Ever wondered what a Masonic Lodge looks like inside? Here’s your chance to find out in Barnstaple this August

The Freemasons of Barnstaple are opening their doors to the public this August.

On Saturday, August 19, Loyal Lodge at Trafalgar Lawn in Newport is inviting those interested to come along between 10am-1pm and find out more about the organisation.

There are a lot of myths about the 'secrecy' of Freemasons, but in fact local members are keen to recruit and would like to see as many people as possible on the day.

The Gazette was invited for a tour of Loyal Lodge by Worshipful Master Steve Eddy, director of ceremonies Mike Arnold and secretary Estcourt Miller.

Mike said they hoped people who had been watching the Sky One series Inside Freemasonry might be keen to find out more.

He said: "A lot of people don't know much about it and rumours go around that we are a closed society.

"In fact, we are based a lot on charity work and Freemasons are thought to be the second highest donor to charity next to the Lottery.

"Local lodges also support local charities but it's not always widely known how much we do for charity."

Mike said until 10 or 15 years ago, non-Masons had never been allowed in the Barnstaple lodge, a state of affairs that grew from secrecy during World War Two.

Historically Freemasonry grew from craft lodges and stone masons - the 'secret signs' so often talked about were signs made between craft members to prove their level and proficiency as they travelled around the country seeking work. Today, they are given inside the lodge at meetings.

Freemasonry is currently celebrating its 300th anniversary and to mark the occasion its Grand Lodge in London has made an extra £3million available for charities across the country.

The Lodge of Good Intention 6927 and the North Devon Masters 9316 also meet in the building.

Loyal Lodge was founded in 1783 and is one of the oldest in the country. A total of 234 different people have sat in the Worshipful Master's chair now occupied by Steve Eddy, the education officer at Exmoor Zoo, who will hold the post for a year.

He said: "We have members from all walks of life - everyone inside the lodge is equal, it does not matter what you do for a living or what your background is."

Feel free to drop in at Loyal Lodge, Trafalgar Lawn, on Saturday, August 19, between 10am-1pm.

Find out more about Freemasonry in North Devon at http://www.northdevonfreemasons.co.uk/