ISSUE 1, April 2002

Editorial
MQ Interview: HRH the Duke of Kent
Grand Lodge: Quarterly Communication
Masonic Charities
Grand Lodge: General News
Architecture: Freemasons' Hall: Art Deco in the Shadow of Covent Garden
Gardener's Diary: Springing into Action
Book Reviews

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The glory of the building is the Grand Temple itself. On days on which it is in use, members come through the tower entrance and by wide staircases ascend to the first vestibule. Here is the War Memorial, formed of a stained-glass window, below which is a bronze casket, by Walter Gilbert, containing a roll of members who died in the Great War.
      Through a bronze screen the members enter a second vestibule to register their attendance, and then pass through a second bronze screen, where Walter Gilbert's massive bronze doors, depicting scenes from the building of King Solomon's Temple at Jerusalem, face them. Each door weighs one and a quarter tonnes and, when cast in 1931, were the largest single castings ever attempted in England.
      The Grand Temple is a great meeting hall 123 feet long, 90 feet wide and 62 feet high (37 x 27.5 x 19 metres) and seats 1,700. Despite an almost total absence of natural light, a clever combination of spatial design, honey-coloured marble and well-used artificial lighting gives a feeling of space, lightness and harmony.
      That combination leads the eyes naturally to the great ceiling cove, 15 feet in girth, which is entirely of mosaic work. Here is art deco decoration at its finest: stylised figures, architectural forms and geometric designs, all carefully balanced and in vibrant colours.
      Although principally used for great Masonic ceremonials - with its perfect acoustics, no bad sight lines and capability of being switched to a theatre 'in the round' - the Grand Temple is increasingly being used for musical theatre and concerts. During the Covent Garden Arts Festival it has been the venue for Mozart operas, semi-staged Haydn oratorios, Gilbert & Sullivan and Rodgers & Hammerstein. To raise money for charities it has also been the setting for concerts by orchestras and bands. Some older members, normally used to the solemn pageantry of great Masonic occasions, have been surprised at how easily it 'swings' to music of the big band era.

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