Institute of Archaeology


Building Solomon's Temple

In the Building Solomon's Temple exhibition at Freemasons' Hall in Great Queen Street, which ran from January-May 2011, the Library and Museum of Freemasonry explored how freemasonry took King Solomon's Temple from literature to artefact and how archaeological exploration provided new material for use in Masonic ceremonies and architecture.

For more than 200 years, the concept of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem had been central to organised freemasonry and had influenced its symbolism, architecture and ceremonies.

Biblical scholars and early freemasons had only been able to use the few biblical references to construct their images of the Temple on paper and later on ceramics, textiles and glass. Napoleon's expedition to Egypt reawakened interest in the Middle East. The formation of an English lodge in Jerusalem was the result of the opening up of the area to archaeology and tourism from the middle of the nineteenth century in which many freemasons were involved. Freemasons such as the American Rob Morris and Sir Charles Warren journeyed to Jerusalem on archaeological excavations and wrote about their visits. The recovery of archaeological remains and the development of tourism enabled them to bring back tangible fragments to furnish English lodge rooms and reinforce the imaginary Masonic temple.

Related outputs

  • Exhibition catalogue and public events relating to understanding the meanings, conservation, archiving and interpretation of the material and visual culture of freemasonry.


  • Funded by Library and Museum of Freemasonry