History of the Masons

Freemasonry is actually the largest and indeed the oldest fraternal organisation in the world. It is a universal society of friends, who all want to become better people through association with one another.

Fellowship, integrity and being a good citizen, that is what it is all based on, but quite where did it all start?

There is much debate when it really started, but those that study these sorts of things suggest it descends directly or indirectly from the organisation of stone masons who built the great churches, cathedrals and castles of the middle ages. Masons refer to these ‘real’ Masons as “operative masons”, although today’s masons also consider themselves “real Masons” but “non-operative” or “speculative” Masons.

Elias Ashmole recorded his initiation in 1646 with these words:
‘October 16, 4.30pm – I was made a freemason at Warrington in Lancashire with Colonel Henry Mainwaring [a Roundhead parliamentarian friend related to his father-in-law] of Karincham in Cheshire. The names of those that were then at the Lodge, Mr Richard Penket Worden, Mr James Collier, Mr Richard Sankey, Henry Littler, John Ellam, Richard Ellam and Hugh Brewer.’

This is the first evidence of the initiation of an English speculative mason – but of course those present and listed would have certainly become Masons at an earlier date.

As originally an English organisation, it probably comes as no surprise many believe it actually started in a pub, the Goose and Gridiron Tavern in St Paul’ Churchyard on St John’s Day, 24th June 1717. This is when four existing London Lodges got together and declared they were the Grand Lodge, and they elected Anthony Sayer as their Grand Master.

If you want the full history, click on this link to view the historical timeline of the main Freemasons website.

Greyfriars Lodge Reading 1101
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