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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Clerkenwell Green

The determination of Masons has seen an historic court building become a major Masonic attraction, as Dorian Price explains.

Lord Northampton (left) presents an Armada silver plate to Ken Latter, chairman of the Central London Masonic Centre


A milestone achieved

The Central London Masonic Centre occupies a splendid Grade II Listed building on Clerkenwell Green, very close to the City of London boundary. This building was originally the Sessions House, or court building, for the Middlesex Quarter Sessions.
    That London Masons can meet in such splendid surroundings and enjoy security of tenure is due to a devoted band of senior Masons. In the mid-1960s many London Lodges met in hotels and restaurants. They enjoyed no security but endured ever-increasing charges, and often ejection, when the owners of the premises found more rewarding uses such as gambling.
    In 1966, New Concord Lodge No. 813 took an initiative to bring this situation to the notice of London Lodges generally and to suggest that the acquisition of suitable premises was the alternative.
    “Many days were spent in fruitless search” for these premises and, indeed, two or three years passed with very little response from Lodges. Undeterred, however, certain enthusiastic Masons formed a company – the Central London Masonic Centre Limited – to continue the search for premises, and the company was formally brought into existence in January 1970.
    Then, in 1975, those Masons lighted upon the Old Sessions House. Tremendous publicity was given to the building and the scheme to acquire it. In one publication it was said:

“More than one hundred London Lodges have signed up as founder members of the new Centre. A further 200 Lodges can be accommodated and would provide the impetus needed to complete the job quickly to get the Centre established and operating by early 1979.
    “The commitment sought from Lodges is modest – to contribute £1,500 before the 31st May 1978, and a further £1,500 within four years. For this, the founder Lodges are assured of the availability of purpose- developed suites of rooms at reasonable rentals for meetings, plus catering facilities for meals, also at reasonable costs. Whatever the twin pressures of inflation and tourism wreak on future London prices and accommodation, can, thereafter, safely be forgotten.”