Freemasons dis-lodge the secrecy
Mar 9 2005
By Jamie Oliver, Crewe Chronicle
FREEMASONS are throwing open their doors to dispel the myths surrounding their secret sect.
For the first time in its history, Willaston's Masonic Hall will be open to visitors who can learn what sets a Mason apart from the crowd - including the rolled-up trouser leg ritual and special handshake.
In a new era of openness, Cheshire Free-masons will be giving guided tours of their hall and explaining how 'men of good standing' can enjoy the privileges of comradeship as part of an ancient movement.
Their motto 'Morality in which all men agree, that is, to be good men and true' is more relevant in today's modern Masonic lodge, which accepts men from all walks of life into its fold.
Electrician Stewart Gandy, 56, of White Hart Lane in Wistaston, is the chairman of the Masonic Hall South Cheshire.
He said: 'Years ago the only way to get into the Masons was to be a professional, like a doctor or solicitor, and be specifically approached.
'Nowadays, all men will be considered, provided they are over the age of 21, of good standing with no criminal record and not on the Sex Offenders' Register.
'I look on myself as a tradesman and my fellow members have all manner of jobs, from doctors and accountants to drivers and carpet fitters.
'There is still a special handshake and, of course, the rolled-up trouser leg when a Mason kneels to take his oath, but we hope to explain to local people why these rituals still exist.'
Freemasonry has come a long way since meetings were held in secret after dark.
Things are so open now that the movement refers to its rituals and oaths on a website. According to this, Free-masonry under the Constitution of the United Grand Lodge of England is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values.
Its members are taught its precepts by a series of ritual dramas, which follow ancient forms, and use stonemasons' customs and tools as allegorical guides.
It is concerned with promoting family life and raising funds for charity.
Mr Gandy added: 'For years people have looked upon Freemasonry as secretive.
'We simply do what we do in certain ways. We do not broadcast our business or seek glory for our charity work.
'Freemasonry seeks to reinforce thoughtfulness for others, kindness in the community, honesty in business, courtesy in society and fairness in all things.
'If people think Freemasonry is something a bit odd, they should come along to our open day and see for themselves.'
Anyone wanting to find out more can attend the open day at the Masonic Hall, Wybunbury Road, Willaston on March 19. Doors will be open from 10.30am to 3.30pm.
There will be tours of the Lodge Room, displays of Masonic artefacts and a series of lectures about the aims and objectives of Freemasonry.
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