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The English Masonic Union of 1813 –

A Tale of Antient and Modern

By: John Belton


The publication of this fascinating book is very timely given that the product of the coming together of the Antients and Moderns – the United Grand Lodge of England – appears to be playing down the bicentenary of the formal Union that takes place on 27 December 2013.


Previous histories of the events surrounding the Union have tended to concentrate on the simple story based on the respective views of the two protagonists.


John Belton is to be congratulated on the approach he has adopted by stepping back and takes a more holistic view of the events that have had such a profound effect on the development of Freemasonry in England.

He puts the Masonic developments into the historical, political and social context of the day, with both verve and enthusiasm. It is all too easy to forget the turmoil that was affecting Europe as a whole and the overlying threat of the possibility of a French style revolution in England.


His very refreshing and stimulating account takes on board the perspective of the four Grand Lodges involved – Scotland and Ireland as well as the Antients and Moderns of England.


He also deals with the various personalities behind the Union and casts fresh light on the role and importance of the Duke of Kent in the negotiations and who previously has only featured as a cipher very much in the shadow of the Duke of Sussex.


Nor does John Belton shirk from the impact that the Union has had, up to the present day, on the other Orders of Freemasonry. His use of sources, other than those just available from the Library and Museum of Freemasonry in London, is to be commended.


The excellent foreword to the book by Professor Andrew Prescott on Freemasonry and Britishness is not to be missed as it both enhances and helps put into context John Belton’s perceptive work.


John Belton’s book will appeal to a wide range of readers, whether Freemasons, interested in the events surrounding the Union, or those interested in the social and historic context in which Freemasonry developed.

Although there may be other books and articles that appear during the course of this year and beyond regarding the Union of 1813, there is little doubt that this book will be the touchstone by which they are judged.


Richard Collins



Price: £9.99

Publisher: Arima Publishing

ISBN: 9781845495596



Purchase this title online at

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