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The Five Noble Orders of Architecture

Note: the image above has 6 columns, but for this lecture, there is just Doric

Five hold a Lodge, in allusion to the five noble orders of architecture, namely the Tuscan, Doric, Ionic. Corinthian and Composite.

All Freemasons are familiar with the explanation of the Second Tracing Board, and the reference to the Five Noble Orders of Architecture, but not all are as well acquainted with the Orders themselves. Manuals and learned papers have been written on the Five Orders and their place in masonry. William Preston, after whom the Prestonian Lectures are named, arranged a lecture on the Five Orders, which first appeared in the Syllabus. An *explanation' of the lecture appeared in the second edition of his Illustrations of Masonry, 1775, and 'remarks' thereon in the third edition, 1781. The manuals and learned papers, however, are not well known, and the Lecture is now unknown in most English lodges.


It should be remembered that the Five Orders are of 'Architecture'. Architecture has always been closely associated with operative masonry, and its influence, its symbolism, was carried forward during the transition period, and into free and accepted or speculative masonry. Non‑operative masonry certainly existed before the formation of Grand Lodge in 1717, but there is a lack of information as to the development of ritual and ceremony.

Freemasonry is reputed to be descended from the guilds of medieval stonemasons, who worked in the Gothic style; but it was the classical style of ancient Greece and Rome that was adopted for the lecture on architecture. It is impossible to say with certainty when the Five Orders first became associated with the Craft. but as classical architecture was the quintessence of the Renaissance, it is reasonable to assume it was during the latter half of the seventeenth century or early in the eighteenth. An age when the Gothic style was everywhere attacked and abused and the classical world was the all‑sufficient model. An age when it was the custom for cultured people to devote their attention to the study of architecture, in those days it was not unusual for lectures on architecture to be given at lodge meetings; for the gentlemen of the period, who had traveled and studied the subject, to instruct the ordinary members of the Craft.

William Preston (1742‑1818) is considered by some writers to have been responsible for the introduction of the Five Orders of Architecture into the masonic system. Certainly, his Lectures have a noted place in masonic literature, but there is ample evidence that the Five Orders were of significance to Freemasons before the publication of his Illustrations of Masonry ' v. A Mason's Examination, an irregular Catechism issued in 1723, fifty‑two years before William Preston's Lecture first appeared, refers to the Five Orders in the form of question and answer:

Q. How many Orders be there in Architecture?

A. Five; Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite, or Roman.

Also. in Dr. James Anderson's first Book of Constitutions (1723), the frontispiece shows a pavement or arcade with the Five Orders, coupled, on each side; the Composite Order in the foreground, receding to the Tuscan in the background. It is of interest that this illustration, without the figures, bears a close resemblance to designs by Inigo Jones for scenery for Court Masques; made more than one hundred years before, at the time when he introduced into England, Palladian

Renaissance architecture.

It is intended in this Lecture, first, to refer to the Roman architect and writer Vitruvius; to trace the Five Orders of Architecture from the Roman era, when they were regularly employed, to the beginning of the eighteenth century, when their use became firmly re‑established in England; and to briefly mention the Italian and English architects particularly associated with the Renaissance of the Classical style. Then to describe each of the Five Orders, and finally to consider the Three Pillars more generally known to freemasons.


Vitruvius is the earliest known authority on the Orders, and his celebrated treatise, de Architectura, had been the most important source of information for all subsequent studies. Sir Henry Wotton, traveler, diplomat, and scholar, in his Elements of Architecture, printed in London in 1624, refers to him as 'Our principal Master'. Vitruvius's treatise was written about two thousand years ago and is the only book on architecture in the whole of classical literature. He describes the Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian Orders, and promulgates the canons governing their proportions. He does not mention the Composite Order; it was not evolved until later, possibly in the first century AD. As Vitruvius apparently never visited Greece, the information he gives about the Greek Orders was probably obtained from various Greek authors, with whose writings he seems to have been well acquainted.

