Posts Tagged ‘museum of freemasonry’

London — By Andrea Kirkby on August 17, 2009 at 3:59 pm
Filed under: Freemasons Museum, masonic lodge, masons, museum of freemasonry

Freemasons’ Hall and the Museum of Freemasonry

Not far from Covent Garden is one of London’s hidden attractions – Freemasons’ Hall.

Not all that well hidden in fact, as its impressive facade trumpets its fame. The usually secretive Freemasons built this Art Deco masterpiece as a memorial to Masons who fell in the First World War, and it’s designed as a war memorial as well as a temple.

Even more unusually, it’s a Masonic Temple that you can visit.

There’s been a Masonic Lodge on this site since 1775. During the late eighteenth century, Masonry and the Enlightenment marched hand in hand -  the adherents of Masonry included Mozart, Benjamin Franklin, and Schiller. This is the third building on the site, and the grandest.

It’s worth taking a tour even if you’re not all that interested in Masonry, since it’sthe only Art Deco building in London still in its original use, with all its furnishings intact. That includes the shrine itself, a lovely casket placed on top of an Egyptian boat – references to ancient Egypt are scattered about the building – as well as the amazing mosaic vault of the Grand Temple, and its huge bronze doors.

Visit the Museum of Freemasonry and you’ll get a tour of the Grand Temple thrown in too – but only on weekdays. (There are Saturday tours but you have to book in advance, and they cost £1.)

This huge building also includes more than 20 other temples, used by London lodges for their ceremonies, and not usually open to the public.

The Museum itself contains a collection of Masonic objects, including some fine silver, and information on Masonry. It also has information on Masonic-style organisations such as the Ancient Order of Foresters, Oddfellows, and others. This might sound dull – but such flights of fancy as a Masonic toast rack, and the intriguing geometrical patterns you’ll see everywhere, make it memorable. The whole building seems like something out of the Da Vinci Code, including the very old-style feel of the museum with its huge cabinets. Somewhere, I’m sure, is a dusty corner containing a secret manuscript…

Where: 66 Queen Street, WC2B 5AZ (map) – Holborn or Covent Garden tube

When: Monday to Friday, 10-5

How much: free

Photo by Steve Cadman on flickr

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