Coat of arms
of the United Grand Lodge of England
|Formation||27 December 1813|
|Prince Edward, Duke of Kent|
|Part of a series on|
The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) is the governing Masonic lodge for the majority of freemasons in England, Wales and the Commonwealth of Nations. Claiming descent from the Masonic grand lodge formed 24 June 1717 at the Goose & Gridiron Tavern in London, it is considered to be the oldest Masonic Grand Lodge in the world. Together with the Grand Lodge of Scotland, and the Grand Lodge of Ireland, they are often referred to by their members as "the home Grand Lodges" or "the Home Constitutions".
A Masonic lodge, often termed a private lodge or constituent lodge, is the basic organisational unit of Freemasonry. It is also commonly used as a term for a building in which such a unit meets. Every new lodge must be warranted or chartered by a Grand Lodge, but is subject to its direction only in enforcing the published constitution of the jurisdiction. By exception the three surviving lodges that formed the world's first known grand lodge in London have the unique privilege to operate as time immemorial, i.e., without such warrant; only one other lodge operates without a warrant – the Grand Stewards' Lodge in London, although it is not also entitled to the "time immemorial" title. A Freemason is generally entitled to visit any lodge in any jurisdiction in amity with his own. In some jurisdictions this privilege is restricted to Master Masons. He is first usually required to check, and certify, the regularity of the relationship of the Lodge – and be able to satisfy that Lodge of his regularity of membership. Freemasons gather together as a Lodge to work the three basic Degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason.
Freemasonry or Masonry consists of fraternal organisations that trace their origins to the local fraternities of stonemasons that from the end of the fourteenth century regulated the qualifications of stonemasons and their interaction with authorities and clients. The degrees of Freemasonry retain the three grades of medieval craft guilds, those of Apprentice, Journeyman or fellow, and Master Mason. The candidate of these three degrees is progressively taught the meanings of the symbols of Freemasonry, and entrusted with grips, signs and words to signify to other members that he has been so initiated. The degrees are part allegorical morality play and part lecture. Three degrees are offered by Craft Freemasonry, and members of any of these degrees are known as Freemasons or Masons. There are additional degrees, which vary with locality and jurisdiction, and are usually administered by their own bodies.
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.
Prior to 1717 there were Freemasons' lodges in England, Scotland, and Ireland, with the earliest known admission of non-operative masons being in Scotland. On St John's Day, 24 June 1717, three existing London lodges and a Westminster lodge held a joint dinner at the Goose and Gridiron alehouse in St. Paul's Churchyard, elected Anthony Sayer to the chair as Grand Master, and called themselves the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster. The City of London Corporation has erected a Blue Plaque near the location. Little is known of Sayer save that he was described as a Gentleman (a man of independent means) when he became Grand Master, but later fell on hard times, receiving money from the Grand Lodge charity fund.
Anthony Sayer, on 24 June 1717, at the formation of the first Premier Grand Lodge of England of freemasons at London, the members present elected as their first Grand Master "Anthony Sayer, Gentleman". He further served Grand Lodge as Senior Grand Warden under John Theophilus Desaguliers.
The organisation known as the Premier Grand Lodge of England was founded on 24 June 1717 as the 'Grand Lodge of London and Westminster'. Originally concerned with the practice of Freemasonry in London and Westminster, it soon became known as the Grand Lodge of England. Because it was the first Masonic Grand Lodge to be created, convention calls it the Premier Grand Lodge of England in order to distinguish it from the Most Ancient and Honourable Society of Free and Accepted Masons according to the Old Constitutions, more usually referred to as the Ancient Grand Lodge of England, and the Grand Lodge of All England Meeting at York. It existed until 1813, when it united with the Ancient Grand Lodge of England to create the United Grand Lodge of England.
The City of London Corporation, officially and legally the Mayor and Commonalty and Citizens of the City of London, is the municipal governing body of the City of London, the historic centre of London and the location of much of the United Kingdom's financial sector.
In 1718 Sayer was succeeded by George Payne, a successful Civil Servant. The society then passed into the care of John Theophilus Desaguliers, a scientist and clergyman, then back to Payne. In 1721, the Grand Lodge managed to obtain a nobleman, the Duke of Montagu to preside as Grand Master, and so was able to establish itself as an authoritative regulatory body, and began meeting on a quarterly basis. This resulted in lodges outside London becoming affiliated, accepting sequentially numbered warrants conferring seniority over later applicants.
George Payne was an English official of the Exchequer and Freemason.
John Theophilus Desaguliers FRS was a British natural philosopher, clergyman, engineer and freemason who was elected to the Royal Society in 1714 as experimental assistant to Isaac Newton. He had studied at Oxford and later popularized Newtonian theories and their practical applications in public lectures. Desaguliers's most important patron was James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos. As a Freemason, Desaguliers was instrumental in the success of the first Grand Lodge in London in the early 1720s and served as its third Grand Master.
