Sunday, 22 September 2013

Freemasons' Hall, The United Grand Lodge of England


London, Freemasons, Lodge, hall, London, Openhouse, 2013, United Grand lodge, symbolism, conspiracy, architecture, visit, day trip, hoborn, things to do
United Grand Lodge of England 
We went inside the Freemasons' Hall as part of Open House weekend. I've been wanting to go for a while as secret societies and conspiracy theories fascinate me. Plus when I used to work nearby I would often see men with matching ties and briefcases go inside the Hall for clandestine meetings.

Freemason lodges in England 
Actually the Freemasons' Hall was disappointingly un-secretive, the Masons were very welcoming and inviting towards visitors. There's even a museum an information booklet and regular tours. So much for conspiracy theories and world domination plots. If you want to know more about the Freemasons their website is suitably vague/informative or you could always read Freemasonry for Dummies which was available to buy in the gift shop.

Symbolism is important to the Freemason society, five and six pointed stars can be found all over the building.
United Grand Lodge London, Freemason, seven pointed star, floor
floor of the United Grand Lodge 
The five pointed star,the 'pentalpha', represents the five points of Masonic fellowship. For Pythagoras (an important figure to the masons) it was symbol of perfection and the universe. The Pentalpha is also an ancient emblem of good luck and health.
United Grand Lodge London, Freemason, seven pointed star, celing
Celling of the United Grand Lodge 
The six pointed star, the 'hexalpha', (common also in Jewish faith, the star of David) is for Freemason known as the Seal of Solomon and is the badge of Royal Arch Freemasonry.

Other important Masonic symbols include:-
wheat = resurrection
lotus = waters of life
irises = eternal life 
doors to the Grand Temple, each door weighs 1¼
   tons and depicts the building of Solomon's temple 

The Grand Temple 

The celling in the Grand Temple was really impressive and loaded with Masonic imagery and symbolism.

Southern side:
Corinthian pillars (representing beauty), the All-Seeing Eye, the hexalpha (star) and Helios, the sun God driving his chariot
All-Seeing eys, Helios, Freemasons, five pointed star, Grand lodge, London
All-seeing Eye and Helios in the Grand Temple 
 Eastern Side:
Ionic pillars (representing wisdom), the Ark of the Convent, Jacob's Ladder, King Solomon and King Hiram, who built the first temple in Jerusalem.

Resting against Jacob's ladder is the Volume of Sacred Law (any holy book displayed at a lodge meeting), a cross (faith), an anchor (hope) and a burning heart (charity). The golden squiggle at the top is the Hebrew character for YOD (Jehovah).
Freemasons, The United Grand Lodge, London, temple, King Solomon, Ark of the Covent, Jacobs Ladder
Eastern side of the Grand Masonic Temple, with the Ark of the Covent, Jacobs Ladder and King Solomon and King Hiram 
Western Side:
Doric pillars (representing knowledge), the moon and serpent (ancient symbol of wisdom), Euclid and Pythagoras. The misshapen square thing is the 47th Proposition of Euclid  which is a symbol worn by a Past Master of a Lodge
Grand Temple, London, Freemasons, Pythagoras, 47th Proposition of Euclid
Western side of the Grand Temple 
Though it claims to be a secular organisation the Freemasons use a lot of religious imagery. These stained glass windows tell the seven day creation story.
creation, god, Freemasons, London, Grand Lodge, stained glass
Stained glass at the Freemasons' Hall
The present building is the third Masonic development on the site and was constructed as a memorial to those who died in the war of 1914-1918. Therefore there is a shrine to the armed forces near the entrance to the Grand Lodge
shrine at the Freemasons' Hall

stained glass in memoriam to the armed forces in the Grand Lodge
In addition to some ceremonial rooms we also had access to the Freemasons' library and museum. The museum had displays of regalia and also proved that they will stick Freemason symbols on anything, including light-bulbs.
Freemason, costume, regalia
snazzy Freemason attire 

Freemason, jug, yellow, masonic merchandise
Freemason jug (one of many that you can see in the museum) 

Tea Caddy, Freemason
Freemason Tea Caddy 
Freemason, Light bulb, The United Grand Lodge, London
I wasn't lying there actually is a Freemason light-bulb 
There is also a gift shop where you can buy all sorts of Masonic memorabilia, including socks, aprons, books and cuff links.

If you fancy paying The United Grand Lodge a visit, the library, Museum and the Grand Temple are free of charge and open Monday- Friday 10:00-17:00. The nearest tube is Holborn.

5 comments:

  1. I was one of the stewards ath HQ during that open day and I would say that the questions asked by the majority mirror the comments you have raised. I am so pleased you came in to look about and that this may have dispelled some of the myths which abound! We are not a secret society but a society with some secrets.
    Come back and take another look next year. And, by the way, we no longer make human sacrifices!! :-) :-)

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    1. As a steward on the day too, I am pleased you enjoyed your visit. I would go further than Bro. Petroc, we are merely a private society as to a society with secrets as the ritual is freely available on your local library shelves. Nigel Beaven

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    2. I really enjoyed myself, and I do think the visit changed some of my preconceptions. Particularly since the stewards were so welcoming, thanks for that!

      If you have any book recommendations, so I can learn more I'd love to hear them.

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  2. Great blog - good pictures and a real 'taster' for many more people who we hope will come to look around this unique building. Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks.The Lodge is very unique! The grand temple was my favourite, so many concepts and symbol incorporated into the d├ęcor, I found it fascinating.

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