United Grand Lodge of England
From the four Lodges which formed Grand Lodge in 1717, Freemasonry under the United Grand Lodge of England has grown to an organisation of over 250,000 members and over 8,000 Lodges. Lodges meeting in London (an area generally within a 10 mile radius of Freemasons' Hall) are administered by the Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London, which is headed by the Metropolitan Grand Master.
Lodges meeting outside London, and within England, Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, are grouped into 47 Provinces, whose boundaries often correspond to those of the old Shire Counties, with each headed by a Provincial Grand Master.
Lodges that meet outside England, Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are grouped into 33 Districts, with each headed by a District Grand Master, five Groups (ie: currently too small to make up a District), with each headed by a Grand Inspector, and 12 Lodges abroad which are directly administered by Freemasons’ Hall.
Membership has included men who have distinguished themselves in many aspects of British life, including the world of science, medicine, sport and entertainment to name but a few. However, what has always been true of Freemasonry is that it represents every sector of society reflecting the social, religious and ethnic composition of our diverse society.
Growth continued throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, but Freemasonry suffered under the rise of facism particularly in Nazi Germany, where many Freemasons were imprisoned and murdered.
After the second world war, Freemasonry became excessively private, withdrawing from public view and seeking solace in the company of like minded individuals. There was little if any contact with the media and when errors of fact were reported no attempt was made to issue denials or correct such errors.
Today, with a policy of transparency and openness, Freemasonry is once again very much part of the community. Each of the 47 Provinces and London has its own information officer dealing with the media, and there is a Communications Department at Grand Lodge. In addition The United Grand Lodge of England and many Provinces including Wiltshire have their own publicly accessible web site.
The United Grand Lodge of England publishes a Masonic Year Book annually which lists all committees and boards, details for all of its administrative groupings, and all Grand Officers and senior Provincial and District Officers. It also publishes triennially, the Directory of Lodges and Chapters, which lists all lodges and their meeting dates and places. Both publications can be purchased from Freemasons’ Hall.
The Book of Constitutions (rule book) has been in the public domain since the first edition was published in 1723 and can also be purchased from Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ.
Read or download the latest UGLE leaflet in pdf format "What's it all about"
Situated in the very heart of London, close to Covent Garden and the West End, Freemasons' Hall was built between 1927–1932 as a memorial to the Freemasons who died in the First World War, it is one of the finest Art Deco buildings in England, and is now Grade II* listed internally and externally.
In addition to the Grand Temple (seating 1,700) there are 21 Lodge Rooms, a Library and Museum, Board and Committee Rooms and administrative offices.
Freemasons' Hall is a popular venue for the annual London Fashion Week and its elegant surroundings have been used in the filming of scenes for television and large screen; most notably as the headquarters for the team in 'Spooks'
Every year over 100,000 visitors are welcomed to Freemasons' Hall - why not make it your destination of choice when you next visit London?
Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisations.
It teaches self-knowledge through participation in a progression of ceremonies. Members are expected to be of high moral standing and are encouraged to speak openly about Freemasonry.
Freemasonry is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values. Its members are taught its principles (moral lessons and self-knowledge) by a series of ritual dramas, a progression of allegorical two part plays which are learnt by heart and performed within each Lodge. These follow ancient forms, and use stonemasons’ customs and tools as allegorical guides.
Freemasonry instils in its members a moral and ethical approach to life: its values are based on integrity, kindness, honesty and fairness. Members are urged to regard the interests of the family as paramount but, importantly, Freemasonry also teaches concern for people, care for the less fortunate and help for those in need.
The values of Freemasonry are based on integrity, kindness, honesty and fairness. Freemasons are taught to practice charity and to care, not only for their own, but also for the community as a whole – both by charitable giving, and by voluntary efforts and works as individuals.
From its earliest days, Freemasonry has been concerned with the care of orphans, the sick and the aged. This work continues today. In addition, large sums are given to national and local charities.
Masonic charity is exercised at every level: individual Lodges make gifts and give aid to their own communities and every Province also gives large sums of money to regional causes.
Nationally, our efforts are channelled through four main charity organisations.
Each year, The Freemasons' Grand Charity provides relief grants for hundreds of individuals who are experiencing financial difficulty, as well as donating millions of pounds to nationwide charitable projects and services.
The Library and Museum of Freemasonry houses one of the finest collections of Masonic material in the world. It is open to the public, Monday to Friday, free of charge.
The Museum contains an extensive collection of objects with Masonic decoration including pottery and porcelain, glassware, silver, furniture and clocks, jewels and regalia. Items belonging to famous and Royal Freemasons including Winston Churchill and Edward VII are on display together with examples from the Museum’s extensive collection of prints and engravings, photographs and ephemera.
The Library and Archives are open for reference use.
They contain a comprehensive collection of printed books and manuscripts on Freemasonry in England as well as material on Freemasonry elsewhere in the world and on subjects associated with Freemasonry or with mystical and esoteric traditions.
Regular exhibitions are hosted throughout the year, for which further information can be found on the web site of the Library and Museum.