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Preston Illustrations of Masonry- Book 4 The History of Masonry in England

Section 1 - Masonry Introduced into England

Section 2 - Masonry in England under St. Austin, King Alfred, Athelstane and the Knights Templars

Section 3 -History of Masonry in England, during the Reigns of Edward I to Henry VI.

Section 4 - History of Masonry in the South of England from 1471 to 1567

Section 5 - Progress of Masonry in the South of England from the Reign of Elizabeth to the Fire of London in 1666.

Section 6 - The History of Masonry in England from the Fire of London, to the Accession of George I.

Section 7 - History of the Revival of Masonry in the South of England

Section 8 - History of Masonry from its Revival in the South of England till the Death of King George I

Section 9 - History of Masonry in England during the Reign of King George II

Section 10 - History of Masonry in the South of England from the Accession of George III, to the end of the year 1779.

Section 11 - History of the most remarkable Events in the Society from 1779 to 1791 inclusive

Section 12 - History of Masonry from the Installation of the Prince of Wales as Grand Master, to the Grand Feast in 1795 inclusive.

Section. 6 - The History of Masonry in England from the Fire of London, to the Accession of George I.

[For many of the particulars contained in this Section, I am indebted to Mr. Noorthouck's edition of the Book of Constitutions, published in 1784; which, much to the honour of that gentleman, is executed in a masterly manner, and interspersed with several judicious remarks.]

The year 1666 afforded a singular and awful occasion for the utmost exertion of masonic abilities. The city of London, which had been visited in the preceding year by the plague, to whole ravages, it is computed, above 100,000 of its inhabitants fell a sacrifice, had scarcely recovered from the alarm of that dreadful contagion, when a general conflagration reduced the greatest part of the city within the walls to ashes.

[The streets were at this time narrow, crooked, and incommodious; the houses built chiefly of wood, close, dark, and ill-contrived; with several stories projecting beyond each other as they rose, over the contracted streets. Thus the free circulation of air was obstructed, the people breathed a stagnant and unwholesome element, replete with foul effluvia, sufficient of itself to generate putrid disorders. From this circumstance, the inhabitants were continually exposed to contagious disorders, and the buildings to the ravages of fire.]

This dreadful fire broke out on the 2d of September, at the house of a baker in Pudding-lane, a wooden building, pitched on the outside, as were also all the rest of the houses in that narrow lane. The house being filled with faggots and brush-wood, soon added to the rapidity of the flames, which raged with such fury, as to spread four ways at once.

Jonas Moore and Ralph Gatrix, who were appointed surveyors on this occasion to examine the ruins, reported, that the fire over-ran 373 acres within the walls, and burnt 13,000 houses, 89 parish churches, besides chapels, leaving only 11 parishes standing. The Royal Exchange, Custom-house, Guildhall, Blackwell-hall, St. Paul's cathedral, Bridewell, the two compters, fifty-two city companies halls, and three city gates, were all demolished. The damage was computed at 10,000,000 pounds sterling.

[Anderson's History of Commerce, vol. ii. p. 130.]

After so sudden and extensive a calamity, it became necessary to adopt some regulations to guard against any such catastrophe in future. It was therefore determined, that in all the new buildings to be erected, stone and brick should be substituted in the room of timber. The King and the Grand Master immediately ordered deputy Wren to draw up the plan of a new city, with broad and regular streets. Dr. Christopher Wren was appointed surveyor general and principle architect for rebuilding the city, the cathedral of St. Paul, and all the parochial churches enacted by parliament, in lieu of those that were destroyed, with other public structures. This gentleman, conceiving the charge too important for a single person, selected Mr. Robert Hook, professor of geometry in Gresham college, to assist him; who was immediately employed in measuring, adjusting, and setting out the grounds of the private streets to the several proprietors. Dr. Wren's model and plan were laid before the king and the house of commons, and the practicability of the whole scheme, without the infringement of property, clearly demonstrated: it unfortunately happened, however, that the greater part of the citizens were absolutely averse to alter their old possessions, and to recede from building their houses again on the old foundations . Many were unwilling to give up their properties into the hands of public trustees, till they should receive an equivalent of more advantage; while others expressed distrust. Every means were tried to convince the citizens, that by removing all the church-yards, gardens &c. to the out-skirts of the city, sufficient room would be given to augment the streets, and properly to dispose of the churches, halls, and other public buildings, to the perfect satisfaction of every proprietor; but the representation of all these improvements had no weight. The citizens chose to have their old city again, under all its disadvantages, rather than a new one, the principles of which they were unwilling to understand, and considered as innovations. Thus an opportunity was lost, of making the new city the most magnificent, as well as the most commodious for health and trade, of any in Europe. The architect, cramped in the execution of his plan, was obliged to abridge his scheme, and exert his utmost labour, skill, and ingenuity, to model the city in the manner in which it has since appeared.

