Celebrating 300 years

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Brethren Beyond the Seas

Brethren Beyond the Seas poster A2 artwork

In June 1917, in the midst of the 1914-1918 War, the United Grand Lodge of England celebrated its 200th anniversary. The War had undermined the original ambition to stage a major imperial and international event but the celebrations were attended by a number of overseas Freemasons and the Grand Master thanked “Brethren Beyond the Seas”, praising their support for Britain in the war effort.

After the formation of the first Grand Lodge in the world in London in 1717, Freemasonry spread from Britain into Europe and then, following trade and expanding empires, across the world. As countries within the British Empire gained their independence from the late 1700s, they established their own masonic jurisdiction or Grand Lodge.

In the period of the First World War, the relationship between the English Grand Lodge and these overseas “daughter” grand lodges developed and strengthened. For the individual countries the experience of fighting in the war was often a landmark in the creation of their national identity. For the individual fighting men the experience of travelling to foreign countries, the comradeship and the trauma of war were significant in their personal development.

This exhibition explores the development of many of the Grand Lodges within the British Empire and marks the contribution of their forces to the First World War. It features objects, books and documents from across the world.

Admission to the exhibition is free of charge

24 April 2017 – 23 February 2018
Monday to Saturday, 10am–5pm