In a small private road leading off Watling Street there is a little-known building which has been hosting events on an almost daily basis for over 60 years. At number 3, The Rosewalk is the Masonic Hall.
It owes its existence to Harold Hunter Ward, born in the latter part of the nineteenth century and a Radlett resident. An active Freemason, he joined Elstree Lodge, becoming its Master (the most important appointment in any Freemason’s Lodge) in 1911 and again in 1926. It was his foresight in procuring the building at number 3 which led to its use as a Masonic meeting place.
In 1903, the Furniture Trades Provident and Benevolent Association planned to build an extensive Cottage Village and Orphanage on the site which is now The Rosewalk. In 1905 houses 1 and 2 were converted from four small cottages and in 1918 Number 3 was completed.
At about that time the Association decided to relocate to an existing building in Highgate and the development was abandoned.
Harold Ward purchased all three houses, and number 3 (much smaller then) was used to house a number of Lodges, including Elstree Lodge from 1924 onwards. He died in 1940 and number 3 and one of the cottages were sold to Donald Forrester, another enthusiastic Mason. In 1959 he accepted an offer from those Lodges meeting at the Hall, generously contributing 50% of the value, and a limited company was formed to buy the property.
A noted philanthropist, Donald Forrester died in 1985, leaving £300,000 to the Hertfordshire Old Peoples’ Establishment as well as other notable bequests.
There have been a number of extensions and other improvements to the building over the years and it now serves over 50 different Lodges and Masonic communities. Restaurant quality meals are produced six nights a week, catering for up to 70 people.
This year is the three hundredth Anniversary of the United Grand Lodge of England (the governing body of English Freemasonry) and the Hall is opening its doors to the general public on Sunday 25 June 2017, from 10:30am until 4:00pm. Meals will be served at a small charge at lunchtime and the bar will aslo be open.
All are invited to visit, not only to see the inside of the Hall but to find out more about the acitivities of the Freemasons and their contribution to the community.
The modern kitchen, bar lounge and dining hall provide facilities which are ideal for celebrations of all kinds, and background music is available if required.
Anyone interested in hiring the centre should contact Michael Podemsky at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07423 431459. You can also contact the Secretary, Bob Solly, at email@example.com or on 01525 716577.
R F Solly
Secretary & Treasurer