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The Masonic Hall in Maple Terrace
The Masonic Hall in Maple Terrace, Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne is the oldest purpose-built hall in Northumberland.
It is only one year younger than the one that was rebuilt at Beamish Museum, which had its foundation stone laid in 1869 and originally built by St. John’s Lodge of Sunderland. Elswick, principally funded by St. Peter’s and Northern Counties Lodges is still used by active lodges.
The foundation stone was laid on 11th October 1870 and the building dedicated on 23rd May 1872 at a ceremony attended by 200 Masons. As was the usual practice in these purpose-built halls of the 19th-century Maple Terrace with its Gothic architecture reflects the style of civic buildings of the time. Heavily adorned with masonic symbols the exterior also bears the motto “Vide Aude Tace”, (hear, see and hold your tongue), made its first appearance in the Freemason’s calendar of 1777. It is derived from a line of “leonine” verse and in full means hear, see and hold your tongue, if in peace you would live on. It is usual for a hall to have a robing room, a lodge room and a dining room and Maple Terrace is no exception.
Different lodges meet in the building and depending on the size and number of these additional rooms are added.
Some also have libraries, Tyler’s room (the man who prepares the lodge room and guards the door) and a committee room.
The lodge room is the main ceremonial meeting area and the one at Maple Terrace is original and dates from 1870 and like all lodges has a chequerboard floor, which is set square.
The pattern represents light and darkness, the joys and sorrows of life. It has impressive stained glass windows. Original furniture survives in the East, the Warden’s chairs and the Deacon’s chairs and Kneeling Stool in the West. The Temple is 46 feet long, 24 feet wide and 35 feet high.
On the east wall there is a carved arcade of wooden tracery. The screen is divided into stalls, which contain ornate carved chairs. The screen includes four lancet windows and the stained glass depicts Masonic symbols and emblems. The ‘All Seeing Eye’ s central and the top row symbols are the Terrestrial Globe, sun, moon and stars and celestial globe.
The second row shows the Bible (truth), Justice with Scales, the Dove of Peace and a Beehive (industry).
The third row shows Hiram Abiff (with plan), Solomon (with Temple Model), Hyram of Tyre (with sceptre), and Moses (with Ten Commandments).
The fourth row shows an eagle (faith), an anchor (hope), a heart (charity) and clasped hands (brotherly love). The Temple closed in 1895 and the building became a tea room and dance hall. It reopened as a Freemasons Hall at the turn of the 20th Century.
When it closed the stained glass windows were removed and stored for safety however the windows from the east were ‘mislaid’ but later recovered from a second-hand sales room for £5 plus 5% commission fee.
Restoration work taken place since the 1980s include a new heating system, a new roof, replacement timbers in the north-west corner, remedial work on the Festive Room floor and winding staircase, renovation of the bar, re-pointing and sealing of the whole building.