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June 8, 2011 Posted by David Hambling under History, London, Map No Comments The City of London, or Square Mile, is history and mythology made concrete, going right back to the celebrated London Stone itself.  Settlement here dates to pre-Roman times, but the biggest influence on the City as we know it today was the rebuilding project that took place after the Great Fire of 1666. This gave London much of its present form and introduced many of its greatest monuments. Unlike the previous random sprawl, which had grown up organically over centuries, the rebuilding was carried out according to a deliberate master plan. Some claim that it was simply an attempt to build on more orderly and „rational‟ lines, but if we peel back the surface the esoteric, Masonic and even magical aspects of the City are revealed.
Illustration by Etienne Gilfillan/Photos from Getty Images We now tend to view the 17th century as a period of scientific progress when rationality broke free from the bonds of superstition. However, that rationality took many forms, and sacred geometry, numerology and astrology were just as respectable as astronomy and chemistry. The quest was on for the keys to the Universe. While we might now believe that science will provide all the answers, in those days the occult held an equal attraction for men of learning, and this is something we can see in their works. The Freemasons emerged at just the right time for the great rebuilding project (see panel: “The Foundations of Freemasonry”, p35). They were the latest group of seekers after ultimate knowledge, following hard on the footsteps of the “Invisible College” of the Rosicrucians, which was either a conspiracy, an impenetrable secret society or a hoax, depending on whom you believe. The Royal Society, still an important organisation today, dates back to this era and is regarded by some as an extension of the Invisible College. Founded in 1660 as the “Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge”, it originally dealt as much with alchemy and astrology as what we now think of as science. There was a large overlap between membership of the Royal Society, Freemasons and even more secretive esoteric groups such as the Cabala Club.
the theory is supported by an old tradition in the Masonic Lodge of Antiquity No 2 that Wren was Master of the Lodge. the second surveyor appointed alongside Hawksmoor. practical considerations restricted the wholesale remodelling of London to more modest changes. Hawksmoor‟s St George-in-the-East is 2. the antiquary and biographer John Aubrey noted: “This day… is a great convention at St Paul‟s Church of the fraternity of the adopted masons. Cabalism was a popular topic among esoteric philosophers of the day. Working with Wren were two other notables. Royal Society founder member. “the best hieroglyph of the known and unknown universe”.000ft) from Temple Bar to the West and the same distance from St Dunstan-in-the-East in the other direction. St John Horselydown was placed 2. He also appears to have been a Freemason. Wren realigned the axis of St Paul‟s so it stood 2. so London must succeed it as the capital of the true faith. who disappeared into the West after the destruction of the kingdom in 722 BC. Several concepts were put forward for the new street plan. with its mathematical and geometric approach. the city was to be the New Jerusalem. All of these did away with the warren of tiny streets and alleys and imposed some sort of regularity. Some. On 18 May 1691. . The latter was nicknamed “the devil‟s architect”. and prepare them for converse with good Angells”. In the event. Evelyn had previously written about how a careful arrangement of the environment could “influence the soule and spirits of man. This was reinforced by a popular theory that the English were the descendants of the Lost Tribe of Israel. a true successor to Rome. since Aubrey was simply repeating what he had been told by one William Dugdale.000 cubits (914m / 3. treasurer to the commission building new churches. where Sir Christopher Wren is to be adopted a brother…” Some discount this as hearsay. with a temporal and religious capital to match it. However. and to many Freemasons his membership of the Craft is obvious in his works. This belief was a help to those who believed that Britain should be a global empire.000 cubits from the Monument and Hawksmoor‟s St Mary Woolnoth is the same distance from his Christ Church Spitalfields.000 cubits from the London Wall. John Evelyn and the notorious Nicholas Hawksmoor. and his Masonic credentials are not in doubt. THE NEW JERUSALEM To the builders of the new London. Other acknowledged Freemasons include John James. But while they could not demolish streets at will. In Cabalism. But both Wren and Evelyn had more complex ideas. MP and architect.The great architect of the new London was of course Sir Christopher Wren – astronomer. Rome was in the hands of Catholics. Londoner William Blake – who had a tendency to employ Masonic imagery – was merely echoing this idea when he wrote of Jerusalem being “builded here” decades later. some of which was assimilated into Freemasonry. and it has been suggested that Evelyn‟s plan bears a marked resemblance to the Sephiroth or Tree of Life from the mystic Cabala. the architects of London arranged places of worship according to their plan. the angels are the messengers between the physical and metaphysical world. Hawksmoor‟s membership was recorded in 1691. particularly in his greatest monument – St Paul‟s Cathedral (see below: „Isaac Newton and the Temple of Doom‟). such as the plans put forward by cartographer Richard Newcourt. and Nathaniel Blackerby. geometer. were simple grid patterns. when he became Wren‟s assistant.