On the 23d of October 1667, the king in person levelled in form the foundation stone of the new Royal Exchange, now allowed to be the finest in Europe; and on the 28th September 1669, it was opened by the lord mayor and aldermen. Round the inside of the square, above the arcades, and between the windows, are the statues of the sovereigns of England. In the centre of the square, is erected the king's statue to the life, in a Caesarean habit of white marble, executed in a masterly manner by Mr. Gibbons, then grand warden of the society.

In 1668, the Custom-house for the port of London, situated on the south side of Thames-street, was built, adorned with an upper and lower order of architecture. In the latter, are stone columns, and entablement of the Tuscan order: and in the former, are pilaster, entablature, and five pediments of the Ionic order. The wings are elevated on columns, forming piazzas; and the length of the building is 189 feet; its breadth in the middle, 27; and at the west end, 60 feet.

This year also, deputy Wren and his warden Webb finished the Theatrum Sheldonium at Oxford, designed and executed at the private expence of Gilbert Sheldon, archbishop of Canterbury, an excellent architect and able designer. On the 9th of July 1669, the capestone of this elegant building was celebrated with joy and festivity by the craftsmen, and an elegant oration delivered on the occasion by Dr. South.

Deputy Wren, at the same time also, built, at the expence of the University, that other master-piece of architecture, the pretty museum near this theatre.

In 1671, Mr. Wren began to build that great fluted column called the Monument, in memory of the burning and re-building of the city of London. This stupendous pillar was finished in 1677. It is 24 feet higher than Trajan's pillar at Rome, and built of Portland stone, of the Doric order. Its altitude, from the ground, is 202 feet; the greatest diameter of the shaft or body of the column, 15 feet; the ground plinth, or bottom of the pedestal, 28 feet square; and the pedestal 40 feet high. Over the capital, is an iron balcony, encompassing a cone 32 feet high, supporting a blazing urn of gilt brass. Within is a large stair-case of black marble, containing 345 step, each step ten inches and an half broad, and six inches thick. The west side of the pedestal is adorned with curious emblems, by the masterly hand of Mr. Cibber, father to the late poet-laureat Colley Cibber; in which eleven principal figures are done in alto, and the rest in basso relievo. That to which the eye is particularly directed, is a female, representing the City of London, sitting in a languishing posture, on a heap of ruins. Behind her, is Time, gradually raising her up; and at her side, a woman, representing Providence, gently touching her with one hand, while, with a winged sceptre in the other, she directs her to regard two goddesses in the clouds; one with a cornucopia, denoting Plenty; the other, with a palm branch, the emblem of Peace. At her feet is a bee-hive, to shew that, by industry and application, the greatest misfortunes may be overcome. Behind Time, are the Citizens, exulting at his endeavours to restore her; and beneath, in the midst of the ruins, is a dragon, the supporter of the city arms, who endeavours to preserve them with his paw. At the north end, is a view of the City in flames, the inhabitants in consternation, with their arms extended upward, crying for assistance. Opposite the City, on an elevated pavement, stands the King, in a Roman habit, with a laurel on his head, and a truncheon in his hand; who, on approaching her, commands three of his attendants to descend to her relief. The first represents the Sciences, with a winged head, and circle of naked boys dancing thereon, and holding Nature in her hand, with her numerous breasts, ready to give assistance to all. The second is Architecture, with a plan in one hand, and a square and pair of compasses in the other. The third is Liberty, waving a hat in the air, and shewing her joy at the pleasing prospect of the City's speedy recovery. Behind the King, stands his brother, the duke of York, with a garland in one hand, to crown the rising city, and a sword in the other, for her defence. The two figures behind them, are Justice and Fortitude; the former with a coronet, and the latter with a reined lion; while, under the pavement, in a vault, appears Envy gnawing a heart. In the upper part of the back ground, the re-construction of the city is represented by scaffolds and unfinished houses, with builders at work on them. The north and south sides of the pedestal have each a Latin inscription, one describing the desolation of the city, the other its restoration. The east side of the pedestal has an inscription, expressing the time in which the pillar was begun, continued, and brought to perfection. In one line continued round the base, are these words: "This pillar was set up in perpetual remembrance of the most dreadful burning of this Protestant city, begun and carried on by the treachery and malice of the Popish faction, in the beginning of September, in the year of our Lord 1666, in order to the carrying on their horrid plot for extirpating the Protestant religion, and old English liberty, and introducing popery and slavery." This inscription, upon the duke of York's accession to the crown, was erased; but, soon after the Revolution, restored again.

