Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Woolton Hall and Freemasonry by Dr David Harrison


The old Bible of Liberty Lodge
Woolton Hall, located on the outskirts of Liverpool in the north-west of England, now lies empty, a sad shell of its former self. Though it still reveals beautiful eighteenth century architecture, the fine restoration work of Robert Adam and the lost lodge rooms of Freemasons. It was originally built in 1704 for the Molyneux family, and redesigned and rebuilt by Robert Adam in 1772 after the Hall was acquired by Nicholas Ashton. Ashton’s father had been a financier for Britain’s first industrial canal – the Sankey Canal – which was opened in 1757, and ran from St. Helens to Widnes, supplying coal to the growing port of Liverpool.

After the Ashton’s, a number of families resided at the Hall, until it became a hotel at the beginning of the twentieth century. It fell into disrepair until John Hibbert purchased the Hall in 1980, and it was renovated and used for events. Local lodges began to be catered for by the Hall, and the Woolton Group of lodges in Liverpool used the Hall until 2006; the Hall having two lodge rooms, a Chapter Room, various ante-rooms and the lodges having use of the magnificent dining rooms and bar on the ground floor. Lodges such as the now closed Liberty Lodge No. 3888 once met in the lodge rooms and had their festive board in the dining room.

It was John Hibbert that allowed me to have a look in the Hall along with a local history group that I manage, and we had exclusive access to the building, which is now closed to the public and up for sale. The lodge rooms are now empty, the dining rooms quiet and abandoned, but the sense of architectural beauty still remains.
 
The stairway - still looking elegant

An old organ in an old lodge room

An old lodge room - the Master's chair

The Hall as it is today

Masonic decoration from an old lodge room in the Hall. This dates from the 1980s

A ceiling frieze of Nicholas Ashton, past owner of the Hall

Ceiling decoration from Hall, believed to be by Robert Adam

 

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