Women in Eighteenth-Century English Freemasonry: the First English Adoption Lodges and their RitualsEvents — LAB006, Lord Ashcroft Building, Cambridge Campus, East Road.
18 April 2023, 18:30
A lecture by Dr Róbert Péter from the University of Szeged: Drawing on the findings of the British Freemasonry, 1717-1813 (Routledge, 2016) five-volume primary source edition.
This talk examines the role of women in eighteenth-century English Freemasonry, including examples of how some women managed to get round their normal exclusion from Masonic Lodges by establishing Lodges of their own.
First, I examine the origin and the public perception of the exclusion of women from the fraternity in England and discuss how freemasons defended this 'landmark’. Second, I analyse how and why English freemasons invited ladies to participate in various masonic activities including balls, feasts and public masonic ceremonies. Third, I highlight how some English women, following the advice of some liberal-minded ‘brethren’, managed to subvert this gender-exclusive principle by establishing all-female and/or adoption lodges in the second half of the century. So far scholarship has dated the emergence of such lodges to the twentieth century in England. Finally, I compare the gender constructions of traditional male masonic rituals with the first English ceremonies of adoption lodges admitting both sexes.
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