Wearside Masonic Temple held an open day on Saturday 27th October, allowing members of the public to visit on of Sunderland’s Grade-II listed buildings and learn about what Freemasonry is all about.
The day had been organised by Richard Davison and Wayne Rumley, both Sunderland Freemasons, as well as members of the Durham Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge No.9833. Volunteers from various Sunderland Lodges also helped out on the day, greeting visitors and answering their questions.
Richard, Secretary of Wearside Masonic Temple and a member of Ernest Dixon Lodge No.7856, explained that the main aim of the day was to open the doors of the city landmark to the local community and show to them that Freemasonry was not the clandestine secret society that some people believe:
“We have a great facility here that could be used better and has the potential to be utilised by a number of community groups or just by private parties wishing to host a function. Many of our visitors were struck by the beauty of the building and did not realise that the rooms could be hired by the public; a lot thought that only Freemasons could utilise them – we’re trying to change this perception.”
Richard also explained that it was their intention to demystify Freemasonry and show that the Craft has a relevant place in today’s society: “A lot of our visitors today have been pleasantly surprised by our openness and have been struck by the amount we do as Freemasons – particularly, the charitable aspects of our organisation. Everyone who we spoke to left with a sense that Freemasonry is a worthwhile endeavour and something that should continue. We’ve already had some great feedback from visitors via email and social media.”
"What a wonderful morning spent at The Wearside Masonic Temple. The shrouds of mystery have been blown away leaving me enlightened and quite astonished at how much of their work is dedicated to charity. I particularly enjoyed reading about symbols, ranks and the roles of those moving up from first entry into the organisation. Thank you to all involved for organising and opening up this amazing building to the public!"
~ Bernadette, via Facebook
Wayne and Richard had organised a variety of exhibits and activities on the day including amongst other things museum-style information boards, a presentation on the building and Freemasonry in general, a TLC Teddies stand, a stand with representatives from Durham Benevolence, a stand with information about the Masonic Charitable Foundation, a stand manned by members of Mowbray Lodge No.5373 regarding the Universities Scheme, a display of the original architect’s plans for Wearside Masonic Temple, a lecture on the history of the building delivered by the Provincial Grand Orator, Bernard Hope, and the timeline displays of the history of Freemasonry in the Province of Durham, courtesy of the Provincial Museum. In addition, representatives from the Order of Women Freemasons came down to explain their take on the Craft.
With a varied cross-section of the local community coming through the doors of Wearside Masonic Temple, the two organising brothers were sure that this was what Freemasonry needed to do in the 21st Century. Wayne, a Director of Wearside Masonic Temple and a member of Palatine Lodge No.97, recognised the importance of openness: “A number of men, in particular younger men, have engaged with us and have shown an interest in joining our organisation. Open days such as this one clearly have their purpose in helping the Craft continue into the future and we will certainly be holding another event like this soon.”
Wearside Masonic Temple is aiming to have another open day in the spring and we look forward to welcoming more members of our local community into our rooms and the curious world of Freemasonry. Thank you to all the brethren who supported the event on the day - we couldn't have done it without you.