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Chris Craven in his office at the Sydney Masonic Centre

Chris Craven and his choc-a-bloc office (love it!) at the Sydney Masonic Centre

Meet R Wor Bro Chris Craven. He’s the Deputy Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of NSW and ACT.

Chris has also been involved with Freemasonry for well over 40 years now and looks after the Museum of Freemasonry (MOF) at the Sydney Masonic Centre. Otherwise known as the SMC, the Centre is that wonderful piece of Brutalist Architecture (off-form concrete as Chris describes) at the corner of Castlereagh and Goulburn in Sydney CBD. 

Even more wonderful is Chris’s office on the fourth floor of the SMC - if you look closely enough you will find him in the above photo! 

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'Craftsmanship' by Jake Weidmann, Limited edition print purchased by Chris  https://www.jakeweidmann.com/products/craftsmanship

Chris is hiding behind his computer screens surrounded on all sides by framed art, prints, artefacts, ceramics, crafts and other notable items all housed in the four walls of his office that are totally choc-a-bloc with intriguing books.

 

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More intriguing artwork prints in Chris Craven's office. 

All literature in his office is continually referred to by Chris in his research, as he authors articles and contributes to many publications.

The Museum of Freemasonry - MOF

A major drawcard of the SMC is the Museum that houses Masonic regalia that can be around 400-500 years old. As highlighted on the MOF brochure, the Museum also boasts;

A unique insight into the people who have made Australia

Rich collection of gold, silver and glassware

Artwork collection

Masonic dress and regalia

Housed within a stunning example of Brutalist architecture

A library and archive of rich resources

Insight into fraternal organizations

View the beautifully designed rooms where members meet

So interesting is this collection of regalia and related items that there are guided tours by group conducted daily, all of which must be pre-booked. In addition, the museum attracts many individuals who can wander through at their own pace or take advantage of the audio guides available.

Visitors are typically masons themselves, however others will often be those with Freemasonry in the family. Many such people often donate old family regalia to the Museum so that it may be kept with care and become part of the ever-growing collective history of Australian Freemasonry.    

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The Sydney Masonic Centre, otherwise known as the SMC, corner of Castlereagh and Goulburn in Sydney CBD. Home of the Museum of Freemasonry.

Obviously many tourists also visit the Museum, particularly as the MOF is well-known on the Sydney tourism circuit. So much so that new pamphlets advertising the Museum have just been dispersed at major tourist locations across Sydney. Chris recommends being part of a pre-booked tour group, as visitors have the opportunity to get more out of the guided tours as opposed to self-conducted meanderings.

Whatever the case, you should be able to see some old George H. Lilley Regalia on show at the Museum, especially as Chris’s previous regalia is made by yours truly!

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Print of the old Masonic Hall Sydney.

A (Very) Brief Insight into Australian Freemasonry 

So why join Freemasonry? This is a question well-explored by many, and discussed in many publications including articles that Chris has contributed to. To just touch on a much broader topic, one can consider the social side of Freemasonry. Outside of work and perhaps sport clubs, Freemasonry can offer much more to the individual that otherwise may not be part of normal life.

For many, being a Mason may run in the family. Furthermore, the member may find friendships, stability and opportunities for self-growth within Freemasonry.

Local to International Freemasonry

Chris recently returned from a global conference and Grand Lodge gathering that was hosted in Taipei. Overall, over 12 Grand Lodge bodies came together at the conference. In our discussion of regalia and ceremonial dress, this raised a few questions. So across cultures, what means casual? What means formal? What means business attire?

Chris explains that these standards change across cultures. Of course, what we have been interested in is the significance of and wearing of regalia.

According to one Freemason, an added benefit of joining Freemasonry is that it created opportunities to dress-up for ceremonies and other occasions – something both this member and family enjoyed!

 Freemasonry_Magazine

The Freemasons NSW and ACT Magazine showcases various masonic lodges and includes articles about masonic community activities, social work, international stories and histories of affiliated fraternities, to name a few. The magazine is available freely at the SMC and is distributed to all NSW and ACT brethren and sister Grand Lodges in Australia and throughout the world.

So Freemasonry also offers opportunities to explore not just local associations but also the potential to create friendships across the globe. In fact, just previous to our visit with Chris, a French delegation of Grand Lodge members had just visited the Sydney Masonic Centre. No doubt they enjoyed visiting the Museum and meeting with Chris and Sydney members as well…

At George H. Lilley Regalia, we also look forward to continuing our long-term friendship with Chris, Alison, Brenda and all at the SMC. A more detailed look at the Museum of Freemasonry to come in one of our future blog posts.

Admission to the Museum of Freemasonry is free - Open daily Monday to Friday 8.30am – 4.30pm

Guided tours 10am daily by appointment (fees apply)

Sydney Masonic Centre, Level 3, 66 Goulburn Street, Street, Phone: 02 9284 2800

info@mof.org.au    www.mof.org.au