‘Into the Light’ – 300 Years of Freemasonry in Cumbria
2017 sees the 300th anniversary of the foundation of modern Freemasonry. An exhibition, ‘Into the Light’, celebrating Freemasonry in Westmorland, will run at Kendal Museum from the 1st July until the 30th September.
The recent TV series ‘Inside Freemasonry’ and the revelation that the Duke of Edinburgh has been a Freemason for many years, sparked the public’s interest in this ancient organisation that is often thought of as a ‘Secret Society’.
Freemasonry as we know it today grew out of the esoteric traditions and ancient mysteries that can be traced back for thousands of years through many different cultures. The operative medieval masons were responsible for all the glorious buildings that enrich the heritage of Western art and architecture. The speculative Masons grew out of those Guilds and Brotherhoods, eventually being formalised in the late 17th, early 18th centuries to what we have today.
Many prominent men have been Freemasons; inventors, politicians, soldiers, explorers, scientists. Princes and Kings amongst them. In Westmorland for instance, Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley, co-founder of the National Trust was an active Freemason. William Heelis, husband of Beatrix Potter was a member of Ambleside Lodge, as were several of the Le Flemings of Rydal Hall. Nationally; Christopher Wren, Isaac Newton, Robbie Burns, Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling, Conan Doyle and Peter Sellers are a few of the many whose names are widely recognised.
Yet among them are also much more, ordinary citizens, those who lived and died unremarked in the flow of the history of our nation. There is one by the name of Robert Hind who was born in Kendal in 1766 and worked as a weaver. He joined Union Lodge number 129, Kendal in 1802. Yet we know nothing more about him. Perhaps he has living descendants in Kendal who can add to his story. We would love to hear from them.
Modern Freemasons give financial support to many local organisations and Charities, with money from their own pockets. They do not seek to raise funds from outside the Order. They are keen to inform and educate the wider public as to who and what the Freemasons are.
Despite common assumptions, Freemasonry is not a ‘Secret Society’, although there are secrets in the rituals. The present wish is to be totally open and transparent. It is hoped that the exhibition will go some way towards achieving that.
For a chance to find out more, talk to Freemasons and view the fascinating collection of artefacts on loan from local Lodges, visit this exhibition and prepare to be amazed. Freemasonry is not all rolled up trousers and funny handshakes!
Museum opening times from July 1st to 30th September 2017:
10.00am to 4.00pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday
Freemasons will be on hand to talk about Freemasonry and answer questions between 11.00am and 3.00pm every Saturday from 3rd June onwards.