Building of the year
Influenced by architecture in the Netherlands and the US, the Royal Masonic Hospital won an award for its modern design in 1933
The 1930s saw several significant new masonic buildings in and around London. Freemasons’ Hall on Great Queen Street was under construction from 1928 with its formal opening in 1933. The foundation stone of the Royal Masonic School for Girls at Rickmansworth was laid in 1930 and the building itself opened by Queen Mary four years later.
Architecturally the most significant of these buildings was the Freemasons’ Hospital and Nursing Home, opened at Ravenscourt Park in July 1933 by King George V and Queen Mary and then renamed the Royal Masonic Hospital.
The hospital was designed by the leading architectural partnership of Sir John Burnet, Tait & Lorne, with Thomas Smith Tait as the lead architect. His design was modern, influenced by trends in the US and the Netherlands, and it won the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Gold Medal for the best building of the year in 1933. The same firm designed the Nurses’ Home on an adjacent site, which was opened in 1938.
The current exhibition at the Library and Museum, Healing Through Kindness, marks the centenary of the formation of a masonic hospital, and includes pictures and more details about the award-winning building
Retirement dinner for George Francis
After 10 years as Second Grand Principal, George Francis has retired. To mark his retirement a dinner was held at Freemasons’ Hall in London for those Grand Superintendents that he had installed. Also present was his successor as Second Grand Principal, Russell Race.
The 50th anniversary meeting of Falcon Lodge No. 8062 took place on Monday, 8th February 2016 at Freemasons' Hall
W Bro Paul Norton, PAGDC, a Founder of the lodge, was installed as Worshipful Master and W Bro Philip Belchak, PGStB, the only other living founder and an honorary member acted as Senior Warden for the meeting. Honorary members, Assistant Metropolitan Grand Master VW Bro David Wilkinson, PGSwdB, and VW Bro David Taylor, PGSuptWks, attended the meeting which was officiated by Metropolitan Grand Inspector VW Bro Stratton Richey.
The lodge presented a donation to the MMC Air Ambulance Appeal for £5,000 which was gratefully accepted by Bro Richey on behalf of Metropolitan Grand Lodge. The lodge, already a Grand Patron of the RMBI, presented a further donation of £500 to VW Bro James Newman, President of the RMBI, who was also in attendance.
A lecture on the history of the lodge, written by the Lodge Mentor, W Bro Neil Mills, PAGPurs, was delivered by a new Master Mason in the lodge. The history highlighted the lodge's origination from the 'Arts and Circles' Class of Instruction held on Sunday mornings at the Albion, Ludgate Circus which provided a school of instruction for members of the theatrical profession whose only free day was a Sunday.
Following the lecture, Bro Richey presented two Grand Lodge certificates to new members after which Assistant Metropolitan Grand Master VW Bro Stephen Fenton, PGSwdB, presented a letter of congratulations, signed by the Metropolitan Grand Master RW Bro Sir Michael Snyder, to the Worshipful Master.
More than 100 members and their guests dined afterwards at the Grand Connaught Rooms. All attending received a pair of white masonic gloves, suitably inscribed, as a gift.
London Fashion Week and Fashion Scout return to Freemasons' Hall
The fashion world descended on Freemasons' Hall in Covent Garden last week for the most important date in every fashionista's diary: London Fashion Week.
Up-and-coming designers rubbed shoulders with young models hoping for a head start in the industry, while photographers and bloggers buzzed through our corridors taking it all in.
Here are a few of our favourite photos taken during the festivities, thanks very much for the photographers for their kind permission in reproducing their images!
BRIT Awards 2016 after party
We were very proud to once again host the BRIT Awards after party at Freemasons' Hall! An incredible glitter ball was suspended outside the Tower Entrance and celebs were papped throughout the night.
We hope everyone had a fab time and we hope to see you again next year!
Foundations: new light and early years
Zetland and Hong Kong Lodge No. 7665 have kindly extended an invitation to Friends of the Library and Museum of Freemasonry to attend one of the official deliveries of the 2016 Prestonian lecture, the only official Craft lecture sanctioned by the United Grand Lodge of England.
The lecture will be held at Freemasons’ Hall on Monday 25th April 2016, 5.00pm.
The Prestonian Lecturer is Dr Ric Berman and the chosen subject is: Foundations: new light on the formation and early years of the Grand Lodge of England.
