Die westelike hoek van Stalplein word gevorm deur ’n groep ou geboue, histories en argitektonies uniek in Kaapstad. Aan die regterkant is die Presidentswoning, vroeër Goewermentshuis, waarvan die geskiedenis terugstrek tot in die dae van die Van der Stels. Links daarvan lê die gebou van die Staatsdrukker, die eertydse banketsaal van die Losie de Goede Hoop, waarin die Kaapse parlement jarelank gesit het en wat later die Goede Hoop-teater geword het. En dan links van die Staatsdrukkery, agter die sierlike poort lê die vrymesselaarsgebou, die Losie De Goede Hoop.
In 1772 is die grondslag vir die Vrymesselary in Suid-Afrika gelê deur die stigting van die Losie De Goede Hoop wat sy magsbrief van die Nasionale Groot-Losie in Nederland ontvang het. Aanvanklik het die Broeders byeengekom in ’n nuwe gebou wat hulle gehuur en vir hul doeleindes ingerig het. Van 1794 het hulle ’n gebou gehuur wat geleë was op die terrein waarop die Hotel Union in Pleinstraat gestaan het en wat aan Abraham de Smidt, ’n vooraanstaande Vrymesselaar, behoort het. Later het hulle die gebou gekoop, maar dit het weldra geblyk dat dit ontoereikend vir hul doeleindes was. In 1800 het hulle dus die terrein, waarop die Losie tans geleë is, van ’n sekere George Muller gekoop.
Hierdie eiendom was bekend as die “Tuin Domberg”. Dit het oorspronklik uit twee skenkings bestaan – die een in 1666 aan die destydse kommandeur Zacharias Wagenaer en die ander in 1667 aan Maria Prignon, weduwee van ds. P Wagtendorp. In 1668 het albei in besit van HE Griesingh gekom en dit is daarna as ’n eenheid beskou. Die Vrymesselaars het die bestaande geboue op die perseel in ’n Tempel en ’n klublokaal omskep, maar het weldra besluit om ’n behoorlike losie op te rig. Vir hierdie doel het hulle binne hul geledere oor die dienste beskik van die destydse uitgelese driemanskap, Louis Michel Thibault, argitek, Herman Schutte, boumeester, en Anton Anreith, beeldhouer.
In 1801 het broeder Louis Thibault die planne vir die vrymesselaarsgeboue ontwerp. ’n Kontrak is met broeder Herman Schutte aangegaan om die gebou teen £6 000 (R12 000) op te rig en aan broeder Anton Anreith is opdrag gegee om vier beelde van simboliese figure, groter as lewensgrootte, te maak om langs die mure in die Tempel te plaas en nog drie vir ander kamers.
Terwyl die Losie in aanbou was, is die Vrede van Amiens gesluit en die Kaap is aan die Bataafse Republiek teruggegee. Adv. JA de Mist is as kommissaris hierheen gestuur om die administrasie op vaste grondslag te plaas.
Vir die Vrymesselaars was sy koms belangrik, want hy was destyds in Nederland die Nasionale Adjunk-Grootmeester en het opdrag gehad om Vrymesselaarsaangeleenthede aan die Kaap te ondersoek en, waar nodig, sake reg te stel. Die eer het hom dan ook te beurt geval om op 7 Julie 1803 die Tempel in die teenwoordigheid van ’n groot skare in te wy.
In 1772 the Masonic Order established its first lodge in the Cape under a warrant obtained from the Grand Lodge National of the Netherlands. Initially meetings were held in new buildings rented for this purpose, but after 1794 they moved to a building which stood on the site of the former Union Hotel in Plein Street belonging to Abraham de Smidt, a prominent lodge member. They subsequently purchased the building, but it soon proved to be inadequate for their needs and in 1800 they bought the grounds upon which the Lodge now stands.
The property, known as Domburg Garden, already had a number of structures upon it and in 1810 it was decided to demolish them to make way for a new building. Its design was carried out by Brother Thibault, it was built by Brother Schutte at a cost of £6000, and Brother Anreith installed four symbolic figures along the walls of the temple, with another three being placed elsewhere in the building.
The temple was consecrated on 7 July 1803 by Advocate JH de Mist, Commissioner of the Cape, who was also Deputy Grand Master National of the Netherlands. During the 1840s a banqueting hall was added next to the Lodge and this housed the Cape Parliament from 1854 to 1884 when the present House of Assembly was completed.
In February 1892 the Lodge, together with its banqueting hall, was gutted by fire, including Anreith’s four symbolic figures, and only a small section was not destroyed. The building was rebuilt, and was consecrated in April 1893, while its banqueting hall was converted to a theatre and was used as such until 1916 when it was acquired by the Government. It was declared a National Monument under old NMC legislation on 6 September 1968.
Thibault kom in 1783 aan in die land wat hy nooit weer sou verlaat nie. Die belowende jong argitek was ‘n Vrymesselaar. Die Vrymesselaarsbeweging is in die Frankryk van Lodewyk XVI sterk afgekeur en moontlik was dit die rede vir sy vertrek uit die land waar ‘n suksesvolle loopbaan vir hom verseker sou gewees het.
Reeds in 1785 verlaat hy De Meuron se regiment om as luitenant-ingenieur in Kompanjies-diens te tree, waar hy in 1788 tot kaptein-luitenant-ingenieur bevorder word. Hierdie stap staan waarskynlik in verband met sy huwelik op 2 April 1786 met Elisabeth van Schoor (25 Februarie 1753 – 11 Junie 1820), ‘n dogter van Evert van Schoor, lid van die burgerraad, en ‘n niggie van Adriaan van Schoor, landdros van Stellenbosch van 1748 tot 1763.
