HISTORY buffs exploring a secret society are among the first in the country to receive an injection of lottery cash.
Sunderland Heritage Quarter is getting a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Sharing Heritage grant.
Its project, Georgian Treasures of Sunderland, has been given £10,000 to explore the story of 18th century Freemasonry in Sunderland, focussed around the heart of Old Sunderland.
Sunderland Heritage Quarter, a not-for-profit regeneration scheme, will offer the chance to visit Phoenix Lodge in Queen Street East – believed to be the oldest non-religious building in the city and oldest purpose-built masonic lodge in the world.
There will also be guided walks, exhibitions, talks by historians, history surgeries and a delve into the Queen Street Masonic Archives, which stretch back almost 300 years.
The cash to finance it all comes as part of a new funding programme to help people across the UK explore and share history in their area.
Michael Johnson, a director of Sunderland Heritage Quarter, said: “Winning this grant is a great achievement for Sunderland because it recognises the richness of the city’s Georgian heritage.
“It was in this era that the foundations of modern Sunderland were built.”
Ivor Crowther, head of the HLF North East, added: “Sharing Heritage is a wonderful opportunity for communities to delve into their local heritage, and we are delighted to be able to offer this grant so that Sunderland Heritage Quarter can embark on a real journey of discovery.
“Heritage means such different things to different people and HLF’s funding offers a wealth of opportunities for groups to explore and celebrate what’s important to them in their area.”