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A Knight at the Theatre

The Old Theatre Royal and Masonic Museum, at Bath Masonic Hall, hosted a special tour of Knights Templars, with their spouses and friends from around the Province of Somerset.  They were guided on their tour by Brother Vince Baughan of The Royal Cumberland Lodge and Brother Mike Bowyer, the KT Provincial Warden of Regalia.  They heard about the history of the building, starting from its days as a theatre, then as a Roman Catholic chapel, and finally as the very active Masonic Hall.

The antics of 18th Century thespians was covered (they were a rum bunch) and the nature of a night in a Georgian theatre. 

They also were told of the trials and tribulations of Bath’s own “turbulent priest”, Bishop Baines, both in life and after death.

They learnt the history of Masonry in Bath, it being a very early centre for Masonry, and still being the home of the oldest lodge outside of London, and the story of the oldest purpose-built Masonic Hall in the country, now Toppings & Co bookshop on York Street.

After the tour, the party retired to The Architect restaurant on the ground floor of the old Empire Hotel, designed by Charles Edwin Davis and described by Nikolaus Pevsner as “a monstrosity and an unbelievable piece of pompous architecture” – clearly he wasn’t a fan!  The restaurant foyer is supported by massive Corinthian columns, the bar by Ionic columns and the dining room is a mix of Ionic and Doric columns, all of which are possibly pompous, but are certainly perfect in their parts and honourable to the master builder: could Charles Edwin Davis have been a Freemason?

A grand repast and good company was certainly enjoyed by all.

For more information about the tours: https://oldtheatreroyal.com/museum/guided-tours/

And the museum: https://oldtheatreroyal.com/museum/masonic-museum/

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