What is Freemasonry?

The most common question we are asked is “What is Freemasonry”

Quite a few people may think they know what Freemasonry is and what Freemasons do, but to really know you need to find out for yourself.

Freemasonry means different things to different men, but talking with a Freemason will give you a better understanding of what Freemasonry is and they really will want to chat with you about it.

And you do not need to be invited to become a Freemason – you can just ask!

Some FAQs you may find interesting

Freemasonry is the largest and oldest non-religious, non-political fraternal society in the world. It allows men of high moral values and a social conscience to put something back into society by supporting and providing hope to those in need. That support ranges from major international emergencies to local needs and causes. We also offer support to those who may need help due to age, illness or hardship.

The first documented reference to Freemasonry can be found in the diary of Elias Ashmole (Founder of the Ashmolean Library in Oxford, UK) who records his admission into a Lodge of Freemasons in October 1646 in Warrington, Lancashire, UK. The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) was founded in London in 1717 out of two existing Grand Lodges – the Antients and the Moderns – which, in turn, is the basis for Freemasonry worldwide.

We’re not. If Freemasonry is a secret society why do so many know about it? We have our regular meetings, which are publicised in advanced and we keep meticulous minutes and work to a strict set of regulations. We have no more secrets than the average high street business, but we do keep some things confidential, as would any business or individual. In fact, we are very open about our activities and whatever anyone wants to know about Freemasonry can be found on the internet. Freemasons are actively encouraged to talk about their membership with friends, family and colleagues and we hold numerous community events and open days. Does that really sound very “secret”?

Medieval stonemasons are said to have kept the secrets of their trade so that only properly qualified men did the work. As there were no certificates to prove a man knew his trade, he was taught certain ways to make his qualifications known when he started a new job where he was not previously known. Freemasons “secrets” are the way he proves his qualifications in Freemasonry.

There’s actually no such thing. We do use a grip in our ceremonies, or ritual dramas, as a means of recognition to determine how far a Freemason has progressed (see 4. above) but this is purely ceremonial. Freemasons are encouraged to be open about their membership and to NOT keep it a secret. If you want to know if someone is a Freemason………….just ask him.

Very definitely and absolutely not. All religious and political discussion is banned at our meetings. We do offer some prayers at our meetings, in the same way that the Armed forces, some Councils and even the House of Commons do, but Freemasons prefer to concentrate more on moral principles such as Benevolence, Compassion and Integrity. Anyone wishing to become a Freemason must profess a belief in a Supreme Being but the relationship of the individual with his own God is his own business. Freemasonry is open to men of all religions.

Not all churches do. Some elements in some Faiths misunderstand Freemasonry and what Freemasons do – our aims and objectives – and in particular confuse our ceremonies with religious ritual. Because of this some religions have discouraged or banned their followers from becoming Freemasons, but we have members from all Faiths including some from those who have tried to impose bans.

There are none. Whilst Freemasons have their own personal views on politics and State Policy, Freemasons, as a society, will never express views on either. Any discussion of politics or political issues is banned at Masonic meetings.

Nobody really knows. We do know that it is a tradition at a Freemason’s progression through each of the three Degree Ceremonies but the reason and origin of the tradition has been lost over time.

That’s not quite correct. There are women Freemasons and they have their own lodges and Grand Lodges. In the UK these lodges prefer to remain separated but there are some parts of the world where men and women Freemasons are admitted to the same lodges. This is known as ‘co-Masonry’. The United Grand Lodge of England does not recognise these as ‘regular’ Freemasonry.

No. One of the first things a Freemason is taught is that using Freemasonry for financial benefit or personal or material advantage is strictly forbidden. Of course, people naturally prefer to do business with people they know and trust and, in this way, Freemasonry is no different from any other club or society (golf, rugby, football etc.)

Firstly, Masonic meetings are no more secret than average company board meetings. The administrative business of the lodge – minutes of the last meeting, charity, finances etc. – take up the first part of the meeting. The next part is devoted to the admission of new members, annual installation of the Master and those progressing through the Degrees. The introduction of new members and the second and third Degree ceremonies take the form of one-act plays and are the traditional parts of Freemasonry.

