Very many of Sunderland's male population were freemasons in the late 18th century. The fellowship offered some security and hospitality to seafarers and others in a harsh environment.
Freemasons played an important role in developing the town's commercial infrastructure, notably the Wearmouth bridge (opened 1796) and the Exchange building (1811).
Substantial lists of members of the town's lodges have survived (in the Library and Museum of Freemasonry) and have been transcribed by one of our volunteers, John Bilton.
The Golden Lion, High Street, had close links to local lodges.
A history of the oldest lodge in Sunderland, Palatine Lodge (formerly Sea Captains' Lodge), established in 1757, has recently been placed online.
Content generated during research for two paperback books 'Sunderland and its Origins: Monks to Mariners' (ISBN 13 : 9781860774799) and 'Sunderland: Building a City' (ISBN 13 : 978-1-86077-547-5 ) for the England's Past for Everyone series