January 12th marks the Anniversary of the consecration of Quatuor Coronati Lodge in London.
Quatuor Coronati is a Masonic Lodge in London dedicated to Masonic Research. The name, Quatuor Coronati, derives from the Regius Poem (lines 497-534) which is considered to be one of the oldest Masonic documents; dating back to approximately 1390. Its name, the Four Crowned Ones, is from its Latin translation of Quatuor Coronatorum.
From the Regius Poem:
The art of the four crowned ones (Ars quatuor coronatorum)
Pray we now to God almighty,
And to his mother Mary bright,
That we may keep these articles here,
And these points well all together,
As did these holy martyrs four,
That in this craft were of great honor;
They were as good masons as on earth shall go,
Gravers and image-makers they were also.
For they were workmen of the best,
The emperor had to them great liking;
He willed of them an image to make
That might be worshiped for his sake;
Such monuments he had in his day,
To turn the people from Christ’s law.
The lodge, today, meets at Freemason’s Hall on Great Queen Street in London and was founded in 1886.
Following 10 years of spirited debate, Revd. A.F.A. Woodford,
…encouraged a group of earnest young ‘Masonic students’ in their open arguments and provided the intellectual environment that gave birth to the ‘authentic’ school of Masonic research – which relied not on the testimony of the Bible and of ancient historians, but on manuscript records, the primary source for all truly academic history.
Following a few years of formative dialog, the lodge was consecrated on January 12th, 1886 as Quatuor Coronati was established after nine dissatisfied brethren (Charles Warren, William Harry Rylands, Robert Freke Gould, the Revd. Adolphus Frederick Alexander Woodford, Walter Besant, John Paul Rylands, Major Sisson Cooper Pratt, William James Hughan and George William Speth) obtained a warrant in 1884. However, owing to Charles Warren, the first Master being absent on a diplomatic mission in Southern Africa; the lodge was not inaugurated until 1886.
Woodford, in his oration at its consecration set forth its purpose saying:
…the members proposed, by means of papers, discussions and publications, to help forward the important cause of Masonic study and investigation [and] induce a more scholarly and critical consideration of our evidences, a greater relish for historical facts.
Their dissatisfaction that precipitated in the founding Quatuor Coronati arose in how the history of Freemasonry had been interpreted at that time and thus endeavoring to conduct their own examination of for themselves using an evidence-based approach in their study. It was intended that any result of their research would “replace the imaginative writings of earlier authors on the history of Freemasonry.”
The lodge intended to develop global interest in research from Brethren around the world: holding quarterly meetings in which papers are delivered and questions are posed to the presenters. Annual transactions entitled Ars Quatuor Coronartorum are published. In addition to these, the lodge upholds the Quatuor Coronati Correspondence Circle (QCCC). Membership to the Correspondence Circle is not restricted to Freemasons and open to anyone interested in Masonry and fraternal societies.
Among the original objectives of the lodge were the ideas of providing a center and bond of union for Masonic students as well as a desire to attract intelligent masons who they hoped to imbue with a love of research. The founders also intended to reprint rare Masonic manuscripts with the intention of dedicating a library to such works and eventually translating them to many other world languages.
Of note to American Freemasons, in 2007 S. Brent Morris was the first (and only) American to head Quatuor Coronati Lodge.
Their work of Quatuor Coronati continues today as the Premier Lodge of Research and this once new style has become known as the ‘authentic school’ of Masonic research.