The Freemasons' Hall, Holborn
There has been a Freemasons’ Hall in Great Queen Street in what is now Camden for nearly 240 years- since 1776. Here in the Library and Museum of Freemasonry at Freemasons’ Hall, we have been exploring the links between freemasonry and Camden in our collections.
Reflecting the link between the Earls of Camden and development of Camden Town, Camden Lodge No 704 uses the arms of the Camden family on its member’s badge or jewel. The lodge was formed in 1857 and first met in the Assembly Rooms in Kentish Town.
Located in the south of the modern borough, Freemasons’ Hall was in the Borough of Holborn, one of Camden’s constituent parts. Holborn Lodge No 2398 was formed in 1891 by members of the Holborn and District Board of Works and the St George’s Parish Vestry. Its lodge jewel reflects many aspects of the Borough’s history. The shields represent the six parishes within Holborn. The St Andrew’s cross is for St Andrew Holborn whilst the St George’s cross represents both St George the Martyr and St George Bloomsbury. The griffin is for Gray’s Inn, the lion represents Lincoln’s Inn and the stag with the arrow represents St Giles-in-the-Fields.
Kingsway was purpose-built as part of a redevelopment of the area in 1905. Its route cleared away a maze of small streets in Holborn. Kingsway Lodge No 3027 was formed at the same time and chose to have an image of this major new thoroughfare on its jewel.
As the population of Hampstead grew, other lodges were established in the area and their badges reflect elements of the local landscape. Hampstead Lodge No 2408 was formed in 1891 and met at the Hampstead Conservatoire in Swiss Cottage (now part of the Central School of Speech and Drama). The holly branch on its badge is a reference to the abundance of holly on the Heath. Loyal Heath Lodge No 4716 formed in 1925 has a picture of Hampstead pond and Belsize Lodge No 5280, dating from 1931, has a picture of what may intended to be Belsize Manor on its badge. From 1931 to 1947 this lodge met at the Railway Hotel in West End Lane, later a legendary music venue.
You can look for details of all these items and other Camden links in our collections at http://www.freemasonry.london.museum/catalogue.php
Article by Diane Clements, Director of The Library and Museum of Freemasonry