The Hall in the Garden: Freemasons’ Hall
and its place in London, Library & Museum
of Freemasonry, Lewis Masonic, £14.99.
ISBN 0 85318 264 7.|
A Masonic building has stood in Great
Queen Street in London’s Covent Garden
since shortly after organised Freemasonry
began in England with the forming of the
first Grand Lodge in 1717.
The first foundation stone was laid on
1 May 1775 and the Hall was dedicated
on 23 May 1776. Since then there has been
a gradual expansion of the original site
which was not to be completed until the
Even in the 18th century, keeping
building costs within budget was difficult,
the original structure reaching £15,000
instead of the estimated £6,500.
Today’s Freemasons’ Hall is a popular
venue for outside organisations, as it has
been virtually since its foundation, such
bodies as the Church Missionary Society
and the British and Foreign Bible Society
using it in the 19th century.
For a unique insight into much of the
history of Freemasonry, this splendid and
lavishly illustrated book produced by the
Library & Museum of Freemasonry, is a
goldmine of information.
Details of the building of the present
structure, erected in honour of the fallen
of World War I, will particularly interest the
reader, with excellent photographs showing
the famous landmark rising into the sky.
There is also a poignant section
explaining the role of Freemasons’
Hall during the Second World War.
AUTHOR OF THE QUARTER
What inspired you to begin writing the
Matthew Hervey novels?
Long reading about Wellington’s army
and about Britain in the early 19th
century, a time I have always found
particularly interesting because it was
a ‘heroic’ period, and one on a political
and industrial cusp. And the horse was
still essential to warfare. I had re-read
Hornblower in the late eighties, and
then O’Brian and I became convinced
that stories of men in ‘the never-ending
war’ would continue to appeal; and that
the question ‘what happened then’ –
the time after Waterloo, when everyone
thinks we were at peace because Europe
was – would intrigue.
When and why did you develop your
interest in 19th century military history?
No professional army officer could fail
to be interested in the army’s history.
The army is formed by its history,
perhaps more than any other
institution, and to understand the
present you therefore have to
understand the past. And although
you have to be careful about applying
the ‘lessons of history’, if you ignore
them you will likely as not repeat the
same mistakes. The 19th century was
a great canvas for the army, and one
on which little things – individuals and
seemingly minor events – could have
a great impact.
Company of Spears is the eighth novel
in your acclaimed series featuring
Matthew Hervey. Do you envisage
continuing the series or have you any
further projects in the pipeline?
The series will continue, but I have little
idea where to. Hervey is now 37, a
particularly interesting age for a soldier.
But I am also writing a book of nonfiction,
and, without giving too much
away, I believe it will complement the
fiction. And after that there are several
other books to write besides the Hervey
series. I do also prize my journalism,
particularly my book reviews for The
Times and The Spectator.
When writing a book, have you a
preferred place of work and a favoured
Yes and yes, though it doesn’t always
follow that I work where and when
I prefer. The army taught me how to
concentrate, and some of my best
writing has been done in a notebook on
the Underground from Heathrow to the
Cavalry Club. I have a study, east-facing,
with a glorious pastoral prospect of
Banffshire – a lovely, unknown county –
and I like to write between 8.45 and
lunchtime, and then for a couple of
hours in the evening, depending on
who is here.
Who is your favourite author?
This is tricky, because other than Jane
Austen, to whom I turn when I want to
converse with the gentry of Hervey’s
time, there is no author to whom I return
often enough to think favourite. Except
the poets. If you want to write good
prose, you must read poetry. In my case,
Milton, Pope, Keats and Myles
Coverdale, of whom few have heard.
Which book are you reading at present?
Zoë Anderson’s history of The
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