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Prof. Prescott resigns from the Centre for Research into Freemasonry





February 2007

My dear friends,

Some sad news. I am resigning as Director of the Centre for Research into

Freemasonry to take up a new post as Manager of Library Services at the

University of Wales Lampeter. I will be taking up new post on 1 March 2007. The

University of Sheffield has expressed its continuing commitment to, and

enthusiasm for, the work of the Centre for Research into Freemasonry, and will

shortly be advertising for my successor.

My reasons for moving are entirely personal. I am very fond of West Wales, a

very beautiful part of the world, and have long thought that I might move there

at some time. As you can imagine, jobs of the right sort are difficult to find

in such a rural area. The University Library at Lampeter is a quite remarkable

collection, including over 20,000 rare books, pamphlets and manuscripts, many

bequeathed by the founder of the institution in 1829 (and including some

interesting masonic material). UWL is making a major investment in this

collection and is building a new research centre to house it, which I will

direct. The opportunity of enhancing the profile of this fascinating collection

and creating new links between library collections and researchers in a part of

the world which I like very much has proved irresistible,  and I have decided

to move on.

I leave with many regrets, not least because I will no longer be able to spend

my time exploring the entrancing subject area of freemasonry and fraternalism

and using such fascinating libraries and archives as the Library and Museum of

Freemasonry. Above all, I shall miss the support, fellowship and comradeship of

other researchers and enthusiasts for this subject area. It would have been

nice to have helped expand the work of the CRF to fill our marvellous new

premises in Sheffield, but I will leave that task to my successor with a sense

that I have shown what can be done.

However, as the moment of departure has approached, I realise that it is a good

thing that I am moving on at this stage. Because the CRF has inevitably been

something of a one man band, this has created a false impression that progress

in this area (at least in Britain) is very dependent on me. It is not. This is

a rich subject area of research which will support the efforts of many

researchers, as our vibrant European networks demonstrate. As I put it in

announcing my departure to the Sheffield Masonic Study Circle last night:-

"There is a terrible danger of thinking that only I can do this job and that I

am somehow specially qualified to do this research into Freemasonry. If we go

on thinking in this way, we will find that when, in the fullness of time, my

retirement beckons, it will indeed be difficult to carry on the work of the

Centre, and it will fizzle out. I am not particularly special as a researcher

just a jobbing librarian and curator (a kind of Rumpole of the Library) and

if I can find interesting things about freemasonry, anyone can. If I pass on

the torch to somebody else now, you will see that is the case, and I think the

academic interest in freemasonry will thereby be strengthened."

The seminar series of the Centre for Research into Freemasonry will continue

after my departure. Further details will be sent to you shortly. In the

meantime, please note that the next CRF seminar is on Tuesday 6 February at 1pm

when Gill Cookson of the Victoria History of the County of Durham will speak on

'Freemasonry in Sunderland'. Please note that this seminar will be held in the

Sheffield Bioincubator, which is immediately opposite the HRI building

On Tuesday 20 February at 1pm in the Douglas Knoop Centre, 34 Gell Street,

Sheffield S3 7QY, I will be giving a 'farewell lecture' entitled 'A History of

British Freemasonry 1425-2000'. The seminar will be chaired by Professor David

Luscombe FBA, who, when he was Director of Humanities Research in the

University of Sheffield oversaw the establishment of the Centre. Light

refreshments will be available beforehand.

With my very best and most fraternal wishes to you all

Andrew Prescott  

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