What is Freemasonry?

Freemasonry is among the oldest non-religious fraternal societies in the world.  It is a society of men who are concerned with moral and spiritual values. It encourages men to live better lives, to discipline themselves and to consider their relationships with others. Because it is a basic and essential requirement that every member professes and maintains a belief in a Supreme Being, it has a spiritual basis. However it should never be regarded as a substitute for any form of religious faith.

Freemasons attempt to follow three great principles which represent a way of achieving higher standards in life:

  • Brotherly Love - tolerance and respect for the opinions of others as well as a kind and understanding behaviour towards fellow creatures.
  • Relief - practising charity, not only for other Freemasons, but also for the whole community.
  • Truth - Freemasons always strive for truth, demanding high moral standards and aiming to achieve them in their own lives.

Freemasonry is a society which has private methods of recognition i.e. of proving membership. These methods may have been derived from those used by operative stonemasons in the Middle-Ages to protect the secrets of their craft. They are now similarly used to preserve Freemasonry's method of teaching morality.

Men of all ages, races, colours, religions, politics or financial or social standing are members of Freemasonry. When admitted a man becomes known as a 'Brother' and remains so for the rest of his Masonic career.

There are certain preconditions of membership of any Masonic lodge.

  • You must believe in a Supreme Being.
  • You must be at least 21 years of age.
  • You must be prepared to take an oath to preserve the private aspects of Freemasonry.
  • You must be willing to strictly observe the Laws, Regulations and Constitutions of Freemasonry.
  • You must be of good character and be prepared to uphold the Civil and Criminal Laws of any country in which you may reside.
  • You must have the full support of your partner and family.

Freemasons meet in Private Lodges each of which can have a membership of 15 upwards. Loyal Travellers lodge currently has more than 30 members. In England alone approximately 8,000 men become Freemasons every year.

English Private Lodges are mainly grouped into Provincial Grand Lodges which administer Freemasonry for the lodges in their areas (based on old County boundaries of many years hence) and appoint the more senior and experienced Masons from the Private Lodges for this purpose. In England the Private Lodges (under their Provincial Grand Lodges) form part of the United Grand Lodge of England which is administered from its premises at Freemasons' Hall, Great Queen Street, London.

When a man joins Freemasonry he takes part in three different ritual dramas, known as ‘Degrees’ that progress him through three stages of Masonic development ultimately becoming a ‘Master Mason’.

After some years progressing through various 'offices' in the lodge a Master Mason can qualify to be elected as Master of the Lodge.  This is the highest honour a lodge can bestow on one of its members.

Many Freemasons do not progress beyond these three degrees and continue to enjoy their meetings in what is generally known as 'Craft' Freemasonry for many years, however all those who have received the third degree are advised of the existence of the Holy Royal Arch. The message of the Holy Royal Arch is the awareness of man's relationship with his God. The Holy Royal Arch is operated as a separate and distinct part of Freemasonry.

You may hear of other Masonic degrees or Orders; there are many of them, with many offshoots and extensions of each however they are not administered by the United Grand Lodge of England.

After joining a lodge and usually after becoming a Master Mason it may be possible to take an office in the Lodge. This means you will be taking part in the dramatic representation of the moral messages mentioned earlier. Officers progress through the offices in a Lodge, usually on an annual basis, until the office of Master of the Lodge is attained. Many men find it is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a Freemason and discover talents they did not know they had!

Having completed your time as Master of the Lodge one becomes a Past Master and after some years may be invited to become an officer of the Provincial Grand Lodge.  Eventually, those who show exceptional service and merit may be invited to become officers of United Grand Lodge. All these progressions, as well as being honours, bring with them new duties and responsibilities.

The ceremonies described earlier take place in the lodge room, and are followed by the social part of the evening, historically known as the 'Festive Board' which is held in the dining room in our lodge building at Knowle. At the Festive Board members will have dinner after which dining toasts are given to the Queen and various members of the Order, a few short speeches, and occasionally an item of entertainment.

Dining usually consists of a three-course meal followed tea/coffee. Wine and soft drinks taken during the meal are included. On special occasions a cheese course is often added. All members of Loyal Travellers Lodge are expected to wear dinner suits together with the official Warwickshire Masonic bow tie.

At most meetings charitable collections are taken and there is sometimes a raffle at the Festive Board for Lodge funds. 

Before every meeting each member of the Lodge receives a printed 'summons' which requests his attendance and advises the date, time and business of the lodge.  Members must try and attend on every occasion unless prevented by family, work, business commitments or other unforeseen circumstances.

Loyal Travellers lodge usually holds two Ladies' Nights.  These are good opportunities to let your lady partners or family and friends see what Freemasons are all about and meet the partners and friends of other members.  At these events ladies and guests are often encouraged to tour Masonic premises, including the Lodge Room.

If you want to know some more about Freemasonry follow this link to the Warwickshire Provincial Grand Lodge web site where there is an interesting video to watch.