Sheffield’s Masonic History
A history of Freemasonry in Sheffield

Sheffield’s Masonic History

Sheffield’s Masonic History

An Old Masonic Hall in Sheffield

Freemasonry has been actively practiced in Sheffield since 1761, one hundred years before the American Civil War. Sheffield is the largest city in Yorkshire and the fifth largest in England. The first masonic lodge to be permanently based in Sheffield was warranted by the Ancient Grand Lodge in 1761. In 1765, this lodge switched its allegiance to the Premier Grand Lodge, and is now the Britannia Lodge No. 139. In 1772, another Ancients lodge, No. 72, was formed in Sheffield; in 1793 some members left no. 72 to form the Royal Brunswick Lodge, now No. 296.

In their early years, accommodation was a constant problem for these Sheffield lodges.

A school room above an 18th-century terrace in Paradise Square was designed for use as a masonic hall, but its upkeep was expensive, and taverns proved cheaper and more convenient.

In 1839, the Spanish political refugee, Mariano Martin de Bartolomé, a doctor who had become a mason while a medical student in Edinburgh, was scandalised to find the Royal Brunswick Lodge meeting in a public house.

He persuaded the Sheffield lodges to take rooms at the Sheffield Music Hall in Surrey Street. As the lodges grew, these rooms became increasingly inconvenient.

In 1861, the Sheffield lodges bought an old Savings Bank at the corner of Surrey Street and Eyre Street, and this was converted into a masonic hall. In 1876, the converted Savings Bank was demolished and replaced by a new purpose-built hall, designed by the firm of Scargill and Clark. The new hall was, like many other masonic halls, financed by the formation of a Masonic Hall Company, whose shareholders were all freemasons, so that the lodges were ‘virtually…their own tenants’.

The Surrey Street hall was extended and remodeled in 1913. The architect on this occasion was A. E. Turnell, a Sheffield mason. Turnell’s alterations included a new entrance incorporating copies of masonic decoration from the 18th-century meeting place in Paradise Square.

In the 1960s, a new Sheffield Masonic Hall was opened in the west of the city at Tapton Hall. The building in Surrey Street was converted into a pub with a health club attached. The pub was called the Surrey; the health club the Fringe. Today the building is The Graduate.

Thanks to Frank Groarke, the Secretary of the Sheffield Masonic Study Circle, for checking records and clarifying the circumstances of the move from Surrey Street to Tapton Hall.

Tapton Hall Today

The story of Tapton Hall has been woven into the history of Sheffield since the eighteenth century. Originally built as Tapton House in the seventeenth century it was then home to the Shore family. Regular visitors included Florence Nightingale who would often come to the house to see her great aunt Mary Shore.

Steel master Edward Vickers, a name synonymous with the industrial pre-eminence of Sheffield in the Victorian era, built the present hall on the site of Tapton House in 1855. In 1867 it became the home of George Wilson of the snuff-making family.

For three centuries this great house has been an integral part of the Sheffield landscape. Its distinguished history has seen it serve as a home to great names and a witness to great events. In the early 1960s the Sheffield Masonic Hall Company was required to relocate as its premises in Surrey Street (opposite the Central Library) in the city centre was required for redevelopment.

In 1964 the Company acquired Tapton Hall and embarked on a major but sympathetic restoration of the hall and in the process added the architect-designed extension that greets visitors today.

Today, Tapton Hall is the ‘home’ of twenty-six Craft lodges, thirteen Royal Arch Chapters, six Mark Master Mason Lodges who come within the jurisdiction of the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding as well as eight other Orders of Freemasonry and the Sheffield Masonic Study Circle.

The Masonic Hall Company is justly proud of the facilities it has to offer the general public in the magnificent setting of Tapton Hall and its reputation to make any special event truly unforgettable.

Visitors can be assured of first class facilities for civil Marriages, wedding receptions, banqueting, dining, conferences and corporate events to rival the most modern in the city, with a welcome and a standard of service that reflects the finest Sheffield tradition.

Tapton Hall’s kitchens can cater for up to 200 guests delivering repeated high standards.
Tapton Hall provide the full range of accessibility options, with generous parking facilities and CCTV security.

For more information about Tapton Hall and its services, please visit their website.