VITRUVIUS, whose full name was MARCUS VITRUVIUS POLLIO, lived in the time of Julius Caesar and Augustus, the first Roman Emperor, sometime between 90 BC and 10 BC. He was a military as well as a civil architect and engineer and served under Julius Caesar in the African war of 46 BC. He was made by Augustus an Inspector of the various Engines of War and also Inspector of Public Buildings. It is likely that his treatise was composed when he was advanced in life, and that it was presented to his patron, Augustus, to whom it is dedicated, sometimes about 25 BC.

It is usually accepted that the manuscript of Vitruvius's treatise was rediscovered in about 1414, at the monastery of St Gall, near Lake Constance in Switzerland. Another version is that it was found in the library of the Benedictine Abbey of Monte Cassino, near Naples. The first known printed edition is in Latin and is believed to have been printed in Rome in 1486. In the sixteenth century further Latin editions were published, and translations in Italian (1521), French (1547), German (1548), and Spanish (1582), but the first English edition was not issued until two hundred years later. in 1771.

Some writers have doubted the authenticity and age of the treatise, believing that the author was not a contemporary of Augustus, but of a later date, possibly of the third century or even as late as the fifth. That he was not a practical architect but an unknown man of letters, who had so little faith in his own work that he used the name of the architect mentioned by Pliny.

Three of the Classic Orders, the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, were used by the Greeks. The Romans adopted these three and added the Tuscan and the Composite, so making the Five Orders of Architecture. These Orders are contemporary with Roman civilization, and examples of them are found, not only in Italy but in all countries of the Roman Empire. With the decline of the Roman Empire of the West and the eventual break‑up in AD476, the style of architecture gradually changed, broadly, through Early Christian, Romanesque, and Gothic, and the Roman Orders fell into disuse. It was not until the beginning of the Italian Renaissance, early in the fifteenth century, that the Classic Roman Orders were reintroduced, after having been in abeyance for nearly one thousand years.

PHILLIPO BRUNELLESCHI (1377‑1446) may be considered as the first of the Renaissance architects. He was born in Florence, and was first a goldsmith, then a sculptor, and finally an architect. When twenty‑four years of age he entered a competition among sculptors for the famous bronze north doors of the Baptistery in Florence, but he was unsuccessful. He then visited Rome and studied the ancient ruins, and there settled the Orders of architecture from classic examples. In 1418 he started his career as an architect, and one of his first works was the Foundling Hospital in Florence (1421‑34), one of the first Foundling homes in the world. This building has a famous arcaded loggia of Corinthian columns supporting semi‑circular arches. His other works also show the influence of the Classical Orders, for example, the Church of Santo Spirito, Florence (144582), designed by him but only just begun in his lifetime, has a classic arcaded interior and, after a long period of suppression, the entablature again appears interposed between the very light arches. and the thirty‑five supporting Corinthian columns.

Of all the Italian architects of the period, the two who contributed most to the spread of the Renaissance of Classic architecture to the west were Vignola and Palladio.

GIACOMO BAROZZI DA VIGNOLA (1507‑73), engineer and architect, was the author of Regola delli cinque ordini Architettura, issued in 1562. This publication made a considerable impression on the architecture of his time, especially on the design and treatment of the Classical Orders. He went to France for two years (1541‑43) in the service of Francis 1, where he greatly influenced the development of French Renaissance architecture. One of his best-known works is the villa of Pope Julius in Rome (1550‑55), now the Etruscan Museum.

ANDREA PALLADIO (1508‑80), usually considered the greatest architect of the whole Renaissance, first trained as a mason, and did not appear as an architect until he was thirty‑two years of age. His careful study of ancient buildings still standing in Rome led to the issue in 1570 of his famous book I Quattro Libri dell' Architettura. Many of his buildings no longer exist or were never completed, but the publication of the designs in his book, first issued in Venice, and since published in every country of Europe, had a very important influence on architecture, especially in England. Palladian architecture, which conforms close‑ to the precepts of Vitruvius, remained for a long period the model for an entire style. The result of Palladio's classical research can be traced to his designs for buildings, both in Venice and Vicenza. One of particular interest is his celebrated Villa Capra, Vicenza (1567), known also as the Rotunda. with its exaggerated application of Classic features, is a square building with a pillared portico of Ionic columns on each face. The design has often been copied both in England and on the Continent. Mereworth Castle, Kent (1722). by Colin Campbell, is based very closely on the Villa Capra. The elevations are the same on all fronts, each having a pillared portico of Ionic columns. Chiswick House, Chiswick (1725). built by Lord Burlington and William Kent, long known as the Palladian Villa, is a modified copy but has only one portico.

