Take a look inside this East Devon Masonic Hall
PUBLISHED: 13:16 28 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:25 28 September 2018
The Exmouth Journal's Joseph Bulmer was given special access to the town's Masonic Hall by Devon's top freemason
You have probably walked past the home of freemasonry in Exmouth dozens of times, this week the Journal was given privileged access inside the town’s Masonic Hall.
Reporter Joseph Bulmer was given a guided tour of the building by the county’s Provincial Grand Master Ian Kingsbury.
The hall on St Andrews Road was established as the Sun Lodge in 1759 and regularly sees gatherings of up to 140 people, with an estimated 2,000 people using or visiting the lodge each year.
Ian explained the appeal of becoming a freemason, he said: “I think men, especially younger men, see us as an upstanding organisation that enjoys doing good work.
“We like to show people that they can lead a good life, personally, in business and in society at large, plus we have a lot of fun raising money for charity.
“The ceremonies and rituals we perform have not changed for 300 years, in this changing world freemasonry is a reliable constant.”
Exmouth freemason David Richards, 65, joined the lodge in 2003 after being invited to by another member. He said: “For me it’s the camaraderie, you make masses of new friends and when you visit other lodges across the country you are always given a warm welcome.”
Several Masonic lodges use Exmouth’s Masonic Hall, including a Lodge for Royal Marines.
There has been in a push from the organisation in recent years to become more open and inclusive.
Ian explained freemasonry is open to almost all faiths and the public perception of the group is often based on gossip, he said: “We accept all religious groups as long as they believe in a supreme being of some kind.
“Many people think we only work for ourselves and we manipulate society for our own gain, we cannot and do not do that. We try to think beyond ourselves to help outside society.”
Charity work is central to Freemasonry and Exmouth’s members have raised more than £8,000 in the last year, contributed to the town’s library, provided a wheelchair to a young girl suffering form cerebral palsy and donated £3,000 to Exmouth Hospital for a patient hoist.
The new Deaf Academy also received £7,500 in funding from Devon’s Freemasons.