The rebuilding of the city of London was vigorously prosecuted, and the restoration of St. Paul's cathedral claimed particular attention. Dr. Wren drew several designs, to discover what would be most acceptable to the general taste; and finding persons of all degrees declare for magnificence and grandeur, he formed a design according to the very best stile of Greek and Roman architecture, and caused a large model of it to be made in wood; but the bishops deciding that it was not sufficiently in the cathedral stile, the surveyor was ordered to amend it, and he then produced the scheme of the present structure, which was honoured with the king's approbation. The original model, however, which was only of the Corinthian order, like St. Peter's at Rome, is still kept in an apartment of the cathedral, as a real curiosity.

In 1673, the foundation stone of this magnificent cathedral, designed by deputy Wren, was laid in solemn form by the King, attended by Grand Master Rivers, his architects and craftsmen, in the presence of the nobility and gentry, the lord mayor and aldermen, the bishops and clergy, &c.

[The mallet with which the king levelled this foundation stone was lodged by sir Christopher Wren in the old lodge of St. Paul, now the lodge of Antiquity, where it is still preserved as a great curiosity.]

During the whole time this structure was building, Mr. Wren acted as master of the work and surveyor, and was ably assisted by his wardens, Mr. Edward Strong and his son.

St. Paul's cathedral is planned in the form of a long cross; the walls are wrought in rustic, and strengthened, as well as adorned, by two rows of coupled pilasters, one over the other; the lower Corinthian, and the upper Composite. The spaces between the arches of the windows, and the architecture of the lower order, as well as those above, are filled with a variety of enrichments.

The west front is graced with a most magnificent portico, a noble pediment, and two stately turrets. There is a grand flight of steps of black marble that extend the whole length of the portico, which consists of twelve lofty Corinthian columns below, and eight of the Composite order above; these are all coupled and fluted. The upper series support a noble pediment, crowned with its acroteria; and in this pediment is an elegant representation in bas relief, of the conversion of St. Paul, executed by Mr. Bird, an artist whose name, on account of this piece alone, is worthy of being transmitted to posterity. The figures are well executed: the magnificent figure of St. Paul, on the apex of the pediment, with St. Peter on his right, and St. James on his left, produce a fine effect. The four Evangelists, with their proper emblems, on the front of the towers, are judiciously disposed, and skilfully finished; St. Matthew is distinguished by an angel; St. Mark, by a lion; St. Luke, by an ox; and St. John, by an eagle.

To the north portico, there is an ascent by twelve circular steps of black marble, and its dome is supported by six grand Corinthian columns. Upon the dome is a well-proportioned urn, finely ornamented with festoons; over the urn is a pediment, supported by pilasters in the wall, in the face of which are carved the royal arms, with the regalia, supported by angels. Statues of five of the apostles are placed on the top, at proper distances.

