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“Beautiful Building and Fascinating History of Scots Freemasons”

Freemasons Hall, Edinburgh
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Walking Tour of Edinburgh's New Town
Ranked #186 of 426 things to do in Edinburgh
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Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Reviewed November 30, 2013

My wife and I visited Freemasons Hall in Edinburgh out of curiosity. The building itself is beautiful from the outside but is actually quite unassuming as it blends in well with other beautiful buildings all around it. Having pressed an intercom button at the entrance, a friendly voice greeted us over a loudspeaker, then the door was opened and we went inside. After climbing some stairs to a reception area, we were met by a very smart and friendly guide who appeared only too pleased to take us on a guided tour. While we thoroughly enjoyed being shown around the building with it's magnificent main hall (complete with organ), staircase, stained glass windows, library and other fascinating rooms, it was the guides' detailed knowledge of the museum collection that made it all worthwhile. The sheer diversity and historical importance of the museum displays, including artefacts from all over the world, demonstrate the ancient and enduring fascination the Scots have for travelling to distant lands as explorers, doctors, missionaries, engineers, scientists and in particular, soldiers. It appears that a very large number of these brave adventurers were Freemasons, hence the range if items on display. A Masonic apron which belonged to the poet Robert Burns is also displayed and the guide informed us that the oldest Masonic records in existence are held there, dating from a Scots Masonic Lodge in 1599. From this I can only surmise that the Scots have the oldest confirmed tradition of Freemasonry in the world, even if they don't have the oldest Grand Lodge. My own understanding is that any Grand Lodge is a form of controlling body whose date of formation is no indicator of how long a country has had Freemasons within it's borders. Just knowing this fact made the visit all the more interesting, that such a tiny nation has produced so many men of historical importance. At the end of the tour, our guide took us back to the reception area and my wife and I bought a couple of souvenirs and a book by the curator of the Grand Lodge Museum. If, like my wife and I, you have an interest in history but know little about Freemasons, this will be an hour or so very well spent. Next time I am in London, I fully intend visiting the Grand Lodge of England building too. Fascinating stuff.

10  Thank Brander S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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