The great Italian architects were the founders of the Renaissance, and it was from the remains of Roman architecture alone that the inspiration came; there is no evidence that they had any knowledge of the more refined architecture of the Greeks. Owing to the distance from Italy, the slow communications of the age, and her insular position, England was the last country to come under the influence of the new movement. Whereas the dawn of the Renaissance in Italy was early in the fifteenth century, the beginning of the full Renaissance in England was not until the early part of the seventeenth century, when Inigo Jones, the famous English architect, introduced Palladian Renaissance architecture, with its reversion to Classic style, and the employment of the Roman Orders.

More than one thousand five hundred years before the introduction of Palla­Renaissance architecture, the Classic Orders were used in England by the Romans. With the Roman Invasion of AD 43 and the subjugation of the country forty years later, Britain became one of the forty‑five provinces of the Roman Empire. For the next three hundred years, under Roman protection and with comparative civilization, towns were laid out, and buildings erected. A period of time almost equal to that which separates us today, from the restoration of the monarchy under Charles 11. Roman architecture in England was of the same character as in other parts of Europe, although possibly inferior in detail, and the Classic Orders were employed in the design of forums, temples, and other important buildings. After the withdrawal of the Roman legions and the end of Roman control in the year 410, the Britons were left to defend themselves against invasions by the Angles and Saxons. The process of Anglo‑Saxon conquest was slow, and one hundred and fifty years elapsed before the conquest of even southern England was complete. During those turbulent years, Roman buildings were either destroyed by the Saxons, or deserted and left to fall into ruins; the ruins were plundered for building materials, and all trace of Roman architecture disappeared from view.

INIGO JONES (1573‑1652) was born in London, the son of a clothworker. Little is known of his early life. It is known, however, that he paid several visits to Italy. where he made serious studies of Italian buildings. both contemporary and antique, and more especially of the works of Andrea Palladio. He was a stage designer as well as an architect, and on his return to England, he introduced the precepts of Palladio in scenery designed for Court Masques. When he was forty‑two years of age, Inigo Jones was appointed Surveyor‑General of the Royal Works. A number of country houses and other buildings claim him, but many do not merit serious consideration, for as Sir John Summerson had pointed out, 'the figure of Jones is obscured by such a swarm of misattributions that the toil of discernment enfeebles perception'. The only buildings now existing which can be attributed to him with absolute certainty are the Banqueting House, Whitehall, London (1619‑22), and the Queen’s House, Greenwich (1616‑35). The Banqueting House, Whitehall, intended to form part of a vast royal palace, is considered to be the first, and one of the finest examples of the English Renaissance. The severely Classic treatment, with its Ionic and Corinthian pilasters and half-columns, bold cornice, and balustrade, was the result of his study of the Palladian architecture in Italy. It is ironic that his patron, King Charles 1, stepped out to execution on the scaffold in 1649 from the first-floor window of this Banqueting Hall. Horace Walpole, the eighteen h ‑century writer, said of Inigo Jones, 'Vitruvius drew up his grammar, Palladio showed him the practice, Rome displayed a theatre worthy his emulation, and King Charles was ready to encourage, employ, and reward his talents. This is the history of Inigo Jones as a genius'.

Inigo Jones initiated the change in England to formal Classic design, with the use of the Orders. His completed works were few but the traditions of design which he pioneered were lasting. Palladian architecture would have been more developed by him had he not lived in an age of wars and general unsettledness: The Thirty Years War, the Civil War, the Execution of King Charles, the Commonwealth with the reaction represented by Puritanism. The Civil War brought a chapter in English architecture to an abrupt close and Inigo Jones died before the Restoration.

