The world’s oldest Masonic Temple in St. Mary’s Church, Warwick
The Anglican church of St. Mary’s Warwick, is the only Christian church in the world which contains both a Masonic pulpit and a Masonic Temple, built by a man widely believed to have been the first English grand master of the Rosicrucians. The pulpit is heavily carved with many Masonic symbols and a carved dedication:
To the Glory of the Great Architect of the universe
St. Mary’s is a Mecca for Freemasons and the strong links between them and the ancient church is commemorated by the pulpit which the Warwickshire Lodges presented to the church in 1897. The Masonic links with St. Mary’s Church go back to the early part of the 18th century. In 1728, a Masonic lodge was constituted in Warwick and the first Master was the Reverend Greenwood, the Vicar of the Church.
Warwickshire Freemasons have a fine reputation in the County for their stalwart charitable works (all self funded). They have a long history of processing through the streets of Warwick to St. Mary’s wearing full regalia. They march in procession to the Church from Alderson House in the High Street.
On the 14th of June 2009, in St. Mary’s, the Revd. Vaughn Roberts (not a Mason) preached a sermon to the Freemasons of Warwickshire. In his sermon Revd. Roberts acknowledged the Freemasons ‘long associations with this church’, and he told the congregation: ‘As Vicar of St Mary’s, naturally I’m interested in an organisation that has long associations with this church, associations which include the fact that in 1728 a lodge was formed in Warwick and the then Vicar of St Mary's, the Revd Greenwood, was master and that the pulpit from which I’m speaking was given to the church by the Freemasons of Warwickshire’.
Revd. Roberts acknowledged that ‘such things are never straightforward because novels such as The Da Vinci Code have transformed how many people perceive the nature of the Church’.
His reference to The Da Vinci Code was prompted by press interest in Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke’s, Rosicrucian Temple, built in 1618 in the Chapter House of St. Mary’s.
St. Mary’s, Warwick, is the only Christian church in the world which contains a Rosicrucian temple (most unusually aligned North/South). It was built in 1618 by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Fulke Greville (later Lord Brooke 1554-1628).
To build it Greville took over the entire Chapter House. It has its own entrance and on entering one is met with two pillars with obelisks above them.
Leading experts have identified the Chapter House and its monument as some sort of ‘temple’, probably Rosicrucian. In Professor Joscelyn Godwin’s opinion: ‘it is obviously a symbolic construction of proto-Masonic and probably Rosicrucian inspiration … This is part of the history of the Church, both the physical church of St. Mary’s and the Anglican Church itself’.
The architectural historian, architect, and author, Professor James Stevens-Curl, described by the Daily Mail as ‘our nation's leading expert on this period of British architecture’, has written that Greville’s monument: ‘may represent a Temple, a reference to the Temple of Solomon’ or ‘it may incorporate other ideas from esoteric movements on the Continent, not least Rosicrucianism’.
In Professor Stevens-Curl’s Opinion: ‘There can be no other explanation for the sheer grandeur of the monument other than that there is something very special there. What is absolutely certain is that the size, cost and magnificence of the monument are intended to speak to us. There are plenty of clues about what it might be, and they suggest this is an incredibly exciting find’.
Following the national media exposure there is interest in the possibility that Fulke Greville’s private temple, in St Mary’s Church, Warwick, may be an older purpose-built Masonic Temple than Freemasons Hall in Queen Street, East Sunderland.
It seems fitting that the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons should share a common church in St. Mary’s, Warwick, because the Rosicrucians have long claimed to have been a source of Modern Freemasonry and in the 18th century, ‘many Freemasons became Rosicrucians and Rosicrucianism was established in many lodges’. Wikipedia.
St. Mary’s is an historic landmark and tourist attraction and people have worshipped on this site for over 1,000 years. It is one of the largest and most interesting churches in Britain and the Beauchamp Chantry is recognised as the finest medieval chapel in England. Taken all together it can be said that St. Mary’s Church, Warwick, is a very fascinating religious building; unique in all the world - three churches in one. Well worth a visit.