Covent Garden is my favourite area of London. It’s too touristy, it’s true, but that’s because all the best attractions are there. Theatres, museums, parks, boutiques… there’s always something to see and do. But, there’s one attraction that’s often overlooked among the bustle and confusion: the Freemason’s Hall.
It’s nothing like you imagine it. The Freemasons have a reputation for being a secretive and mysterious group who gets up to who knows what sort of things behind closed doors. So, you’d think they’d congregate in a dark, dank hall in some hidden, hard-to-reach cave, guarded by some sort of menacing ogre ready to kick the hell out of you if you don’t know the secret password necessary to set foot inside.
Not so. Tucked away in Great Queen Street, the impressive art deco building is a kaleidoscope of colours anyone can visit. Every room, as well as the corridors, is decorated with mosaics, stained glass, and painted and embossed ceilings that, together with the dramatic lighting, give it a majestic appearance. The Grand Temple chamber, with its massive bronze doors and huge organ, looks particularly solemn.
The library is a quiet oasis where you can read and do your research on all things Freemasonry, assisted by a helpful and eager librarian. The only catch is that you have to register. And, then, there’s the museum. Jewels, photographs, vestments, collars, and all kinds of Freemason artefacts collected throughout the century are on display. I could spend hours in there, it’s so fascinating!
Needless to say, this gorgeous building is often used as a film and television location. If you’re a fan of “Spooks”, you’ll recognize it as the MI5 building. It also made an appearance in “Sherlock” and “The Hitch-hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy”.
If you fancy a peek inside, you can enjoy a guided tour every day from Monday to Friday. Saturday is open too, but you have to book in advance.
What do you think of the Freemasons’ Hall? Will you visit it next time you’re in town?