John Montagu, 2nd Duke of Montagu,, styled Viscount Monthermer until 1705 and Marquess of Monthermer between 1705 and 1709, was a British peer.
In 1723, by authority of the Grand Lodge, James Anderson published the Constitutions of Masonryfor the purposes of regulating the craft and establishing the Grand Lodge's authority to warrant Lodges to meet. The book includes a fanciful history of the Craft, which nevertheless contains much interesting material.
Throughout the early years of the new Grand Lodge there were any number of Masons and lodges that never affiliated with the new Grand Lodge. These unaffiliated Masons and their Lodges were referred to as "Old Masons", or "St. John Masons", and "St. John Lodges".
During the 1730s and 1740s antipathy increased between the London Grand Lodge and the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland. Irish and Scots Masons visiting and living in London considered the London Grand Lodge to have deviated substantially from the ancient practices of the Craft. As a result, these Masons felt a stronger kinship with the unaffiliated London Lodges. The aristocratic nature of the London Grand Lodge and its members alienated other Masons causing them also to identify with the unaffiliated Lodges.
Antipathy is a voluntary or involuntary dislike for something or somebody, the opposite of sympathy. While antipathy may be induced by experience, it sometimes exists without a rational cause-and-effect explanation being present to the individuals involved.
Social alienation is "a condition in social relationships reflected by a low degree of integration or common values and a high degree of distance or isolation between individuals, or between an individual and a group of people in a community or work environment". It is a sociological concept developed by several classical and contemporary theorists. The concept has many discipline-specific uses, and can refer both to a personal psychological state (subjectively) and to a type of social relationship (objectively).
On 17 July 1751, representatives of five Lodges gathered at the Turk's Head Tavern, in Greek Street, Soho, London and formed a rival Grand Lodge – "The Grand Lodge of England According to the Old Institutions". They considered that they practiced a more ancient and therefore purer form of Masonry, and called their Grand Lodge The Ancients' Grand Lodge. They called those affiliated to the Premier Grand Lodge, by the pejorative epithet The Moderns. These two unofficial names stuck.
The creation of Lodges followed the development of the Empire, with all three home Grand Lodges warranting Lodges around the world, including the Americas, India and Africa, from the 1730s.
In 1809 the Moderns appointed a "Lodge of Promulgation" to return their own ritual to regularity with Scotland, Ireland and especially the Ancients. In 1811 both Grand Lodges appointed Commissioners and over the next two years, articles of Union were negotiated and agreed. In January 1813 the Duke of Sussex became Grand Master of the Moderns on the resignation of his brother, the Prince Regent, and in December of that year another brother, Duke of Kent became Grand Master of the Antients. On 27 December 1813 the United Grand Lodge of England ("UGLE") was constituted at Freemasons' Hall, London with the Duke of Sussex (younger son of King George III) as Grand Master. A Lodge of Reconciliation was formed to reconcile the rituals worked under the two former Grand Lodges.
The new Grand Master had high hopes for Freemasonry, having a theory that it was pre-Christian and could serve the cause of humanity as a universal religion. However, his autocratic dealings with ordinary lodges won him few friends outside London, and sparked open rebellion and a new Grand Lodge of Wigan in the North West. Within Grand Lodge, opposition centred on Masonic Charity. Robert Crucefix launched the Freemason's Quarterly Review to promote charity to keep Freemasons from the workhouse, and to engage masons in the broader argument for social reform. The Earl of Zetland's complacent and inept management of Grand Lodge played into the hands of the reformers, and by the end of the 1870s English Freemasonry had become a perfect expression of the aspirations of the enlightened middle classes.
In response to conspiracy theories about Freemasons and generally hostile views gaining new life, due to the works of Stephen Knight and Martin Short, the United Grand Lodge of England began to change the way it dealt with the general public and the media from the mid-1990s, emphasizing a new "openness."This presentation was summed up by Provincial Secretary of East Lancashire, Alan Garnett who declared, "we're not a secret society or a society with secrets, but we are a private society." Lodges across England and Wales began holding open days, to allow the general public to see what they do. Freemasons' Hall, London and the Library and Museum of Freemasonry also opened to the general public, including guided tours.
Today, the United Grand Lodge of England or Grand Lodge currently has over 200,000 members meeting in over 6,800 Lodges,organised into a number of subordinate Provincial Grand Lodges which are approximately equivalent to the historic counties of England.
When the Grand Master is a member of the royal family it is customary to appoint a Pro Grand Master. The Pro Grand Master fills the role of the Grand Master when he is not available due to his royal duties. It is distinct from the Deputy Grand Master who acts as the Grand Master's deputy rather than as acting Grand Master.