The second great architect of the period, whose name and work are more widely known, was SIR CHRISTOPHER WREN (1632‑1723). Scholar, mathematician, astronomer, and architect. Professor of Astronomy at the age of twenty‑five; Surveyor‑ General and principal Architect for rebuilding London after the Great Fire at thirty‑four; Surveyor‑General of the Royal Works at thirty‑seven; President of the Royal Society at forty‑eight. Who built 'the noblest temple, the largest palace, and the most stupendous hospital', as well as fifty‑two London churches, and a great number of other buildings throughout England. He did not practice architecture until he was thirty years of age when he was already one of the most famous scientists in Europe. With the restoration of the monarchy in the year 1660 and the destruction caused by the Great Fire of London in 1666, Sir Christopher Wren, with the patronage of King Charles 11, had many opportunities to exercise his undoubted talents. He continued the classical tradition, though with a more independent style, and did not rely on the precedents of the Italian Renaissance as much as Inigo Jones. He was more influenced by the French Renaissance. Pembroke College Chapel, Cambridge (1663‑65), designed for his uncle, the Bishop of Ely, was his first work; a restrained rectangular building with pediment façade and simple great Corinthian pilasters. St. Paul's Cathedral (1675‑1710) is his most famous and best-known building. He was ninety‑one years old when he died, having lived and worked through five reigns.

Both Inigo Jones and Sir Christopher Wren are reputed to have been freemasons and to have held id high office in the Craft. Dr. James Anderson in the second edition of his Book of Constitutions (1738), written fifteen years after Sir Christ­opher Wren's death, credits him with having held the offices of Grand Warden, Deputy Grand Master, and Grand Master. More recently, George H. Cunningham in his book, London. A Comprehensive Survey v of the History, Tradition and Historical Associations of Buildings and Monuments, published in 1927, states that:

The former Banqueting House of Whitehall Palace was built in 1619‑22 by Inigo Jones, the famous architect and Grand Master of the Freemasons.

The Goose and Gridiron, St Paul's Churchyard, was the meeting‑place of St Paul's Lodge, one of the first lodges of freemasons in London. During the building of St Paul's Cathedral, Sir Christopher Wren presided as Master.

St Paul's Cathedral. The present cathedral dates from 1675 when the foundation was laid by Sir Christopher Wren, the architect, as Grand Master of the Freemasons, assisted by his Lodge.

However, it is now usually accepted that neither Inigo Jones nor Sir Christopher Wren was prominent freemasons. It is known that Dr. James Anderson had a rather vivid imagination and that much of his writings are legendary; and it is likely that Cunningharn's statements are based on Anderson's works. Bro Bernard E. Jones, in his authoritative book Freemasons' Guide and Compendium (1956), does not mention Inigo Jones in this connection, but he considers that Sir Christopher Wren was almost certainly a speculative mason, but not a Grand Master of the Order nor an important figure in the emergence of speculative masonry.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the influence of Inigo Jones and Sir Christopher Wren had spread throughout England. Classical design, of which the Orders were an essential part, was adopted, not only by architects but also by working masons and carpenters. The precepts of Inigo Jones and Sir Christopher Wren were carried on by pupils and followers; such as Sir John Vanbrugh (1664‑1726), who designed Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, the most monumental mansion in England; Nicholas Hawksmoor (1661‑1736), a pupil of Sir Christopher Wren, who built a number of London churches; and James Gibbs (1683‑ who designed many buildings in the prevailing Palladian mode. Of note is his Church of St Martin‑in‑the‑Fields, Trafalgar Square, London, with its great Corinthian portico. Sir William Chambers (1723‑96) was probably the last practitioner of the strict Palladian tradition, and his works are found in almost every part of England and even extended to Ireland. His Treatise on Civil Architecture, published in 1759, is still today an important guide as regards the proportions of the Five Orders.

And so after thirteen centuries, the Classical style of architecture was again firmly established in England, and the Orders were once more an integral part of the design. The age, probably when the Five orders of Architecture were introduced into the masonic system. It should be remembered that the Orders associated with freemasonry are those employed by the Renaissance architects.


An 'Order' in Classic architecture is a combination of columns, including capital and base, and horizontal entablature or part supported; designed in relation one to the other. The column by itself is not the order.

William Preston in his Lecture on the Five Orders (1781), defines an Order' in possibly more picturesque language. 'By order in architecture is meant a system of all the ornaments and proportions of columns and pilasters; or a regular arrangement of the projecting parts of a building, especially those of a column, which form one beautiful, perfect and complete whole.'

