Queen Street Masonic Heritage Centre
Incorporating the Phoenix Hall of 1785
At the mouth of the River Wear on
the north-east coast of
Not everything has changed
however, for deep in the heart of the oldest part of
When the Hall was built, George
III was on the throne, William Pitt the younger was Prime Minister, the
The area has changed, of course.
The shipyards which had progressed to steel super-tankers have gone to be
replaced by housing and a new campus for the
Whilst the surrounding area is
changing beyond all recognition, the Hall remains virtually as it was in 1785
years ago with its plaster panelled walls, ornamental carvings with original
gold leaf and valuable early 18 th century furniture. The house next door was
purchased in 1890 and converted into a dining room at the same time installing
a kitchen (coal fired, of course) in the basement. Until then meals were
brought in from one of the local hotels and eaten in the Hall. A small
extension was added in 1923 to provide a new entrance hall, toilet facilities
and a caretaker's flat. At the same time, gas was brought into the building to
replace coal for heating and cooking. The dining hall was extended in 1990 to
accommodate the same number as could be seated in the Hall. The importance of
the hall to the heritage of the nation was recognised in 1973 when it became a
Grade I Listed Building thereby putting it in the same league as the great
cathedrals and stately homes of
The Hall has served the members of Phoenix Lodge well over the years and continues to do so. A recent structural survey concluded that the hall is structurally sound and with careful maintenance should survive for a few more centuries yet. The building does however require external cosmetic work to restore it to its full Grade I listed status as well as improvements to the internal facilities to make the building more manageable and fit for the purpose for which it is used. The importance that the Hall has not only to Freemasonry but also to the heritage of the nation is fully recognised and a programme of work to restore the building and preserve it for future generations has been embarked upon. Without the preservation work, the building will decay and the magnificent Hall will be lost forever.
The underlying theme behind this work is the openness that English Freemasonry is now promoting. The preservation work will be done in stages as finance becomes available culminating in the building of an extension with an Egyptian style façade to house a Masonic Heritage Centre and exhibition suite. This will be used to increase public awareness in Freemasonry with exhibitions and the promotion of Freemasonry within the community as well as providing historical information for Freemasons. The centre piece of the Heritage Centre will of course be the Hall. The Heritage Centre Trust has already been set up and has recently applied for charitable status which, if successful, Lucinda Lambton, the broadcaster and historian, has agreed to become patron. Her great, great, great, great grandfather, William Henry Lambton and his son, John George Lambton, the 1st Earl of Durham, were both involved in the early years of the Hall as Provincial Grand Masters of Durham.
Would you like to help in the preservation of the Hall?
All restoration and preservation schemes require finance and the process of identifying sources of local and national grant aid is in hand. Even with grants and internal fundraising activities, there will be a shortfall in the finance required.
If you wish to contribute towards the preservation of this important building or would like further information on how you can do so, please contact the Trust secretary via their website