The sun is shining, the grass needs cutting, I’ve had both jabs now, what more could I want. Well for starters I want to get back to proper Masonry. Zoom has been a lifesaver but there is nothing like meeting in person, enjoying live meetings, the camaraderie of the Festive Board. I’m sure these times are not that far away now, as long as the general public behave themselves and stick to the covid rules.
Thank you to all those who had a go at the Famous Freemasons quiz I set last time, there were a couple of tricky ones.
Here are the answers :-
1. Alfred Marks
2. Anthony Trollope
3. Dr Edward Jenner
4. Dr TJ Barnardo
6. Edmundo Ross
7. Ernest Borgnine
9. Jock Stein
10. King George 6th
11. Lord Randolph Churchill
12. Nat King Cole
14. Rick Wakeman
15. Len Hutton
16 . Bud Abbott
Hope you had fun with that, I told you you were in good distinguished company
On to this weeks topic, you will see that it is entitled ‘NOAH’. What’s that got to do with the Mark Degree? Well, the Royal Ark Mariner degree can only be joined if you are a member of the Mark Degree. Besides that, it’s got nothing to do with the Mark Degree, but is a lovely order to progress to after you have become a member of the Mark.
This is Malvern Priory and Malvern have two Lodges that come under the Provincial Grand Lodge Of MMM of Worcestershire, Malvern Priory Mark and RAM.
Great Malvern Priory in Malvern, Worcestershire, England, was a Benedictine monastery (c. 1075 – 1540) and is now an Anglican parish church. In 1949 it was designated a Grade I listed building. It is a dominant building in the Great Malvern Conservation area. It has the largest display of 15th-century stained glass in England. It is these stained glass windows that this communication is about. One of our senior Brethren from Malvern, W Bro Roger Hall-Jones, who I owe a great debt to for researching the history of some of the windows and their significations. W Bro Roger recently sent me an email with the following note.
‘A year or two ago I started to do something on the subject of `NOAH AT MALVERN’ and I have at last put it together in a readable form and illustrated it. I am attaching it in case it is of interest to the Province and Royal Ark Mariners.
I hasten to add that it is not an explanation of the landing of Noah on the Worcestershire Beacon instead of Ararat. It actually concerns the 550 year old pictures of Noah’s life contained in Malvern Priory.’
The document is most interesting and I asked Roger if I could circulate it and he gave his permission. I suggest after reading it, you may want to organise a visit, rules allowing, and see this magnificent Priory in all it’s glory. You can make a day of it and visit the Malvern Hills as well, put your walking boots on, oh, and carry a brolly just in case.
NOAH AT MALVERN
The Benedictine Priory at Great Malvern was founded towards the end of
the 11th century when Malvern was a desolate part of the country; an ideal
place for monks who wished for solitude. The Priory Church today still
contains a considerable amount of architecture from that Norman period.
Towards the middle of the 15th century a great amount of re-building took
place which transformed the rather dark Norman church into a magnificence
of light and colour. It was enlarged in floor area as well as height so that it
was lit by a great number of new windows in the `perpendicular’ architectural
style. These great windows were filled with the painted glass of the period
from about 1440 to 1500 and amount to a comprehensive pictorial Bible
showing stories from both the Old and New Testaments.
When the Priory was dissolved in 1539 and whilst demolition was actually
taking place, the parishioners bought the building for £20 and saved it for
use as their Parish Church. The remoteness of Malvern may have been one
of the reasons the reformers did not break the glass which happened
everywhere else. Furthermore, it is likely that the replacement of the glass
with plain glass would have cost more than the poor parish could afford.
The wonderful collection of glass was inspected and described by Thomas
Habington, the Worcestershire historian, in the early years of the 17th
century and his description was first published was in 1717. A further
inventory of the glass was taken by William Thomas, Rector of St. Nicholas,
Worcester and published in his book on Malvern published in 1725. A
manuscript account written not much later is especially helpful in describing
the Old Testament scenes. These accounts are valuable since they indicate
the subject matter and the original position of much of the glass.
Of course, the glass deteriorated over the years; the lead holding it together
rotted and much of the glass on the south side of the church perished due to
the prevailing wind.
At the great restoration of the church about 1860 most of the surviving glass
was collected together to fill the East Window, the West Window, the North
Transept Window, The Choir Clearstories on both sides and St. Ann’s
Chapel in the South Choir Aisle, forming one of the finest collections of
medieval painted glass in the country.
Such a comprehensive collection could not fail to include the story of Noah
and his ark. The story of Noah was executed about 1480 and can be seen in
the central of the three south facing windows in St Ann’s Chapel (the south
quire aisle). These pictures originally formed part of a series of 72 scenes
from the Old Testament and were placed in the south clearstory windows of
The pictures originally included: –
1. God orders Noah to build an ark. Much of the window has been lost but a
bearded Noah can be seen in a red robe raising his hands to God.
2. Noah building the ark. Only fragments of the window remain.
3. Animals entering the ark. Noah wearing a purple cap and red robe is shown lifting a goat to the door of the ark which has a tall polygonal central tower and a dormer window. Several birds are flying towards it and in front can be seen a horse, a boar, a pig, a rabbit, a camel and a lion.
4. Noah enters the ark with his family. Noah and two women are at the foot of a ladder leading to the ark.
5. The flood and the sending forth of the dove. Apparently depicted in two
windows that have been destroyed one of which showed the ark floating.
6. The return of the dove. Noah and his wife are seen peering out from two
parts of the ark. The image of the dove itself, doubtless bearing an olive
branch, has been lost.
7. Noah building an altar. This window has been destroyed.
8. Noah making sacrifice. Noah with purple cap and blue gown is kneeling in front of an altar on which he has placed a goat whose legs are tied.
9. Noah’s vineyard. Noah is digging in stony ground with a spade and behind him are red and white grapes.
10. Noah’s shame. Noah is seen lying on the ground drunk while his sons look on and point at him.
11. Noah’s sons cover their father’s nakedness. The only part of the window to have survived shows the heads of three men in red caps.
12. The Tower of Babel. One of the early descriptions of the glass mistakenly
attributes this window to Noah giving a blessing to Shem and Japheth.
Noah has one further appearance in the ancient glass. The great north window of the north transept was given to the Priory by King Henry VII and was completed shortly after 1500. It was said that this window suffered especially from the stones thrown by children from the churchyard over the centuries.
Known as The Magnificat Window it illustrates the 11 ‘Joys of Mary’. The
principal light of the window shows The Coronation of the Virgin. The
Patriarchs are shown on either side of the Virgin. Level with her feet and on
the left-hand side is a very fine representation of Noah wearing a green cap.
He is holding a yellow ship in his hands (the ark) which has the appearance of a typical 15th century ship with tall mast, furled sail and rigging.
As a final note from Malvern some may remember that Noah’s Ark was an ITV television series about a country vet and his family first broadcast in 1997.
Much of the filming was done around Malvern and on The Malvern Hills.
Castlemorton Common is easily recognised in many outdoor scenes.
Noah holding a 15th Century representation of the Ark, from the North Trancept window c.1500AD
Thank you again Roger for this lovely and interesting work on ‘Noah at Malvern’.
If anyone else has a piece of interesting work on the Mark or Royal Ark Mariner and would like it circulated, please forward it to me.
Keep Zooming Brethren and I’ll talk to you again soon.
VW Bro Jeff Whiteley, PGJO, DPGM