The Orders, as used by the Greeks, were essentially constructive. The Romans introduced the use of column and entablature as facings to piers, and frequently used them as purely decorative features, without any structural value; although they continued to use them constructively, as in the colonnades of forums and temples. The characteristics of all Greek architecture is in its simplicity and refinement; in Roman architecture, in its forcefulness and lavishness of display. The Roman use of the Orders was followed by the architects of the Italian Renaissance who, as previously mentioned, had no knowledge of the architecture of the Greeks. Eastern Europe at that time was dominated by the Ottoman Empire, and travel was almost impossible and certainly dangerous.


The Tuscan is the first of the Five Orders of Architecture. Severely designed with no ornament but moldings; the column, an unfluted shaft with base and capital, seven diameters high. The entablature is plain, and in ancient times was constructed in timber. The Renaissance architects made their own Tuscan Order with a stone entablature. Sir Henry Wotton (1568‑1639), in his Elements of Architecture (1624), describes it as a plain, massive, rural pillar, resembling a sturdy well‑limbed laborer, homely clad'.

There is no certainty as to the origin of the Order; it was not used by the Greeks, and it is unlikely that the Romans invented it. No example exists similar information to that described by Vitruvius. It seems highly probable that it was used by the Etruscans, and that it was adopted by the Romans at the same time as the arch, vault, and dome. The use of timber in the entablature of the early examples appears to confirm the origin, as it is known that this form of construction was practiced by the Etruscans. Some authorities consider that it is a simplified version, or a mutation, of the Doric Order; while William Preston, in his Lecture on the Five Orders, simply states that it was invented in Tuscany. The Tuscan Order gives an impression of severe dignity, and a good example of this can be seen in the portico of St Paul's Church, Covent Garden, London. The original church (1631‑35) was designed by Inigo Jones but was burnt down in 1795. The present one is a close copy, built by Thomas Hardwick (1752‑1829), in 1795‑98. Anthony Saver. the first Grand Master of the 1717 Grand Lodge, is buried in the vaults of the church.


The Doric is the second of the Five Orders of Architecture, and the first and simplest of the three Greek orders. The Roman Order differs in design from the Greek original; it has less monumental grandeur and is freer in detail, without any of the delicate profiles. The Doric Order was evolved by the Greeks of the Western territories, simultaneously with the Ionic Order by the Greeks of the Eastern territories. The true Doric style is found in Greece, Sicily. and South Italy, and its finest and culminating example is the Parthenon on the Acropolis at Athens (447‑432 BC). The Doric was the Order most liked by the Greeks, and they used it almost entirely in temple buildings; it was little used by the Romans, being too severe and plain for the buildings they required. Vitruvius tells us that the Doric column was modeled on the form of a man. That it was found that the length of the foot was one‑sixth of the height of the body; and so the height of the column, including the capital, was made six times its thickness at its base. Thus the Doric column exhibits the proportions, strength, and beauty of the body of a man.

In the Greek Order, the column stands without a base, directly on a stylobate, usually of three steps, and the circular shaft is divided as a rule into twenty shallow flutes, separated by sharp arises or edges. The column, including the capital, has a height of from four to six times the diameter in the earlier period, and up to seven in the later period. The entablature, the frieze or middle section of which is often ornamented with sculpture, is about one‑quarter the height of the Order. The column of the Roman Order is slenderer, has a base, and the circular shaft is frequently without flutes. The height of the column, including base and capital, is about eight diameters. Sir William Chambers in his Treatise on Civil Architecture (1759), gives the height of the Greek Doric column as six diameters, and the Roman Doric is eight diameters.

There are several different opinions as to the origin of the Doric Order. It is traced by some to the sixteen‑sided columns at the entrance to the Egyptian rock‑hewn tombs at Beni Hasan on the Nile. Also, to the numerous small rock‑cut tomb façades to be found in Asia Minor. Bro Bernard E. Jones considers that the idea of the Doric came from Egypt, but that the Greeks so largely redesigned the Order as to be regarded as its originators. The consensus of opinion is that the Order is traceable to Egypt and that it had a timber origin. The considerable width between the columns of the very early Greek temples shows that the lintel or horizontal beam was of wood, and it is suggested that the columns also were of the same material, being replaced gradually with stone. There is little but a legendary reason why the style should be called Doric. Historic tradition has it that, in about 1000 BC, the Dorians, a tribe from the region to the north of the Gulf of Corinth, invaded and conquered southern Greece; and made important settlements also in Sicily and in south‑west Italy. The Dorians, being the dominant race, gave their name to the style of architecture especially characteristic of the lands over which they ruled.


