Look inside Liverpool’s historic Freemasons hall hidden in the heart of the city
These pictures show the hidden world inside the Masonic Hall on one of Liverpool’s most-visited streets
The hall’s plain facade on Hope Street, across the road from the Everyman Theatre, conceals a vast warren of colourful rooms seldom seem by the public.
Freemasonry has a secretive reputation and that might be why few Liverpolitans have been inside .
But the building is opened to the public for tours and the Liverpool Masonic Group says it is keen to show people around.
The Masons have been based at the Hope Street site since 1857 when they bought what was then known as the “House in the Garden”. The building was expanded in the 1870s and again in 1932.
It’s much bigger than it looks from Hope Street, stretching back tens of metres over several floors behind that entrance portal reading “Kodes La Adonai” – meaning “Holiness to the Lord”.
One of the most striking rooms is the multicoloured Egyptian Room on the lower ground floor. The room is designed to look like an ancient Egyptian temple. In the middle are banners representing the 12 tribes of Israel.
The room is used by Royal Arch masons, a senior level of freemasonry.
The Masons’ website explains: “For a Freemason to take only the three Craft degrees and not join the Royal Arch means his Masonry might be compared with the experience of the man who goes to watch play of Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap but leaves 10 minutes before the end.
“In the latter instance he can say he has been to the Mousetrap but he doesn’t know it was all about – in the former he can say he is a Freemason but he is missing that piece of the jigsaw that would render him complete.”
There are several other ornate lodge meeting rooms in the building.
We saw the Roman Room – decorated in the style of a Roman temple – and the 18th century-style Adams Room.
The hall was badly damaged by a fire in the 1960s, which is why the central Corinthian Hall looks like a set from a 70s space drama.
Each lodge meeting room also has a similarly-decorating dining room opposite. A network of catering lifts in the building takes food to and from a large kitchen upstairs.
The ground floor bar boasts large windows looking out over Hope Street. And in the upper frame, barely visible from outside, are stunning colourful stained glas panes including Liver Birds and masonic symbols.
Through the hall’s main entrance you enter a corridor lined with historic Masonic banners. At the end is a war memorial, with a detailed bronze sculpture and the names of 190 Masons who died in World War I.
There’s also a wonderful metal cage lift, reminiscent of New York.
The hall isn’t just home to the Freemasons – it’s also home to the Performers Theatre School and to Merseyside Academy of Drama.
And the Masons also have offices to let upstairs – that’s why there’s an estate agent’s sign outside.
What is freemasonry?
Freemasonry has long been the subject of rumours and conspiracy theories, but the order says it wants to be open and transparent.
The first Grand Lodge for Freemasons was founded in London 300 years ago. Today there are some 200,000 Freemasons in England.
The Liverpool and West Lancashire Freemasons’ website says: “Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisations.”
The site adds: “Freemasonry prides itself on its transparency.
“Not only are Freemasons completely free to acknowledge their membership, they are encouraged to do so.”
And the United Grand Lodge of England says that, despite myths, masons are not expected to give preference to fellow members.
It says: “This would be unacceptable and may lead to action being taken against those involved. On joining, each new member states that he expects no material gain from membership.”