During the Second World War metal was required for the production of aircraft and armaments. Masonic charities traditionally issued medals or jewels each year commemorating fundraising events (known as festivals). During the war Masonic charities replaced their metal steward’s jewels with card or plastic versions (shown below) which were in some cases replaced by a metal version once the wartime restrictions were lifted.
In the summer of 1940 Grand Lodge itself began a scheme of collecting together Masonic jewels donated by members, which were then melted down for the war effort. Over £10,000 was raised by November 1940. A further cheque for £2,500 in December 1942 was acknowledged in writing by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Kingsley Wood, himself a freemason.
The Library and Museum currently has on display an exhibition entitled The Spirit that Sustains about freemasonry and the Second World War which looks at look at how English freemasonry faced the difficulties of the war on the Home Front.
Monday 31st January – Friday 19th August 2005 (Monday to Fridays only)
Open: 10am to 5pm / Admission free
Library and Museum staff are also giving a series of free afternoon talks in the week of the Anniversary of VE Day (details below)
Monday 9th May at 4pm
The Spirit that sustains: An Overview of English Freemasonry and the Second World War: Diane Clements
Tuesday 10th May at 4pm
A Building at War: Freemasons’ Hall, London 1939-1945: Fay Newman
Wednesday 11th May at 4pm
Exiles, Allies and Victors: Masonic Association 1940-50: Martin Cherry
Thursday 12th May at 4pm
Doves, Dragons and the Leafy Idyll: A Study of the Iconography of Masonic Jewels, 1939-1945: Alison Royle
Friday 13th May at 4pm
From Peace to War: the material culture of Freemasonry in the Second World War: Mark Dennis