which he described as being based on the “rules of the Ancients”. while the book‟s 17th-century architect is Nicholas Dyer. The theme was taken up in Peter Ackroyd‟s novel Hawksmoor in 1985. mark or rest upon” the city‟s sources of occult power. is so great that it attracts dark acts of violence to its vicinity. which are a clear sign of Hawksmoor‟s true Satanic affiliation. This has represented the squaring of the circle from ancient times. Greece and Rome – all revered by the Freemasons – and often in a grand manner. of course. Sinclair even provides maps to prove the alignments.  But it is the alignment of Hawksmoor‟s churches as much as their architecture that has provoked speculation. Ackroyd. creating the essential yardstick for a New Jerusalem. This describes how Hawksmoor‟s churches form regular triangles and pentacles. John Wilkins. These made a break from the traditional Gothic style and introduced a new and alien geometric vocabulary of obelisks. The Ripper murders. THE DEVIL’S ARCHITECT Christopher Wren is remembered as the chief architect of modern London.000 cubits is used in the biblical Book of Numbers in its rules for city planning: “[M]easure from without the city on the east side 2. Sinclair suggests that the malign influence of Christ Church. a great scholar of London. Hawksmoor‟s churches are based on a layout of intersecting axes and rectangles. pyramids and cubes. This involved a unified conspiracy theory linking Hawksmoor.000 cubits. which takes us back to the ideal proportions of Leonardo‟s Vitruvian Man… and.” It had featured in modern studies of sacred geometry since 1662. playfully names his modern detective Hawksmoor. Seven of the keystones are decorated with flames. but his assistant Nicholas Hawksmoor towers above him in occult circles thanks to his 12 churches built in accordance with the 1711 Act. with a tower in the shape of a pyramid. the Freemasons and the Jack the Ripper killings.The measure of 2. the eighth bears the Hebrew name of God inside a triangular plaque surrounded by a sunburst. Duke of Clarence. The nave of St George‟s Bloomsbury church is a perfect cube. His work borrows from Egypt. Spitalfields. Sinclair was the first to connect Hawksmoor‟s churches with some of the most shocking crimes in London‟s history – the now largely forgotten Ratcliffe Highway murders of 1811 and Jack the Ripper‟s killing spree in 1888. vicar of St Lawrence Jewry and the first secretary of the Royal Society had converted it into modern measures. the symbolism of this is obscure. in this version. The idea of Hawksmoor as a manipulator of dark forces was further refined in Alan Moore‟s hugely ambitious graphic novel From Hell. Prince Albert. the Freemasons. which switches between the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire and a modern serial killer case. Moore taps into an earlier strand of Ripperology connecting the killings with the Freemasons. Hawksmoor‟s St Mary Woolnoth is based on the idea of a cube within a cube. are carried out by Queen Victoria‟s personal physician to conceal an illegitimate child conceived by her grandson. and “guard. The oath of secrecy taken by Freemasons includes a very colourful description of the . His supposedly morbid interest in pagan cultures and pre-Christian worship have helped darken his reputation. starting with the writer Iain Sinclair‟s book-length prose-poem Lud Heat in 1975.