The south portico answers to the north, and, like that, is supported by six noble Corinthian columns; but as the ground is considerably lower on this side of the church than the other, the ascent is by a flight of twenty-five steps. This portico has also a pediment above, in which is a phoenix rising out of the flames, with the motto, RESURGAM, underneath it; as an emblem of rebuilding the church. A curious accident is said to have given rise to this device, which was particularly observed by the architect as a favourable omen. When Dr. Wren was marking our the dimensions of the building, and had fixed on the centre of the great dome, a common labourer was ordered to bring him a flat stone from among the rubbish, to leave as a direction to the masons. the stone which the man brought happened to be a piece of a grave-stone, with nothing remaining of the inscription but this single word, in large capitals, RESURGAM; and this circumstance left an impression on Dr. Wrens' mind, that could never afterwards be erased. On this side of the building are likewise five statues, which correspond with those on the apex of the north pediment.

At the east end of the church is a sweep, or circular projection for the altar, finely ornamented with the orders, and with sculpture; particularly a noble piece in honour of king William III.

The dome, which rises in the centre of the whole, is superlatively grand. Twenty feet above the roof of the church is a circular range of thirty-two columns, with niches placed exactly against others within. These are terminated by their entablature, which supports a handsome gallery, adorned with a balustrade. Above these columns is a range of pilasters, with windows between; and from the entablature of these, the diameter decreases very considerably; and two feet above that, it is again contracted. From this part the external sweep of the dome begins, and the arches meet at 52 feet above. On the summit of the dome, is an elegant balcony, and from its centre rises the lantern, adorned with Corinthian columns. The whole is terminated by a ball, on which stands a cross, both of which are elegantly gilt.

This noble fabric is surrounded, at a proper distance, by a dwarf stone wall, on which is placed the most magnificent balustrade of cast iron perhaps in the universe, four feet six inches in height, exclusive of the wall. In this inclosure are seven beautiful iron gates, which, together with the balusters, in number about 2500, weigh 200 tons and 85 pounds.

In the centre of the area of the grand west front, on a pedestal of excellent workmanship, stands a statue of queen Anne, formed of white marble, with proper decorations. The figures on the base represent Britannia, with her spear; Gallia, with the crown in her lap Hibernia, with her harp; and America, with her bow. These, are the colossal statues with which the church are adorned, were executed by the ingenious Mr. Hill.

A strict regard to the situation of this cathedral, due east and west, has given it an oblique appearance with respect to Ludgate-street in front; so that the great front gate in the surrounding iron rails, being made to regard the street in front, rather than the church to which it belongs, the statue of queen Anne, that is exactly in the middle of the west front, is thrown on one side the straight approach from the gate to the church, and gives an idea of the whole edifice being awry.

Under the grand portico, at the west end, are three doors, ornamented at the top with bas relief. The middle door, which is by far the largest, is cased with white marble, and over it is a fine piece of basso relievo, in which St. Paul is represented preaching to the Bereans. On entering the door, the mind is struck by the extend of the vista. An arcade, supported by lofty and massy pillars on each hand, divide the church into the body and two aisles; and the view is terminated by the altar at the extremity of the choir; subject, nevertheless, to the intervention of the organ standing across, which forms a heavy obstruction. The pillars are adorned with columns and pilasters of the Corinthian and Composite orders; and the arches of the roof and enriched with shields, festoons, chaplets, and other ornaments. In the aisle, on one hand, is the consistory; and opposite, on the other, the morning prayer chapel. These have very beautiful screens of carved wainscot, which are much admired.
Over the centre, where the great aisles cross each other, is the grand cupola, or dome, the vast concave of which inspires a pleasing awe. Under its centre is fixed in the floor, a brass plate, round which the pavement is beautifully variegated; but the figures into which it is formed, can nowhere be so well seen as from the whispering-gallery above. Here the spectator has at once a full view of the organ, richly ornamented with carved work, and the entrance to the choir directly under it. The two aisles on the side of the choir, as well as the choir itself, are inclosed with very fine iron rails and gates.

The altar-piece is adorned with four noble fluted pilasters, painted and veined with gold, in imitation of lapis lazuli, and their capitals are double gilt. In the intercolumniations below, are nine marble pannels, and above are six windows, in the two series. The floor of the whole church is paved with marble; and within the rails of the altar, with porphyry, polished, and laid in several geometrical figures.

