The Independent Magazine for Freemasons
By: Huw Pritchard
Huw Pritchard was born in 1960 and studied French and Italian at University before qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in 1986. After 25 years working for the Edmond de Rothschild Group, latterly as Chief Financial Officer of the London group, he left to study for a Master’s degree in Art History and Art World Practice at Christie’s Education in London. His Master’s thesis examining Masonic symbolism from an Art Historical perspective formed the basis of his book The Winding Staircase. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and is a fourth generation Freemason having been initiated by his father in 1982.
The Winding Staircase describes itself as ‘a visual journey through the history and symbolism of the Craft and Royal Arch Degrees’. This book looks at some of the images and objects used in Masonic ritual to illuminate the Freemason’s journey of self-discovery and examines how Freemasonry’s use of symbolism and allegory can provide the Freemason with tools to assist him in both facing the challenges of his everyday life and in exploring his spirituality. By looking at the development of these symbols and ritual objects and by the examination of contemporary images it also sheds light on the evolution of English Freemasonry itself.
The book is richly illustrated and the pictures of the tracing boards are fabulous. You don’t often see Royal Arch tracing boards but here are several, fully explained by the author.
The quality of print and publishing is superb. It even smelled good! Could the print have been a bit bigger? Of course this would have meant more pages and more cost. At £12.99, this is very good value. Many of the pictures are courtesy of the Library and Museum of Freemasonry at Great Queen Street. It made me think how much one should keep visiting the Museum and not just when the main exhibitions are on. Just looking at tracing boards could take a long while. There is a glossary and a bibliography for further reading and I think the book is one which you will pick up and read a few pages over and over again. Huw’s continuing message is that the symbolism within Freemasonry is an integral part of the Craft. It is meant to guide us to a contemplation of the meaning of the symbols, which are themselves central to the lessons that Freemasonry wishes to convey.
Reviewed by Clive Mellor