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St John's Masonic Hall, 4 Braeheads, Banff

A Category C Listed Building in Banff, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.6684 / 57°40'6"N

Longitude: -2.523 / 2°31'22"W

OS Eastings: 368896

OS Northings: 864397

OS Grid: NJ688643

Mapcode National: GBR N84G.6VK

Mapcode Global: WH8LW.6JT6

Plus Code: 9C9VMF9G+8Q

Entry Name: St John's Masonic Hall, 4 Braeheads, Banff

Listing Name: 4 Braeheads, St John's Masonic Hall Including Boundary Walls

Listing Date: 15 March 1995

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 357328

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB21891

Building Class: Cultural

ID on this website: 200357328

Location: Banff

County: Aberdeenshire

Town: Banff

Electoral Ward: Banff and District

Traditional County: Banffshire

Tagged with: Masonic temple

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1798; 1st floor added late 19th century; forestair enclosed and internal alterations including raising ceiling height of Lodge Room, 1914. Well-detailed, prominently sited, 2-storey, 5-bay at ground, L-plan Masonic Hall in irregular terrace, with centre pend entrance of pedimented and pilastered doorpiece incorporating relief carved 'ST JOHN'S MASONIC HALL' on frieze and crossed compasses in tympanum. Dominant 1st floor windows break eaves into pedimented dormerheads. Rubble with harl to sides and rear, painted ashlar margins and dressings; stone mullions and decorative finials. Boarded timber doors.

FURTHER DESCRIPTION: symmetrical principal elevation to E (street elevation) with centre pend flanked by small windows, further windows to outer bays slightly larger and possibly later or altered. Wide-centre tripartite window to centre at 1st floor and single windows over outer bays, all with finialled pediments and moulded skewputts.

4-, 12-pane and plate glass glazing patterns all in timber sash and case windows. Grey slates. Coped ashlar gablehead stacks with thackstanes and some cans; ashlar-coped skews with decorative skewputts to 1st floor dormerheads.

INTERIOR: good retention of early detail to ground floor rooms. Ground floor rooms to N of pend with simple moulded cornices, boarded dadoes and dado rails; timber fire surrounds, that to kitchen with small range, that to principal room with fluted pilasters, cast iron grate and tiled cheeks: shelved wall cupboards and panelled shutters. Rooms to S retain simple cornice and timber fire surround. Later 1st floor hall with coombed ceiling, moulded cornices and circular air vents; 6-panelled timber doors, dado and picture rails. World War I and II memorials.

BOUNDARY WALLS: high rubble boundary walls to rear enclosing small courtyard.

Statement of Interest

Dating from 1798 with later alterations, St John's Masonic Lodge is a distinctive building situated on high ground overlooking Banff Harbour across to Macduff. It is a prominent element in an irregular terrace of early rubble and harl buildings at Braehead. The rear courtyard formerly opened on to a pend at North Castle Street and huts on adjacent land to the north were used by patients from the nearby Chalmers Hospital suffering from contagious diseases.

The early core of the single storey building remains evident in the domestic ground floor rooms which unusually retain much early detail. The 5-bay façade at this level may have been altered to accommodate slightly larger window openings at the outer bays but this has not been substantiated although the margins and astragals of the smaller inner windows appear to be of an earlier date. The 1st floor windows are dated stylistically to the latter end of the 19th century.

The Lodge was formed some years before 1764 when its charter, granted by the Grand Lodge of Scotland, 'constituted, erected and appointed them . .. the Operative Lodge of Banff'. This has led to some confusion regarding the date of the original building. The term 'erected' in this context implies the inauguration of Lodge No 92 (it had previously been Lodge No 120) rather than the erection of the building itself and records held in the Lodge confirm the build date as 1798.

F W Cooper mentions in his Historical Sketch that the 1914 alterations included raising the ceiling in the Lodge Room as well as installing ventilation and heating systems 'thereby making the Lodge Room one of the finest and most comfortable in the Province'. The cost of the alterations was £170.

The Lodge has connections with the Earls of Fife from nearby Duff House, and in 1780 the Operative Masons of Banff were involved in building John Smeaton's Banff Bridge over the River Deveron where identifying masons marks are carved on the east arch.

List description and address revised 2008.

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