Phoenix Hall restorers
One of England’s oldest purpose-built masonic temples, in Henden, Sunderland, is to be given a new lease of life.
Students at Sunderland College are set to take on other local colleges in a competition to design a revival and extension scheme for Phoenix Hall, a Grade I listed building. The hall was the first to be purpose built by Freemasons to hold their meetings in 1785.
Still in use today, Phoenix Hall is in need of an update and it is hoped that the winning project will be carried out with funding from Heritage Lottery Grants. The hall has many original features, including a pipe organ built by John Donaldson and an 18th-century organ, which sits in its own purpose-built gallery.
The project has received help from local firm Precision Geomatics, which carried out a laser scan of the building, providing intricate details of the structure itself.
Exploring Sunderland’s masonic history: Sunderland Heritage Quarter is one of the first groups in the UK to receive a Sharing Heritage grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund
The Heritage Quarter’s Georgian Treasures of Sunderland project, taking place in the city’s East End, has received £10,000 to explore the story of 18th-century Freemasonry in the area and its contribution to the city. A programme of events will allow people to visit Freemasons’ Hall at Queen Street East (below) – the city’s oldest non-religious building and the world’s oldest purpose-built masonic meeting place in continuous use. There will be history surgeries and an exploration of the building’s masonic archives, which stretch back almost 300 years.