The best kept secret in Freemasonry? The answer must surely be the Bath Masonic Hall and Museum. Having seen an episode of “Flog It” on TV which featured this fascinating building and its contents Bill Clayton made contact with The Royal Cumberland Lodge Secretary, Alan Morsley, to arrange a visit. Alan could not have been more helpful and welcoming. A date was chosen when the lodge were to be visited by the Pro. GM of Somerset, RW. Bro. Stuart Hadler. The ceremony was to be a Second Degree which was ideal since this is performed with all the lights on making viewing easier, particularly for visitors, in such a large and interesting Temple.
After an uneventful journey by minibus, just 2 and a half hours from Cranleigh, our party were welcomed with tea and sandwiches and introduced to W.Bro. Trevor Quartermaine, who has a vast knowledge of the building, its fascinating history and the Masonic Museum. We spent an hour with Trevor being conducted on a tour of what had once been Bath’s original Theatre Royal, then a Catholic Chapel where Bishops were ordained, before becoming home to one of England’s oldest Provincial masonic lodges, the Royal Cumberland No. 41, the only English lodge with complete records since 1732!
As expected, the ritual and perambulations during the ceremony were quite different to what we are used to in Cranleigh Lodge, but nevertheless, perfectly recognisable and excellently performed by all concerned. The Tracing Boards in Bath are HUGE
and require three or four brethren to lift and change them, although they are not the 200 year old originals they are faithful copies. The explanation of the Second Degree Tracing Board, which is considerably longer, was worth the visit on its own!
Following the ceremony we adjourned to the splendid dining room for the Festive Board. Cranleigh members were dispersed around the tables and made to feel very welcome by our Royal Cumberland hosts. There was considerable banter amongst
those proposing and replying to toasts, particularly from the Pro. GM who spoke in a relaxed manner and with great humour, he obviously feels very at home in Bath. All too soon it was time for us to hit the road and head back to Surrey.