History of Freemason's Hall

Freemasons’ Hall is one of the finest Art Deco buildings in England and was built between 1927–1932 as a lasting memorial to the Freemasons who died in the First World War. It now Grade II* listed internally and externally and in addition to the Grand Temple, there are 21 Lodge Rooms, a Library and Museum, Board and Committee Rooms and administrative offices. The building is the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England and the principal meeting place for Masonic Lodges in London. Grand Lodge has been in Great Queen Street since 1775 and this is the third building on the site.

The First Hall

In 1775 The Premier Grand Lodge which was formed in 1717 purchased 61 Great Queen Street, behind which was a garden and a second house. Thomas Sandby designed the first Freemasons’ Hall which was built in the garden. The house on the street became the Freemasons’ Tavern, the second house became offices and meeting rooms. In addition to Masonic uses, Sandby’s Hall was to be an important centre during the ‘London Season’, hosting events and a place where philanthropic societies met.

The Second Hall

In the 1820s another Hall was built alongside Sandby’s Hall to designs by Sir John Soane but his work, sadly, disappeared during the building of the second Freemasons’ Hall in the 1860s, to designs by Frederick Pepys Cockerill. Property had been acquired to the west of the existing Hall and Cockerill produced a severely classical design, incorporating Sandy’s 1775 Grand Hall – which survived until 1932 when severe structural damage resulting from a fire in 1883 led to its demolition.

New Connaught Rooms


Cockerill’s Freemasons’ Hall was largely demolished to make way for the current building but its eastern end survives as part of the New Connaught Rooms which was built in 1910 and named after the then Grand Master, the Duke of Connaught. It soon became one of the most popular venues for social and corporate events.

Sandbys Hall

The Third Hall

This imposing art deco building, covering two and one quarter acres, was built 1927-1933 as a memorial to the 3,225 Freemasons who died on active service in the First World War. The money was raised following an Especial Meeting of the United Grand Lodge of England which was held in 1919 to celebrate peace, and was attended by a large number of Freemasons. The Grand Master, the Duke of Connaught, made his first appeal asking for funds to provide a Masonic Peace Memorial worthy of the Craft; and the Masonic Million Memorial took the form of a building.

Peace Memorial WindowThe Masonic Million Memorial Fund was then launched in September 1919 and throughout the world, Masons were invited to contribute to raise the £1Million needed to finance the work. Donations from individuals and Lodges were to be entirely voluntary and recognised by special commemorative Hall Stone jewels.

In 1925 a major international architectural competition was held, and from the one hundred and ten schemes submitted the jury, chaired by Sir Edwin Lutyens, President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, shortlisted the ideas to ten to be fully worked up. The winning design was by the London partnership of H V Ashley and F Winton Newman and work started on the construction of the building in 1927. .

Initially known as the Masonic Peace Memorial, at the outbreak of war in 1939 it reverted to the name Freemasons’ Hall. It is the only art deco building in London which has been preserved as built and still used for its original purpose.


Freemason's Hall Memorial

Freemasons' Hall Entrance

Freemason's Hall Main Entrance

Freemasons' Hall Entrance

The Grand Temple at Freemason's Hall Grand Temple at Freemasons Hall

Central to the building that stands today is the Grand Temple, meeting place for Grand Lodge, Grand Chapter and the annual meetings of a number of Provincial Grand Lodges including Metropolitan Grand Lodge. Two Masonic bronze doors, each weighing one and a quarter tonnes, open on to a Chamber 123 feet long, 90 feet wide and 62 feet high capable of seating 1,700. The ceiling cove is of mosaic and in addition to figures and symbols from Masonic ritual includes, in the corner, figures representing the four cardinal virtues Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude and Justice and the Arms of HRH Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, Grand Master 1901-1939, in recognition that it was because of his inspiration the Masonic Peace Memorial was conceived and built.

Ceiling of the Grand Temple at Freemason's HallJust as the former buildings including the Freemason's Tavern were hired out to help towards the running the costs, from 1985, Freemasons’ Hall has been hired for a number of special events and exhibitions as well as a location used in television shows and films such as Poirot, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, Churchill: The Gathering Storm, Shackleton, The Saint, Spooks, Hustle, Wings of a Dove, Cody Banks 2, Johnny English, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and many others. The Building has also been used for film premieres, London Fashion Week, fashion shows, business launches, and more. In the same way Sandby’s Grand Hall was used for non Masonic purposes, the Grand Temple is increasingly being used for concerts and musical theatre because of its almost perfect acoustics and clear sight-lines.

About Freemasonry

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Address: Freemason’s Hall
60 Great Queen Street
United Kingdom

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