By Ben Vidgen
Dunedin the ‘Scottish’ city of New Zealand with suburbs names such as Roslyn, St Clairs, Ravensbourne, is home to Otago University which has it own curious tales of esoteric which begin at the archway of the founding building of the School of Mining which went on to be the University and connects to the Old Clock Tower.
The two larger caricatures of scholars sit immediately above the archway.
One, holding a globe and pointing to New Zealand,is accompanied by an owl (Minerva) sitting on a lamp (symbols of wisdom); and the other, holding a slate showing a mathematical sum, is accompanied by a skull atop a pile of books (symbols of mortality and learning).
There is a great article on this called ‘Whatever happened to… the architect’s folly’? University of Otago Magazine Issue 43
The article details how prominent early 20th century architect Edmund Anscombe – the University’s architect from around 1909 to 1929 – designed the Archway to link the School of Mines (now home to the University’s International office) and the Students’ Union (incorporating Allen Hall and now occupied by Theatre Studies) to the new university.
During these years Anscombe made a substantial impact on the University’s environment, with other buildings including the Oliver Wing of the Clocktower Building and Marama Hall, as well as the Home Science, Lindo Ferguson and Zoology Buildings. Edmund Anscombe was born on 8 February 1874 in Lindfield, Sussex, England, the son of Eliza Mason and her husband, Edmund Anscombe, a carpenter.
Designing the Archway and surrounding buildings, Anscombe remained faithful to the Gothic revival style of Maxwell Bury’s original Clocktower. He was also reputed to demonstrate a playful streak in his work.
While the Fletcher Brothers (founders of Fletchers Construction) won the tender to construct the Archway with a price of £10,292. Fletchers contribution was not confined to just help rorting Christchurch, after the rebuild, or at Ihumato, they helped build the Lyttleton tunnels and the secret WWII oil reserve tunnels that were believed linked to the Crafcroft tunnels and the secret Southern regional military bunkers.
Craftcroft tunnels led up to the Craftroft mansion near the Craftcroft Reserve which was until it burned down located near the Sign of Tahkahee Craftroft Reserve — complete with its famous stain glass window which every masonic lodge in the country funded and depicts the heraldry of every NZ governor general plus the original heraldry for Christchurch (also found on the old prequake Christchurch information centre).
We have a great story on those tunnels (see) and there makers but lets for the moment keep to Dunedin and it Tartan Mafia founding fathers.
The Stone Cutters
The stone mason who carved the grotesques on the clock tower (and around other Dunedin locations -watch this space) is reportedly unknown. Yet if I had to guess my money would be on stone mason Henry Bingham.
We don’t know Edmund Anscombe own house, on the corner of Warrender & Queen St, was built by Henry Sydney Bingham in 1914. Bingham’s family are still monumental masons in Dunedin. Henry Sydney Bingham in 1914. The impressive looking house also contains some interesting heraldry and Freemason symbolism. Its harks back to the days when masonic membership was right of passage for any person seeking recognition as person of repute.
Bingham’s family are still monumental stone masons in Dunedin – H. S. Bingham Monumental Masons, as the company was known until 1980’s
The firm worked on almost all the building jobs in Dunedin where stonework was required including First Church renovations in 1933, Knox College, St Matthew’s Church renovation, Caversham Presbyterian Church, Hanover St Baptist Church, Olveston and the Savoy building.
The company also created various war memorials, including the cenotaph at Queens Gardens and the McKenzie Memorial Cairn on Puketapu Hill above Palmerston. Henry Sydney Bingham built the marble stairs in the Otago Museum and Regent Theatre.
Henry arrived in Dunedin, from London, in 1905, and secured work at one shilling and sixpence an hour, on the new Dunedin Railway Station. Bingham was a Freemason deeply involved with the Masonic lodge, and at some stage was a member of Lodge Maori at Ravensbourne. Bingham died 9th February 1979 and is buried at Andersons bay Cemetery under a headstone crafted by his own firm of monumental masons.
