Celebrating 300 years

 The  grand tour

Each year, Library and Museum staff show more than 30,000 people around Freemasons’ Hall on daily tours. Have you been?

A tour of Freemasons’ Hall reveals a building rich in history and architectural detail. Visitors – whether they are members of the public or Freemasons – can explore the Hall’s impressive ceremonial areas, from the Grand Officers’ Robing Room to the Shrine and the Grand Temple on the first floor. The tour also offers an opportunity to see some of the Grand Lodge’s collection of portraits of royalty associated with Freemasonry, including George VI.

A visit to the Roll of Honour at the Shrine is always a highlight. Many visitors also do not realise beforehand that the interior of Freemasons’ Hall is richly decorated; the stained-glass windows and extensive use of marble often draw gasps of admiration. When the tour arrives at the Grand Temple, there is time to sit down and ask the guides questions about Freemasonry, then listen to the music of the Grand Temple organ, following its recent refurbishment.

If you haven’t been to look around, why not organise a trip in 2017? Tours are available Monday to Saturday. Or visit on an Open Day – the next London Open House event will be on Sunday, 18 September 2016 from 10am to 5pm.

The Library and Museum is now open from Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm

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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 international concert organist, Jane Parker-Smith.

She will be playing works by Elgar, Vierne, Langlais, Cochereau, Bowen and César Franck.

14th December 2016, 5pm
Freemasons' Hall
60 Great Queen Street
London
WC2B 5AZ

Book your free tickets now at: http://bit.do/TempleConcert 

Jane Parker-Smith biography

Described as ‘the Martha Argerich of the organ’ (Paul Driver, The Sunday Times), Jane Parker-Smith is internationally recognised by the critics and public alike for her musicianship, virtuosity, entertaining programmes and electrifying performances. An innate interpretative ability, prodigious technique and flair for tonal colour are the hallmarks that make Jane Parker-Smith one of the most sought-after organists in the world.

Her studies at the Royal College of Music in London were crowned with a number of prizes and scholarships, including the Walford Davies Prize for organ performance. After a further period of work with the eminent concert organist Nicolas Kynaston, a French government scholarship enabled her to complete her studies in Paris with the legendary blind organist Jean Langlais, perfecting the knowledge and understanding of twentieth-century French organ music for which she is today internationally renowned.

She made her London debut at Westminster Cathedral at the age of twenty, and two years later made her first solo appearance at the BBC Promenade Concerts in the Royal Albert Hall. She has since performed in concert halls, cathedrals and churches throughout the world.

She has recorded a wide range of solo repertoire for RCA, Classics for Pleasure, L’Oiseau Lyre, EMI, ASV, Collins Classics, Motette and AVIE. In addition, she has collaborated with the renowned Maurice André in a duo recording of music for trumpet and organ. She has performed numerous times on radio and television with special feature programmes on the BBC, German and Swiss television.

Highlights in her concert career have been performances in major venues and international festivals such as Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, Royal Festival Hall; Royal Albert Hall, London (both solo and concerto performances); Three Choirs Festival, City of London Festival, Bath Festival and Blenheim Palace (Winston Churchill Memorial Concert) in the UK; Jyväskylä Festival, Finland; Stockholm Concert Hall, Sweden; Hong Kong Arts Festival; Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto, Canada; Festival Paris Quartier D’Été, France; Festival Cicio El Organo en la Iglesia, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Festival Internationale di Musica Organistica Magadino, Switzerland; Cube Concert Hall, Shiroishi, Japan; Athens Organ Festival, Greece; Severance Hall, Cleveland, Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco and Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, USA; Sejong Cultural Centre, Seoul, Korea; Esplanade Concert Hall, Singapore, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, UK; Mariinsky Concert Hall, St. Petersburg, Russia and ZK Matthews Hall, University of South Africa, Pretoria.

In 1996 she gave four solo concerts at the American Guild of Organists National Centennial Convention in New York City. She was also a featured artist for the AGO National Convention in Philadelphia in 2002, for the AGO Region II Convention in New York City and the AGO Region V Convention in Columbus, Ohio in 2007, for the AGO National Convention in Nashville in 2012 and most recently for the AGO Regional Convention in Fort Worth, Texas in 2015.

Jane Parker-Smith’s extensive concerto repertoire has brought her performances with many leading orchestras, including the BBC Symphony and the BBC Concert Orchestras, the London Symphony, the London Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras, the Philharmonia, the City of Birmingham Symphony, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Athens State Orchestra and the Prague Chamber Orchestra. She has worked with conductors of the stature of Sir Simon Rattle, Serge Baudo, Carl Davis, Vernon Handley, Matthias Bamert and Richard Hickox.

Miss Parker-Smith is an Honorary Fellow of the Guild of Musicians and Singers and a member of the Incorporated Society of Musicians. She is listed in the World Who’s Who and the International Who’s Who in Music and in 2014 was chosen as one of ‘The 1000 Most Influential Londoners’ by the London Evening Standard newspaper.

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Tickets for Tercentenary Grand Ball to go on sale in September

Dear Sir and Brother,

We are writing to inform you of a most exciting event planned for the celebrations of the Tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England in 2017: The Grand Ball. On Saturday 30th September 2017, our home, Freemasons’ Hall in Great Queen Street, London, will be transformed into the venue for The Grand Ball.

This will be the highlight of the social calendar for the Tercentenary celebrations, but will also be an opportunity for brethren of any rank, and from all Provinces and Districts, to be present at one of the official UGLE celebrations with their families and friends.

The evening will commence at 8.30pm with a Champagne reception, and finish with bacon sandwiches for the survivors at 3am! It will be a suitably grand event to befit the 300th anniversary of the institution, and is being generously supported and subsidised by UGLE, enabling our iconic building to be beautifully prepared, and food and drinks to be available throughout the night – all included in the ticket price of £160 per person.

Various entertainments will be placed in several different areas of the building, including the Grand Temple, which will be transformed into one of the largest raised dance floors in London. There will be considerable variety, including a big band, a jazz group, a ceilidh, discos (both ‘silent’ and noisy), and quieter rooms to enjoy a glass of wine and chat to your guests.

Although there will be plentiful and varied food available throughout the night, there is not a formal dinner. However, we will be looking into offering deals at local restaurants for those brethren who wish to dine beforehand with their guests. We are also attempting to arrange deals in nearby hotels, so that you are able to spend what is left of the night (or weekend) in comfortable surroundings.

We can promise all those who attend a fabulous night, and are hoping to welcome brethren and guests from across the country, and from other countries. We would therefore be grateful if you could distribute this as widely as possible across your Provinces and Districts, and encourage all those that can attend to do so.

Tickets will go on sale via the website (www.thegrandball.uk) at 9am on Friday 30th September 2016 (exactly a year before the Ball), and will be sold on a first-come-first-served basis so that everyone has an opportunity to buy tickets. Even though there will be up to 1,500 tickets available, we expect demand to be high – so early booking will be essential.

Please do encourage brethren to sign up to our mailing list via the website to ensure they are kept up to date with all our planning and preparation in the coming months – and so they don’t miss out when ticket sales commence! There is also a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/thegrandball) and a Twitter account (www.twitter.com/grandball2017) which you can like and follow for updates.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We look forward to seeing you at the Ball!

Yours sincerely and fraternally,

The Grand Ball Committee

A copy of the letter can be viewed here.

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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

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

Please register your attendance by 1st April 2016 via the Library and Museum: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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.

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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

Freemasons' Hall
60 Great Queen Street
London
WC2B 5AZ

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 

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