Here are some questions that we are regularly asked.
What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry means different things to each of those who join. For some, it’s about socialising with like-minded individuals and making new friends and acquaintances. For others it’s about being able to help deserving causes – making a contribution to family and for society. But for most, it is an enjoyable hobby.
Freemasonry is one of the World’s oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisations. It teaches self-knowledge through participation in a progression of ceremonies. Members are expected to be of high moral standing and are encouraged to speak openly about Freemasonry.
What happens at a lodge meeting?
The meeting, which like those of other groups, are open only to members, is normally in two parts.
First, there are normal administrative procedures such as:
- Minutes of the previous meeting
- Proposing and balloting for new members
- Discussing and voting on the annual accounts
- Masonic news and correspondence News about charitable work
Second, there are the ceremonies for:
- Admitting new members
- The annual installation of the Master of the Lodge and his officers
Why do Freemasons take oaths?
New members make solemn promises concerning their behaviour both in the Lodge and in society. Members also promise to keep confidential the way they recognise each other when visiting another Lodge. Freemasons also promise to support others in time of need but only so far as it does not conflict with their family and public obligations.
Are Freemasons expected to give preference to fellow members?
Certainly not. This would be unacceptable and may lead to action being taken against those involved. On joining, each new member states that he expects no material gain from membership.
Who do the Masonic charities donate to?
Whilst there are Masonic charities that cater specifically, but not exclusively, for Masons or their dependants, others make significant grants to non-Masonic organisations. At a local level lodges, including Miles Coverdale, give substantial support to local causes.
You can read more about our grants and support for good causes on our Masonic Charity page.
What is Freemasonry’s relationship with religion?
All Freemasons are expected to have a religious belief, but Freemasonry does not seek to replace a Mason’s religion or provide a substitute for it. It deals in a man’s relationship with his fellow man not in a man’s relationship with his God.
Why do some churches not like Freemasonry?
There are elements within churches who misunderstand Freemasonry and its objectives. They confuse secular rituals with religious liturgy. There are many Masons in churches where their leaders have been openly critical of the organisation. Masonry has always actively encouraged its members to be active in their own religion.
Does Freemasonry accept Roman Catholics?
Yes. Four Grand Masters of English Freemasonry have been Roman Catholics. Today there are many Roman Catholic Freemasons.
What is Freemasonry’s relationship with politics?
Freemasonry, as a body, will never express a view on politics or state policy. The discussion of politics at Masonic meetings has always been prohibited.
Is Freemasonry an International Order?
Freemasonry exists throughout the world. However, each Grand Lodge is sovereign and independent. There is no international governing body for Freemasonry.
Are there women Freemasons?
Yes. Whilst the United Grand Lodge of England, following the example of medieval stonemasons, is, and has always been, restricted to men, women Freemasons have two separate Grand Lodges, which are restricted to women.
Why do you wear regalia?
Wearing regalia is historic and symbolic. Like a uniform, the regalia indicates the rank of the wearer in the organisation.
How many Freemasons are there?
Under the United Grand Lodge of England, there are over a quarter of a million Freemasons.
There are Grand Lodges in Ireland, which cover both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and Scotland which have a combined total of approximately 150,000 members.
Worldwide, there are approximately six million Freemasons.
How many degrees are there in Freemasonry?
Basic Freemasonry consists of three degrees: Entered Apprentice Fellow Craft Master Mason
How and when did Freemasonry start?
The questions of when, how, why and where Freemasonry originated are still the subject of intense speculation. The general consensus amongst Masonic scholars is that it descends directly or indirectly from the organisation of operative stone masons who built the great cathedrals and castles of the middle ages. The earliest recorded 'making' of a Freemason in England is that of Elias Ashmole in 1646.Timeline
The first documented making of an English Freemason, Elias Ashmole, at Warrington in 1646.
From the 1660s more evidence exists of gentlemen being made Masons in non-operative Lodges.
On 24 June 1717 four London Lodges, which had existed for some time, came together at the Goose and Gridiron Tavern in St Paul’s Churchyard, declared themselves a Grand Lodge and elected Anthony Sayer as their Grand Master. This was the first Grand Lodge in the world.
By this time the new Grand Lodge had published its first rule book - The Book of Constitutions of Masonry - and was meeting quarterly and recording its meetings. It had extended its authority outside London.
The Grand Lodge of Ireland was established.
The Grand Lodge of Scotland was established. The three Home Grand Lodges began to take Freemasonry overseas and the development of Freemasonry abroad mirrors the 18th and 19th century development of the British Empire.
A rival Grand Lodge appeared in London. Its original members were Irish Masons who claimed that the original Grand Lodge had made innovations. They dubbed the first Grand Lodge the Moderns and called themselves the Antients. The two existed side by side - both at home and abroad - for nearly 63 years, neither recognising each other as regular.
After four years of negotiation, the two Grand Lodges in England united on 27 December 1813 to form the United Grand Lodge of England. This union led to a great deal of standardisation of ritual, procedures and regalia.
Some 647 Lodges were in existence. The 19th century saw a great expansion of Freemasonry - both at home and abroad.
2,800 Lodges had been established despite losses when independent Grand Lodges were formed in Canada and Australia in the later part of the century.
The two World Wars both had a great effect on English Freemasonry. In the three years after the First World War over 350 new Lodges were set up, and in the three years after the Second World War nearly 600 new Lodges came into being. In many cases the founders were servicemen who wanted to continue the camaraderie they had built up during their war service, and were looking for a calm centre in a greatly changed and changing world.
On 14 June 1967 the 250th anniversary of Grand Lodge was celebrated at the Royal Albert Hall. Centrepiece of the celebrations was the installation as Grand Master of HRH The Duke of Kent, who still holds that office today.
On 10 June 1992 over 12,500 Freemasons and guests gathered at Earls Court in West London to celebrate the 275th anniversary of Grand Lodge. For the first time press and television were present at a meeting of Grand Lodge and the event featured on television newscasts around the world.
Preparations are now beginning to celebrate the tercentenary of Grand Lodge in June 2017.
How much does it cost to be a Freemason?
It varies from Lodge to Lodge. Anyone wishing to join will find a Lodge to suit his pocket. There is an initiation fee on entry and in due course regalia will have to be bought. The meeting is normally followed by a dinner, the cost depending on the venue. There is, in addition, an annual subscription. Members are invited to give to charity but this should always be within their means and it is entirely up to the individual how much they wish to contribute.
You can find out more about the cost of becoming a member of OPM Lodge by clicking this link How Much Does It Cost?
If you have any questions not covered here then please contact us and we will do our best to answer them for you.
Sources: With thanks to the United Grand Lodge of England.