As recent history has again proven. Soane‟s Bank building was demolished in the 1920s. Soane was. the son of a bricklayer. have suggested that the way the Ripper‟s victims were mutilated closely parallels these specific injuries. of the 20th century”. the confidence of investors is all-important. Secrecy was relaxed and famous Masons of the day included the Duke of Wellington and architect Sir John Soane. After the demolition. A collection of detailed drawings was recently found in his papers suggesting a geometric and astrological basis not just for many of London‟s churches but also for its major theatres. Duke of Sussex. spawning numerous books and films. These are three murderers in Masonic legend who are linked with the gory penalties set out in the oath. in the City of London.  Masonic influence on London didn‟t end after the Great Fire. and losing it means a catastrophic fall (softened only by the occasional government bail-out). perhaps. a veritable cathedral of finance. Were they a warning. the institution regained its reputation for standing foursquare amidst global upheaval. A number of commentators. appropriately enough for a Mason. Knight claimed that “Juwes” was not a misspelling of “Jews”. geometer and member of the Cabala Club (and inventor of a system of shorthand) from the same era as Wren and Hawksmoor. though. an act described by architectural historian Nicholas Pevsner as “the greatest architectural crime. Freemasons insist that this oath is symbolic and the penalties have never actually been inflicted on oath-breakers. including mention of a cut throat and the statement “that my left breast had been torn open and my heart and vitals taken from thence and thrown over my left shoulder” and “my body had been severed in two in the midst”.supposed penalties. After a jittery period during the 1790s. became the first Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England. In the early 19th century. but is actually a Masonic term referring to Jubela. though it has proved influential. the sixth son of George III. the Bank suffered its greatest crisis in the Great Depression – a fitting punishment. Freemasonry enjoyed a period of more open popularity. A bank must project an image of solidity and stability. Only the outer walls now remain. did just that. perhaps the most significant emblem of power in the new century. as Sinclair suggested. and Soane‟s Bank of England building. as usually supposed. Stephen Knight went even further in his book Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution in 1976. or was there some other symbolic purpose? Was the Ripper a crazed Freemason? Or is it all. Graffiti found near two of the murders read: “The Juwes are not the men who will be blamed for nothing”. down to the influence of Hawksmoor‟s dark architectural patterns? BEHIND THE MASK OF REASON The obsession with mystic geometry was not confined to places of worship. Prince Augustus Frederick. Jubelo and Jubelum. Even if the Ripper killings were some sort of enactment of the Masonic penalties. Soane‟s work on the Bank continued for 45 years and he described it as “the pride and the boast of my life”. John Byrom was yet another Freemason. His works included the Bank of England. Knight‟s book received something of a mauling (or perhaps a disembowelment) from other Ripper experts. it does little to solve the case. .
behind the mask of rational design lurks the joker. is topped with a conspicuous pyramid with a flashing light at its apex. Its work. then the LPA are the anarchic Discordians seeking to reclaim the city for the masses. which some have suggested makes it an embodiment of the 13 steps of the Masonic pyramid. Number One Canada Square. While. The height of the Canary Wharf pyramid happens to be 130ft (40m). The architect of One Canada Square was Cesar Pelli. whimsical. the Hall is now open to the public with frequent guided tours. meeting place for hundreds of Lodges and home of the Grand Temple. and above all.”  The LPA might be a valid attempt to reshape our consciousness of our environment. If the Freemasons are secretive. By drawing upon ancient songlines which reassert themselves within the modern urban environment. In a spirit of openness. and London still has many grim concrete tower blocks to remind us how an architect‟s paradise can become a hell for those who live there. psychogeography comes in. there is more study of the psychological effects of our environment. Pyramids are not exactly common in our culture – although Hawksmoor certainly added a few. Even the Masons admit that its current incarnation contains a mass of esoteric symbolism which can only be fully understood by the initiated. The London Psychogeographical Association is described by Wikipedia as “a largely fictitious organisation”. these days. . he chose the pyramid because he found it to be common in most cultures. a symbol familiar from the back of the US dollar bill. it doesn‟t all fall to men in white coats. turning his house and studio into a remarkable museum which reveals his “eclectic.” according to one source. Jokers or not. “Of the four different roof shapes available from the World Financial Center. powerful Illuminati. Soane also left a monument to himself.Another of Soane‟s masterpieces was the Freemason‟s Hall in Great Queen Street. better known as Canary Wharf. psychogeography as the practical application of anti-Euclidean psycho-geometry offers the third pole in the triolectic between the false universalism of modernism and the universal virtuality of post-modernism. THE EYE IN THE PYRAMID We now appreciate how much impact buildings can have on the people who live in them. consists largely of grandiose proclamations and calls for geo-psychic revolution: “The integration of non-Euclidean psycho-social space into a post-Newtonian mechanics is faced by the emergence of an anti-Euclidean opposition which will rekindle the fires of revolt with the matchsticks of metaphor. experimental. It could hardly be a more graphic embodiment of the familiar image of a pyramid topped by an eye. Again. And this is where. the LPA shares the approach of those who wanted to make London a symbolic New Jerusalem. at the more surreal end of the field. which has been praised by Iain Sinclair. or it could just be an elaborate practical joke. illusionist preoccupations”. London still sees more than its share of buildings which seem to owe more to the occult than to strict practicality. who is quoted as saying that the tower was intended to be a simple geometric form.
