The Masonic Hall in Preston has elements that date back to 1837. However, most of the current building was constructed in the 1940s, incorporating older buildings. The site began life as a Methodist Chapel and Sunday School, in Saul Street. This is near to the current court buildings.Advertisement
Saul Street was not the first Methodist Chapel in Preston. The first was built on an old fruit orchard on Black Horse Yard, near Orchard Street. That was in 1787. The building was probably altered in the 19th century. This area is now under the shops, just off Friargate. The Orchard originally had a moat around it. This is referenced on page 24 of Garrett’s Makers of Wesleyan Methodism in Preston (1890).
This is an interesting book that covers a lot of the history of Preston in the 19th century. However some things don’t change. One chapter is titled ‘The celebration of the restoration of peace with Russia’. This was from 1856 and another war involving the Crimea.
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 to the ground. However, the Sunday School was one of the few survivors.
The Sunday School is still incorporated into the Masonic Hall. The original chapel was to the left and was demolished.
Sunday schools were set up in the 18th century and were often the only education working children got. They also performed a religious function as many were associated with churches and chapels.
Lessons in reading, writing and bible studies, were provided.
During the war work started on converting 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 war time shortages.
The new frontage was art-deco in style. Art-deco was still popular into the 1950s. The school building is now used as the kitchen and one of the lodge rooms.
The main hall has a large ballroom along with a set of wood-panelled dining rooms
These days the Hall can be hired for a range of occasions including weddings and corporate events.
Corporate function rooms are available for 12 to 200 attendees. These can also be fully catered.
The building is also open for the Heritage Open Days in September.
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