Freemasonary or Masonry has its beginnings in local guilds of stonemasons who from the end of 13th century regulated the qualification of stonemasons. Modern Freemasonry uses scriptures which include ritual practices and ethical conduct as part of its foundation and every member must profess a belief in a Supreme Being. Women are not allowed to be admitted and discussion of religion and politics is not to take place within the lodge. Freemasons meet in local Lodges which are supervised at a regional level by a Grand Lodge. The degrees of Freemasonry retain the three grades of medieval craft guilds, those of Entered Apprentice, Journeyman or fellow (now called Fellowcraft), and Master Mason. The candidate of these three degrees is progressively taught the meanings of the symbols of Freemasonry and entrusted with grips, signs, and words to signify to other members that he has been so initiated. The degrees are part allegorical morality play and part lecture. Candidates for Freemasonry will usually have met the most active members of the Lodge they are joining before being elected for initiation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freemasonry)
The Golden Lodge of Sandhurst was established as the first Masonic Lodge in Bendigo in 1854. Many prominent men including City Councilors were lodge members at it was a popular way for men to socialise. As the masonic movement expanded further lodges were established in Bendigo and the surrounding Boroughs and Shires. The Golden and Corinthian Lodges purchasing two blocks of land in a prominent position in View Street in 1866 with the intention of erecting a new temple and after amalgamating in 1872 appointed architects Vahland and Getzschmann to design the building.
The Bendigo Masonic Hall (now the Capital Theatre) was built in 1873 -74 for both public and private use and contained lodge rooms, a public tavern anda concert hall. The Masonic section occupied the northern side of the building at ground floor level and included a lodge room at the rear, a library and reading room, and other affiliated rooms. Walls of the entry hall and lodge room were decorated with classical columns and panels ornamented with Masonic emblems.
The upper level of the building contained a large hall with balcony at the north end and removable stage at the south end. Elaborately decorated with Masonic emblems, this hall was used for Masonic purposes as well as being available to the wider community for social events.
The tavern, which became known as the Masonic Hotel, occupied the basement and the ground floor of the southern side of the building and included a sitting room, parlours, billiard room, bedrooms, kitchen, cellars and servants' rooms. It appears that two public entrances were provided for this section, one directly from street level into the basement, the other from the public entry hall.
Invitation for the Installation of Brother Lee. Half fold printed in blue ink on cream coloured card with plain edging. Menu listed inside on left, toasts listed on inside right, officers listed on back cover.
Front cover: Sandhurst Lodge / No 194 / Banquet / to celebrate the / Installation / of / Brother H. Lee / in the / Masonic Temple, Bendigo / Thursday, 20th June 1907
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