Province of Jersey
The Jersey Masonic Library and Museum is the oldest such institution in Great Britain, predating the Library and Museum at Grand Lodge by six years. Sacked and looted by the German forces during the Occupation of Jersey during the second World War, it houses many rare and unique items relating to Freemasonry in Jersey and in other jurisdictions.
Telephone - 01534.767120
- W.Bro W L Clift
- W.Bro H S Godfrey
- W.Bro C F Huth
- W.Bro G S Knocker
- W.Bro Rev C King
- W.Bro P J Dawson
- W.Bro G B Wakeham
- W.Bro L R Lawson
- W.Bro D G Perrin, OSM
- W.Bro C R Goss
- W.Bro G Morris
- W.Bro P Bannier
- W.Bro G Morris
During the past year, the Library and Museum Committee has been pleased to support the Public Relations Committee by conducting and explaining to visiting groups from local societies the many artifacts and documents entrusted to us. This has usually followed a tour of the building in general, and a short presentation in the main Temple, by senior members of the Province. The time allowed for our part of the evening has to be flexible in order to accommodate the visit within the envisaged parameters, but it is pleasing to note how many requests for further information have been made, and subsequently supplied to the enquirer.
The Library is connected by ancillary membership to a number of specialist Masonic study groups, amongst these is the Bristol Masonic Society which publishes its transactions through a paperback publication entitled Corona Gladiorum. It is with due acknowledgement to a former President of the Bristol Masonic Society, Lionel Vibert, that I include the following statement, written in his preface to the catalogue of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Worcestershire in 1934, as nothing more exemplifies the work we undertake to do:
With this splendid library to refer to, to say nothing of the museum with its many treasures, may we not hope that an increasing number of Brethren will be led to take up the fascinating subject of Masonic research? It offers endless possibilities, if only because of the variety of subjects that it embraces. The historian, the archæologist, the student of Folk-lore and Religions, the genealogist, the numismatist, the collector of glass and china, can all find scope for the study of their specialist pursuits in the Craft. Then the purely masonic subjects, such as the history of individual Lodges, the ritual and its development, the regalia and jewels, the additional degrees and their history, are all matters to which a great deal of time can be profitably devoted. It will be found to be time well spent; the student will be richly repaid, not only by the acquisition of a fund of interesting information, but also by coming to have a more intense appreciation of the true university of Masonry.
In the listing of your Lodge Library and Museum Representative, the opportunity has been taken this year to include their email address. This medium is fast being recognized as the easiest form of communication as it provides a written record of the contents for referral. The request goes out for Brethren to use this particular system to contact their representative when making any form of enquiry, whether it be for regalia, written material, or a general query. As we go to print, our Chairman, W. Bro. Barry de la Mare, P.A.G.D.C., has indicated his desire to step down from the post which he has held for a considerable number of years. Progression from within the Committee will find a replacement, but I am honoured on behalf of the Committee to have the opportunity to record our heartfelt thanks to him for his stalwart contribution and strong guidance during his Chairmanship.
Geoffrey J. Morris
Librarian & Curator.
The Province can boast of a Masonic Library and Museum some six years before the one in London was in operation. The earliest sign of any Masonic library in the Province, was during the early part of 1859, when Loge La Césarée decided to form their own, to be called "La Bibliotheque de la Césarée." Each year a librarian was to be elected by the Lodge, and the first person to hold that office was Bro G.Ratier. The Provincial Grand Master congratulated the Lodge on its foresight, and presented a book entitled "The History of Freemasonry" written by Bro Olliver. The library soon had a good sized collection although many books were not of a Masonic nature.
The earliest move for a Provincial Masonic library occurred some time after the Temple was consecrated, when a Masonic reading room and library was established in the room that is now the robing room, taking over the library belonging to Loge La Césarée as a loan. The reading room was opened each day from 10.00am to 10.30pm and on Sundays from 6.00pm to 10.00pm. The object was to cultivate and promote a taste for Masonic literature, to associate and meet for recreation, conversation and reading, for which purposes newspapers, periodicals etc were to be supplied. The rules also stated that the amusements would consist of cards, dominoes, chess and backgammon, and that gambling and betting would be strictly prohibited. What eventually became of the belongings of the reading room are not documented anywhere.
The precursor of the present Provincial library and museum was in 1916 when W.Bro W.L.Clift of Yarborough Lodge decided to catalogue the various books belonging to his Lodge and on the 10th May 1916 proposed that the books and catalogue be presented to the Province, and that the Provincial Grand Master appoint a librarian to take care of them. Each Lodge was asked to subscribe an initial sum of two Guineas (£200 in today's currency). This was shortly followed by a formal proposition to found the library. In time-honoured fashion, W.Bro Clift was appointed secretary. The Jersey Masonic Library and Museum was formally opened by the Provincial Grand Master at the meeting of St.Aubin's Lodge No 958 on 12th November 1917. By 1919 W.Bro Clift had been appointed librarian, a position he held for just two years. Each Lodge was asked to contribute half a Guinea (£50) per annum, and to elect a representative to the library committee. W.Bro H.Salmon Godfray was appointed librarian in 1922 and he was replaced by W.Bro C.F.Huth a year later.
