In the year of our Lord 1912 Laurence Weaver, F.S.A., Hon. A.R.I.B.A., set up for himself a fair and durable monument by reproducing an exact facsimile of the original edition of The First & Chief Grounds of Architecture, by John Shute, Paynter and Archytecte.' First Printed in 1663. lt is the first book, known to exist, to have been printed on architecture in England. In 1550, the Duke of Cumberland sent Shute "to confer with the doings of the skilul masters in architecture" in Italy, and he was probably abroad for two or three years.
He had his book ready for print in 1553, but the Duke losing his head that year for a conspiracy against Bloody Queen Mary it was delayed until 1563, the year of its author's own death. This was seven years before the publication of Palladio's treatise at Venice in 1570 (sundry old London Lodges studied Palladio), which, when Inigo Jones brought it back with him from his tour in Italy, was, via Jones' own genius, to transform English architecture ; and incidentally was to leave certain permanent traces in the Ritual of Speculative Masonry. lt is very curious that Shute wrote out a " Discourse on the beginnings of Architecture" which is reminiscent of the Legend in our Old Charters, one that is equally fabulous, though from Greek sources, and doubtless picked up in Italy.
The extraordinary interest of Shute's book to Freemasons is that it consists wholly (after an Introductory treatise) of chapters illustrated by himself (it is thought he may have been the first English engraver) on the Five Orders, one to each Order in turn.
A path of history lies from Shute to Inigo Jones to Sir Christopher Wren, and-very possibly-to William Preston ! In the Minutes of Lodge of Antiquity, No. 2, Nov. 27,1839 is this entry: "Mr. Elmes, the Architect," gave 'the Lodge the opportunity of buying, "a set of Five Columns representing the five Orders in Architecture which belonged originally to Brother Sir Christopher Wren, and were made use of by him at the time he presided over the Lodge of Antiquity as W. Master." (The price asked was 5200.) Preston was Master of the same Lodge ; he and its members studied Palladio together ; it is easy to believe that the lecture he wrote on the Five Orders, still in our Webb Preston work, was there and then suggested.
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