In English politics, freemasonry has often been criticised by those associated with the Labour Party and trade unionism, because of a perception that freemasonry is aligned with the Conservative Party.The Labour Party became the second party of the United Kingdom from 1922 onward and stood on a platform of representing working-class interests, while the Conservatives and Liberals were largely based in the middle-class and upper-class (similar to Freemasonry). After a number of Labour MPs were blackballed from joining Masonic lodges, the Prince of Wales who was concerned by the potential conflict, intervened and had the New Welcome Lodge created for Labour members in 1929. Herbert Morrison claimed that his 1935 bid for the Labour leadership was sabotaged by Lodge members who preferred first Arthur Greenwood and then Clement Attlee.
Despite the creation of the New Welcome Lodge, there remained an element of hostility to Masonry within the Labour Party. As well as the alleged Tory connections, they accused Freemasonry of having unaccountable influence within the judicial system. This issue was brought to the forefront of English politics in the 1990s when Jack Straw, Home Secretary in the Tony Blair government attempted to force all Freemasons who worked as police officers,judges or magistrates to publicly declare membership in the organisation. In 2009, the ruling that freemasons had to declare if they were judges or magistrates was scrapped by Straw after fears that he would lose a court case at the European Court of Human Rights. Critics regard the group Common Purpose as an attempt to set up a pro-Labour freemasonry equivalent.
As with freemasonry in other countries, the United Grand Lodge of England has featured as the subject of Masonic conspiracy theories; the most persistent of these attempts to link freemasonry to a "cover-up" or whitewash of the Jack the Ripper case (in some cases, conspiracy theorists have claimed that the killings were masonic ritual murder), the inquiry into the Sinking of the RMS Titanic (though Lord Mersey, Sydney Buxton and Lord Pirrie) and Bloody Sunday (though Lord Widgery).
In the Ripper case, Stephen Knight's Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution (1976) attempted to implicate freemasonry and the British royal family in the murders through the personage of the Duke of Clarence and Avondale. Elements of this theory, through the novel of Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, even made its way into a major American film, From Hell (2001). The Hughes Brothers who produced the film, even approached the United Grand Lodge of England to get the "masonic bits" right, but, they were rebuffed due to the anti-masonic nature of the storyline.Another thesis, promoted by Bruce Robinson in his They All Love Jack (2015), attempts to link the case to freemasonry through Michael Maybrick.
Some native proponents of more generic anti-masonic conspiracy theories involving the Illuminati (based on John Robison and Augustin Barruel) have typically sought to implicate only Continental Freemasonry as a subversive force, while claiming to not be attacking the United Grand Lodge of England itself or British freemasonry more generally.This is the case with Nesta Helen Webster in her Secret Societies and Subversive Movements (1924). The American-born but English-domiciled Lady Queenborough pulled fewer punches with her Occult Theocrasy (1933), claiming that English freemasonry was founded as a front for the "Manichean" Rosicrucians. Many of these conspiracy theorists also attempted to implicate Jews or Jesuits as working hand in hand with masonry (such as Barry Domvile, coiner of the epithet "Judmas").
The history of Freemasonry encompasses the origins, evolution and defining events of the fraternal organisation known as Freemasonry. It covers three phases. Firstly, the emergence of organised lodges of operative masons during the Middle Ages, then the admission of lay members as "accepted" masons or speculative masons, and finally the evolution of purely speculative lodges, and the emergence of Grand Lodges to govern them. The watershed in this process is generally taken to be the formation of the first Grand Lodge in London in 1717. The two difficulties facing historians are the paucity of written material, even down to the 19th century, and the misinformation generated by masons and non-masons alike from the earliest years.
In Freemasonry, regularity is the process by which individual Grand Lodges recognise one another for the purposes of allowing formal interaction at the Grand Lodge level and visitation by members of other jurisdictions. The United Grand Lodge of England is not the governing body of Freemasonry, as each individual Grand Lodge determines who it considers Regular by its standards.
The Grand Orient de France (GODF) is the largest of several Masonic organizations in France and is the oldest in Continental Europe. It is generally considered to be the mother lodge of traditional Liberal, or Continental Freemasonry.
Prince Hall Freemasonry is a branch of North American Freemasonry for African Americans founded by Prince Hall on September 29, 1784. There are two main branches of Prince Hall Freemasonry: the independent State Prince Hall Grand Lodges, most of which are recognized by Regular Masonic jurisdictions, and those under the jurisdiction of the National Grand Lodge. Prince Hall Freemasonry is the oldest and largest predominately African-American fraternity in the nation.
