MARK MASONS HALL, LONDON: HOME TO 7 MASONIC ORDERS

MaRK MaSoNS HaLL, LoNDoN – HoMe To 7 MaSoNiC oRDeRS

ORIGINAL SOURCE:

http://www.masonicforum.ro/en/nr26/london.html


Although the name “Mark Masons Hall” implies one organization, there are no less then seven independent orders administered from this building: Mark Masons; Royal Ark Mariners; Order of the Secret Monitor; Royal and Select Masters; Order of the Allied Masonic Degrees; Red Cross of Constantine and the Knights Templar. Each is headed by an independent Grand Master and Grand Officers. They do, however, share their administration under the guidance of a common Grand Secretary for all seven orders. At present he is V.W. Bro. John Brackley, who was appointed in June 2005 and is now responsible for all activities in Mark Masons Hall. Craft and Royal Arch Masonry are administered from Freemasons’ Hall in Great Queen Street. The Ancient and Accepted Rite (what Americans call the “Scottish Rite”) is popularly referred to in England as the Rose Croix, and is administered by the Supreme Council for England and Wales at 10 Duke Street, a few blocks from Mark Masons Hall.

Yasha BERESINGER, PGStB

The Masonic Tourist – Mark Masons Hall, London

Mark Masons Hall in London is home to seven different Masonic bodies and a very fine restaurant open to the public for lunch. London has many great sites for the Masonic tourist. Mark Masons Hall is not as well known as Freemasons’ Hall, but it is well worth a visit.

The Building

The Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of England and Wales and its Districts and Lodges Overseas, to give it its full title, is a totally independent Masonic order and will celebrate its 150th Anniversary in September 2006. In 2005 it celebrated 25 years in its prestigious premises at 86 St James’s Street in South West London. This is a short walking distance from Buckingham Palace and equidistant from Piccadilly Circus and Regent’s Street. Mark Masons Hall had existed in this same area for many decades until June 1980, when it moved from its rather cramped quarters in Upper Brook Street to its present spacious five-floor Victorian building at the bottom of St. James’s.

Interior of one of the many lodge rooms

The “new” venue was originally purpose built in 1862 as the residence of the Thatched House Club, later occupied by the Union Club, and later still by the Constitutional Club from whom it was finally purchased in 1978. The St. James area is the historical “club land” of London. Today, as you walk along Pall Mall and turn into St. James’s Street you will see the two streets filled with colorful fluttering banners of the long standing London Clubs: the Athenaeum, the Reform Club, the Royal Automobile Club, and many more, most having resided in the same premises since the eighteenth Century.

Although the name “Mark Masons Hall” implies one organization, there are no less then seven independent orders administered from this building: Mark Masons; Royal Ark Mariners; Order of the Secret Monitor; Royal and Select Masters; Order of the Allied Masonic Degrees; Red Cross of Constantine and the Knights Templar. Each is headed by an independent Grand Master and Grand Officers. They do, however, share their administration under the guidance of a common Grand Secretary for all seven orders. At present he is V.W. Bro. John Brackley, who was appointed in June 2005 and is now responsible for all activities in Mark Masons Hall. Craft and Royal Arch Masonry are administered from Freemasons’ Hall in Great Queen Street. The Ancient and Accepted Rite (what Americans call the “Scottish Rite”) is popularly referred to in England as the Rose Croix, and is administered by the Supreme Council for England and Wales at 10 Duke Street, a few blocks from Mark Masons Hall.

Access to the building is easy. Near the top of St. James’s Street is Green Park underground station, on the Piccadilly Line, and it’s only a few minutes walk from there to Mark Masons Hall. The building itself has quaint torch lights outside that are lit at nighttime, giving the edifice a very distinctive and distinguished look. The best time to visit Mark Masons Hall is in the mornings when access is totally free. There are no regular or organized tours, but on entering the building, the Brother manning the reception area will gladly guide the visitor to the various floors and rooms in the premises.

Portraits of some of the heads of the bodies
headquartered in Mark Mason Hall, London

The building has five floors with the main Temple on the ground floor and the dressing rooms in the basement. The first floor accommodates several dinning rooms, which include a first class restaurant open to the public at lunch times. The room overlooks St. James’s Palace and serves a high quality buffet lunch and “trolley” starters in the old tradition. It is under the management of Bro. William Smith, who has been serving Brethren and customers over the last six years as Catering Manager of the building. Six additional Lodge rooms cater for the various degrees and orders practiced in Mark Masons Hall. The top floor is exclusively reserved for the administrative offices.

On the walls throughout the building are paintings of many past and living leaders of the various orders. An imposing and very large standing portrait of our Grand Master, M.W. Bro. HRH Prince Michael of Kent, faces the entrance to the lobby. Five well executed half bust paintings decorate the Grand Temple, two of them, William IV and the Duke of York and Albany, were executed by the well known English portrait painter James Lonsdale.

As the wide staircase leads to the first floor, the six portraits of the current rulers of the various orders appear hanging high on the building’s walls. Several of the very large and earlier portraits were brought over from the Brook Street premises and include a curiosity of five paintings, now in the smaller dining room on the first floor, from which the bottom half of the portrait has been physically removed and discarded. This was done in the old premises to accommodate the large portraits on rather smaller walls!

Ornately crafted Master’s chair
with elaborate inlaid woodwork

There are several other objects and pieces of furniture dispersed through the building. Take note on the ground floor of the rather large and impressive limestone piece brought to England from King Solomon’s quarries in 1956. The stone was originally selected by the then Grand Master, the Earl of Stradbroke, on a visit to the Holyland and later transported from Israel by the Brethren of the King Solomon Quarries Lodge when they moved to England. Also notable is the splendid Master’s Chair by the reception hall, dated probably in the first half of the nineteenth century. It has a detailed and elaborate inlaid woodwork as a backrest and an angled mirror as a canopy, which was clearly intended, by the unidentified craftsman who made the chair, to reflect the superb wooden handiwork.

Any brother belonging to the orders mentioned above may attend a meeting of the order upon proving himself, as is the usual custom. The initial approach should be made to the Brother on duty at the reception desk of Mark Masons Hall. As with Craft meetings in London, at the end of each of the meetings a dinner is held. The Mark degree is considered the friendliest of the degrees, and a visit to Mark Masons Hall will confirm the very good name that the order enjoys.

Reprinted from

March-April 2006

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