Encyclopedia Masonica

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.

Preserving the Wisdom of Freemason


Futura Ex Praeteritis

The Encyclopedia Masonica exists to preserve the wealth of information that has been generated over the centuries by numerous Masonic authors. As Freemasonry is now Speculative and not Operative, the work of a Mason is now conducted in the quarries of symbolism, literature, history and scholasticism. Freemasonry encourages intellectual exploration and academic achievement in its members and many Masons over the years have taken up this calling. The result has been that an incredible amount of philosophy, symbolic speculation and academic insights have been created. However, as Freemasonry teaches, human knowledge is frail and fragile. It is easily lost in the turnings of the ages and unforeseen catastrophes can result in great setbacks to human knowledge.

For too long these great works have sat on forgotten shelves, gathering dust and concealing the light that could be shed on the darkness of our ignorance. The Encyclopedia Masonica has been created to act as an ark, sailing through time, to ensure that future generations of Freemasons have access to the same knowledge that inspired the Brethren that came before them. It will contain the works of such Masonic Luminaries as Albert G. Mackey, Manly Palmer Hall, G.S.M. Ward, Albert Pike and many others. The Encyclopedia Masonica is a living work and the volunteers of Universal Co-Masonry will continue to labor until the most comprehensive Masonic reference work the world has ever seen has been created. The Encyclopedia Masonica is open to any who wish to use it and will remain open so that the treasures contained within may increase the wealth of all those who seek its wisdom.

"If I have seen further than
others, it is by standing
upon the shoulders of giants."


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