The Verulam Workings of Craft Freemasonry

The history of the “Verulam Workings” is more elusive than that of “Lauderdale”. “Verulam” been in print since at least 1922, so if it is based on “Dharma“, it has to go back to the fourth edition of 1916.

I have a 1922 edition printed by McLellan in Glasgow, just like the 1925 “Ritual of the Three Craft Degrees (1916 Working revised)”.

In 1916 there already were the “preliminary ceremonies”, “procession”, “introcessional”, etc. In “Verulam” these haven’t been entirely omitted. The text opens with:

The Brn. being assembled, the officers enter in procession. The D.C. incenses the lodge. The S.D. lights the candles in due form.

The further opening is almost identical, only in “Verulam” the lodge is “properly tyled” and in 1916 (and later editions) the lodge is “close tyled”. Other elements are somewhat different. “Verulam” leaves out the question: “W.S.W., how many assistent officers are there?”, but both versions do speak about “O.G. or T.” for example.

The start of the initiation is simpler in “Verulam”. Also wordings have been edited, elements left out or added.

“Verulam” really is a new edition. It is very much like 1916 and 1925 versions of ‘Dharma’, but has obviously been revised and -in most cases- made somewhat simpler and with less instructions.

The title page of the 1922 edition says that it has been “compiled by a P.M. Assisted by certain Wise and Skilled Brethern”. The fifth edition of “Dharma” (of 1925) says that: “The lodges of the Craft are allowed a choice between the sanctioned Rituals, some preferring the more ornate, others the plainer Rituals.” It could be that “Verulam” are the “plainer” rituals and the other the “more ornate”.

The British federation of Le Droit Humain says about “Verulam”:

The Verulam Ritual
The Verulam Ritual dates back to about 1925. It is a compromise between the very elaborate Lauderdale and the plainer ceremonial of the English and Scottish workings, again with its own traditions, such as the freeing ceremony. It is thought to have been written by Bishop Wedgwood, who was a leading member of the British Federation.

Thus suggesting that there are ‘even plainer’ rituals (“of the English and Scottish workings”) and that “Verulam” holds the middle between “Lauderdale” and these “plainer ceremonial”. attributes “Verulam” to Wedgwood, perhaps based on the information of the British federation. I think Wedgwood is (partly) responsible for the 1913 edition of “Dharma“. It is not impossible that he also worked on “Verulam”, but he certainly worked on the 1916 ‘Sydney‘ edition (with Leadbeater). If he also had his hand in “Verulam” that would mean that he would first write the incense ceremonie, then discarded it for “Verulam” and again used it for “Sydney”. That doesn’t sound too likely.

On the website Worthpoint there is an old listing of an auction of a 1935 edition. On the few photos you can see that the “P.M. Assisted by certain Wise and Skilled Brethern” are no longer mentioned. Also the 1922 edition was of “Universal Co-Masonry” and the 1935 edition of “International Co-Freemasonry”. The printer is again McLellan. A few photos show heavy noting as if the text that was used on the lodge had been much revised since the printing of that edition. At least we now know that in 1935 there was another edition.

Where could the name of this ritual have come from? “Lord Verulam” was a pen-name of Francis Bacon, whom Leadbeater claims to have seen working. Another source of inspiration is that “The Head Of All True Freemasons” aka Comte de S. Germain aka Prince Rakoczi, etc. was “born at the town of Verulam in England” according to Leadbeater in The Hidden Life In Freemasonry. Wedgwood and Leadbeater had been working together since 1915, so it could be that Leadbeater that was the inspiration for the name.

All in all a more detailed history of the “Verulam Workings” than can be found elsewhere, but with a few questions that are left open.

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