Guess what? You can finally join the Freemasons – on an all-access open day of their London headquarters that is. Yes, this year marks the 300th birthday of the clandestine club - the first Grand Lodge was founded right here in London in 1717 – and to celebrate they’re opening up the doors of the United Grand Lodge of England’s iconic headquarters in Covent Garden all day on Saturday.
Everyone from those mildly curious about the fraternity, who’s past members include Winston Churchill, Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Hudini, to ‘Da Vinci-Code’ conspiracy theorists are welcome to peek inside Freemasons’ Hall. As one of the finest Art Deco buildings in the country, its immense classical exterior, peppered with orphic symbols, houses a whole range of treasures and oddities.
Guests will be able to get unique access to the impressive and ornate Grand Temple, the library and museum where collections of Masonic materials are housed, peek into a typical lodge room where thousands of masons meet each day, see over 150 traditional oil paintings by some of the most famous artists of their time, listen to musical performances by the Occasional Strings quartet, the Art Deco Orchestra and the Grand Organist Carl Jackson and ogle at all the stained glass, glossy marble, thrones, and decorated ceilings.
The group has even appointed its very first Artist in Residence as they celebrate their tercentenary and put together a new exhibition ‘Rough to Smooth: Art inspired by Freemasonry’ featuring work from nine guest artists celebrating Freemasonry and its role in society today; which visitors will also have access to.
Freemasons’ Hall, 60 Great Queen St, WC2B 5AZ will be open from 10am to 5pm on June 24. Entry to the building and ‘Rough to smooth: Art inspired by Freemasonry’ (Jun 24-Jul 1) is free.
Images: Andy Parsons.