The concept of the twin pillars (which our friends at the University clock tower Atlas and Alchemist symbolise in kind), stand guard at the gate of sacred places can be traced back to the ancient civilizations of antiquity. In ancient Greece ‘The Pillars of Hercules’ was the name applied to the pillars that flanked the entrance to the straights of Gibraltar. According to Plato’s account, the lost realm of Atlantis was located beyond the Pillars of Hercules, in effect, placing them in the realm of the unknown (e.g. what we might think of as the spiritual world). Tradition says the pillars bore the warning; “Nec Plus Ultra” meaning “nothing further beyond”, and served as a warning to sailors and navigators to go no further. Symbolically speaking, going beyond the Pillars of Hercules meant leaving the foulness of this world into the realm of higher enlightenment.
In Freemasonry, the Masonic usage of the terms Boaz and Jachin originates from the Biblical account of King Solomon’s Temple. The master builder of the temple was Hiram Abiff (whose skull appears on the clock tower and on other pseudo masonic organisation or organisations influenced by masonry symbolism such as the German duelling societies which then in turn gave birth to the fascist SS and their distasteful Topenkopft emblem) a prominent figure in masonic teachings. “1 Kings Chapters 6,7, and 8,” describe the dimensions, construction, and dedication of the Temple which the likes of Otago University Clock tower and Harry Potter’s JR Rowling both make reference too.
‘The Chamber of Horrors’ — Welcome to Tales From the Crypt.
The skull used in the alchemist Gargoyle is taken directly from Freemason lore – specifically the Chambers of Reflection symbolised by chalk board with numbers written on it. These are known as a ‘tracing board’ (I think in the video I accidently called it a training board). This is parody in JR Rowling Harry Potter series the ‘Chambers of Horrors’. Which in turn comes from anti masonic myths which give rumour to initiates being buried in a coffin with a corpse. In most case that is watered down to being left in a room by one self for an hour (esoteric rituals are just not what they use to be).
The skull and crossbones continue to be a common addition to chambers of reflection and third degree tracing boards of many Masonic jurisdictions as well as a prominent feature within the Templar and Kadosh degrees of the York and Scottish Rites. Commonest in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, the French Rite, and related jurisdictions, including Co-Masonry, the Chamber of Reflection is a small darkened room adjoining the Lodge room. It is a sombre place of meditation and reflection for candidates for initiation into Freemasonry, and is sometimes used in higher degrees.
There is no specific list of contents, for this ritual, but it may contain either literally or in representation, such objects or images as a skull, a sickle or scythe, an hourglass, bread and water, sulphur, salt and a cockerel (symbolising mercury), a lantern or candle, or the acronym “V.I.T.R.I.O.L.” (see explanation below) Other texts or aphorisms may be written on the wall.
Although the impact of the chamber’s furniture must of necessity be personal, the symbolism relates to hermetic and alchemical correspondences. The chamber itself is simply symbolic of a cave, introducing the candidate to the alchemical element of earth.
The skull (often drawn with crossed bones) is an obvious symbol of mortality, and coupled with the hourglass, points to the brevity of mortal existence. Bread and water indicate simplicity. The rooster symbolises the alchemical principle of mercury, which partnered with the salt and sulphur, symbolise faith, hope and charity. “V.I.T.R.I.O.L.” or vitriol (sulphuric acid) is interpreted as “visita interiora terrae, rectificandoque, invenies occultum lapidem“, or “visit the interior of the earth, and purifying it, you will find the hidden stone.” This is another way of saying “look within yourself for the truth”
The skull symbolism is clear. It thee to note that death is always near and can come at any place, any time, regardless of the person or persons involved rank or importances. The symbol of the skull and crossbones points at once to the inevitable end of man as well as to one of the means by which he might accept and come to peace with the knowledge of such an ending inevitably.
