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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Christmas Shopping

Rachel Gordon went window shopping in London’s West End for a preview of the Christmas rush.


The Kingsway Hall Hotel is next door to Grand Lodge and has special terms for MQ readers who must quote reference “ID 558” when booking. The offer (normal prices including VAT in brackets) are:

Standard Room: £160 (£240)
Executive Room: £200 (£280)
Prices are per room, and include a full English breakfast and a complimentary bottle of champagne.

Tel. 020 7309 0909
Fax: 020 7309 9696
    Christmas is coming but not everyone is looking forward to the holiday season. If you’re someone who hates shopping, then you’ll not be experiencing much cheer as the days leading up to the 25th pass by.
    There are always gift tokens of course. Or, if you’re web-savvy, you may be able to find something online. But, if you want to spoil friends and family this year – and perhaps break the habit of a lifetime – why not grasp the nettle and brave London’s West End?
    No matter how much people complain about the crowds, cost and transport, the capital is world class when it comes to shops. For the cream of the capital’s department stores, take a bus or tube to Marble Arch and you’ll be at the top of Oxford Street.
    The most famous shops include Debenhams, D H Evans, John Lewis, Selfridges, and flagship branches of BHS and Marks & Spencer.
    For music fans, the massive HMV record and multimedia store at 363 Oxford Street is the oldest record shop in the world.
    But, at the Marble Arch end, one of the first big stores you’ll come across is that old favourite, Marks & Spencer. According to spokeswoman Victoria Sims, gift buyers will be heading for the cashmere department – this branch has the largest selection of all its stores in the UK.
    Next door to M&S is Selfridges. Spokeswoman Kerry Savage says 2004 promises to be a spectacular Christmas for shoppers. Much of the lower ground floor will be turned over to a decorations hall, filled with baubles, tinsel and crackers.
    Her particular recommendations include a set of Crème de la Mer skincare products, which apparently is favoured by Hollywood celebrities Jennifer Lopez and Sharon Stone. The set comes in a designer leather bag from American accessories company Lambertson Truex and costs an alarming £435.
    A more affordable alternative, she suggests, is a bottle of Möet & Chandon Rosé Champagne, which comes in a bottle studded with Svarowski crystals – a mere £39.99.
    One special gift only available from Selfridges has been produced by the Teenage Cancer Trust. Various supporters, including Sarah Fergusson, have written short stories for a unique book, and the work will sell for £9.95 – all proceeds will go to the charity.
    Regent Street is less hectic than Oxford Street and is home to some quality stores. Not least is toy Mecca Hamleys, which has seven floors of temptations.
    It is also worth making a trip to department store Liberty in Regent Street. It can be tricky to find your way round, since it is in two buildings, but has plenty of presents to suit everyone.
    Spokeswoman Hazel Cross says perennial favourites include silk scarves for ladies and ties for men, many of which are in the famous Liberty prints.
    “We’ve a Christmas shop filled with decorations and we’ve also extended our bath shop, which has top of the range toiletries,” she adds.
    Covent Garden is also well worth a visit. There are no big department stores here, but plenty of smaller and interesting shops to whet your appetite.
    Allison Cattermoule, a spokeswoman for the Covent Garden Community Association, says: “Neal’s Yard Dairy in Shorts Gardens is fantastic for cheeses, and for unusual teas and china, try Neal Street East. You can also find a superb selection of maps and travel books at Stanfords in Long Acre”.
    In Covent Garden you can also visit Grand Lodge, which has hourly tours, free of charge and the Library & Museum. And, you will also be well placed to buy regalia or other items with a Masonic flavour at Letchworth’s shop on the ground floor.
    Finally, if you’re bitten by the shopping bug and want to find out more about what is available in London, check the Time Out Shopping Guide, which costs £8.99.