Open days at Minerva Masonic Hall
The Minerva Masonic Hall, in Dagger Lane, Hull opened its doors, to members of the public, during Hull’s very popular Civic Society Heritage Open Days. The Hall was open for three days between the 11th and 13th September, for a total of fifteen hours. In this time we received almost seven hundred (700) visitors to the lodge which was a resounding success.
Brethren from four of the lodges, who meet at Dagger Lane, were on hand to meet members of the public and guide them through the historic building and answer questions on its history and Freemasonry in general.
The Heritage Open Days event is about historic or other interesting buildings which are not ordinarily open to the public to view.
This was a great platform to speak to members of the public about Freemasonry which has been so much a part of Hull’s history from 1759, when the first masonic lodge was founded.
Members of the public were very engaging and asked many questions about Freemasonry. Many visitors commented on the unique grandeur of the lodge built by the brethren of the Minerva Lodge No. 250, and saying that it was 'an absolute hidden gem in the city' and so it is, we are so lucky!
Some visitors found their ancestors on the honours boards, another lady found a photograph of her father, a builder who was not a Freemason, told us that he had worked on the building during extensive repairs.
We were surprised by the number of women enquiring about joining Freemasonry – they were of course pointed in the right direction to be able to do this.
We also received interest from a number of young men wanting to join, so names and addresses were exchanged with the brethren to follow up. This included a boy of about 13 years of age, to which his parents said, 'You will have to wait a bit longer son.' Apparently his great, great grandfather was a Freemason. We had a lady who exclaimed, 'Well you are not a secret society after all!' She quite rightly concluded that she would not be in a lodge talking about Freemasonry if we were.
There was a father of a young girl, who asked what the meaning of 'The all-seeing eye' meant, this was about to be explained when the young girl interrupted by saying, 'I can explain that' to the amazement of her parents. She did a pretty good job with her explanation. (Well these youngsters are so internet savvy these days!)
We did have the odd challenging comments about Freemasonry, but nothing that the experienced volunteer brethren could not handle. What sometimes seems to be a negative comment can be a search for more information in disguise.
Visitors were also entertained by W Bro Eddie Wildman of Humber Lodge No. 57 and Provincial Grand Organist, and W Bro Graham Miles, playing the newly restored lodge pipe organ.
W Bro Ean Blair, from Hull Old Grammarians' Lodge No. 5129, also exercised his vocal chords for which the aforesaid brethren received applause from visitors. Phil Grainge, the organiser of the event, said: 'We all had a great time, visitors were impressed and the brethren we're exhausted, sometimes working through without a break, due to the numbers of visitors, but it was all worthwhile as nearly seven hundred people, are now more aware of their heritage and Freemasonry in our city. I strongly recommend any lodge, which has a Heritage Open Days event to get registered and open up their lodges.'
We will be looking to do it all again next year, so we will also need some more keen, experienced brethren to see if we can do an even better event next time.
We are also getting our thinking caps on to make something very special for 2017, the year when Hull is to be the UK City of Culture.