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Exhibition – Spotlight: Freemasons and entertainment
June 8, 2015 - February 13, 2016
During the 1700s, as Freemasonry grew in popularity, it began to attract new members from increasingly diverse social backgrounds. Masonic lodges had always attracted men whose work could take them anywhere in the country, such as mariners and merchants, who would find security and friendship within the fraternity. The stage was no different and throughout the 1700s, there are many examples of members of the theatrical or musical professions enjoying or seeking membership of lodges. The 1800s saw the development of “class lodges”, which were lodges for men with a common interest, background or occupation.
In 1863 Maybury Lodge No. 969 was formed for freemasons connected to the Royal Dramatic College in Woking, a home for retired actors. This was the first of many lodges associated with the theatrical profession that would open in the next 100 years.
This exhibition examines over twenty lodges associated with theatre, music and entertainment from lodges for Victorian pantomime stars in London’s Drury Lane to musical hall Bohemians in Birkenhead.
Throughout the exhibition you will also find items relating to many theatrical and musical “stars” of their time; ventriloquists, actor managers, the original Charley’s Aunt, music hall and vaudeville comedians, composers and conductors, a star of the silent screen and two rock music legends.