At more than one period in Masonry's history London became the Masonic city par excellence; for example, when many French Masters came into England via London at the time of the introduction of the Gothic style into the Island; after the great fire of 1666 which was followed by an unheard of amount of building, centering around Sir Christopher Wren, and the Mason Company; and in 1717 when the first Grand Lodge of Speculative Freemasonry was erected there--Speculative Freemasonry was for some years widely known as "London Masonry" or "the London Grand Lodge"; and finally when the second, and more vigorous Grand Lodge, the Ancient, was formed there in 1751.
As an introduction to an almost inexhaustible literature see London Life in the !4th Century, by Charles Pendrill; Adelphi Co.; New York; it contains one excellent chapter on London gilds, and another on "the Liberty of London," each with a direct bearing on the history of Freemasonry. The greatest work on London is by the distinguished Mason, Sir Walter Besant who is credited with having originated the idea of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge, and who was an early member of it, in a series of massive, richly illustrated volumes published at various intervals of time by A. & C. Black; London. (See in especial London in the Eighteenth Century, by Sir Walter Besant; 1902; 667 pages; a detailed description of London Life as it was in the Grand Lodge period; and London in Time of the Tudors; 1914; it has a chapter on "The 'Prentice." See also London Life in the X VIII Century, by M. Dorothy George; Kegan Paul; 1925.)
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