Much has been written and published about freemasons and on this site you will be provided with some links to explore this fraternal society in more depth. Freemasons have their origins based in the work of artisan stonemasons who built many of the great buildings that have survived through the ages. They set up lodges to protect their craft secrets of working and enforce a moral code of practice. Over time, lodges expanded their membership to non operative masons, set up a presiding ‘Grand Lodge’ and evolved over the years to be found across the globe. Many famous individuals have been masons including kings, statesmen, politicians and artists. Here you can see a list of notable masons: Notable Masons It should be stressed however, that freemasonry embraces the common man and is seen as a great leveler.The web resource Wikipedia provides a good starting point for a more in depth view of freemasonry: Wikipedia on Freemasonry.
United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) is the governing body of Freemasonry in England, Wales and the Channel Islands. Its headquarters are at Freemasons’ Hall, 60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ. Many other countries have their own similar Grand Lodge to oversee their freemasons. Under UGLE, there are Provinces or Districts which have a role in collating data and administrating memberships of masonic lodges at what is effectively county level. Many Provinces actually span across several counties and could be said, in many cases, to follow county boundaries from times gone by.
Becoming a Master Mason
Becoming a freemason is a big step as it necessitates you fully understanding and meeting a basic criteria for membership. This consists of having a mature outlook on life in general, being of sound moral judgement and over the age of twentyone years. Trinity Lodge is a male only lodge but there are freemasons’ lodges for ladies. More in depth information on becoming a mason can be accessed here: Becoming a Mason.
Freemasons pay an annual subscription to their lodges which covers the costs of upkeep of the hall they use for ceremonies and dining, production and delivery of the magazines they receive from Province and UGLE, a contribution to the running costs of the Lodge, Province and UGLE of which an element of that goes towards charitable relief. Some lodges also include meal costs with their subscriptions whilst other lodges pay on the night. At each meeting a small donation is also made towards the lodge charity fund (usually a minimum of a £1) during the formal part of the evening whilst at the Festive Board, a small raffle is held to gather funds for the work of the lodge almoner who tends to the needs of lodge freemasons or their familes who may be ill or suffering distress. Importantly, no call is made on a freemason’s generosity unless he wishes to give freely and without detriment to himself, his family or his professional or business connections.
Gavel Nights – a good way to see what it’s all about.
Now and again throughout the masonic year, some lodges put on what are called “Gavel Nights”. These are a masonic open evenings where male friends of freemasons and prospective candidates for freemasonry are invited to come along and see for themselves how masonry is structured. They have an opportuntiy to meet key personalities of the lodge; see a working lodge layout, see who sits where and receive an informative explanation of what masonry is, and is not about. After the meeting, guests are invited to join the lodge members for a meal called a “Festive Board”. Over dinner, they can further explore and discuss how masonry works in order to formulate an opinion on whether joining freemasonry is something they would like to take further.
Being Worshipful Master
Being Worshipful Master is a great honour and something an active mason can aspire to. However, being Worshipful Master does not mean you are worshipped at all. It is just an honorific title bestowed upon someone who has earned the right (and honour) to lead the lodge. The meeting where a mason nominated as Master Elect becomes the Worshipful Master of his lodge is called Installation and is a very special celebration evening attended by many visitors, including a masonically high ranking Representative of the Provincial Grand Master if he cannot attend himself. Worshipful Masters remain leader for one year at a time in a freemasons’ lodge but occasionally may carry on for another year if circumstances require this to occur. Once their year is complete and they have installed the new Master, they become what is known as a “Past Master” of the lodge.