The Cloisters (a Grade II listed building) was built by Miss Annie Jane Lawrence (1863-1953) a Quaker. The building officially opened on January 17th 1907, and it was originally built as an open-air school dedicated to Psychology, accommodating 20 students.
The building consisted of a large half-oval ‘open-air room’ called the ‘Cloisters Garth’. It became the base for the Alpha Union set up by J. Bruce Wallace who organised summer schools and residential courses there. Concerts were organised and attended by audiences of 1,000, making organ recitals, band and choral concerts a regular part of the new town’s cultural life.
After 1939 the building suffered damage as a result of the army during the war. Eventually the local Freemasons turned the building into the North Hertfordshire Masonic Centre.
Changes to the building can be seen by comparing to two images – the Cloisters Garth is no longer open-air.