The ceremonies in Freemasonry are re-enactment of events that are supposed to have taken place during the building of King Solomon’s Temple, and the way in which stonemasons of the time were involved , so the ceremonies are more about their place of work rather than a place of worship. Freemasonry retains that symbolism.

Freemasonry uses stories about the building of a temple and we all think of the highest individual involved as being the person who designed the structure. Freemasonry is open to men of all Faiths and denominations so it is important to refer to a higher Being in terms that are non-denominational. Therefore, we refer to that highest Being as The Great Architect of the Universe, as there can be no-one superior.

Our ceremonies are about the work done by the ancient stonemasons and, even today, working stonemasons still wear lambskin aprons to protect the work and themselves. In Freemasonry, aprons represent a Mason’s badge of rank, signifying the stage at which he is at in his Masonic career. The different colours signify different levels of skill. As a guide, in sport light blue could indicate playing at club level, dark blue at County level and dark blue with gold as playing for the country’s national team.

When you become a Freemason, there are some costs in the first year. There are joining and initiation fees, and the cost of regalia. This could be up to around £300.00. You would also need a dark lounge suit. After that the costs are annual membership fees (which vary from lodge to lodge), the cost of dining, charity collections, raffles and so on. Overall, the total could average out between £5.00 and £10.00 per week. This can actually work out less than the daily cost of a cup of coffee and a newspaper on your way to work.

Freemasonry is open to all men aged 21 years or over (there are some exceptions), who believe in the existence of a Supreme Being and who are of good character and are law-abiding. Freemasonry is a multi-faith, multi-racial and multi-cultural organization and is open to all men who fulfill these four essential requirements.

The Degrees in Freemasonry are a series of traditional one-act dramas, re-enacting the events supposedly connected to the stonemasons at the building of King Solomon’s Temple. These traditions date back over 300 years and are meant to help a Freemason learn, by experience, the philosophy of Freemasonry.

If you know someone who is a Freemason, just ask him. If not, you can complete our Application Form (click here) and we will contact you to assist in finding a suitable lodge in your area.

Freemasons feel a sense of belonging and having an opportunity to add something to society, which to some, nowadays seems sadly missing. Freemasonry is a wonderful way in which to invest some of your time in the formal structure of everyday life. Your lodge’s social programme offers greater opportunities to meet new people and form new friendships that will last a lifetime. We like to think that Freemasonry provides an opportunity to make good men better.

Why Become a Freemason?

1. Meet People and Make New Friends
Who doesn’t like to make new friends? Joining a Freemason’s Lodge is like becoming part of a large family. It’s especially enjoyable and gets so much better when you visit other Lodges. Being a Freemason can also help to boost your own self-confidence and help to make you feel more comfortable in any company. It can also be a great ice-breaker when meeting new people.

2. Help Others
Many Freemasons discover more opportunities to help others. All Freemasons are supporters of charity, National and International through our central charities in The Grand Lodge but they also pride themselves on supporting charities that serve their own local community. That doesn’t make us special but it does give us a special feeling.

3. Include the Family
Friends and especially family are important to Freemasons. Formal black tie evenings and weekends – we call them Ladies Nights or Festivals – barbecues, Fun Days, golf days and even Lodge outings are an important part of our social calendar that allows friends and family to be part of it. Membership of a Lodge helps making new friends and helping the community a fulfilling and enjoyable activity.

4. Enjoy Facing a Challenge
You may have heard stories about Masonic ceremonies. There are ceremonies, of course but Masonic ceremonies are intended to have positive, clear purposes – not least to encourage participation of individuals, confidence building, personal development and even public speaking. Sadly, they are not the terrifying, blood chilling rituals of popular belief.

Being a member of the Fraternity also gives Freemasons an opportunity to mix with other like-minded people through specialist activities including fishing, motorcycles, vintage cars, rugby (well, all sports) and almost any individual interest you can imagine. If it’s something people are interested in, be it an activity, hobby or just meeting others you can guarantee there’s a Lodge for it.

We believe in…

Respect for Others
Acting with Integrity
Charitable Activity
Making New Friends
Supporting the Community
Having Fun