In the great cupola, which is 108 feet in diameter, the architect seems to have imitated the Pantheon at Rome, excepting that the upper order is there only umbratile, and distinguished by different coloured marbles; while, in St. Paul's, it is extant out of the wall. The Pantheon is no higher within than its diameter; St. Peter's is two diameters; the former shews its concave too low, the latter too high: St. Paul's is proportioned between both, and therefore shews its concave every way, and is very lightsome by the windows of the upper order. These strike down the light through the great colonnade that encircles the dome without, and serves for the abutment, which is brick of the thickness of two bricks; but as it rises every way five feet high, it has a course of excellent brick of 18 inches long, banding through the whole thickness; and, to make it still more secure, it is surrounded with a vast chain of iron, strongly linked together at every ten feet. This chain is let into a channel, cut into the bandage of Portland stone, and defended from the weather by filling the groove with lead. The concave was turned upon a center, which was judged necessary to keep the work true; but the center was laid without any standards below for support. Every story of the scaffolding being circular, and the ends of all the ledgers meeting as so many rings, and truly wrought, it supported itself.

As the old church of St. Paul had a lofty spire, Dr. Wren was obliged to give his building an altitude that might secure it from suffering by the comparison. To do this, he made the dome without, much higher than within, by raising a strong brick cone over the internal cupola, so constructed as to support an elegant stone lantern on the apex. This brick cone is supported by a cupola formed of timber, and covered with lead: between which and the cone are easy stairs, up to the lantern. Here the spectator may view contrivances that are truly astonishing. The outward cupola is only ribbed, with the architect thought less Gothic than to stick it full of such little lights as are in the cupola of St. Peter's, that could not without difficulty be mended, and, if neglected, might soon damage the timbers. As the architect was sensible that paintings are liable to decay, he intended to have beautified the inside of the cupola with mosaic work; which, without the least fading of colours, would be as durable as the building itself: but in this he was over-ruled, though he had undertaken to procure four of the most eminent artists in that profession from Italy, for the purpose. This part, therefore, is now decorated by the pencil of Sir James Thornhill, who has represented the principal passages of St. Paul's life, in eight compartments. These paintings are all seen to advantage by means of a circular opening, through which the light is transmitted with admirable effect from the lantern above; but they are now cracked, and sadly decayed.

Divine service was performed in the choir of this cathedral for the first time on the thanksgiving day for the peace of Ryswick, Dec: 2, 1697; and the last stone on the top of the lantern laid by Mr. Christopher Wren, the son of the architect, in 1710.

[ Howell's Medulla, Hist. Ang.]

This noble fabric, lofty enough to be discerned at sea eastward, and at Windsor to the west, was begun and completed in the space of 35 years, by one architect, the great sir Christopher Wren; one principal mason, Mr. Strong; and under one bishop of London, Dr. Henry Compton: whereas St. Peter's at Rome was 155 years in building, under twelve successive architects, assisted by the police and interest of the Roman see, and attended by the best artists in sculpture, statuary, painting, and mosaic work.

The various parts of this superb edifice I have been thus particular in describing, as it reflects honour on the ingenious architect who built it, and as there is not an instance on record of any work of equal magnitude having ever been completed by one man.

While the cathedral of St. Paul's was carrying on, as a national undertaking, the citizens did not neglect their own immediate concerns, but restored such of their halls and gates as had been destroyed. In April 1675, was laid the foundation stone of the present Bethlehem-hospital for lunatics, in Moorfields. This is a magnificent building, 540 feet long, and 40 broad, beside the two wings, which were not added until several years afterward. The middle and ends of the edifice project a little, and are adorned with pilasters, entablatures, foliages, &c. which, rising above the rest of the building, have each a flat roof, with a handsome balustrade of stone. In the centre is an elegant turret, adorned with a cloak, gilt ball, and vane. The whole building is brick and stone, inclosed by a handsome wall, 680 feet long, of the same materials. In the center of the wall, is a large pair of iron gates; and on the piers on which these are hung, are two images, in a reclining posture, one representing raving, the other melancholy, madness. The expression of these figures is admirable; and they are the workmanship of Mr. Cibber, the father of the laureat before mentioned.

The college of Physicians also, about this time, discovered some taste in erecting their college in Warwick-lane, which, though little known, is esteemed by good judges a delicate building.