The Ionic, the third of the Five Orders of Architecture, and the second of the three Greek Orders are placed after the Doric though it was developed at the same time. The Romans adopted the Order but they treated its details with less beauty and refinement. The Ionic Order was evolved by the Greeks of the Eastern territories. and its true home was Asia Minor; probably the most important example, however, is the Erechtheion on the Acropolis at Athens. According to Vitruvius: whereas the Doric column was modeled on the form of a man, so the Ionic was fashioned on the proportions of the female figure. That the height of the column was made eight times its thickness at its base so that it might have a slender look, and in the capital, volutes or scrolls, were placed hanging down at the right and left like curly ringlets; the front was ornamented with cymatic and with festoons of fruit arranged in place of hair, while the flutes were brought down the whole shaft, falling like the folds in the robes worn by matrons. Thus the Ionic column has the delicacy, adornment, and proportions characteristic of women.

The Order is comparatively slender; the column, with base and capital, being usually nine times the diameter in height. The circular shaft has as a rule twenty-four flutes, with fillets left between them in place of the sharp edges as in the Doric. The shaft of the Roman column is often unfluted. The base is molded; the distinctive capital has, in the Greek Order, usually two volutes or scrolls, showing to the front and back, and in the Roman Order, often angle scrolls, showing on all four sides. It is sometimes suggested that the scrolls may have been derived from the Egyptian lotus, or that they represent the horns of a ram, as it is known that rams were venerated in Western Asia. The entablature is usually one‑fifth of the Order. The Ionic Order is thought to take its name from the Ionian tribes, who settled on the coasts and isles of Asia Minor when driven out of Central Greece by the Dorians.


The Corinthian is the fourth of the Five Orders of Architecture, and the third of the three Greek orders. The Corinthian Order first appeared in Greek architecture as a variant of the Ionic, the difference being almost entirely in the capital. It was less used by the Greeks than either the Doric or the Ionic, and was never fully developed by them; their major achievements had been completed before the Order was invented. The Romans brought the Corinthian Order to full maturity. The richness and exuberance of its decoration appealed to the Roman instinct and was employed by them far more frequently in their buildings than any of the other Orders of Architecture. Vitruvius relates that as the Doric column was modeled on a man, and the Ionic on a female figure, so the Corinthian was an imitation of the slenderness of a maiden; for the outlines and limbs of maidens, being slenderer on account of their tender years, admit of prettier effects in the way of adornment. Sixteen hundred years after the time of Vitruvius, Sir Henry Wotton gives a different, and maybe less pleasing, description of the Corinthian column: 'lasciviously decked like a courtesan, and therein much participating of the place where they were first born; Corinth having been without controversy one of the most wanton towns in the world'.

The column of the Order is slenderer than that of the Ionic, and including base and capital, is usually ten diameters in height. The circular shaft of the Greek column is fluted, while the Roman shaft may be either fluted or unfluted. The Romans were inclined to leave the shaft plain, possibly as a contrast to the lavishly decorated capital; or because of their preference for using monolithic columns of granite and veined marble, both materials being unsuitable for fluting. The ornate capital is as a rule about one and one‑sixth diameter high, the Roman capital being more heavily decorated than the Greek. The leaves surrounding the 'bell' of the Greek capital are of the prickly acanthus type having pointed leaves of V‑shaped section; while those surrounding the Roman one are blunt‑ended flat section acanthus, or of the olive. The entablature is usually one‑fifth of the whole. The origin of the Order is uncertain, and there is apparently no conclusive reason for its being called Corinthian. The name is possibly derived from the foliated capital. The following traditional legend of the creation of the capital is first recounted by Vitruvius in about 25 BC, it is repeated by many eighteenth-century architectural writers, and is included by William Preston in his Lecture on the Five Orders of Architecture.

