Many people wonder about the history and day-to-day workings of Freemasonry. For many years it has been clouded in mystery but in recent years we have been explaining to the public the positive influence which Masonry has on its members, their families, and the wider community.
The individual Mason benefits from the enjoyment of spending time with like-minded men in a supportive and social environment, sharing in a common philosophy for the benefit of the community and having a shared wish to live by a high moral code.
In the community of London most people know Freemasons for their charity work. Amongst the almost 40,000 in London there are so many examples of generous contributions and support for national charitable causes and smaller local and ethnic ones.
Our members normally have interest which is stimulated by the above principles and like to live according to our main Masonic principles of neighbourly concern, charity, and moral standards which are as important today as they were from time immemorial when Freemasonry was founded.
Masonry is not a religion, but it does require that its members believe in a Supreme Being. It is open to men of all faiths and creeds.
We welcome anyone who fulfils the above and below criteria, and also any other Brother who would like to join our Lodge.
Criteria for membership
Over 21 years (though there are some special exceptions)
Belief in Supreme Being
Of good reputation
The principles of the Craft are Brotherly love (respect for others), Relief (Charity) and Truth (Moral Standards)
Frequently asked questions and answers
Is Freemasonry an Open Society?
YES. Our Constitutions (Rule Book) are freely available for anyone to purchase and read, our meeting places are well advertised, our headquarters is open to the public and has free tours on a daily basis, we have websites for the curious, and you can always ring us up with any questions. If anyone thinks we are not open society, they clearly haven’t been looking hard! We are however subject to the same data rules as other clubs and societies and therefore cannot publish members lists.
What happens at Lodge meetings?
We enact rituals based loosely on the historical ceremonies of stonemasons’ guilds. These are effectively short thought-provoking “morality plays” that use allegory and symbolism associated with the stonemason’s craft to illustrate moral and charitable lessons, and everyone has a part to play.
At other meetings there may be a short talk on Masonic history, symbolism or some other aspect of interest. After our meetings, our members usually have a meal together.
Don’t Masons have to help each other ahead of other people?
Not at all. Like everyone we are taught that we should help others, especially those lee fortunate than ourselves. It is made absolutely clear to every new member that his civil, moral and religious duties take precedence over any obligations to fellow-Masons.
How does being a Mason fit with your ordinary responsibilities in life?
Freemasonry supports it. It teaches a moral code, which is acceptable to all right-thinking people: to be law-abiding, support the broader community, help those less fortunate than oneself, and discharge one’s public and family duties faithfully.
Are you a religion?
Absolutely not. We do not even allow discussion of religion at our meetings, as that could be divisive. We do require members to believe in a Supreme Being, however, as our ceremonies would make no sense to non-believers. Masonic meetings begin with a non-denominational prayer, as do meetings of Parliament, a local Scout group and Remembrance Day services.
Do you accept Roman Catholics as Masons?
Yes, gladly, and there are many of them – and indeed many other sorts of Christians as well as Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and others. The Catholic Church of England has no problem with Freemasonry though, unlike other religions, it does not allow its ordained priests to join us.
There is no conflict of interest, as a man’s duty to his religion would always take precedence over Freemasonry. Some organisations abroad which call themselves “Freemasons” hold anti-clerical and even anti-Catholic views. We do not recognise them in any way and forbid our members from associating with them.
Why don’t Masons talk about their membership?
Masons don’t conceal their membership, but equally don’t want to be wrongly accused of seeking to gain advantage from it. Also, despite excellent progress on equality n recent years, people still occasionally try to discriminate against us.
Some employers until recently used to ask whether staff were Freemasons (but of course would not dream of asking if they were gay, Jewish, left-handed or from an ethnic minority). Fortunately common sense and the European Convention of Human Rights are making this sort of illegal discrimination increasingly rare.
What stance does Masonry take on politics?
None. Individual Freemasons have political opinions, of course, but Freemasonry as an institution does not. Discussion of politics is forbidden at our meetings, as it could lead to disagreements among friends. But it is fair to assume that our members’ political views encompass all major parties and many of the smaller ones.
Isn’t Freemasonry just a club for the posh?
Not at all. Part of the joy of Freemasonry is that it brings together people from all sorts of backgrounds. Our members include rich, poor, manual workers, office workers, professionals, the unemployed and the retired. Whatever their different backgrounds, they meet in a Lodge as equals in a friendly and supportive atmosphere.
Is Freemasonry linked to groups such as the Orangemen, Oddfellows, Foresters etc?
No. Some of those organisations have superficial similarities with Masonry in that their members wear regalia, have similar sounding offices and in some cases enact ceremonies, but they have no links to Freemasonry.
Why can’t women be Freemasons?
They can! Freemasonry began as a male-only movement, in keeping with the social conditions of centuries ago. But in the early 2oth century women established Masonic organisations for themselves. We do not visit each other’s Lodges but they sometimes use our meeting-places. Some women Masons are even married to our members. There are also Masonic groups that accept both men and women.
How much does it cost to be a Mason?
It varies considerably. There is an annual subscription, plus an one-off joining fee, and an initial outlay for regalia. In addition, there is the cost of dining, which can vary a lot depending on how lavish or economical the individual Lodge chooses to be. There is also a strong expectation that members will make a regular contribution to charity, though not at the expense of their own commitments, for example their families.