The fraternity were now fully employed; and by them the following parish churches, which had been consumed by the great fire, were gradually rebuilt, or repaired:

Allhallows, Bread-street, finished 1694; and the steeple completed 1697.
Allhallows the Great, Thames-street, 1683.
Allhallows, Lombard-street, 1694.
St. Alban, Wood-street, 1685.
St. Anne and Agnes, St. Annes's-lane, Aldersgate-street, 1680.
St. Andrew's Wardrobe, Puddledock-hill, 1692.
St. Andrew's, Holborn, 1687.
St. Anthony's, Watling-street, 1682.
St. Augustin's, Watling-street, 1683; and the steeple finished 1695.
St. Bartholomew's, Royal Exchange, 1679.
St. Benedict, Grace-church-street, 1685.
St. Benedict's, Threadneedle-street, 1673.
St. Bennet's, Paul's Wharf, Thames-street, 1683.
St. Bride's, Fleet-street, 1680; and farther adorned in 1699.
Christ-church, Newgate-street, 1687.
St. Christopher's, Threadneedle-street, (since taken down to make room for the Bank,) repaired in 1696.
St. Clement Danes, in the Strand, taken down 1680, and rebuilt by sir Christopher Wren, 1682.
St. Clement's, East Cheap, St. Clement's-lane, 1686.
St. Dennis Back, Lime-street, 1674.
St Dunstan's in the East, Tower-street, repaired in 1698.
St. Edmond's the King, Lombard-street, rebuilt in 1674.
St. George, Botolph-lane, 1674.
St. James, Garlick-hill, 1683.
St. James, Westminster, 1675.
St. Lawrence Jewry, Cateaton-street, 1677.
St. Magnes, London-bridge, 1676; and the steeple in 1705.
St. Margaret, Lothbury, 1690.
St. Margaret Pattens, Little Tower-street, 1687.
St. Martin's, Ludgate, 1684.
St. Mary Abchurch, Abchurch-lane, 1686.
St. Mary's-at-hill, St. Mary's-hill, 1672.
St. Mary's Aldermary, Bow-lane, 1672.
St. Mary Magdalen, Old Fish-street, 1685.
St. Mary Somerset, Queenhithe, Thames-street, 1683.
St. Mary le Bow, Cheapside, 1683.  
This church was built on the wall of a very ancient one in the early time of the Roman colony; the roof is arched, and supported with ten Corinthian columns; but the principal ornament is the steeple, which is deemed an admirable piece of architecture, not to be paralleled by that of any other parochial church. It rises from the ground a square tower, plain at bottom, and is carried up to a considerable height in this shape, but with more ornament as it advances. The principal decoration of the lower part is the door case; a lofty, noble arch, faced with a bold and well-wrought rustic, raised on a plain solid course from the foundation. Within the arch, is a portal of the Doric order, with well-proportioned columns; the frieze is ornamented with triglyphs, and with sculpture in the metopes. There are some other slight ornaments in this part, which is terminated by an elegant cornice, over which rises a plain course, from which the dial projects. Above this, in each face, there is an arched window, with Ionic pilasters at the sides. The entablature of the order is well wrought; it has the swelling frieze, and supports on the cornice an elegant balustrade, with Attic pillars over  Ionic columns. These sustain elegant scrolls, on which are placed urns with flames, and from this part the steeple rises circular. There is a plain course to the height of half the scrolls, and upon this is raised an elegant circular series of Corinthian columns. These support a second balustrade with scrolls; and above there is placed another series of columns of the Composite order; while, from the entablature, rises a set of scrolls supporting the spire, which is placed on balls, and terminated by a globe, on which is fixed a vane.
St. Mary Woolnoth's, Lombard-street, repaired in 1677.
St. Mary, Aldermanbury, rebuilt 1677.
St. Matthew, Friday-street, 1685.
St. Michael, Basinghall-street, 1679.
St. Michael Royal, College-hill, 1694.
St. Michael, Queenhithe, Trinity-lane, 1677.
St. Michael, Wood-street, 1675.
St. Michael, Crooked-lane, 1688.
St. Michael, Cornhill, 1672.
St. Mildred, Bread-street, 1683.
St. Mildred, Poultry, 1676.
St. Nicholas, Cole-abbey, Old Fish-street, 1677.
St. Olive's, Old Jewry, 1673.
St. Peter's, Cornhill, 1681.
St. Sepulchre's, Snow-hill, 1670.
St. Stephen's, Coleman-street, 1676.
St. Stephen's, Walbrook, behind the Mansion-house, 1676.
Many encomiums have been bestowed on this church for its interior beauties. The dome is finely proportioned to the church, and divided into small compartments, decorated with great elegance, and crowned with a lantern; the roof is also divided into compartments, and supported by noble Corinthian columns raised on their pedestals. This church has three aisles and a cross aisle, is 75 feet long, 36 broad, 34 high, and 58 to the lantern. It is famous all over Europe, and justly reputed the master-piece of sir Christopher Wren. There is not a beauty, of which the plan would admin, that is not to be found here in its greatest perfection.
St. Swithin's, Cannon-street, 1673.
St. Vedast, Foster-lane, 1697.

