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Masons celebrate 300th anniversary at Kendal Museum

Lodge Room at Kendal Museum

[A] new summer exhibition at Kendal Museum will give people the chance to find out more about the 300-year old Masonic movement.

‘Into the Light’ runs until the end of August and celebrates Freemasonry in Cumbria during the movement’s tercentenary year.

Amongst the many items on display is a silver pen tray that once belonged to former Prime Minister, Winston Churchill from his time at the Treasury. Churchill is just one of several prominent Freemasons with others including the Duke of Edinburgh, Rudyard Kipling and Isaac Newton.

Winston Churchill silver pen tray

Closer to home, speed king Donald Campbell, Canon Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley, co-founder of the National Trust, and Beatrix Potter’s husband, William Heelis were all active Freemasons. Canon Rawnsley was a member of Greta Lodge 1073 in Keswick and Heelis was a member of Ambleside lodge.

Through the exhibition, the Masonic movement is keen to dispel the age-old images of secrecy, funny handshakes and rolled up trousers that have previously symbolised the ancient organisation. This is an opportunity to learn more about the Freemason’s background and the contribution it has made to the history of the UK.

Canon Rawnsley with Beatrix Potter

A number of items that have never before been on display, such as an 18th century punch jug, have been loaned to the exhibition from both local and national Masonic Lodges. A fully furnished ceremony-style Lodge Room has also been created, which will offer visitors the chance to get up close to – and even try on – some traditional Masonic regalia like collars and gauntlets.

The first Grand Lodge in the UK was opened in London in 1717 and the first lodge in Cumbria was established in Whitehaven in 1740.

‘Into the Light’ runs at Kendal Museum until Thursday 31st August with local Freemasons on hand to answer questions every Saturday from 11am-3pm.

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