MASONIC memorabilia, including many items from grand lodges across the region, goes under the hammer later this year.

Auctioneer Bonhams is collecting objects connected to Freemasonry, for a summer sale at its Leeds premises.

Much of the masonic ephemera already acquired was put on show at Bonhams' Newcastle auction house yesterday, in the hope of inspiring more interest in the June 12 sale date.

Office manager Guy Haskell said some of the country's oldest lodges were in this region, with many of the objects up for auction having featured in ceremonial aspects of their meetings over the past 300 years.

Among items on display were a Sunderland-made lustre jug, found in an outbuilding, along with a lodge "throne", which was being used as a garden chair.

Built from timbers salvaged from a fire at York Minster in May 1840, the throne bears a distinctive coat of arms. The insignia belonged to the Earl of Zetland, who was Grand Master, Freemasonry's most senior position, in 1844.

Mr Haskell said interest in the sale was expected to be high, particularly among the Freemasonry fraternity.

"What often happens is that people gather some of these objects without realising their significance, or understanding the insignia.

"It's often only people involved in freemasonry who are aware what the various crests and emblems symbolise. It would not surprise me if many of the items in the auction find their way back into various masonic collections."

Items can be viewed at Bonhams' Grey Street premises. For details of the sale call Mr Haskell, on 0191-233 9930.