Review of Freemasonry

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Colin Macdonald

W.Bro. (Lieutenant) General Sir Charles WARREN
The first W.Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076 EC
by W. Bro. Colin Macdonald
In this article and in the interview the author talks about his new book:
Warren! The Bond of Brotherhood.

WBro Colin Macdonald was initiated into Freemasonry in 1993 and eventually made the Master of his mother lodge, Lodge Ailsa No. 1172 Scottish Constitution (one of only five lodges working the MacBride Ritual) in 2002, 2003 and 2004 and Mark Master in 2005. He also joined the Singapore based research lodges of Lodge Mt Faber 1825 S.C. and Lodge ST Michael 2933 E.C. where he was made Master in 2005. He has also been “Z” of Ailsa Chapter, “T.I.M” of Ailsa Lodge & Council, and is a member of Knights Templar, Knights Templar Priests, Rose Croix and Royal Order of Scotland in Singapore and was conferred the rank of Hon. Senior District Grand Warden in 2003 by the District Grand Lodge of the Middle East. He is at present researching for his next few books about the masonic founding fathers of Singapore as well as about MacBride’s prodigious contributions to Scottish freemasonry etc.

It was late in the evening by the time I was installed into the Chair of The Lodge of St. Michael.
Bruno Gazzo Colin Macdonald

The Author in his book deals with the Historical, Political, Masonic, Archaeological, and Military adventures of General Sir Charles Warren during the Victorian era.
Bruno V. Gazzo, Editor of PS Review of Freemasonry interviews the author to find out more...

BG: First of all I wish to congratulate you on your excellent book where you have tracked in depth Warren's incredible life of soldier, explorer and Freemason.
Between 1867 and 1870 Warren carried out explorations in Palestine which form the basis for our knowledge of the topography of ancient Jerusalem and the archaeology of the Temple Mount. Are we as Freemasons indebted in some way to his Temple's excavations?

CM: Physically Warren and his men were the first who were able (through various means of subterfuge) to excavate and locate the base of the Temple walls and in doing so, they were also hoping to uncover any evidence that (operative) Masons had been involved in its construction. Hence establish the antiquity of freemasonry to Biblical times. The closest that he came to that was the uncovering of the "Phoenician symbols". This together with hisinvolvement in the Moabite Stone saga, fanned the embers of curiosity for the accuracy of the accounts in the Bible which are used as symbolic Masonic parallels. His surveys located many chambers below the Temple Mount which at that time were rumored to hold Masonic and Knights Templar artifacts, and his survey of the top of the Temple Mount was aimed at locating the position of the Temple of King Solomon.

BG: Could we consider the Masonic Archaeological Institute - only opened to Freemasons - as the precursor of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076 E.C.?

CM: Yes most definitely. It is important to know that prior to the Quatuor Coronati Lodge there were brethren who were seeking a higher meaning and definition of Masonry, in a methodical fashion. Unfortunately the MAI was not sustainable as it did not have the structure or support of a Lodge and therefore when a few brethren were unable to pay their subscriptions, the MAI had no procedure in place to fall back on and eventfully disintegrated. However a good number of the original MAI members kept in touch and eventually set up a similar organisation (the Quatuor Coronati Lodge) as a Masonic lodge.

BG: Warren was the first Worshipful Master of the Quatuor Coronati  Lodge, but due to his military charges he attended only three of seven meetings during his three years of Mastership. Which was his real contribution to the Lodge?

CM: Warrens contribution the the Quatuor Coronati Lodge was that of Leadership. As it first (founding) master the members were prepared to wait for his return from South Africa in order to Consecrate the Lodge. The prestige and attention a figure such as "Jerusalem Warren" leading a lodge bent on establishing facts about freemasonry (rather than mere conjecture) would give it credibility in many countries and colonies, not only the United Kingdom. Warren had by then written written books about his adventures, become a member of the Royal Geographical Society and Royal Society and probably seen as an example of a disciplined scholar freemason, popular at that time.

BG: Which was Warren's role as Police Commissioner during Jack The Ripper investigations?

CM: As the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Warren's role should have been political and administrative. However as a hands-on military man he became involved in the detailed training and deployment of the forces. London was going through a torrid period of its existence, with riots occurring almost every weekend and anarchy about to explode on the streets. Bloody Sunday gave him an opportunity to exercise a hold to the status quo. While royalty and government thanked him for his stern approach, however this did not go down well with the common people in a civilian setting. Against this backdrop, the inability of the police (with Warren at the head) to solve the Whitechapel "Ripper" murders, sensationalized these brutal acts. Warren may once again been the scapegoat as his resignation prior to the murders was then accepted. His dramatised erasing of the supposed Ripper message on the wall was fully explained in his letter to the Under Secretary of State as to his perception of the consequences to a large Jewish population in Whitechapel at that time. It is fascinating to think that he was the person with the most knowledge about the Ripper and immediately after that became the District Grand Master of the Eastern Archipelago in Singapore.

