Soane's activities as a Freemason, in particular the remarkable hall which he designed for the Grand Lodge in London in 1828, are here analyzed in detail for the first time. The significance of Freemasonry for Soane is exhibited by an investigation of his acquisition and study of books by writers of the Enlightenment such as d'Hancarville, Lenoir, Ledoux, Court de Gébelin, Viel de Saint-Maux, and James Christie, who were either Freemasons or sympathetic to masonic ideals. At the instigation of his friend, H. R. H. the Duke of Sussex, Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge, Soane was given the most unusual commission of designing a Masonic ark in 1813. His Masonic Hall, designed fifteen years later, was an interior rich in symbolic ornament, and bathed in a mysterious light, in which he achieved a deeper religious atmosphere than in any of his designs for Anglican churches.
- Copyright 1995 The Society of Architectural Historians