about the two lodges in Colombo is scanty. However the century
volume of the Colombo Municipal Council by H. A. J. Hulugalle
published in 1965 records the following facts.
“Slave Island contained
a mud village, an excellent parade ground and two gentlemen’s
villas. One of these had been built by the Dutch as a Freemason’s
It may be reasonably assumed therefore that from these times;
Freemasonry was a pursuit of the elite, whose many mansions dotted
the Beira Lake area.
Sir James Emerson Tennent in the Second Volume of his Account
of Ceylon published in 1859 makes the following observation.
are the insects at certain seasons, that in some of the mansions
at Slave Island and its vicinity, the flies invade the apartments
in such numbers as to extinguish the lights. On the occasion of
dinner parties it is the custom to light fires on the lawn to
draw the files from the reception rooms, which are kept darkened
and with the windows closed till the arrival of the guests.
It was in this context
that the Victoria Masonic Temple was opened at the commencement
of the twentieth century in September 1901. The building had been
envisaged in 1897 in commemoration of Queen Victoria’s Diamond
Jubilee but preliminaries such as the preparation of plans and
the collection of funds delayed construction.
A suitable land was acquired a few hundred yards from the existing
Masonic Temple consequent to a petition made through the Governor
of Ceylon to the War Office in London (since the site was under
military control). The transfer of the land was sanctioned at
the end of 1898 and executed by the Governor, Sir West Ridgeway.
Fond memories of institutions back home dear to the traditional
English colonizer, accompanying him wherever the interest of trade
beckoned him, were made manifest in the form of Clubs, Cricket
fields and Golf Links. It is therefore, only to be expected that
Freemasonry, also being an association of gentlemen, should architecturally
reflects the influence of the typical Englishmen’s club.
The Victoria Masonic Hall, which was completed on 5th September
1901, is an excellent example of this.
The foundation stone for this beautiful place was laid at a simple
ceremony by Hon. John Norman Campbell, a Freemason and a philanthropist
at 7.15 a.m. on 27th November 1900. This building, which has sturdily
withstood the vagaries of the weather and other elements, represents
the stable, solid, and undemonstrative virtues of Freemasonry.
It is an important monument of this period, and a part of Sri
Lanka’s colonial history.
The Victoria Masonic Hall is the outcome of the efforts of years
to provide a spacious and comfortable hall for the Craft in Colombo.
Elaborate external architecture has been exchanged for internal
comfort, as a moment’s glance would convince any discerning
This beautiful building was specially designed to meet the requirements
of the various degrees of Freemasonry in Sri Lanka. The Lodge
Room is connected to the service rooms on the 1st floor, while
the ground floor consists of the Reception Hall for social functions.
It is noteworthy that although repairs have been affected periodically
in the 1990s, no major structural changes have been done, thus
preserving original marks in deference to the architectural value
of the building.
In the city of Colombo, the Victoria Masonic Hall stands tall
as a tribute to the worthy Freemasons of Sri Lanka, who designed,
constructed and maintained this hall. The English, Irish and Scottish
Freemasons of Sri Lanka on 5th September 2001 celebrated it’s
Century on a grand scale.
The Victoria Masonic Hall constitutes an unbroken link, systematically
meeting the treasured ancient traditions of Freemasonry with the
objectives and aspirations of Freemasonry in society today.
It is the bounden duty of all Freemasons in Sri Lanka to preserve
the VMT Hall in all its glory, for posterity. It must remain for
generations as an integral constituent of Colombo’s urban