A freeborn maiden of Corinth was attacked by an illness and died. After her burial, her nurse collected a few things which used to give the girl pleasure while she was alive, put them into a basket, and placed it on her grave, covering the basket with a roof‑tile for protection. It happened that the basket was placed over the root of an acanthus. When the plant grew, the stalks and leaves curled gracefully around the basket, until reaching the tile they were forced to bend downwards into volutes. Callimachus, a sculptor and a worker in Corinthian bronze, passed by the grave and observed the basket with the leaves growing around it. Delighted with the novel style and form, he built for the Corinthians some columns with capitals designed after that pattern and determined the proportions to be followed in finished works of the Corinthian Order.

Anderson and Spiers in their book, The Architecture of Greece and Rome, published in 1902, consider that in early examples of the Greek Corinthian capital, the treatment of the leaves and tendrils is such as to suggest their having been copied in marble from metallic originals. And as Callimachus of Corinth is known to have worked in marble as well as in metal, he perhaps executed capitals of this type in Corinthian bronze or brass. They suggest, therefore, that the name may have been given because it was invented by Callimachus of Corinth, or on account of the material in which the first prototype was made.


The Composite, called also Roman, is the last of the Five Orders of Architecture. It differs from the Corinthian only in the design of the capital; which is a combination of the Corinthian and the Ionic, having the angle volutes or scrolls of the Ionic capital inserted above the Corinthian leafage. The height of the column, including base and capital, is usually ten diameters. The entablature resembles the Corinthian. The Order was unknown to the Greeks, being a Roman invention, and used largely by them in triumphal arches to give a very ornate character. Sir Henry Wotton says of the Order: 'though the most richly tricked, yet the poorest in this, that he is a borrower of all his beauty.'


William Preston concludes his Lecture on the Five Orders of Architecture with: 'The ancient and original, orders of architecture, revered by masons, are no more than three, the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian'. Early writers refer to Three Great Pillars, the emblematic supports of a mason's lodge; and the traditional history attaches considerable importance to the Three Pillars.

In the explanation of the First Tracing Board, we are told that the three great pillars are called Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty; but as we have no noble orders of Architecture known by the names of Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty, we refer them to the three most celebrated; the Ionic, Doric, and Corinthian. They are now explained as: The Master's, the Ionic, representing wisdom; the Senior Warden's, the Doric, representing strength; and the Junior Wardens. the Corinthian, representing beauty. It is a matter of interest, that whereas the generally accepted sequence of the three Classic Orders is the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, in the masonic use of the three, the sequence is changed; the Ionic is placed before the Doric.

In early lodges, the appropriate floor pillar stood before the Master and each of the Wardens, but few lodges now continue this old custom. Today we have floor candlesticks, and in many lodges, the actual candle-holders are on Ionic, Doric, and Corinthian columns. The columns of the three Orders are also often found as pillars on the backs of Master's and Wardens' chairs, but there appears to be no uniformity in the Orders used. Three chairs made by Thomas Chippendale in about 1760, and owned by Britannic Lodge, No 33, can be seen in the museum at Freemasons' Hall, London; the Master's has Corinthian pillars, and both the Senior and Junior Wardens' have Ionic. Also in the museum are two large gilt Wardens' chairs; the Senior Warden's has Ionic pillars, and the Junior Warden's, Corinthian. Other examples of chairs have Corinthian pillars on the Master's, and Doric on the Wardens'.

Since the middle of the eighteenth-century certificates have been issued to brethren. In the early days of non‑operative masonry, they were apparently written documents, but in 1756 the premier Grand Lodge issued engraved and printed certificates. Owing to the custom in the eighteenth century of destroying all written or printed masonic matter, more especially the certificates of a deceased Brother, to prevent any information from passing into the hands of non-masons, no very early example exists today. The 'Three Graces' certificate, which incorporated the Three Pillars, was first issued in 1757 and since that time, despite changing designs, all the pictorial certificates of the two rival Grand Lodges show the Three Pillars. In 1819 the United Grand Lodge first used a design with the Three Pillars in a line across the certificate, forming two panels. This certificate is known as the 'Pillars Certificate', and, with modifications, is in use today.

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