The Library and Museum of Freemasonry in London is showing an exhibition on 'Freemasonry and the French Revolution' from 1st July until 18th December 2009. The French Revolution which began in 1789 changed forever the relationship between freemasonry and the state. In England, freemasonry was non-political and the discussion of politics at Masonic meetings was forbidden (as continues to be the situation today) but after 1789 English freemasons had to deal with the consequences of revolutionary politics and Masonic lodges avoided closure only by agreeing to register lists of their members with local authorities. This remained a legal requirement until 1967 when the Labour Government led by Harold Wilson abolished the Unlawful Societies Act. Freemasonry had spread from Britain across continental Europe in the early 1700s and there freemasons were blamed for causing the Revolution and the subsequent political and social unrest which many countries experienced. The suspicion of freemasonry which arose at that time has had a longlasting impact on politics and society. The exhibition traces the impact of the Revolution on freemasonry in England and Europe.
Those unable to visit London may be interested in the Museum's online exhibitions, which are regularly expanded to include new topics.