PLEASE NOTE: Due to the the latest government advice regarding the Covid-19 emergency, there will be no public tours of The Old Theatre Royal until further notice. The vast majority of our Voluntary Guides are in government-designated at-risk groups, and it is our duty to protect them as best we can during these difficult times. We have therefore instructed them not to report for duty until government advice is such that it will be safe for them to do so.
Guided Tours & Masonic Museum
The Old Theatre Royal is open to the public on selected days each week. The vaults below the building house the Masonic Museum. The building has disabled facilities. These include a wheelchair accessible lift and a Hearing loop. Therefore, less abled visitors can also participate in the guided tours.
During the tour, the guide leads visitors through the building and its timeline. They Illustrate the changes the building has undergone and the reasons for them. They also introduce guests to some of the individuals responsible for those changes. Tour guides are also members of the masonic lodge themselves. These members include the current historian and curator of the building. The tour guides are above all highly knowledgeable and happy to answer questions.
Our Masonic Museum & Library was founded in 1922 by George Norman, who donated part of his extensive collection to start it off. Unfortunately, a large part of the original colelction was lost when the building suffered bomb damage during the Baedecker raids on Bath during April 1942. Hence, the museum is now named after its’ late curator from the mid-1950s, Edward Gayner. ‘Eddie’, as he was known to us all, spent over 30 years rebuilding the collection by collecting and collating rare Masonic artefacts, which he originally kept on the top floor of the building. In 2009, the trustees moved the museum into the vaults below the building. The building was then also opened to the public for guided tours. The guided tours culminate in a visit to the museum. Here, members of the public get a rare insight into the history of the Masonic Lodge and Freemasons in general.
There is a great deal of History in Bath, but few of its buildings can provide such a wide insight into the city. The Old Theatre Royal boasts more than 265 years of history from the Georgian period to the present day. Most notably, there is a unique blend provided through three periods of ownership. As a result it brings together a diverse range of interests. Consequently covering the development of entertainment, religion and local society.