A Masonic Experience in Bradford


In May 2013, the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding trail blazed the first permanent Masonic exhibition open to the public in a non-masonic building in the United Kingdom. This exhibition, under the watchful eye of APGM W. Bro. Martin Stray, was created by Worshipful Brothers Stuart Ross and Peter Smith and is located in the Heritage Lounge at the Royal Hall, Harrogate.

Almost immediately after the Harrogate exhibition was opened, an opportunity arose for a second exhibition to be created, this time at the the well-established and acclaimed Bradford Industrial Museum. The museum, housed in a former worsted mill, complete with Victorian decors, exhibits working displays of textile machinery, steam power, engineering and much more from a bygone age.

The initial idea for this venue came from Bro. David Thrippleton, a volunteer at the Museum who had discussed the possibility with the museum manager.

In July 2013, Brothers Ross and Smith were once again tasked with project managing this second display and accordingly, entered in to discussions with the Museum who offered a very large exhibition space immediately adjacent to the main entrance. The only problem was that the exhibition had to be up and running by the following December, a matter of only 5 months.

A trip to Tulley House Museum in Carlisle, where local Freemasons were staging a six week exhibition proved very useful as did visits to the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, London and Tapton Masonic Hall, Sheffield all of whom provided invaluable assistance and offers of numerous artefacts. Visits to the various Masonic Halls in the Bradford area completed the list of exhibits to choose from. That done, all that was left was to decide on the title, theme, content, layout and text boards, select the final artefacts, arrange for them to be brought to Bradford, organise loan agreements, list in detail the 150+ exhibits and finally create the look – all to be completed within a matter of weeks. Particular thanks must go to the other members of the team: W. Bro. Keith Grandison, W. Bro. David Williams and Bro. David Thrippleton without whose help and assistance the exhibition would never have been completed on time.

Our vision was to take Freemasonry to the public by creating a display which would better inform and at the same time dispel many of the myths which have developed about the order.

On Saturday December 8th a stunning display titled “A Masonic Experience – Freemasonry Explained” and comprising Masonic memorabilia and artefacts, together with numerous colourful and informative displays opened to the public.

The central attraction is a Masonic Temple, complete with a floor cloth, pedestals and mannequins wearing examples of today’s regalia, whilst older regalia and banners are present in abundance hanging from the roof beams and the walls.

Opening 1

 The Opening of the Exhibition

Display cabinets house superb examples of Masonic glassware, ceramics and silverware, including many of local interest which have been provided by Lodges of Bradford and the surrounding area.

Across the 'temple' to the replica GL Doors

 View across ‘the Temple’ to the replica Grand Lodge doors

Another cabinet contains the beautiful Sunburst robe worn by the High Priest Sarastro in the Royal Opera Houses’ production of Mozart’s’ opera, the Magic Flute. This display has been a particular favourite of the Ladies visiting the Museum!

The Temple with Sarastros robe in view

‘The Temple’ with Sarastros Robe in view

The 'end wall'

The End Wall with the replica Grand Lodge doors

Bradford's MAsonic History

Bradford’s Masonic History

Peter Smith with the   snuff handkerchief

Peter Smith with the snuff handkerchief

There are many and varied other exhibits on display, which together with relevant explanatory text boards and an audio video presentation help to provide a very full “Masonic Experience” and support the objective of “Explaining Freemasonry”. In addition, the exhibition is staffed most days by volunteers who are only too willing to answer any questions that may crop up.
On Tuesday January 14th., The Province were particularly delighted when The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Cllr. Khadim Hussain joined Masonic and Civic friends at the official opening of the exhibition, when Provincial Grand Master, R W Bro David S Pratt handed a cheque for £1,000 to the Lord Mayor for his charity, which supports Bradford Disability Sports and Leisure.

The Lord Mayor with the PGM

The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Cllr. Khadim Hussain with David S Pratt, Provincial Grand Master

The Bradford exhibition is open Tuesday – Friday from 10am to 4pm and Saturday and Sunday from 11.00am to 4pm. Admission is free. The Harrogate Exhibition is open on various open days throughout the year (visit the Royal Hall website www.royalhall.co.uk and follow the link – Royal Hall open days).


Chceque for the LM's charity, l. to .  Peter Smith, Jack Pigott, Manoj Joshi, Lord Mayor Cllr.    ,. PGM David Pratt, Stuart Ross

left to right: Peter Smith, Jack Pigott, Manoj Joshi, Lord Mayor Cllr Khadim Hussein, David S Pratt Provincial Grand Master and Stuart Ross

Organisers with the PGM, l to r., Peter Smith, PGM David Pratt, Stuart Ross, David Thrippleton

The Organisers with the Provincial Grand Master – Peter Smith, Stuart Ross and David Thrippleton

Stuart Ross with the Lady Mason mannequin

Stuart Ross with Lady Mason Mannequin

Lady Masons Joanna Pigott and Jane Finn

Lady Mason’s Joanna Pigott and Jane Finn

 For further information regarding both exhibitions contact the Project Managers W. Bro. Stuart Ross or W. Bro. Peter Smith at bim@wrprovince.co.uk




Posted in Uncategorized on March 22nd, 2014 by Kevin Gould

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