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NOTORIOUSLY secretive society, the Masons, has decided it’s time to open their doors to the public.

The local ‘lodge’ based in Warwick Road, Knowle invited the Solihull News to tour its temple to help debunk some of the myths surrounding the society,

The local ‘lodge’ based in Warwick Road, Knowle invited the Solihull News to tour its temple to help debunk some of the myths surrounding the society,

Keith Reynolds, grand officer and past master, said: “We were stigmatised as a secret society. We’re not a secret. We’re a society with private matters like any other. The secret handshake is a total myth. These things people dream up about us in their ignorance.

“Since we’ve opened up a little, hopefully these strange myths might stop.”

The most mysterious part of Freemasonry remains its 300-year-old initiation ceremonies, based on ancient stonemason’s customs and tools, which are only revealed to pledging members.

The decision to welcome the community was taken under former Pro Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, the 7th Marquess of Northampton.

“At one time, you would never tell anyone you were a mason. We kept ourselves to ourselves,” said temple director Peter Clarke.

“But over the years we were getting so much bad publicity. He said enough was enough. It’s time to let people know what we do.”

Mr Reynolds added: “It’s very difficult when we have been in the closet so long. It’s hard knowing how much to reveal.”

It is thought freemasonry began as a Medieval guild and their symbols can still be seen on many cathedrals and castles from that age including Lichfield Cathedral.

Mr Reynolds said: “By knowing the secret signs and passwords, many members who would not have been able to read, could prove they were a Mason and abided by the morals and craftsmanship of the guild.

“As castle and cathedral building dwindled, the Masonry guild dwindled. Landowners who wanted to be involved in a society without getting their hands dirty began to join for the social element and the Masons were born.”

Modern Freemasonry began after the formation of the first Grand Lodge of England in London in 1717 and now has an estimated six million members.

The fraternity, is divided into Grand Lodges which organise regular meetings for members to socialise and raise money for charity.

Each year the Provincial Grand Lodge of Warwickshire, which has around 4,500 members, sets aside £100,000 a year for local charities such as the Knowle Scouts - who received money towards a new building.

 

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