ISSUE 18, July 2006
Editorial
Archbishop Fisher: A Godly man and a Brother
Travel: The train takes the strain
Quarterly Communication: Annual Investiture speech by the Grand Master and Speech of the Pro Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes
Supreme Grand Chapter: Speech by the First Grand Principal and Report of the Committee of General Purposes Grand Lodge of New York: Speech by the Pro Grand Master
   Specialist Lodges: Keeping their eyes on the ball
Education: Planning ahead for the Chair and Events and New premises for Masonic research
Royal Opera House: A right Royal occasion
Royal opening: Beamish Museum
Digital records: Saving our past for the future
Library & Museum: The hall in the garden
Queen's Birthday: Masons played a prominent part
International: A Mason and the Foreign Legion
Masonic Charities: Grand Charity and NMSF and RMBI and RMTGB
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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The year’s Summer exhibition organised by the Library and Museum at Freemasons’ Hall is entitled The Hall in the Garden and it charts the development of the Great Queen Street site on which Freemasons’ Hall stands from the 1760s up to the present day.
    The first Freemasons’ Hall, designed by Thomas Sandby, had no street frontage but was built in the garden behind 61 Great Queen Street, a house dating from the 1650s, which was divided into two and had another small house behind it, which may have originally been a coach house. Grand Lodge retained parts of the back house as committee rooms and offices, but otherwise intended that these houses should be let to provide an income.
    Since eating and drinking (and singing and music-making) were important elements of Masonic meetings and many Lodges met at this time in inns, taverns and coffee houses, it seemed reasonable to let the back house on the site to provide such catering facilities. It was here that Luke Reilly set up the Freemasons’ Tavern and Coffee House in 1775.
    Trying to operate a Tavern in premises which had once been a private dwelling was not easy, and in 1788 the Tavern had to be demolished and rebuilt to a design by Sandby assisted by William Tyler, sculptor and architect of the Ordnance office in Westminster.
    It became four stories high with a stone facing up to the second floor, its appearance recorded in a contemporary watercolour of the time. New tenants then took over – Michael Richold (or Richbold) and John Mollard, described as wine merchants.
    In 1791 they successfully submitted plans for building a new kitchen in the garden of the adjoining house to the east (62 Great Queen Street), the lease of which had just been acquired by Grand Lodge, to replace the existing inadequate kitchen facilities.
    It was the beginning of a gradual expansion of the original site that was not to be completed until the 20th century.
    Richold and Mollard found it a difficult time to build up a business, as Britain was shortly to embark on an extended period of war with revolutionary France (and later Napoleon). Despite Richold and Mollard’s claim in a memorial to the Hall Committee in January 1794 that “they have brought the tavern from a state of obscurity into considerable repute” and rent increases being waived, profits remained insufficient.
    They gave up their tenancy in 1801, citing in a further communication with the Hall Committee “the nature of the times (which)… has made a great alteration in the profits of…our…business”.




A contemporary watercolour by Nixon of the rebuilt four-storey Tavern, circa 1800

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