St John’s Church in Knotty Ash, Liverpool, opened in 1836, and has a number of Masonic connections. It has a beautiful Masonic stained glass window and had support from local Freemasons. The church was also the burial place of the son of Robertson Gladstone who was also a prominent Liverpool Freemason. Freemasonry was so popular in the area that a local lodge – Knotty Ash Lodge No. 5741, was founded in 1938 and met at the Village Hall in Knotty Ash. The Masonic stained glass window reveals three images with the individual sections below indicating Haggai, Zerubbabel and Joshua respectively. The kingly image of Zerubbabel holds a trowel.
The bottom inscription reveals that ‘This window was the gift of brethren of the order of free & accepted masons 1938’, the same year as the Knotty Ash Lodge No. 5741 was founded. There is also a Latin inscription that reads ‘In loco isto dabo pacem Quis enim despexit dies parvos adducam servum meum orientem’ which is written across all three sections of the window. The Latin (from the Vulgate) is translated here:
In loco isto dabo pacem (In this place I shall give peace). The full verse reads: Great shall be the glory of this new house [the rebuilt temple] as was the first, says the Lord of Hosts, and in this place I shall give peace, says the Lord of Hosts, Vulgate, Haggai 2:10).
Quis enim despexit dies parvos (For whoever has despised the day of small things followed by shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel, Vulgate, Zechariah 4:10.)
Adducam servum meum orientem (I will bring my servant the Branch, Vulgate, Zechariah 3:8) ‘Branch’ is symbolic, here, of a ruler who will rebuild the temple. They are all references to Zerubabbel’s rebuilding of the temple after the return of the exiles from Babylon, which may hold significance perhaps with the newly founded Knotty Ash Lodge, or in a celebration of the Church itself, which had just seen its centenary. For a Freemason to observe that window would have an obvious special meaning, and I myself was drawn to it on seeing it.
The Knotty Ash Lodge was closed and erased due to lack of membership in June 2000, at that time the lodge had been meeting in the lodge rooms of the now abandoned Woolton Hall in Liverpool. The Masonic window of St. John’s will always be a reminder of that local lodge and it will tantalise visiting Freemasons for years to come.
Many thanks to Paul Booth, my old tutor at the University of Liverpool, for assistance with translating the Latin inscription.