Freemasonry in Malta has a lengthy history dating from the eighteenth century. The main masonic influences have been from the United Grand Lodge of England, the Grand Lodge of Scotland, and the Grand Lodge of Ireland. Today Regular Freemasonry is under the jurisdiction of the Sovereign Grand Lodge of Malta, formed in 2004.
A Grand Lodge is the overarching governing body of a fraternal or other similarly organized group in a given area, usually a city, state, or country.
Anti-Masonry is "avowed opposition to Freemasonry". However, there is no homogeneous anti-Masonic movement. Anti-Masonry consists of radically differing criticisms from sometimes incompatible groups who are hostile to Freemasonry in some form.
A number of governments have treated Freemasonry as a potential source of opposition due to its secret nature and international connections. After the founding of modern speculative Masonry in England in 1717, several Protestant states restricted Masonic lodges: the Netherlands banned the lodge in 1735; Sweden and Geneva, in 1738; Zurich, in 1740; and Berne, in 1745. Catholic Spain, Portugal, France and Italy attempted to suppress Freemasonry after 1738. Bavaria followed in 1784; Austria, in 1795; Baden, in 1813; Russia, in 1822. It was also banned in Pakistan in 1972.
There are many organisations and Orders which form part of the widespread fraternity of Freemasonry, each having its own structure and terminology. Collectively these may be referred to as Masonic bodies, Masonic orders or appendant bodies of Freemasonry.
Freemasonry and women have a complex relationship, which can be readily divided into many phases with no demonstrable relationship to each other until the 20th century. A few women were involved in Freemasonry before the 18th century; however the first printed constitutions of the Premier Grand Lodge of England appeared to bar them from the Craft forever.
A Grand Master is a title of honour as well as an office in Freemasonry, given to a freemason elected to oversee a Masonic jurisdiction, derived from the office of Grand Masters in chivalric orders. He presides over a Grand Lodge, and has certain rights in the constituent Lodges that form his jurisdiction. In most, but not all cases, the Grand Master is styled "Most Worshipful Grand Master." One example of a differing title exists in the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, where the Grand Master is titled "Right Worshipful". Under the Grand Lodge of Scotland the role is titled "Grand Master Mason".
The Ancient Grand Lodge of England, as it is known today, or The Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons as they described themselves on their warrants, was a rival Grand Lodge to the Premier Grand Lodge of England. It existed from 1751 until 1813 when the United Grand Lodge of England was created from the two Grand Lodges. They are now called the Antients, in contrast to the Moderns, the original Grand Lodge who had moved away from the ritual of Scotland, Ireland, and now the Antient Grand Lodge. This Grand Lodge was also informally called the Atholl Grand Lodge because the Third and Fourth Dukes of Atholl presided over it as Grand Masters for half of its 62-year existence.
The Holy Royal Arch is a degree of Freemasonry. The Royal Arch is present in all main masonic systems, though in some it is worked as part of Craft ('mainstream') Freemasonry, and in others in an appendant ('additional') order. Royal Arch Masons meet as a Chapter; in the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch as practised in the British Isles, much of Europe and the Commonwealth, Chapters confer the single degree of Royal Arch Mason.
Continental Freemasonry includes the Masonic lodges, mainly on the continent of Europe, that recognise the Grand Orient de France (GOdF) or belong to CLIPSAS. The majority of Freemasons belong to lodges that recognise the United Grand Lodge of England and do not recognise Continental Freemasons, regarding them as "irregular".
Thomas Dunckerley was a prominent freemason, being appointed Provincial Grand Master of several provinces, promoting Royal Arch masonry, introducing Mark Masonry to England, and instituting a national body for Templar masonry. This was made possible by an annuity of £100, rising to £800, which he obtained from King George III by claiming to be his father's illegitimate half brother.
Freemasonry in Germany started in several places during the second quarter of the Eighteenth century. After the extinction of the Rite of Strict Observance, which had a wide following and claimed Templar origins for its higher degrees, the several Grand Lodges in Germany defied all attempts at unification, although a largely ineffectual central organisation came into being with the unification of Germany. During the 1920s Freemasons were harassed alongside Jews by those taken in by the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and blamed for the German surrender of 1918. This culminated with the suppression of Freemasonry by the Nazis in 1935, with many Masons in Germany and occupied countries being executed or sent to concentration camps. Freemasonry returned to Germany after World War Two. A single central body now represents five "regular" Grand Lodges. Liberal, women's, and mixed lodges also exist.
The Lectures of the Three Degrees in Craft Masonry is a series of manuals on Freemasonry that are arranged in the form of catechisms to be memorized. They cover rituals and symbolism associated with the three degrees of Craft Freemasonry in question and answer form. During the second half of the 19th century, the Lectures gradually ceased to be used regularly in English Lodges.