Library and Museum

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NEW: Browse The Library On Line

The books and artefacts held in The Library and Museum can now be viewed on-line. This wonderful new service can be previewed by clicking here. This will load the home page and if you click on the floating headings or enter search terms you can surf your way through the Library and Museum to see what the Museum is holding. To obtain full details of the book or artefacts please apply to the Roger Coles the Librarian and Curator for a login to the new On-line Library and Museum.

Brief History of the Library and Museum

The Library and Museum was started at the Masonic Hall Reading in 1896 by members of Grey Friars Lodge No.1101 with assistance from other Reading lodges.

Following the move to Sindlesham in 1969 the contents of the collections were put in storage until a room was allocated for the Library and Museum and in 2002 an additional room was acquired for use as a Museum.

The museum collection contains items of ceramics, glassware, regalia, jewels and other miscellaneous items including horse brass, gavels, watches, paperweights and cufflinks. We even have an American casket handle!

There are about 3500 items altogether, some of which are more than 200 years old.

The Library has over 20,000 books on Freemasonry, including many rare editions, making the collection one of the largest in England; in addition to books there are over 3000 certificates, prints, postcards, photographs, and archival items, and a recently acquired stamp collection as well as a reference database in access of 90,000 records and these collections continue to increase in size, all providing a very valuable resource for reference and research.

Although the Library is primarily for the interest, education and information of our own members, it is also used by members of the general public wanting information on Freemasonry or the Masonic membership of ancestors and we have had over the years a number of students come to research material for their degrees.

We try to purchase all new masonic books in the English language published anywhere in the world. The Library subscribes to most of the Research lodges in the world which are known to publish Transactions in any language so that we receive all of these regularly. We also subscribe to a number of masonic periodicals from all over the world. However there are about 200 of these and understandably we do not buy them all. We also buy second-hand books from book dealers worldwide, often being offered far more than we have the means to purchase.

The Library and Museum was funded almost entirely by money raised by running the regalia shop at Sindlesham. We do rely heavily on donations and gifts of unwanted masonic items and those people who are kind enough to remember the Library and Museum in their Wills. The Library and Museum is a registered Charity. Donations may be made by Gift Aid and bequests are free of tax.

Roger Coles is the curator and is generally in the library office five mornings a week.If anyone wishes to borrow a book, visit the museum or make a purchase from the regalia shop, please contact him on 0118 979 5104 or 07557 767405 or by email.

We have a need for more help in the Library and Museum and a minimum commitment of 3-4 hours per week is required. For those who wish to become more actively involved in the Library or care of the collections, a training programme is available and can take approximately 12 -18 months to complete.

If you have some spare time, or know someone who has, please do speak to the Librarian & Curator; your offer of help will be greatly appreciated, and you would find the work extremely interesting.

Friends of The Berkshire Library and Museum of Freemasonry is a group of volunteers which provides financial support for maintaining and for the conservation and preservation of our collections; it also provides valuable assistance with the acquisition of new items of interest for the collections.

As a registered charity we are enabled to employ tax efficient methods of raising funds for these projects. We hope, with your support, over the coming years to be able to achieve these objectives and to ensure the financial stability of the Library and Museum for future generations.

How can you help us?

  • Become a Friend: You can register your support in becoming a Friend by completing a form (available from the Librarian). Registration enables us to make available regular news bulletins about progress with the Library and Museum. An annual donation of only £5 will qualify you as such.
  • Donations through Gift Aid: Friends who pay UK income tax may complete the attached Gift Aid form. This enables the Library and Museum, as a registered charity, to recover tax appropriate to the amount of the subscription or gift. This is of considerable benefit to the Library and Museum and at no extra cost to the subscribers. Gift Aid donations can be cancelled at any time.
  • Legacies: The work of the Library and Museum benefits considerably from bequests. A bequest form is available from the Library and Museum Friends, Berkshire Masonic Centre, Mole Road, Sindlesham, Berks RG41 5EA.

Please do consider giving your support to this institution by becoming a Friend.