The first appointment of note was W.Bro George Stodart Knocker who took up his duties in 1927,and remained in charge of the library until 1952. He was born in 1866 and after leaving school, was articled as a marine engineer. He spent some time in Hong Kong and Bangkok, returning to Lowestoft, Suffolk where he set up his own business as a consulting engineer. He served in the signals branch of the Royal Engineers during the 1914 1918 war, where he saw duty in France. He was recalled to England in 1915 to take up the post of inspecting engineer for the Eastern Midland division, for which services he was awarded the MBE. After the war he returned to Lowestoft, but was forced to retire on doctor's orders. He came to Jersey in 1922 taking up residence in Bushey Ruff, Bel Royal, St.Lawrence where he remained until his death in June 1952 in his 86th year. Under his leadership the Jersey Masonic Library and Museum flourished, and a number of important collections of Masonic items were obtained, including the Vatcher and Vonberg collections of jewels. In 1930 he published the history of Freemasonry in Jersey.
The damage done to the Temple and the Jersey Masonic Library and Museum is documented elsewhere (see the link "Sacking of the Temple"). Fortunately W.Bro Knocker had decided not to rely on the assurances that had been given by the German authorities, and he hid a number of books and documents away from the Temple. These were never traced by the Germans, and were restored to the Library after the war. Amongst these was a scrap book that he had compiled, and which has been photographed to provide a most interesting illustrated lecture. W.Bro Knocker was responsible for making known (via the Masonic Record) the plight of the Province, and contributions of books and other items flowed in from all over the world. In 1946, a substantial number of old records, minute books, and books from the Library, were found in the Offenbach Archive Depot in the American Zone in Germany. The biggest regret is that the second book of the Royal Alfred Lodge covering a period of thirty years, and which (according to W.Bro Knocker) was the most artistic, having been kept by W.Bro W.Adams, was never returned. It is quite possible that it may have been kept by someone as a trophy, in which case it is to be hoped that it will ultimately be returned to the island.
The Jersey Masonic Library and Museum was at that time situated in the assembly room, which meant that the display of the various items was not ideal, and there was conflict between the need for cupboard and drawer space, and the requirements of the library and museum. It was moved to the No 2 rehearsal room on the second floor in 1966, which provided a much better area in which to display the books and other Masonic items.
There were a number of librarians after W.Bro Knocker, but the next one to make a mark was W.Bro Dennis Perrin who was appointed librarian in 1981. This was a turning point in the status of the Jersey Masonic Library and Museum. He appointed W.Bro K.C.Renault as his assistant, who commenced the mammoth task of reviewing and reclassifying every item in the Library, a task that took several years to complete. A card index system was introduced to enable brethren to quickly find volumes. W.Bro.Perrin has since received the Grand Master's Order of Service to Freemasonry, largely for his service to the Craft in his research and presentation of lectures throughout the UK on the occupation.
As a measure of recognition of the work carried out by W.Bro Knocker in relation to the Jersey Masonic Library and Museum, and its reconstruction after the war, VW.Bro Brig A.C.F.Jackson proposed in 1983 that the room housing the collection should be named the George Knocker Room. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Liberation of Jersey from the German Occupation in 1985, a special supplement was printed to accompany the Jersey Evening Post, and included for the first time in the non-Masonic press, and with the full approval of Grand Lodge, was the story of the Sacking of the Temple, drawn from the booklet produced by W.Bro G.S.Knocker, and an article published in the Masonic Record by VW.Bro A.C.F.Jackson.
An Association of Friends was established in 1991. The members receive a number of leaflets or booklets upon joining, together with a regular newsletter and a discount scheme for regalia and books. Currently there are about 150 members.
In 1994 the librarian W.Bro.C.R.Goss wrote and published "The story of Jersey Freemasonry" revising and concluding the history originally published in 1930 by W.Bro.Knocker. The book has been out of print for some while, but a second edition (updated to included happenings up to 2014) was published in April 2014. Copies are available for purchase.
The Jersey Masonic Library and Museum has built for itself an enviable reputation and now greets visitors from around the world (both Masons and others) who wish to see the impressive collection of books and other items.
More recently, additional display cabinets have been erected in the robing room and the newly refurbished dining room, the original room suffering from lack of space to show all the items.