Showcase

Masonic Aprons

The Masonic apron is the badge of membership for Freemasons. It symbolises the protective apron worn by stonemasons and in its original form was a complete lambskin. When a member joins he completes three ceremonies or ‘degrees’.

Centenary Jewels

When a lodge can demonstrate one hundred years of continuous working it can apply for a ‘centenary warrant’ and its members are allowed to wear a centenary jewel. A decorative bar is available for bicentenaries.

Charity Jewels

Freemasons have collected for charity from the earliest days of the organisation. One system used is ‘Charity Festivals’. These originated from a collection carried out after a celebratory meal in the late 1700s. Members donating a sum of money become ‘Stewards’ for the year and can wear a medal or ‘Masonic jewel’.

Other Fraternal and Friendly Societies

Freemasonry is not the only fraternal organisation. The oldest of these were formed in the 1700s. The range of organisations is very wide – from Old Friends to Druids, Oddfellows to Knights of the Phoenix, Buffaloes and Freemasons.

Freemasons and the Royal Society: Martin Folkes

Martin Folkes (1690-1754) was an antiquary who was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society at the age of 23 for his study of mathematics. He served as President of the Royal Society from 1741-1752.

Freemasonry and the French Revolution: Sèvres porcelain

During the French Revolution the Sèvres porcelain factory just outside Paris, originally established and patronised by the French Royal Family and nobility, turned to producing items which reflected the new political situation.

English Masonic Charity: Silver Candelabra

This silver candelabra was presented to Dr Robert Crucefix at a meeting held at the New London Hotel, Bridge Street, Blackfriars on 24th November 1841 to mark his contribution towards freemasonry which included the development of what was the forerunner of today’s Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution.

English Masonic Charity: Masonic Home, Croydon

By 1847 supporters of the Masonic Asylum for Aged and Decayed Freemasons, the forerunner of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution, had raised funds to purchase land in Croydon on which to build a home for 50 residents.

Women and Freemasonry: Commemorative Pendant

To mark its centenary the Order of Women Freemasons commissioned the newest addition to the select number of commemorative pieces which the organisation has produced – a pendant.

Rebuilding of Freemasons’ Hall – 1860s

In the 1860s Grand Lodge began a comprehensive rebuilding of the site in Great Queen Street around the first Freemasons’ Hall built by Thomas Sandby in 1774-6. Purchases of properties along Great Queen Street enabled the site to be expanded.

Jewel: Wellington Lodge No. 707

The Library and Museum has recently purchased this Masonic jewel with an unusual, if not unique, design. In the form of an oval pendant, 3.5 inches high, the jewel features a Square and Compass design around the letter G, a sunburst above and a set of steps below.

Recognising London: William Wix 1768 – 1849

William Wix (1768-1849) was an attorney and Fellow of the Royal Society and held the office of Provincial Grand Master of Essex from 1801-1824 (and of Grand Superintendent from 1801-1846).

Badges, medals and jewels of Freemasonry

Badges, medals and jewels are amongst the earliest surviving objects associated with freemasonry. In the eighteenth century, when the first Grand Lodge in the world was formed, it was not uncommon to wear a badge, often very elaborate, which provided visual evidence of membership of an organisation and of rank within that organisation.

The Hall in the Garden: The Duke of Sussex

The Duke of Sussex, who had become Grand Master at the Union, died on 21st April 1843. It was decided a statue in Freemasons’ Hall would be the best tribute to him.

Cataloguing of lodge jewels

The Library and Museum’s project of cataloguing the many thousands of lodge jewels in its collection is continuing.

Jewel: Penshaw Lodge

Penshaw Lodge No 3194 was formed one hundred years ago in 1906 and still meets at the Masonic Hall, Shiney Row in County Durham.

Mozart and Freemasonry

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg on 27th January 1756. Most of his early life was spent travelling around Europe studying and giving concerts as a child prodigy.

Kingsway

On 18th October 1905, King Edward VII officially opened Kingsway, a new roadway linking the Strand with Euston Station which had been the largest road building scheme in London since the construction of Regent Street in 1820.

Elegance and Splendour: The Story of Freemasons’ Hall

The current exhibition at the Library and Museum is about the first Freemasons’ Hall which was built in 1776 in Great Queen Street, Covent Garden, as the headquarters for the growing membership of the Grand Lodge of England.

The Ancient Order of Foresters

The Ancient Order of Foresters is one of the oldest friendly societies, with its origins in Yorkshire in the 1790s. Philanthropy and virtue featured prominently in the principles and ritual of the Society.

Grand Lodge of Druids, late 18th Century

Eighteenth-century British intellectuals were very interested in the Druids; they were attracted to the idea that ancient Britain had not been peopled by savages but had an order of learning and wisdom that had rivalled – and possibly influenced – the Greek philosophers and the astrologers of ancient Persia.

French Masonic clock

The Library and Museum has recently purchased this French Masonic clock.

St John’s Day

St John the Baptist, whose feast day is 24th June, and St John the Evangelist, whose festival is celebrated on 27th December, are regarded as the “patron saints” of freemasonry.

The Spirit that sustains: Cardboard Charity Jewels

During the Second World War metal was required for the production of aircraft and armaments. Masonic charities traditionally issued medals or jewels each year commemorating fundraising events (known as festivals). During the war Masonic charities replaced their metal steward’s jewels with card or plastic versions.

The Legacy of John Pine

As the first official engraver to Grand Lodge, John Pine established a tradition of high-quality engraving and decoration in masonic documents and publications which has continued to the present day.

Buildings in London

The early archives of one of the most fascinating buildings in London are to be made available to the public by the Library and Museum of Freemasonry as part of a cataloguing and conservation project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Sir Henry Irving (1838 – 1905)

Freemason Sir Henry Irving was the first actor to be knighted (in 1895) having dominated the London stage as an actor and as manager of the Lyceum Theatre (from 1878) with his productions of Shakespearean plays. He died a wealthy man with a fortune estimated at more than £2 million in modern terms.

‘Act on the Square’

Pictorial music covers such as this became common from the middle of the nineteenth century following the invention of colour lithography which enabled multi coloured printed work to be produced in quantity and cheaply.

A Seasonal Feast!

The archives include a bill for a lodge dinner that took place on 1st December 1775 at an unknown location. The total bill was more than £14 and is annotated in a number of places to show the number of bottles ordered although we do not know how many were present.

The Doyle Cup

The Doyle Cup is one of two presented to Lieutenant General Sir John Doyle by the Freemasons of Guernsey in 1806, one of a number of generous gifts presented at that time including a set of captured horse furniture originally intended for the Viceroy of Mexico.

Meeting in a Bottle

This is an exceptionally rare piece and was acquired by the Library and Museum at auction in June 2003. Apparently dating from the late eighteenth century, it shows a lodge meeting in a bottle with a group of men in regimental uniform positioned around a table.

The John Gale Jewel

A fine example from our extensive collection of pierced masonic jewels, the John Gale jewel, so called from the name enscribed on it, dates from around 1770. Very few of the jewels in the collection are named so it is relatively rare and its design is unique.