by W.M.Don Falconer
Lodge Endeavor No 429
The United Grand Lodge of New South Wales, Australia
(continued from Classical Masonry)The decline and fall of the Roman empire heralded the beginning of the final phase in speculative evolution, that period of almost continuous cathedral building in Britain and Europe lasting from 500 until at least 1,700. Operative or Guild Masons were organised in England with royal approval dating at least from the Annual Assembly of 926, which was authorised and encouraged by King Athelstan. The lodges of operative Free Masons were organised under the guardianship of craft guilds, originally in the form of religious fraternities, continuing in this manner until Henry VIII dis-endowed all religious fraternities by the Act of 1547. Masters of lodges were responsible for the moral and religious welfare of their indentured apprentices, as well as for their practical training in the craft of masonry. The ancient charges testify to this. It is clear from the old catechisms and other records that have come down to us from the operative lodges, especially in Scotland where the Reformation was less drastic in its effect, that moral instruction was an integral part of the ceremonies. The working tools clearly were vehicles of moral instruction from a very early date, as also were various aspects of a mason's work that were converted to simple plays to communicate a message. These were adapted by Dr James Anderson and other early speculative ritualists in the preparation of the rituals in use today.