While these churches, and other public buildings, were going forward under the direction of sir Christopher Wren, king Charles did not confine his improvements to England alone, but commanded sir William Bruce, bart. Grand Master of Scotland, to rebuild the palace of Holyrood-house at Edinburgh; which was accordingly executed by that architect in the best Augustan stile.

During the prosecution of the great works above described, the private business of the Society was not neglected, but lodges were held at different places, and many new ones constituted, to which the best architects resorted.

In 1674, the earl of Rivers resigned the office of Grand Master, and was succeeded by George Villiers, duke of Buckingham. He left the care of the brethren to his wardens, and sir Christopher Wren, who still continued to act as deputy. In 1679, the duke resigned in favour of Henry Bennett, earl of Arlington. Though this nobleman was too deeply engaged in state affairs to attend to the duties of masonry, the lodges continued to meet under his sanction, and many respectable gentlemen joined the fraternity.

On the death of the king in 1685, James II. succeeded to the throne; during whose reign the fraternity were much neglected. The earl of Arlington dying this year, the lodges met in communication, and elected sir Christopher Wren Grand Master, who appointed Gabriel Cibber and Mr. Edward Strong his wardens. Masonry continued in a declining state for many years, and a few lodges only occasionally met in different places.

[Both these gentlemen were members of the old lodge of St. Paul with sir Christopher Wren, and bore a principal share in all the improvements which took place after the fire of London; the latter in particular displayed his abilities in the cathedral of St. Paul.]

At the Revolution, the Society was so much reduced in the south of England, that no more than seven regular lodges met in London and its suburbs, of which two only were worthy of notice; the old lodge of St. Paul's, over which sir Christopher had presided during the building of that structure; and a lodge at St. Thomas's-hospital, Southwark, over which sir Robert Clayton, then lord mayor of London, presided during the rebuilding of that hospital.

[See the Book of Constitutions, 1738, p. 106, 107.]

King William having been privately initiated into masonry in 1695, approved the choice of sir Christopher Wren as Grand Master, and honoured the lodges with his royal sanction; particularly one at Hampton Court, at which it is said his majesty frequently presided during the building of the new part of that palace. Kensington palace was built during this reign, under the direction of sir Christopher; as were also Chelsea hospital, and the palace of Greenwich; the latter of which had been recently converted into an hospital for seamen, and finished after the design of Inigo Jones.

At a general assembly and feast of the masons in 1697, many noble and eminent brethren were present; and among the rest, Charles duke of Richmond and Lenox, who was at that time master of a lodge at Chichester. His grace was proposed and elected Grand Master for the following year, and having engaged sir Christopher Wren to act as his deputy, he appointed Edward Strong senior and Edward Strong junior his wardens. His grace continued in office only one year, when he was succeeded by sir Christopher, who continued at the head of the fraternity till the death of the king in 1702.

During the following reign, masonry made no considerable progress. Sir Christopher's age and infirmities drawing off his attention from the duties of his office, the lodges decreased, and the annual festivals were entirely neglected.

[Book of Constitutions, 1738, p. 108.]

The old lodge at St. Paul, and a few others, continued to meet.


To increase their numbers, a proposition was made, and afterwards agreed to, that the privileges of masonry should no longer be restricted to operative masons, but extend to men of various professions, providing they were regularly approved and initiated into the Order. In consequence of this resolution, many new regulations took place, and the Society once more rose into notice and esteem.

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