It’s traditionally a secretive organisation but Freemasons in Holmfirth threw open their doors to let the public see inside.

Members of the Holme Valley Masonic Lodge opened up the Masonic Hall in Station Road as part of this weekend’s Heritage Open Days event.

Dozens of historic buildings across Kirklees not normally open to the public let in visitors on Saturday and Sunday.

Holmfirth Masonic Hall on Station Road, Holmfirth
Holmfirth Masonic Hall on Station Road, Holmfirth

Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest and largest fraternal, non-religious, non-political and charitable organisations. Its roots lie in the traditions and ceremonies of the medieval stonemasons who built Britain’s cathedrals and castles.

The ‘Brethren’ meet once a month to initiate new members before having a four or five course meal and giving a few short speeches. They occasionally meet to listen to lectures too.

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When asked what the initiation ceremonies include, the Lodge’s provincial officer Peter Berry, who has been a member for 43 years, said: “I can’t tell you about that, but I can tell you lots about the history of the building.

“People say we are a secret society. We say we are a society with secrets.”

Heritage tour of Holmfirth Masonic Hall on Station Road, Holmfirth. Visitors are given the history of the masonic hall during their tour by mason, Peter Berry (centre).
Heritage tour of Holmfirth Masonic Hall on Station Road, Holmfirth. Visitors are given the history of the masonic hall during their tour by mason, Peter Berry (centre).

Built in 1851, the three-storey Holmfirth building was originally known as the Druids’ Hall and had various uses, including as a church and a pub.

The Holme Valley Masonic Lodge No 652, which formed in 1855, bought it in 1917. It currently has 50 members.

On the second floor, there is a bar, a large dining area and a bathroom with two toilet cubicles.

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On the third floor, a corridor decorated with huge paintings and a memorial board leads to the main room, which has high ceilings and lots of seating centred around exquisite rugs.

On top of one of the podiums stands a large copy of the Bible.

Heritage tour of Holmfirth Masonic Hall on Station Road, Holmfirth. Visitors are given the history of the masonic hall during their tour by mason, Peter Berry (centre).
Heritage tour of Holmfirth Masonic Hall on Station Road, Holmfirth. Visitors are given the history of the masonic hall during their tour by mason, Peter Berry (centre).

Heritage Open Days, inspired by the National Trust, is an annual national event which provides free access and information about a host of old buildings and properties.

There were nearly 60 places in Kirklees to visit including Huddersfield Railway Station’s water tower.