Inventing the Future Learning and Development and the 1723 Constitutions
2023 is a landmark year in English Freemasonry, being the 300th anniversary of the writing of the new Constitutions of the (then) Premier Grand Lodge, which had been founded a few years earlier. The Constitutions were novel in that they embraced Enlightenment principles (which could be characterised as promoting religious tolerance, meritocracy, civility, education and self-improvement) and, among other things, opened up Freemasonry to men of any religion. This anniversary was marked by a special meeting of Grand Lodge in January, at which the history and significance of the 1723 Constitutions were explained.
To discover more about this significant event, I recommend you visit https://www.1723constitutions.com/
A short film, narrated by Derek Jacobi, which describes the Constitutions (with just a little artistic licence) can be found here:
This film was shown at the special meeting of Grand Lodge in January 2023.
If you want to explore more deeply, I recommend the book 'Inventing the Future' by Ric Berman. In fewer than 150 pages, Berman covers a lot of ground, from the societal context that the authors of the Constitutions were working in, including the recent formation of Grand Lodge, biographies of key individuals including the three main authors, Desaguliers, Payne and Anderson, and the first noble Grand Master, the Duke of Montagu, and a host of other key individuals. Berman also covers the contents of the Constitutions themselves, how they were different to what had been before, and the impact they had across the world. The book gives special prominence to the impact on America, with ten pages of material, including linking many of the Enlightenment principles included in the Constitutions with those in the American Declaration of Independence.
To find out more about the individuals involved, Solomon has a wealth of material, mostly found in the 'Masonic History' module, which can be found at:
More information about Desaguliers can be found at:
Whilst Anderson is described at:
Much more information can be found in the Library and Museum of Freemasonry. More details at:
Whatever your level of interest, the 300th anniversary of the Anderson Constitutions gives a range of opportunities to make a 'daily advancement of masonic knowledge'.
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 51 April 2023 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 51 here.