A friend of mine alerted me to an event going on at the Freemasons Hall in London. They were having a open house day so I decided to go take a look. I of course turned up early, I wanted to beat the crowds. Turning the corner I found the front of the building still closed and about six large motor bikes were parked on the front pavement.
I stood around ticking off the minutes until the doors opened and when they did the didn't open with wooden creek, no. They rumbled open,loudly. Everyone has heard of stories of Masons and Masonic lodges and things that may or may not happen in them but I was not expecting a large rumbling door to greet me!
After my camera bag was searched I was then given another bag, plastic, which I searched thoroughly. I found a map and information about the building. Typically I ignored the map and wandered to the right up the short steps past the string quartet, which I thought was a nice touch considering the day was a free outing. No drinks though.
I was carrying my Sigma 10-20mm f3.5 wide angle lens. I thought there would be a number of rooms where a wide angle lens would be beneficial. Sometimes the 24-105 f4 just would not cut it.
After being shuffled away from the area I was not supposed to be I climbed the stairs onto the first floor. Here there were stalls showing the various activities the Freemasons offer. Behind me I found a three pane, stained glass window. I took shots with the 10-20mm lens to get all of it in. Moving through the stalls I moved towards the Grand Temple.
This was impressive,it can hold around 1700 people as well as golden thrones to sit on. Standing on the checked floor I found myself directly under what looked like the night sky in fabric form. It is called the Celestial Sky. Around the top is a decorated border, one of which is a representation of the Ark of the Covenant. I wasn't carrying a representation of a fedora and bullwhip so I couldn't make off with it. Instead I took a few shots of the thrones and headed out.
Walking into the drawing room I saw something I was not expecting... a race track. One of the attendants handed me the white controller and we had a quick race with another visitor. It was a close race, I was holding my own until graciously accepted defeat and rammed my car into the visitor car to end the race.
For the next hour I wandered around the exhibition room (with another throne), the library and museum where they had on show the ceremonial sword and the original maul which I was told laid the first stone. The Grand Officers Roding Room, Processional Corridor and ended with me exiting the building at Great Queen Street after being told I couldn't take photos in a certain area. Opps!