BG: After the defeat at Spion Kop in the Boer war, Warren was in great troubles, did he receive any help from his Brethren?

CM: It would appear that Warren did not receive any assistance from Brethren of the committee investigating the battle. Sir Gen Alexander Montgomery-Moore's advice to him was that he should keep quite about the inside details of the war for 20 years. After that he would be free to say what he pleased. I have no record of Warren receiving direct help from any brethren.

BG: We know that Baden-Powell wasn't a Freemason, nevertheless Warren took a keen interest in the newly-formed Boy Scouts movement. Why?

CM: At that time Scouting was a new movement and spreading like wild-fire. Warren had known Baden-Powell from childhood and fought together with him in South Africa. At the siege of Ladysmith young boys had been trained up to be scouts and found willing and able to assist in various vital duties. The similarities of freemasonry and scouting are numerous and probably in the early days of the development of the movement, Warren saw this as an opportunity to mould Masonic ideals into young minds, untainted by adult prejudices. An example of the Empire Sentinels is given in the book.

BG: You write that there is no account of any Freemasons being > present at his funeral, was Warren an active Freemason until his death or not?

CM: Warren seemed to retreat into an isolated state toward the end of his life. It is recorded that he only visited the Quatuor Coronati Lodge a few times after returning from the Boer War and my attempts to check the rolls of any other lodges with military connections in Cheltenham, Ramsgate and Weston-Super-Mare were not fruitful. However it would seem that he kept in touch with various Masonic friends occasionally.

BG: As complete as this biography of Warren seems to be, do you feel that there are still parts of this book which could lead to further investigation and research?

CM: Definitely. I feel that although I have managed to compile the most complete biography of him so far, I have only managed to skim over the surface of some of the issues still outstanding such as:
- The connection between the Royal Society and freemasonry
- Did Palmer use Masonic connections as a freemason and a spy
- Did Warren visit any lodges on his return to UK
- Many of the items,surveys etc recovered from the Temple Mount are still in the PEF Library and may be of interest in relation to finding some of the buildings listed in Appendix 3 of the book.
- Relationships between freemasons in other colonies under conflict.

As is usual in this 105-year old lodge, the incoming Master will give a paper on the night of his installation. Mine was entitled tongue-in-cheek "Freemasonry for Sex, Murder and Profit?" in an attempt to wake up the old guard, interest some new Brethren and generally spice things up a bit.

As you may imagine the talk was not about it title but the future of freemasonry and the perceived public perception of what we got up to behind closed doors. There was no sex, murder or profit per se, but only a stern warning that we needed to polish our image in the view of the general public. Examples of which included various murders (Calvi, Ripper etc) weird goings-on and world domination etc. etc.

As I mentioned the Ripper case, I turned to my right in the Chair and pointed to the plaque showing the Roll of District Grand Masters of the Eastern Archipelago where WBro (Lieutenant) General Sir Warren was listed as the 3rd DGM. I knew there was something more to merely scanning over the Ripper affair and the person who probably knew the most about it, had sat in the very Chair, in the very Temple where I sat. I knew I had to delve into the history of this fascinating man.

I took a while, but besides my day-to-day work, Mastership of various Chapters and Lodges my research grew exponentially each month. I knew that I had access to little known archival details of his time as DGM in Singapore, which together with his Founding Mastership of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge in London, must have been the pinnacle of his masonic career.

A career that took him from a hotbed of masonic intrigue in Gibraltar, to the unique position of being able to excavate under the Temple in Jerusalem, develop the boundaries of African States, set up the premier research lodge, track the Ripper through the slums of London, establish the modern military apparatus in Singapore, change the British army tactics through the disastrous Spion Kop battle, and assist with the setting up of the Boy Scouts with Lord Baden-Powell.

I knew that I had to make this as real to the reader as possible and not just a series of dry facts. I wanted this book to stand out as an example of leadership (military and civic as well as masonic) via masonic morals and have tried to demonstrate that by bringing alive each adventure Warren faced. Also this book touches on, via the life of one man, the way that the Brotherhood worked together with the Governments and Officials of that time, to solidify and stabilise cities and regions, under the invisible hand of the Brotherhood.

The life and times of General Sir Charles Warren are well documented via his own numerous publications, and that of his grandson W.Bro. Watkin W. Williams, as well as in various publications of his exploits in Palestine, Egypt, Africa and Singapore through the respective organizations, military or otherwise.

My book looks at the Masonic connections of his incredible adventures and struggles, which he undertook in true Masonic spirit, and how he managed to change the world as we know it, through the invisible Bond of Brotherwood...

I have written this book as an example of Masonic leadership in the community, and hope that it may inspire Freemasons all over the world to look into the strengths of our organization and acknowledge the moral support we all receive as individuals from Brotherhood.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Brethren of the research Lodge St.Michael 2933 E.C. for their encouragement and support.

The book can be ordered at Coleman Street Books

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