GUEST POST FROM MARGARET MUIR
I did quite a bit of research on Freemasonry a few years back which was intriguing. Of course many seamen of all ranks were Masons and many ships used the great cabin for lodge meetings whilst at sea.
The black and white checkerboard floor found in all Masonic lodges represents the diversity of creation. You can see it here on the floor of the Captain’s cabin in HMS Victory.
For many years it had been thought that Lord Nelson was possibly not associated with Freemasonry, but painstaking research by John Hamill of the UGLE, London has revealed that he was. At a meeting held at the original Amphibious Lodge No. 407 in Stonehouse, Plymouth on the 15th August 1787 (a lodge for Royal Navy officers and marines) among the visitors is Bro. Nelson who had arrived back in Portsmouth, England from Nevis, in the Caribbean, on the 4th July 1787 aboard HMS Boreas. The Boreas paid off at Sheerness, West Yorkshire on 30th November 1787. Nevis is important as it was the island on which as a young sea captain, Horatio Nelson met and married his wife, Francis Nisbet, the young widow of a plantation owner.” (http://www.lodgestpatrick.co.nz/lordnelson.php
Margaret adds: Of course the banner of the Knights Templar was also black and white - the Beauseant - The vexillum belli, or war-banner of the ancient Templars, which is also used by the modem Masonic Order. The upper half of the banner was black, and the lower half white: You might remember a scene I described in a children's book where Richard theLionheart saw a passage of black and white between the trees in a Swiss forest and thought it was a band of knights returning from the Holy Land. Unfortunately for him it was only some black and white goats.