a deliberate act of misdirection. Screw the Washington Monument. Lewis Masonic. I predict that his collection of powerful and mysterious emblems will increase with the addition of many pieces of paper inscribed with the symbol of the eye in the pyramid… Notes 1 Mentioned by Blake. Perhaps we shouldn‟t be so surprised at the Freemasons‟ penchant for sacred geometry. Is this an oversight.Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon 4 London Psychogeographical Association 5 ‟Skull and Bones ‟322′ Logo Meaning Finally Discovered?‟ rinf. Even if architects don‟t believe in Feng Shui. Masons are required to “square their actions by the square of virtue” and are sworn by “God and the Square”. as Dan Brown sends his hero racing around Washington. This has got to be down to the Masons.com Recommended Reading Peter Ackroyd: Hawksmoor. much more…  Now a new generation of skyscrapers is set to reshape London‟s skyline. Yashas Beresiner Lewis: The City of London: A Masonic Guide. Iain Sinclair: Lud Heat and Suicide Bridge. The City of London is also known as the Square Mile. conspiracy theories do not need much of a launch pad. Peter Ackroyd: London: The Biography. David V Barrett: Secret Societies. In the Far East. Pocket Essential. and preferably one that would appeal to his American fanbase.“This is the clearest symbol yet. perhaps the clue is in the name. Recommended Surfing Official homepage of the United Grand Lodge of England Grail Seekers: A Guide to Masonic Symbolism for the Non-Mason Cornerstone Society: Discussion of Masonic topics . Freemasonry Today. Michael White: Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer. 2006. Granta. the London Stone might be part of an ancient temple. I‟d guess. Shakespeare and Dickens. and others skilled in the art have managed to link Pelli to the Freemasons. 2008. the Order of Death and much. nobody would question the importance of the buildings‟ alignment. the Skull & Bones Society. perhaps he‟s picked the wrong city. Knockabout Comics. 2002. Squares feature heavily in Masonic rituals and recognition signs.” writes one excited blogger as he demonstrates how the Canary Wharf complex can be mapped on to Masonic symbols. I think I‟ve found the biggest Obelisk and Eye of Horus yet. even though it is rectangular. Finally. a Roman milestone… or the stone from which King Arthur pulled Excalibur. so he needed a new city this time around. Blandford. 2001. Issue 41 Summer 2007 3 Trevor W McKeown: „The Byrom Collection. 2002. Vintage. 2008. 2 Matthew Scanlan: „Nicholas Hawksmoor„. 1997. So. Penguin. no investor wants to be part of something that spells bad luck. Merlin Coverley: Occult London. 1997. Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell: From Hell. Brown had already used London as a setting in his massively popular book The Da Vinci Code. Of course. Fourth Estate. or are there other forces at work? Almost certainly the latter. a few observations„.
no matter where you go. or dormitories. keep them well. With a membership of several million worldwide. the ancient equivalent of the site hut. this is an invented pedigree created to impress. lest in being free with them you bring reproach upon yourself and great shame upon your profession. They lived in masonic lodges. A belief in a Supreme Being or Great Architect of the Universe is required of all Freemasons. They had already attracted unfavourable attention. The freemason was a skilled craftsman able to shape stone.FOUNDATIONS OF MASONRY The modern Freemasons are not so much a secret society as a society with secrets. But secrecy has always been a key part of their way of working. the discussions held in the hall or in the dormitory. The Regius Manuscript of 1390 hints at the secrecy required of masonic apprentices: “He keeps and guards his master‟s teachings and those of his fellows… Disclose to no man. Where did they really come from? One popular view is that the Freemasons grew out of the mediæval masons who built the great cathedrals of Europe. as opposed to operative masonry practised by stonecutters – involves a progression through various degrees of . They do charitable works and encourage a sort of esoteric/moral personal development. and architecture. as Dan Brown‟s hero Robert Langdon says. Architecture imitates nature. These craftsmen moved from place to place between jobs. As with many such societies. Therefore. they can hardly be considered as some sort of underground movement.000 BC and the builders of the Temple of Solomon – a symbolically vital structure which connected God with Man. Tradition says the Masons can be traced back to around 1. and the greatest work of nature is Man. and jealously guarded the secrets of their trade. Speculative masonry – the philosophical branch followed by Freemasons. The freemasons had their own recognition signals so that a true mason could be identified when he arrived at a new site. This was formed of the four existing London lodges which dated back no more than a century. human beings. their language and symbolism is derived from 17th-century philosophers and not mediæval guilds. The first Grand Lodge was formed at the Goose and Gridiron alehouse in St Paul‟s churchyard (a suitably Masonic location) in 1717. rather than a simple workman only capable of basic building work. Vitruvius was a first-century Roman scholar whose work De Architecuri Libri Decem (Ten books on architecture) argued that proportion was all-important. which were often leantos against the structure they were building. including around half a million in the UK and two million in the US. with a 1698 pamphlet warning that the “Freedmasons” who meet in secret were a “devilish sect of men” allied with the Antichrist. A „cowan‟ or labourer attempting to pass himself off as a mason would be soundly punished.” However. Philosophy in this era already employed an advanced architectural metaphor – but it derived not from dealings with workmen but from an adaptation of the work of Vitruvius. and many prominent meeting places. although Freemasonry is built on a foundation of architectural imagery. Vitruvian Man is the link between the divine. as shown in the famous Vitruvian Man drawn by Leonardo da Vinci. There was an important distinction between a freemason or freestone mason and other builders. a building should follow ideal human proportions. for your greatest honour.
