host the Prestonian Lecturer – W Bro Dr Mike Kearsley, who made two presentations to brethren in Singapore in July 2019.

Mike is PAGDC under UGLE and PDGDC in GLNZ. He is a Prestonian lecturer (2014), a Kellerman lecturer (2017), past Grand Orator for Middlesex, former editor of The Square Magazine, a full member of the Quatuor Coronati lodge 2076, a Norman Spencer prize winner and much more.

He has presented to Masonic audiences throughout the world, and the UK, and is a member or honorary member of lodges under four constitutions.

Mike’s tour includes Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and a number of lodges in Australia and New Zealand. It was organised by ANZMRC, or Australian and New Zealand Masonic Research Council. This is the organisation which links most of the research lodges and chapters throughout Australia and New Zealand.

The Lodge St Michael has become a member and is working with ANZMRC to identify the research lodges in Asia and bring them under the same umbrella.

On the day of his arrival Mike was hosted to dinner by the W.M. of Lodge St Michael – Michael Gray at his apartment and active discussions were had on a number of subjects including Lodge Quatuor Coronati, which Mike is likely to be the W.M. in respect of the year 2021/ 22.

The W.M. is the secretary for Quatuor Coronati Correspondence Circle in Singapore and Malaysia so much of the discussion centred on how Q.C.C.C. could be more relevant.

Many other topics were covered including the proposed Quatuor Coronati/ANZMRC Masonic Conference to be held in Singapore from 13 August 2021 to 15 August 2021.

Mike gave the following two lectures, which were both entertaining and informative.

The North East Corner – foundations and cornerstones, the masonic myth The first lecture was at a lunchtime meeting held at the Masons Table Restaurant at Freemasons’ Hall. It was attended by twenty brethren.

Mike started with the part of the first degree ceremony that states, ‘It is customary at the erection of all stately and superb edifices to lay the first or foundation stone at the north east corner of the building, You, being newly admitted into Freemasonry are thus placed in the North East part of the Lodge, figuratively to represent that stone and from the foundation laid this evening may you raise a superstructure, perfect in its parts and honourable to the builder’.

From his research he concluded that the North East Corner was not included in the early ritual and it is not known exactly when it was, but most likely somewhere between 1777 and 1825.

He went on to examine the laying of foundation stones of various buildings, including those where there was Masonic ceremony. There is specific ritual for the laying of foundation stones. Examples where the ritual has been used in Singapore include Horsburgh lighthouse in 1850 and Clyde Terrace Market in 1873.

His conclusion is that there is no justification to support the assertion in the ritual that foundation stones were always laid in the North East of a new building or that this had any bearing on those that wrote our ritual.

After the presentation there was much informal discussion on the lecture and other masonic topics, including his views on King Solomon’s Temple, which is covered by another paper of his. His conclusion on this issue is that there is growing evidence is that Solomon’s Temple, if it ever existed, was not where we have all believed, but in the City of David, further South.

1814, Consolidation and Change ---the first year of the United Grand Lodge of England

The second presentation was given to the regular meeting of The Lodge St Michael 2933 EC at Freemasons’ Hall. Singapore on Monday 29 July 2019. The attendance at about 40 freemasons was very good with a number of visitors, including those from the Scottish, Irish and French Constitutions.

On 27th December 1813, at the Freemasons Tavern in London, two rival English Grand Lodges (comprising of the ‘Ancients’ and the ‘Moderns”) were united into a single body, known as the United Grand Lodge of England or ‘UGLE’.

In his talk he started by discussing some of the events which led to the divisions within Freemasonry and thus the impetus for the Union. He presented his storey through the perspective of three individuals, who each played an important part in the Union, Duke of Sussex (first Grand Master of UGLE), John Sloane (a leading Architect of the day) and William White (the Grand Secretary).

Prior to the consolidation there was significant friction between the Ancients and the Moderns. The Ancients argued that the Royal Arch Degree was the root and marrow of Freemasonry whereas the Moderns were very sceptical about it. The rivalry was intense. Each Grand Lodge warranted Lodges in the colonies. The Ancients became recognised as the legitimate English Grand Lodge by both the Irish and Scottish Grand Lodges.

The consolidation became much easier as two bothers became Grand Masters of the respective Grand Lodges – Duke of Sussex in the Moderns and Duke of Kent in the Ancients.

As part of the unification a new Book of Constitutions was adopted, regalia standardised and a Lodge of Reconciliation set up to agree on the ritual. The ritual adopted today reflect that which was agreed at this time.

His lectures reflected the fact that Freemasons need to go beyond learning ritual parrot fashion and to understand the concepts and history of freemasonry that relate to the ritual. In summary the presentations were received extremely well by all that attended with many favourable comments resulting in a wish that Mike could return at a later date. The lectures will go down in the records as being one of best if not the best lectures that have been presented at the Lodge in recent memory. What Michael had achieved is to make masonic history humorous, informative and very entertaining. A lesson that Masonic lecturers should take to heart. His motto is ‘I don’t mind if you disagree, but I will be upset if you are bored’

Book on the Lecture Tour Papers

The presentations for the Tour have been published in a book - covering Masonic scandals such as the Roberto Calvi affair and the Morgan Affair, to some of the interesting characters in Freemasonry – Casanova, Cagliostro, John Soane, Aleister Crowley, historical events such as the Union of 1813 and the Masonic involvement in foundation stones, a paper suggesting that King Solomon’s temple never existed – and if it did, it wasn’t where it was supposed to be, and also a paper for the Royal Arch companions which tries to lift some of the confusion experienced with the modern ritual.

We have currently sold out our copies of the book in Singapore if there is a demand, we can order more at a cost of S$50 per book. If you would like a copy of the book please email and I will try and get more stock.

The Lodge St Lodge Michael No 2933 EC is the 3rd Oldest Research Lodge in the English Constitution having been founded in 1902 on the initiative of Sir Charles Warren, the first WM of Lodge Quatuor Coronati, after he was posted to Singapore and became the District Grand Master of the Eastern Archipelago.

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