Tuesday, 11 February 2014

ALISS Visit to the Library and Museum of Freemasonry

Back in January I went on an ALISS visit to the Library and Museum of Freemasonry in London. When I think of Freemasonry I think of the Stonecutters in The Simpsons - the secrecy surrounding Freemasonry and other such organisations is rather fascinating, and I was looking forward to having a look around.

The afternoon began with a tour of the Freemasons' Hall. Sadly photographs weren't permitted, but tours are run regularly for the general public and I strongly recommend you check it out - it is beautiful, with magnificent architecture (that has often been used in filming).

The library and museum is on the first floor of the building, which dates from 1927, and holds a collection of books, music and manuscripts on Freemasonry in England as well as some material from elsewhere in the world. The library is the repository for the archives of the United Grand Lodge of England and the Supreme Chapter of England and predecessor bodies. The library staff are kept busy with enquiries from Freemasons and also members of the public - family history queries are among the most common. I was surprised, and impressed, to learn that the materials are open to the public - I had expected that some at least would be confidential, or only accessible by Freemasons, but this is not the case.

The day ended with a visit to the archives and a look at some of the amazing documents held there. Sadly I had to leave a little before the end but I left much more enlightened about Freemasonry as a whole and their library and archive holdings.

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