Preston Masonic Hall, a long and fascinating history

Image of Preston Masonic Hall: Preston Digital Archive

The Masonic Hall in Preston has features that date back to 1837. However, most of the current building was built in the 1940s, incorporating older buildings. The site began life as a Methodist Chapel and Sunday School, on Saul Street. It is close to the current court buildings.







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Map from 1890 showing the original chapel and school Pic: OS Maps
Map from 1890 showing the original chapel and school Pic: OS Maps

The First Methodist Hall. 1787

Preston's First Methodist Hall in Orchard Street Pic: Preston Digital Archive
Preston’s First Methodist Hall in Orchard Street Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Saul Street was not Preston’s first Methodist chapel. The first was built on a former orchard in Black Horse Yard, near Orchard Street. It was in 1787. The building was probably remodeled in the 19th century. This area is now under the shops, just off Friargate. The orchard originally had a ditch around it. This is referenced on page 24 of Garrett’s Creators of Wesleyan Methodism in Preston (1890).

This is an interesting book which covers much of the history of Preston in the 19th century. However, some things do not change. One chapter is called “Celebrating the Restoration of Peace with Russia”. This was from 1856 and another war involving Crimea.

Saul Street Methodist Chapel, 1837

The Sunday school is on the right, with the arched windows and the date stone Pic: Preston Digital Archive
The Sunday school is on the right, with the arched windows and the date stone Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Saul Street Methodist Chapel opened in 1837. In 1866 a Sunday school was added.

The 1950s saw a lot of redevelopment in the area and most of the buildings on the map above were razed. However, Sunday School was one of the few survivors.

Sunday School Opens, 1866

The surviving Sunday School building Pic: Preston Digital Archive
The surviving Sunday School building Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Sunday school is still integrated into the Masonic Hall. The original chapel was on the left and was demolished.

Sunday schools were established in the 18th century and were often the only education working children received. They also served a religious function as many were associated with churches and chapels.

Lessons in reading, writing and Bible studies were given.

Converted to Masonic Hall, 1944

During the war, work began to convert the old Methodist chapel and Sunday school into a Masonic hall. The chapel was demolished but the school building was retained. Interestingly, mixing old and new was innovative at the time, but probably expedient due to wartime shortages.

The new facade is in the art-deco style. Art-deco was still popular in the 1950s. The school building is now used as a kitchen and one of the clubhouse halls.

The main hall includes a grand ballroom as well as a set of paneled dining rooms

Current facilities

Nowadays, the room can be rented for various occasions, including weddings and corporate events.

The Main Hall Photo: William Matthews
The Main Hall Photo: William Matthews
One of the dining rooms Photo: Preston Masons
One of the dining rooms Photo: Preston Masons

Corporate function rooms are available for 12 to 200 attendees. These can also be fully supported.

The building is also open for Heritage Days in September.

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