Dit is bekend dat hy byvoorbeeld die provoostronk ontwerp het. In 1787 word aan hom deur die goewerneur die leiding van die militêre akademie vir artilleriekadette in Kaapstad opgedra. Toe die VOC in 1795 sy onroerende goed aan die Britse owerheid oorgee, verskyn bokant die handtekening van Thibault dié van die majoor van die artillerie, Georg Conrad Küchler, wat later die Paarlse kerk sou ontwerp.
On the grounds of Parliament, close to Tuynhuys in the heart of Cape Town, is an old, white, plastered building. The Lodge De Goede Hoop is hidden behind a parking lot filled with shiny ministerial cars.
Only the Freemason symbol on the window and the Star of David above the large wooden doors show that this is not just another parliamentary building.
Rumour has it that the Freemasons sold the land on which Parliament stands to the Government for £1 on condition that should Parliament move, the land had to be sold back to the Freemasons for the same price. If the urban legend is true, the Freemasons would own Parliament if it were to move to Gauteng.
In 1772 the foundation of the masonic order in South Africa was laid by the establishment of the Lodge de Goede Hoop. It received its warrant from the Grand Lodge National of the Netherlands. At first the Brothers had their meetings in a new building which they hired and adapted to their requirements. After 1794 they hired a building which stood on the site of the former Union Hotel in Plein Street. This site belonged to Abraham de Smidt, a prominent Freemason of that time. They subsequently bought the building, but it soon proved to be inadequate for their purpose. Thus in 1800 they purchased the grounds, on which the Lodge now stands, from a certain George Muller.
This property was known as (the Garden) Domburg. Originally this piece of land came from two grants — the one in 1666 to the Governor at that time, Zacharias Wagenaar, and the other in 1667 to Maria Prignon, the widow of the Rev. P. Wagtendorp. In 1668 both came into the hands of H E Gresingh and thereafter continued as one property. The Freemasons converted the existing buildings on the premises into a Temple and a Club Room, but shortly after decided to erect a proper building in which to meet. For this purpose they had at their disposal the services of three men from their own ranks — the select triumvirate of that time: Louis Michel THIBAULT, architect; Herman SCHUTTE, builder, and Anton ANREITH, sculptor.
In 1801 Brother Louis THIBAULT drew the plans for the masonic buildings. A contract was entered into with Brother Herman SCHUTTE to erect it for £6 000 (R12 000) and Brother Anton Anreith was instructed to make four statues of symbolic figures, larger than life-size, to put up along the walls in the Temple and three more to use in other rooms.
While the Lodge was in course of construction, the Cape was given back to the Batavian Republic in terms of the Treaty of Amiens. Adv. J H de Mist was sent to the Cape as Commissioner to put the administration on a sound basis. His arrival was of great importance to the Freemasons because in the Netherlands he was the Deputy Grand Master National and he was instructed to inquire into masonic affairs at the Cape and to put things right if he deemed it necessary. He had the honour to consecrate the Temple on the 7th July, 1803, and a large concourse gathered.
De Mist himself described the Lodge as the most beautiful in the world. The strong and bold facade of the building was, and still is, very striking. The interior was indeed impressive. From the entrance hall steps led up to the Temple — a huge hall with a florid, barrel-vaulted ceiling and the four statues of Anton Anreith against the wall.
During the forties of the nineteenth century the Freemasons had the Banqueting Hall built next to the Lodge. This hall housed the Cape Parliament from 1854 till 1884 when the present House of Assembly was completed.
The building was inaugurated as the first masonic temple in South Africa in 1803 and is still used daily by its members.
On a table in the foyer are a square and a pair of compasses – well-known masonic symbols. On the wall is an engraved list of the names of former masters and the wall beside the front door is adorned with a framed photograph of Watty Watson, former DA chief whip and retiring Grand Master.
People say the Freemasons are on parliamentary grounds, but that’s not true. Actually, Parliament is on Freemasonry grounds.
Governments rise and fall, but one thing remains constant in the precincts of parliament in cape town: 235-year old Masonic lodge. Few know that an old and venerable temple of the ancient and mysterious brotherhood of Freemasons exists in the parliamentary complex. But De Goede Hoop Temple was built long before Parliament.
The Cape government of the time and the Freemasons were so intertwined that the Cape Parliament used the masonic banquet hall as a venue from 1854 to 1884 until the old House of Assembly was completed.
The organisation, regarded as among the most mysterious in the world, is all about money, power and secret handshakes, its detractors whisper. There are many conspiracy theories, alleged links with murders, and those who believe the Freemasons “planted the seeds” of apartheid.
Others say that from the organisation’s inception in the 14th century, it has been the secret hand that is quietly ruling the world.
Two artificial human skulls add a chilling edge to the room. People say the Freemasons have ruled the world over the centuries, but the truth is that many rulers were simply masons.
The most fascinating room in the Lodge De Goede Hoop is undoubtedly the middle chamber. With only two small windows letting in a sliver of light, the room is dark even in the middle of the day. Here, ceremonies are held at night in the pitch dark to remind members just how fleeting their lives are.
The organisation is open to all races, but does not accept women as members. There are female lodges in some parts of the world, but they are not recognised by the Freemasons’ constitution. No atheists are permitted to join. Members believe in the “life hereafter”, so atheists aren’t welcome.
To become a member, the person is required to believe in a ‘higher power’, but we do not say who that must be. Freemasonry is not a religion. We offer no path to heaven.
Freemasons believe in tolerance, and promoting peace and harmony.
The original design was by Charles FREEMAN. Various financial and building problems were experienced and the project was re-allocated to the Scottish architect Henry GREAVES, who had just joined the DEPARTMENT OF THE PUBLIC WORKS.