ISSUE 11, October 2004
Elias Ashmole: Masonic Icon
Travel: The magical beauty of Scotland
Honoured: By the Glovers' livery company
The Theatre: Strong links between Craft and stage
Quarterly Communication: Address of the Pro Grand Master and, Report of the Board of General Purposes
Mauritius: Fascinating Masonic history
Rochester Cathedral: Kent Masons' magnificent fresco
Clerkenwell: 25 years of Masonry
  Bravery award: One Mason's heroism is honoured
Christmas shopping: What to buy in London's West End
High flight: Helping terminally ill children
Jewels of the Craft: An essential part of Masonry
Library & Museum: John Pine exhibition and Library & Museum Trust report
Masonic education: Events for Masons; Quatuor Coronati Lodge; Mentors for new Masons
Charities: Masons provide emergency aid for flood victims; Charity news; Demelza gives voice
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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It went on to describe the building:

“Situated on Clerkenwell Green, just off the Farringdon Road, the Old Middlesex Sessions House was built in 1779-1782 by Thomas Rogers after a design by John Carter. It is a magnificent construction with a Palladian front and is listed as an historic building. It has an imposing entrance hall dominated by the Judges’ Staircase, all beneath a glass dome – a truly elegant introduction to a building of considerable architectural merit.”

    Deadlines were set for participation, and £3,000 by 31st May 1978 would acquire a share, and this £3,000 could be paid by various methods. Lodges paying later would need to pay a premium and those paying fully by the end of May 1978 would enjoy a discount.
    In 1979 the building (in a terribly derelict state) was bought by the company for £300,000 After tremendous efforts to restore the building, the first meetings were held in September 1979, although the building was not officially dedicated and opened until June 1980. It is the September 1979 opening that the Centre is currently celebrating 25 years later.
    Along the way there have been troubles and crises. An early financial crisis was partly brought about by sharply escalating rates of interest and inflation. To overcome these problems, participating Lodges were levied with four yearly amounts of £250. There have also been one or two fires which have put certain facilities out of use for a time. More recently it has been necessary to embark on a project to raise £400,000 to refurbish the exterior, and again, participating Lodges are rising to that challenge.
    By the very nature of Lodge meetings – “in this country Freemasons’ Lodges generally meet in the evening” – much of the Centre would be unused until about 3.30-4pm. Recognising the under-utilisation of such a valuable asset, the directors have very successfully sought commercial business. This has not, and never will be to the detriment of the Masonic use of the Old Sessions House, but the revenue from such business keeps the Masonic costs at a reasonable level for Central London.
    Charitable status for the Old Sessions House is being sought so that gifts, legacies etc can now be tax-advantageously applied to keeping this magnificent Centre, the largest in Europe, in use for succeeding generations of Masons.

Dorian Price is Managing Director of the Central London Masonic Centre

    All photographs: David Peabody

From left to right: Bernard Ross, Ken Latter (Central London Masonic Centre chairman), Lord Northampton, Cllr Joan Coupland (Mayor of Islington) and Ken Bourne (founder)