The view is held by some Masonic Scholars that Medieval Monks were often the Master Masons at the erection of buildings in earlier times. Our minds should first be made clear about the position of the Master Mason. There was only one at each building site. He designed the building (architect), secured the materials, (purchasing officer), and directed the work (site foreman). The required duties could have been performed by someone not necessarily trained as a stone cutter although, as is known, practical experience is of great assistance to the technician. Masonic scholars, who support the proposition that Medieval Monks were the Master Masons, claim that Monks would have been among the few people with the cultural and technical knowledge necessary for the design of complicated structures.

In the view of some authorities, the opinion is held that some monks first went through an apprenticeship or the equivalent, as would any other mason, and then went on to study design architecture and the other techniques necessary to supervise the construction of buildings from the planning‑board to the laying of the last stone. At Hirchau, in Wuttemburg, German monks worked as practical mason alongside masons who were not men of the cloth. Again the Benedictine Monks took over the reconstruction of Buckfast Abbey, Devonshire, in 1882, and it is recorded, that they sent members of their order back to France to learn the art of masonry, so that they could come back and, in turn, instruct their own brethren in the art. Provision of the internal furnishings, in all probability, was in the hands of the carpenters and the smiths There seems to be no argument that, in the early days many monks were architects.

The necessary education required to absorb the geometry connected with architecture would have been limited to a few ‑ mainly monks. It is most likely, that after the Norman invasion, with the increasing demand for stately buildings, monks would have been amongst the few with the required architectural knowledge of the intricate symbolic requirements of a cathedral. As far as the financing of these projects is concerned, the Crown and the Church would have been the main bodies with sufficient wherewithal. In medieval days, the Church was known to employ approximately one fifth of the population of London ‑ not only craftsmen, but also members of the professions Then it is read that a certain dignitary ‘built’ an edifice somewhere. The word should not be treated too literally. A man is said to “build a house at Mount Waverley” but in most cases, he does not do the actual construction himself. The house is erected by a paid building contractor

In the same way, it is likely that when a Bishop is reported as having “built” a Cathedral, he has simply made the arrangements for the construction and the payment for it, and acted as the “Chairman of the Building Committee”.

There are numerous instances of the man in charge of a project, not having any practical experience as a builder. For example, Geoffrey Chaucer of‑The Canterbury Tales (14th Century) was not an ecclesiastic, nor did he have any practical knowledge of building, but he was, for twenty months, the Clerk of Works at Westminster, the Tower of London, and many places outside of London. The King made the appointment “as a gift for services rendered” and pan of his duty was “to issue commissions under the Great Seal to empower individuals to purvey stone, timber etc., and to take masons, carpenters, and others for the works at Westminster etc.”

While it may be impossible to cite concrete evidence that some monks were trained as practical masons it is also certain that many monks would have had sufficient knowledge of architecture to enable them to design and take charge of the construction of some of those elegant buildings built many years ago which still stand today

The author of the above is, unfortunately, unknown.