The Warwickshire Provincial Museum and Library
A Museum and Library for the Province first came into being in 1908 at the New Masonic Hall in Birmingham and had some 200 books of which only 63 were Masonic but of great value. At this time each Lodge in the Province contributed one guinea (£1.05) - it is only £5.00 for each Lodge now. When the Broad Street Temple was opened in 1927 a large room on the ground floor was set aside as the Museum and Library.
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In 1939, when the building was taken over, everything had to be moved at 24 hours notice. Everything was packed in tea chests and stored at the Congregational Church Schools adjacent to the then Edgbaston Assembly Rooms. The packing cases remained unopened until the move to the present building in Stirling Road in 1971. The main hall was the Museum and a side room the Library. Since then the Museum has moved up to its present position on the balcony and the Library to a room under the main Temple.
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The Library could be described as one of the hidden mysteries of Masonry. Not everyone knows where it is; many have not been inside the doors to sample the knowledge that is there. There are around 2,000 books mostly on Masonic matters but others of interest. There is a Breech's Bible of 1599 and another dated 1604, a book of Common Prayer dated 1640. Books of Constitution from the first in 1723 and including a rare 1746 edition. Engraved lists of lodges, a 1728 list which as far as we know is the only one in existance. The Library is made up of books that you would expect to find in such a collection, Provincial Histories, Lodge Histories, general Masonic knowledge. Non Masonic books include Dugdales Antiquities of Warwickshire, Plots History of Staffordshire and Culpeppers Herbal.
The balcony and Museum provide a spectacular backdrop to the entrances to the six lodge rooms utilised by the Warwickshire Lodges and Royal Arch Chapters who meet at The Clarendon Suites.
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Adjacent to these rooms are the dining rooms used by the respective Lodges for their Festive Boards after Lodge business is concluded. The Museum is available for inspection at any time the premises are open.
Following a visit by Masonic raconteur Yasha Beresiner and Masonic journalist Michael Baigent, the delights of the Museum and Library at The Clarendon Suites were highlighted in the Freemasonry Today Edgbaston Treasures.pdf article reproduced here by kind permission of Michael Baigent and Freemasonry Today.
To visit the Library, which is not open on a regular basis, please contact Wendy Eades on +44 (0) 121 454 4422 to arrange.