The 2016 Prestonian Lecture explores the evolution of Freemasonry, queries long-standing myths, and explains the step change that occurred with the creation of the first Grand Lodge of England in 1717.
Dr Ric Berman outlines the connections between Freemasonry and the British establishment in the eighteenth century, and how and why its leaders positioned Grand Lodge as a bastion of support for the government. He also touches on how Freemasonry was used to advance Britain’s diplomatic objectives and for espionage.
The lecture marks the upcoming 300th anniversary of the formation of the first Grand Lodge and sets a context for 2017’s celebration.
The Prestonian Lecturer is appointed by the United Grand Lodge of England. This year’s lecturer, Ric Berman, is the author of Foundations of Modern Freemasonry first published in 2011 and now in its second edition; Schism (2013), which explains the real conflict between Moderns and Antients; and Loyalists & Malcontents (2015), a history of colonial and post-colonial Freemasonry in America's Deep South.
Freemasons’ Hall organ concerts
The next in the series of organ concerts on the newly-inaugurated Willis organ in the Grand Temple of Freemasons' Hall is being given by Prof Ian Tracey, the City Organist of Liverpool and Organist Titulaire at Liverpool Cathedral, the world's largest cathedral organ. Read a fuller biography below.
He will be playing works by Bach, Haydn, Schumann, Franck, Bossi and Mulet.
8th June 2016, 5pm
60 Great Queen Street
Book your free tickets at: https://goo.gl/zHW67w
Prof Ian Tracey biography
Prof Ian Tracey has had a life-long association with Liverpool Cathedral and its music and, with his two illustrious predecessors, continues the tradition of an almost apostolic succession. He studied organ with Lewis Rust and then with his immediate precursor Dr Noel Rawsthorne. Studies at Trinity College, London, culminated in Fellowship, after which, scholarship grants enabled him to continue his studies in Paris, with both Andre Isoir and Jean Langlais.
In 1980 he became the youngest Cathedral Organist in the Country, and in 2007 after 27 years service, the Dean and Chapter created the post of ‘Organist Titulaire’, allowing him the freedom to devote more time to playing, lecturing, recording and writing. Since his appointment in 1980, he has played most of the major venues in this country, and an increasing number in Europe; very much in demand in the USA, he has made 23 extensive tours, playing in all the major Cities and in 1999 and 2003 undertook major tours of Southern Australia, recitaling, examining and teaching. Recent seasons have included concerts in New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Bermuda, Paris, Holland, Germany, Jersey and Spain; he returns again to Germany and Holland in 2016.
On the wider musical canvas, he is a frequent broadcaster with the BBC, and his recordings on the Cathedral Organ have met with wide acclaim from the critics, recording for EMI, CHANDOS and PRIORY. He regularly examines and adjudicates and, over the past 28 years, has conducted over 250 concerts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus. He holds Fellowships from 20 prestigious musical institutions both here and abroad, including the Royal College of Organists, as one of only 28 Honorary Fellows worldwide. In 2006, the University of Liverpool conferred upon him Doctor of Music, in recognition of his long and distinguished service to music in Liverpool and of his national and international reputation. In 2008, the Royal School of Church Music and in 2009, the Guild of Church Musicians, awarded him Fellowships for distinguished services to church music and his international reputation as a church musician. He was commissioned as a Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Merseyside in 2015.
His other posts include: Organist to the City of Liverpool; at St George's Hall; Chorus Master to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society; Guest Director of Music for the BBC Daily Service, Professor, Fellow and Organist at Liverpool, John Moores University, Tonal Director for Makin Organs and Copeman Hart Ltd. and past president of the Incorporated Association of Organists of Great Britain. His website is to be found at www.iantracey.com and many of his concerts are also listed on www.organrecitals.com/iantracey
Masonic organists' day
Thirty-seven Metropolitan/Provincial Craft and Chapter Grand Organists came together at Freemasons' Hall, London, on Saturday 6th February for an UGLE-sponsored specialist "organ day", concentrating on the refurbished Willis organ in the Grand Temple.
Responding to an invitation from the Grand Organist, W Bro Paul Bowen, the attendees were given a detailed practical lecture-demonstration from W Bro Dr Simon Lindley, PGOrg, which not only displayed the versatility of the instrument, but also gave tips on how best to accompany masonic meetings in the Grand Temple.
After lunch, those who wished to have a go were given time to play the instrument. Attendees were also given the opportunity of seeing how best to use the new single manual organs which are in all the other temples at Freemasons' Hall.
