Two-handled loving cup; Silver gilt
and ivory trowel used by the Grand
Master, the Earl of Zetland to lay the
foundation stone of the Victorian
Freemasons’ Hall in Great Queen
Street in 1864 which was purchased
earlier this year by the Library
The exhibition was reviewed by the professional
publication, the museums journal where it was described as
being “of the scale and standard exemplified by [exhibitions]
offered by national museums”. The achievement of the
exhibition, according to the review, was “to draw attention
to the abysmal ignorance …of the social history of fraternity”.
The Library and Museum has continued to seek ways
to allay this ignorance and its leading role in this sector has
now been recognised by the award of a small grant by the
Museums, Libraries and Archives Council to explore the
establishment of a Subject Specialist Network on Fraternal
and Friendly Societies and Associations.
Working with major museums across the country
including Beamish Open Air Museum, the British Museum
and the Museum of English Rural Life at Reading, the
Library and Museum organised a workshop in Manchester
in December for curators, librarians and archivists whose
collections include fraternal society material.
It is intended that this will be the beginnings of a network
which will uncover these hidden collections, help other
museums, libraries and archives make more effective use
of them and put on displays to attract new audiences.
Diane Clements is Director of the
Library & Museum of Freemasonry
SUPPORTING THE LIBRARY & MUSEUM
After my talk at Grand Lodge Quarterly
Communication in September, a number of people
have asked me about the Friends of the Library
and Museum. This is one of a number of ways in
which the Library and Museum helps to fund itself.
Although a Masonic charity, it does not take part
in the Festival system.
The Friends group is open both to Freemasons
and the general public. Friends receive regular
newsletters featuring news about acquisitions,
articles about particular aspects of the collections
and book reviews. Recent editions included articles
about the built Masonic heritage, about Sir Michael
Costa, an important (but largely forgotten)
musician of the 19th century and an account of
the ‘behind the scenes of Freemasons’ Hall’ tour,
one of the events organised in conjunction with
the Summer exhibition The Hall in the Garden.
There are occasional special events for Friends
and discount vouchers on selected shop products.
Contributions from Friends assist in the
development of the Library and Museum and help
fund acquisitions and care for the collections.
The most recent acquisition made with the support
of income from the Friends was a large ceramic
two-handled loving cup depicting a meeting of an,
as yet unidentified, fraternity. Only one other
example of this pattern is known (in the People’s
History Museum in Manchester, where it is shown
on a much smaller mug).
It costs £25 a year join as an individual Friend
or £50 a year as an individual Lodge or Chapter.
Friends who are taxpayers can pay their
subscriptions under the Gift Aid scheme. It is also
possible to purchase a subscription as a gift.
Further details of the Friends group can be
found on the Library and Museum website at
where an application form can be found.
Letchworth’s, the Shop at Freemasons’ Hall,
is another important source of funding for the
Library and Museum. Building on the excellent
work of the late Walter Crombie and the London
Grand Rank Association for the Grand Charity,
the Library and Museum purchased the shop
company from the Grand Charity in 2002.
Kevin Duffy was appointed as manager and
under his management the Shop has gone from
strength to strength selling a wide range of books,
regalia, ties, souvenirs and jewellery.
The Shop has developed a mail order catalogue
and a web site, www.letchworthshop.co.uk, where
you can buy online. All the profits from the Shop
go towards the work of the Library and Museum.
Web site created by Mark Griffin