A lot of hard work and planning by the Leyland Lights committee had gone into organising a day trip to United Grand Lodge of England at Great Queen Street when 29 light blue members finally set out on an historic trip down to London.
On a chilly Friday morning in March the Leyland Lights organisation turned to fruition when members of the Leyland Lights boarded the coach for their day trip to London. They were accompanied by a small number of dark blues from the Leyland Group of Lodges and of the 29 light blues on the trip, two of them had only been initiated the night before. They were equally, if not more excited at the prospect of visiting ‘HQ’ on their very first adventure into and with Freemasonry. There were an additional two non-masons who will be joining Leyland Lodges later this year.
The coach set off from Wellington Park, Leyland at 7am and after a ‘pit stop’ at motorway services North of Birmingham they arrived at Great Queen Street just after midday. Following the long coach journey, the visitors called in at The Hercules Pillars public house for some light refreshments and before crossing the road to Freemasons’ Hall for a guided tour of the museum and library.
The tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and had been a London mason for over 25 years. The museum had many interesting historical artefacts including Sir Winston Churchill’s apron, the throne that King George IV used as the first Royal Grand Master and a replica of the Goose & Gridiron public house sign where the first Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge of England was held on 24 June 1717.
Continuing on with the museum tour the light blues were shown into the library holding a vast array of Masonic literature which is open for reference use. There was a comprehensive collection of printed books and manuscripts on every facet of Freemasonry in England as well as material on Freemasonry elsewhere in the world including, subjects associated with Freemasonry or with mystical and esoteric traditions. The collection included Masonic music, poetry and literature – there are a number of notable examples of fine eighteenth and nineteenth century bindings.
The tour wended its way through the impressive marble lined building to the main Temple that is accessed through two massive solid brass doors that each weigh over a tonne and being perfectly balanced, allowing them to be opened with a single finger. Inside this Temple are around 2000 seats arranged on various levels, along with a gilded organ made by Henry Willis and Sons in 1933 which was installed as part of the original furnishings – the organ is the largest of three in Grand Lodge and has 2200 individual pipes. The gold leaf was renewed by Robert Woodland in 2015 and he was affectionately known as, Bob the ‘guilder’.
After the tour finished, the visitors had time to take a second look around the museum, library and shop before heading to the Freemasons Arms public house for a meal in their private function room. This evening meal had been arranged by the Leyland Lights and was included in the cost of the trip.
The coach pickup was due at 8pm from Great Queen Street and whilst there was 2 hours to spare from the end of meal, some of the party took the opportunity to do some sightseeing and took a walk through Covent Garden. A last photograph as a memento of the day was taken outside Freemasons Hall and everyone boarded the coach home.
It was a long day with the coach finally arriving back in Leyland at 1am Saturday morning. All travellers had had a wonderful day through an excellent day trip and visit and one which would remain long in the memory of the Leyland Lights.