Freemasons have swapped their St George’s Hall building in Northampton for a unit on an industrial estate, complete with a three-ton crane.
The extravagantly-fitted out building, opposite Northampton’s Racecourse in St George’s Avenue, has been sold for £1.2 million to Bosworth College.
The Freemasons will now be based at the former Shire Lodge adult learning centre in Sheaf Close on Lodge Farm industrial estate.
It is less than half the size of the previous building.
Non-Freemasons were rarely allowed inside, but a media day in 2005 revealed a large main room for ceremonies sporting a couple of thrones.
Provincial Grand Master Max Bayes told a recent meeting: “This must inevitably result in lower heating costs, lower rates and all general running costs, not least maintenance costs.
“I can confidently predict that once everything is complete, Freemasonry will cost less than it has previously.”
The new building cost £750,000 and the Freemasons have budgeted for a £550,000 upgrade which may eventually be met by selling off land around the building, but in the meantime will be part-funded by £400,000 in loans from “a small group” of Freemasons.
Bosworth College takes mainly boarding foreign students and has several buildings in Northampton.
It plans to turn St George’s Hall into lecture theatres and a canteen for students.