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former coach house, now housing the CMC (picture © CMC)

The Grand Lodge offices of the Grand East of the Netherlands reside in The Hague in a magnificent well preserved mansion dating back to the 18th century. Behind this house lies a former coach house which is now the home of the precious collection of the Grand East. This house, which is open to everyone, is called the CMC, short for Cultural Masonic Centre ‘Prince Frederick’.

The CMC accomodates archives, a library and a museum. They have sometimes be called the ‘Treasury of the Royal Art’ by conoisseurs, since this is one of the most impressive collections of masonic materials brought together anywhere in the world.

In 1854, Prince Frederick, Grand Master at that time, acquired the masonic library of the German Georg Kloss, who in his lifetime had already become a legendary collector of books. His collection of some 7000 books and 2000 manuscripts included the practically complete literature of Freemasonry from its inception up to half-way the 19th century. This collection still forms the nucleus of a library that now contains some 50,000 volumes plus a large collection of masonic journals. The library not only stocks what is most rare and ancient, but it is kept up to date by regular additions of new publications.

warrant of Lodge l’Age d’Or, Leiden 1758 (picture © CMC)

Among the many treasures in the CMC are the archives of some 80 lodges that were discontinued over the years (the Dutch East Indies lodges form a notable proportion of these), in addition to the early archives of some still existing lodges.

As warrants of dissolved lodges have to be returned to Grand Lodge, they are also found in the archives. One of the oldest of these is the warrant which in 1758 was granted to Lodge l’Age d’Or in Leiden.

In 1770 this lodge amalgamated with another lodge working in Leiden, Lodge La Vertu no. 7, and the warrant was surrendered. When in 1963 Lodge l’Age d’Or was resuscitated, its old warrant much to the regret of the founders at that time was not returned: instead a new warrant was issued and the lodge was (re-)enrolled under the new number 235.