Letters Live at Freemasons’ Hall 10th–15th March 2016
Letters Live returns to London’s iconic Freemasons’ Hall, one of the finest Art Deco buildings in Britain.
Inspired by Letters of Note, the best-selling anthology compiled by Shaun Usher, and To the Letter by Simon Garfield, Letters Live is a series of curated, live events that celebrate the enduring power of literary correspondence.
Performed by a remarkable and surprise cast each night, Letters Live is a unique event that is heartbreaking, euphoric, hilarious and inspiring in equal measure. Those who have previously attended Letters Live will know how memorable these evenings are. In addition, a portion of the proceeds from each show are channelled towards a number of carefully selected literacy charities to support the important work they do.
As Commonwealth nations mark the armistice signed to end the First World War, Diane Clements, Director of the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, traces the origins of Freemasons’ Hall
While the peace treaties after the First World War were still being negotiated in Versailles, following the armistice on 11 November 1918, the United Grand Lodge of England began preparations for its own masonic peace celebration in London. In June 1919, guests from lodges in Ireland, Scotland, America, Canada, New Zealand and England enjoyed a week of activities, including visits to the masonic schools and the Houses of Parliament. A peace medal was issued to those who attended the special Grand Lodge meeting on 27 June at the Royal Albert Hall.
The Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Connaught, was unable to attend, but he asked Lord Ampthill, the Pro Grand Master, to read a series of messages. One of these spoke of ‘a perpetual memorial’ to ‘honour the many brethren who fell during the war’. For the Grand Master, ‘The great and continued growth of Freemasonry amongst us demands a central home; and I wish it to be considered whether the question of erecting that home in this metropolis of the empire… would not be the most fitting peace memorial.’
With individual lodges considering what form their own memorials should take, the issue was raised at the Grand Lodge meeting in September 1919. Charles Goff from Fortitude and Old Cumberland Lodge, No. 12, asked if consideration had been given to other forms of memorial – particularly a fund to support Freemasons wounded during the war or their dependants. Charles also asked whether a major building project should proceed at a time of housing shortage. Although several lodges and Provinces decided to support local hospitals, Grand Lodge elected to proceed with its new temple.
In January 1920 details of the campaign to raise funds for the new building were distributed to lodges and individual members. The target was £1 million, giving the campaign its name – the Masonic Million Memorial Fund. Contributions were to be marked by the award of medals. Members who contributed at least 10 guineas (£10.50) were to receive a silver medal and those who gave 100 guineas (£105) or more, a gold medal. Lodges that contributed an average of 10 guineas per member were to be recorded in the new building as Hall Stone Lodges and the Master of each entitled to wear a special medal as a collarette. By the end of the appeal, 53,224 individual medals had been issued and 1,321 lodges had qualified as Hall Stone Lodges.
A design by architects HV Ashley and F Winton Newman was chosen and building work started in 1927. Construction began at the western corner of the new building, where houses on Great Queen Street had been demolished, and progressed eastwards.
The new Masonic Peace Memorial, as it was called, was dedicated on 19 July 1933. The theme of the memorial window outside the Grand Temple was the attainment of peace through sacrifice. Its main feature was the figure of peace holding a model of the tower façade of the building. In the lower panels were shown fighting men, civilians and pilgrims ascending a winding staircase towards the angel of peace.
In June 1938, the Building Committee announced that a memorial shrine, to be designed by Walter Gilbert, would be placed under the memorial window. Its symbols portrayed peace and the attainment of eternal life. It took the form of a bronze casket resting on an ark among reeds, the boat indicative of a journey that had come to an end. In the centre of the front panel a relief showed the hand of God in which rested the soul of man. At the four corners stood pairs of winged seraphim with golden trumpets and across its front were gilded figures of Moses, Joshua, Solomon and St George.
In December 1914 Grand Lodge had begun to compile a Roll of Honour of all members who had died in the war. In June 1921, the roll was declared complete, listing 3,078 names, and was printed in book form. After completion of the memorial shrine, the Roll of Honour, with the addition of over 350 names, was displayed within it on a parchment roll.
The Roll of Honour was guarded by kneeling figures representing the four fighting services (Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and Royal Flying Corps). By the time all these memorials were complete, the country was already in the midst of another war. Freemasons’ Hall continued to operate during that Second World War and survived largely undamaged so that it can be visited today.