“Because we are food for worms, lads. Because, believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold and die. ( John Keating [as played by Robins Williams]: ‘Seize the day Boys. Make life extraordinary’.” The Dead Poets Society
Its quite amazing when reviewing the history of University alumni’s where this symbol pop up globally. The best known example of course is the famous Yale’s Skull & Bones Fraternity.
And as it emerges Dunedin has it own skull robbing fraternity based around this masonic symbolism as the tale of Larnarch’s tomb reveals.
The ODT Reports that “Like William Larnach and his castle, the tomb attracts stories and legends like a lightning rod”, according to art historian Peter Entwisle. The ODT continues “Dunedin historian and art curator should know, as he is implicated in one of the myths. I didn’t steal Larnach’s bloody skull but people believe that I did, so that’s the bottom line. And I certainly had a skull, that’s for sure, and that’s not a crime,” he said in a recent interview.
Back in January 1972, when Entwisle was a 23-year-old student, he was charged in the Dunedin Magistrates Court with improperly interfering with human remains, to be specific those of William Larnach. According to reports in both the Otago Daily Times and the Evening Star, he was not represented by a lawyer, pleaded guilty, was convicted and remanded for a probation report and sentencing. The police, acting on information received, had found a skull in his flat. Entwisle said it “was readily identifiable as Larnach’s by the gunshot wounds and it had been given to him about a year earlier by a friend, whom he declined to name”. As a graduate anthropology student he had an academic interest in skulls, he said then.
However, what is not widely known is that the case was dismissed on January 31. Entwisle was then represented by Ron Gilbert and changed his plea to not guilty. According to reports in the Otago Daily Times, magistrate Mr J. D. Murray said a corpse or human remains was not something that could be stolen so Entwisle could not be charged with receiving.
Oddly the crime acts 150 ‘Misconduct in respect of human remains’ notes “Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years who— (a) neglects to perform any duty imposed on him or her by law or undertaken by him or her with reference to the burial or cremation of any dead human body or human remains; or (b) improperly or indecently interferes with or offers any indignity to any dead human body or human remains, whether buried or not“. But what can we say Dunedin lawyers have an interesting interpretation of law especially when it comes to their alumni mates.
As for Entwisle “Although he had kept the remains, occasionally polishing them and showing them to friends, he had not mutilated them, so there was no improper interference”. The rest of Larnarch’s body might have felt otherwise.
The concreting over of the crypt in 1973 stopped further interference with the coffins but certainly did not stop vandalism to the building itself.
In the meantime the original obtain-er of the bones was known as “Dr Voodoo” yet a child of another of Dunedin’s prominent privileged family who went on to be a lawyer in Hong Kong.
Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle:
Otago University unlike Hogwartz is short of actual wizards but it does have OWLS
Aka Otago Woman Lawyers Society
“The acronym was not just cute; it was chosen for the fact that the owl (Minerva) was the symbol of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and war. She was called
Justitia by the Romans, who blinded her and gave her a sword and a set of
scales, and plonked her on top of the High Court building in lower Stuart
St Dunedin, NZ. Who knew!” reports OWL memeber Janet Somerville.
Again the keen eyes may also spot the owl above the clock tower and in our Christchurch tales of the occultist (he literally was a follower of the witchcraft coven set up by Victorian wizard Alister Crowley) Thomas Edmonds, founder of Edmonds Bakery, the Thomas Edmond’s Clock Tower placed opposite the Two Pillars of the Wellsely Baptist Church and the Twin Towers (further monument to Boaz & Jachin) wreckage monument found on Barbados and Killmore St.