but he was also. Newton was a Royal Society member. past. Before the Romans. he was promoting a hero of science and omitted all mention of Newton‟s esoteric and mystical researches. a plan of the Universe. the seat of the spiritual power of the City and hence the Empire. but their philosophy is expressed in the symbolism and geometry of construction which makes them uniquely suitable for being represented in stone. as John Maynard Keynes put it. Wren. It was not until 1936 that Newton‟s astonishing collection of „non-scientific‟ papers was released. present and future. that the beliefs of the Freemasons have often found expression in buildings and even entire cities. It took three attempts for him to produce a new design acceptable to the commissioners. The Temple plays a key role in Masonic mythology. an astronomer. ST PAUL’S CATHEDRAL – ISAAC NEWTON AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM If London was to be the New Jerusalem. personal and moral development. Royal Society member and scientist with an interest in the esoteric. a close friend of Wren‟s and probably a Freemason. The final version was known as the Warrant Design and the first stone was laid – with Masonic rites – in 1675. The Freemasons revered the ancient builders. When William Stukely wrote the first biography of Isaac Newton in the 1720s. and the visitor to St Paul‟s can easily spot the usual doves and lambs. the New Millennium would start with the Christ‟s return in the year AD 2060. including the end of the world. and St Paul‟s was built on the foundations of older churches and. “the last of the magicians”. then its cathedral would be the new Temple of Solomon.personal development. Newton believed that the Temple was divinely inspired. Wren had been working on plans for a new St Paul‟s even before the Fire. a Roman temple.  Hooke was another Freemason. and Robert Hooke noted having a long discussion with him about it in 1675. even further in the past. The Freemasons are concerned with inner building. the 10 domes corresponding to the 10 spheres.  Symbolism is common enough in cathedrals. He devoted years to studying the geometry of the Temple from its detailed description in the Book of Kings. brought the whole Universe into his cathedral. as well as more unusual pelicans and peacocks. all using an architectural metaphor. According to Newton‟s calculations.  as well as representing the 10 spheres of the classical heavens.  The Temple of Solomon was also a great interest of Wren‟s.  But St Paul‟s also follows Wren‟s notions of sacred geometry and encodes the Cabalistic Sephiroth or Tree of Life. . These involve a dense web of symbolism. No wonder. Newton may have been the first true scientist. and its geometry was a major obsession in the 17th and 18th centuries. the site had been a pagan site and it is possible a stone circle had once stood there. then. The new St Paul‟s was also to be a continuation of the old.
p780 4 St Paul‟s Cathedral Signs and Symbols: Spotter‟s Sheet 5 David Bowman: „Floorplan of St Paul‟s Cathedral London interpreted as kabbalistic Tree of Life‟. Macmillan 1983. The word was inscribed on the pediment of the south door and marked with a phœnix. who ordered St Paul‟s saved “at all costs”. at the end of the day. The bombing was intense. an uninhabited old building? Perhaps it‟s because Winston Churchill. having previously appeared in The Da Vinci Code. The most iconic images of St Paul‟s show it surrounded by smoke and flames during the Blitz. he found it was a fragment of tombstone with the Latin inscription “Resurgam” – “I will rise again”. with 28 bombs landing in the Cathedral grounds during just one night in 1940 – but St Paul‟s itself did not succumb. rubble from the old St Paul‟s was deliberately used in the foundations of many of the 51 churches built after the Great Fire. Floorplan as Tree of Life . Christian Cabala and the Tree of Life„ 3 Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert: The London Encyclopedia. In addition.Wren claimed that when he instructed a workman to place a piece of stone rubble to mark the centre of the new St Paul‟s. Does it seem strange that so many would risk their lives for what was. was a Freemason… Notes 1 Newton plays a significant role in The Lost Symbol. largely thanks to the fire crews who defused bombs and put out fires. 2 Steve Padget: „Christopher Wren.
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