Ye Antient Order of Noble Corks

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Ye Antient Order of Noble Corks also known as The Cork, is an informal degree allied to Freemasonry.[1] It is described as a "fun" degree.

Contents

Origins

Distinctly nautical in form, its membership is open to Master Masons in good standing who are either a companion in the Holy Royal Arch or a Warden, Master or Past Master of a craft Lodge. The title 'Cork' or 'Corks' is derived from the cork stopper of a wine bottle, which is the organisation's principal emblem. In different countries this emblem appears variously as a miniature cork set in a silver clasp (for carrying), or a small cork suspended from a light blue ribon (to be worn like a medal), or the image of a cork with a corkscrew inserted at an angle.[2]

The origins of the degree ceremony are unknown; the ritual is satirical and based around the era of Noah and the great flood. The earliest surviving records of the degree are held by the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of England, but this cannot be assumed to demonstrate that the degree originated from that organisation.

Structure and Degree of the Cork

Membership is not onerous—the only costs on top of membership being dining fees, drinks, etc. The idea and aim being to raise money for children's charities, and with Corkies having fun in so doing.[3][4]

Candidates can be proposed and initiated on the same night. Compared with masonic meetings, dress is informal - as meetings tend to be boisterous affairs, in good spirits. The ritual and initiation part takes up the first part of the evening, followed by festivities that are “closer to a Scottish Harmony than an English Festive Board”.[3] Hats are worn during the meeting, with head-gear style being of personal choice - the sillier, the better.[3][4]

All lodge officers have naval titles, roughly equating to the Officers in a craft Lodge, with jewels of office (when used) often being borne on strings of corks. Titles vary, but the following may be considered a typical list:

  • Rather Worshipful Admiral
  • Uncommonly Worshipful Mate
  • Highly Worshipful Purser
  • Hardly Worshipful Lookout
  • Nearly Rather Worshipful Vice Admiral
  • Undoubtedly Ship's Writer
  • Little Less Worshipful Doctor
  • Barely Worshipful Cook
  • Mainly Worshipful Bosun
  • Particularly Worthy Screw
  • Almost Worthy Carpenter
  • Particularly Worthy Shipmate

Scotland

The Cork tradition is stronger in Scotland than elsewhere.

United States of America

In the US, the Cork degree forms an informal and optional part of the formal system of the Allied Masonic Degrees.[5]

England & Wales

In England the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons holds the oldest known English Cork records, manuscripts, and regalia. Before the Second World War there are various references to English Mark Lodges working the Cork degree at dinner after their formal Mark meeting.[6][7] A body known as the 'Great Board of Corks', and consisting of senior Grand Officers of the Mark Grand Lodge, controlled the Cork degree for many years, but fell into abeyance. It has more recently been revived, with at least one surviving member of the original Great Board. Additionally, at least one 'Board of Corks' under the authority of the Great Board, has survived the passage of time. However, the English situation is now complicated in that some old Cork lodges have histories originating without reference to the Great Board, and may properly be considered independent of any formal organisation.[3]

Australia

While relatively new in Australia, it follows the tradition of the Cork Order in Scotland and England. However, its membership is open to Master Masons in good standing. Currently there is only one authorised Cork Lodge in Australia operating in the city of Brisbane (Queensland).

Charity

All fees received by the Lodge must be paid, in full, to the treasurer of a charity, preferably a children's charity with no deduction being made for administrative expenses. Members are required to carry the jewel of the order, a piece of cork in a metal ring, at all times and be able to produce it on demand. Any member being unable to produce the jewel is fined, this being given to the Lodge treasurer at the next meeting for contribution to charity.[8]

Cork Lodges

The following are some examples of Cork Lodges.[3][9]

Scotland

  • Armada Cork Lodge, Livingston, West Lothian.
  • Maeshowe Antient & Most Noble Cork Lodge, Kirkwall, Orkney
  • Angus & Mearns Cork Lodge
  • Eastmuir Cork Lodge & Chapter, Glasgow
  • Lodge Oak, Kelty, Fife
  • Dunearn Cork Lodge, Burntisland, Fife
  • St Andrews Antient Cork Lodge, Glasgow
  • Stirling Rock Royal Arch Cork Lodge, Chapter No 2

England

Authorised by the Great Board of Corks

  • The Alt Board of Corks, No 1, Ormskirk
  • The Isis Board of Corks, No 2, Oxford
  • The Wenning Board of Corks, No 3, Morecambe
  • The Fleet Board of Corks, No 4, London (restricts membership to Craft Grand Officers only)
  • The Dee Board of Corks, No 5, Chester
  • The Serpentine Board of Corks, No 6, London (restricts membership to Mark Grand Officers only)

Independent Cork Lodges

  • Itchen Cork Lodge, Hampshire
  • Nelson Cork Lodge, Beaconsfield, Bucks
  • Radlett Cork Lodge, Hertfordshire
  • Wildfire Cork Lodge, Kent
  • Floating Corks of Devonshire, Devon

Belgium

  • Lodge Belgian, Brussels, Belgium

Italy

  • Cork Lodge Italia 2004, Arezzo, Italy

Australia

Authorised by the Grand Council of Noble Corks of Australia

  • Endeavour Cork Lodge, No 1, Brisbane

See also

  • Masonic appendant bodies

References

  1. ^ York Rite Freemasonry: description of degrees, (accessed 16 Oct 2006)
  2. ^ Emblem, used in the USA, from Allied Masonic Degrees web,(accessed 17 October 2006)
  3. ^ a b c d e The Nelson Cork Lodge (accessed 17 Oct 2006)
  4. ^ a b [1] Sep 2005, "A New Cork Lodge", The Square Magazine, pub Lewis Masonic.
  5. ^ Webpage of National Capital Council No. 296, AMD
  6. ^ See, for example, the minutes dated 18 May 1936 of the Royal Naval College Lodge of MMM, Province of Kent, but meeting by tradition in London.
  7. ^ See "The Noble but Slightly Dishonourable Degree of Cork Masonry", by Nigel Scott-Moncrieff, London, 1998.
  8. ^ General rules and regulations of the cork degree, Itchen Cork Lodge
  9. ^ Eastmuir Cork Lodge & Chapter (accessed 17 Oct 2006)

External links

  • Armada Cork Lodge, webpage [2]
  • Eastmuir Cork Lodge & Chapter, webpage. [3]
  • Nelson Cork Lodge, webpage. [4]
  • St. Johns Masonic Lodge, webpage. [5]
  • Degree structure, webpage. [6]
  • Internet Lodge, webpage. [7]

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