A HISTORIC organisation known across the world is offering people the chance to have a peek inside their Masonic Hall Building in Halesowen.

An open day is set to take place from 10am until 4pm on Saturday, March 24, at the Freemasons' ‘Newfields’ base, in Furnace Lane, in a bid to recruit new members and celebrate their 400th meeting.

During the open day, visitors will be given an explanatory tour around the rooms used for Masonic Lodge purposes, many of which are available for hire by the public to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, wedding receptions as well as business meetings, forums and funerals – particularly in the large dining room hall and bar.

There will also be an explanation of the Masonic foundation, its history and the ideals of friendship, charity and being an honourable and upright person in the community.

Dennis Nock, an Old Halesonian Mason, said: “We will also explain the reasons for the structured ceremonies within the lodge and also expel the wrongly held beliefs of some members of the public that Masonry is a secret society with underhand conspiracies and dealings.

“A recent BBC series on Freemasonry explained why this is just a myth. We are very much charity orientated.”

Visitors to the open day will learn about the 300 years of Freemasonry in England, the activities the Old Halesonian Lodge, the individual commitments in joining the lodge, why some Masonic ritual words are kept secret, and hear the answer to the question most people ask – why a secret handshake?

Mr Nock said: “Our lodge is very family orientated and we like to involve the wives, partners and families of brethren on many social events each year.

“We invite the people of Halesowen to our open day to learn and understand the fellowship of Freemasonry for men from all walks of life to join our lodge and help us in the continuation of our good works.”

The lodge was originally formed in December 1951 by local friends who had attended Halesowen Grammar School – now known as Earls High School.

The principal founder was Seth Somers, the local Industrialist and town benefactor, who held the High Office of Treasurer of the United Grand Lodge of England, and after whom the main square in Halesowen is named.

Last year marked a number of important anniversaries for the lodge. As well as being 365 years since the foundation of the school, it has been 45 years since it changed names, and the lodge celebrated 65 years of existence.

Charity plays a key part in Freemasonry, and over the years the lodge has supported a number of Halesowen organisations, including sponsorship for the school, while the national United Grand Lodge of England is recognised as being in the top 10 of charities across the country.

The Old Halesonian Lodge’s most recent donation was made to Halas Homes, which marked 50 years of offering specialist support for people in Halesowen with learning disabilities last year.

Alison Sayer, CEO of Halas Homes, said the support of the Freemasons “really makes a difference”, adding: “They have been a great supporter of ours for many years and we can't begin to show how truly grateful we are.”

As well as supporting local causes, the Halesowen brethren’s personal subscriptions and a proportion of their donations go towards the Grand Lodge's fundraising, which is shared among UK charities as well as international disaster funds.

Mr Nock added: “If this is the type of organisation which interests you and your family, and you would like to help keep this institution supporting local charities in Halesowen for the next 65 years then please visit the open day.”

Visitors can turn up to the open day from 10am until 4pm at the Halesowen Masonic Hall, which is signposted opposite Earls High School. For more information search ‘Old Halesonians Lodge 7104’ on Facebook.