An Introduction to English Masonic Halls

This thesis sets out principally to show that English Masonic Halls are: under-studied, under-valued and under-threat. Further aims are to show:

• the great variety of styles of Freemasons Halls from 1785 up to WW II.
• the reasons why the exteriors and interiors of the buildings look the way they do.
• that these are attractive buildings both inside and out which often have interesting histories.

Firstly, Freemasonry is defined and its history, rituals and symbolism are briefly explored. The source material is for this part of the study came principally from books recommended by the librarian at the United Grand Lodge of England. Previous theses revealed little relevant information on the subject.

In order to show the variety and evolution of styles over the last 250 years a pictorial survey was assembled of both Listed and un-Listed Masonic Halls. The principal sources for this were the English Heritage Statutory List and the related Images of England website. In addition the authors own photographs were supplemented by those from the web-sites of the Provincial Grand Lodges of England.

Four case studies of Masonic Halls were undertaken to examine in detail their history, evolution, style, form, function, and conservation. This involved finding what material was available both locally and nationally and meeting a local Freemason to have a tour of his Lodge. Numerous photographs were taken of both the interiors and exteriors.

The study has revealed that the hypotheses above are accurate. There is even less written about these buildings than first anticipated. The buildings form an attractive and interesting group. The four studied are different ages and are built in a variety of styles (Palladian, Romano-Egyptian, Egyptianesque and Gothic) from the flamboyant to the plain. They all display Masonic symbolism on their exteriors to varying degrees and inside the Lodge rooms are lavishly decorated. There is a strong case that as a group they are undervalued and more deserve statutory protection. A significant minority of the Listed halls have been sold and are now in other uses and others are in poor condition and are undoubtedly at risk. The risk stems from the fact that the number of Freemasons is falling and therefore the costs of maintaining the Halls falls to fewer and fewer individuals. The Halls are generally owned by small groups of Lodges and are therefore it falls to a handful of committed Masons to manage the buildings. Their success, of course, depends on whether they have the time, the skills and the money to do this effectively. In conclusion the author believes that the United Grand Lodge of England should provide more support and guidance to individual Lodges to help them conserve their buildings.

Angus Morrison - Thesis Abstract

An Introduction to English Masonic Halls

An Introduction to English Masonic Halls