Janet Somerville studied law as a mature student and became a partner in TWAB in the 80s’s. She was a founding member of OWLS and chaired the OWLs first ever meeting. Somerville writes “In the District Court, OWLS had an increasing number of members appearing in the late 80’s, and decided to work on fostering relations with the bench. In 1988 Judith A-K [Abbot-Kerr] hosted an evening at her home (now Jenny Beck’s home – we OWLS like to keep things in the family…) for members to get up close and personal with Judge Willy. The idea was that younger members in particular would be introduced to him, and that we would all be able to ask him insightful questions on matters of procedure and practise and that he would graciously expound his wisdom” The statement confirms how the old boys (er Girls) alumina was used as networking service to keep things in side the family
Just to add to the picture of Dunedin freaky laywers Catherine Davani, of the Supreme and National Courts of Papua New Guinea, gave the 2013 year’s address to the OWLS. Justice Davani topic sorcery in Papua New Guinea, “which encompassed the traditional and legal implications of sorcery As well as explaining how widespread traditional beliefs in sorcery are in Papua New Guinea, Justice Davani guided the audience through the applicable sections of the Sorcery Act 1971. This involved a general discussion of the distinction between ‘innocent’ sorcery and ‘forbidden’ sorcery. ‘Innocent’ sorcery is defined in the Sorcery Act 1971 as ‘protective or curative only’ with no intention to produce ‘any harmful or unlawful result, or to exert any harmful, unlawful or undue influence on any person.’ ‘Innocent’ sorcery is also ‘generally regarded … as being, by custom, legitimate or harmless and not offensive in all the circumstances of the case.’ All other kinds of
sorcery are deemed to be ‘forbidden’ sorcery”.
The address was reportedly “well attended as always by the judiciary, local practitioners, Otago University staff and members of the public alike, with approximately 180 people attending the address this year. The Otago Women Lawyers Society (OWLS) gratefully acknowledged the New Zealand Law Foundation (the primary sponsor of the annual Address) and the Otago Law Faculty.
All female Otago Faculty of Law academic staff (who have been admitted to the bar) and female Otago law students are welcome to join OWLS, which is a fun and informal way to meet
and keep in touch with local practitioners”.
Its a bit hard not start thinking of this is a giant piss take of JR Rowlings mythical school for Wizards. Or perhaps more correctly Rowling was taking the piss out of Public School system built on class, segregation and privilege encased in pomp and heraldry
Jokes aside Minerva the OWL has an interesting history in NZ not merely old boys clubs run by racist old boys (or thir sisters) but draw it name from Britannia the female equivalent is Zealandia whose symbolism has being claimed by Neo Nazi in the wake of March 15th and prior to that was the name of 1980’s based Mercenary group based in Christchurch and Dunedin run by old what what Rhodesian South African WWII senior military types and National MPs
See Also Masonry Scotia Dear Dunedin – A Tale About the Tartan Mafia & White Supremacy & Rifle Clubs in NZ
THE TRACING BOARDS – Kilroy was here.
Tracing boards are painted or printed illustrations depicting the various emblems and symbols of Freemasonry. They can be used as teaching aids during the lectures that follow each of the Masonic Degrees, when an experienced member explains the various concepts of Freemasonry to new members.
They can also be used by experienced members as reminders of the concepts they learned as they went through the ceremonies of the different masonic degrees. Before the ceremony of initiation, the candidate is placed for a time in the Chamber of Reflection, in order to meditate and consider how Freemasonry is about to change his life. He is given a series of questions to answer. Typically, he is asked his duties to God, his fellow men, and himself. In some lodges he is also asked to make a will.
At the end of this time, he is led to the Temple for initiation.
The idea Freemasons ‘rule the world’ is QANON nonsense. Yet the idea that organisation exist to ensure the status quo retains it power via rituals, symbols and net working is literally embedded into the foundation of our system as the quirky Dunedin Clock Tower is living proof.
There is no predictive programming in Hollywood as many ‘conspiracy theorist’ maintain but their plenty evidence popular culture raining from the Simpsons to the Simpson does reflects this truism as art draws its muse from what already is a historical reality built by those who came before us.
I was a week ago in the Sign of The Takahe for the first time.
Do you have more info on the Christchurch tunnels
In the works