United Grand Lodge of England

The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) is the main governing body of Freemasonry within England and Wales and in some countries, predominantly ex-British Empire and Commonwealth countries outside the United Kingdom. It is the oldest Grand Lodge in the world, deriving its origin from 1717.] Together with the Grand Lodge of Ireland and the Grand Lodge of Scotland they are often referred to, by their members, as “the home Grand Lodges" or "the Home Constitutions."


On 24 June, 1717, four London lodges came together at the Goose and Gridiron Ale House, St Paul’s Churchyard and formed themselves into a Grand Lodge for the purposes of an annual dinner. Anthony Sayer was elected as the first Grand Master, in 1718 succeeded by George Payne. In 1721, under the Duke of Montagu as Grand Master, the Grand Lodge established itself as a regulatory body over the craft in England and began meeting on a quarterly basis. Prior to 1717 there was evidence of Freemasons entering in both England and Scotland with the earliest being in Scotland.

The City of London Corporation has erected a Blue Plaque near the location of the original Inn.

The Constitutions of Masonry [ [http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libraryscience/25/ The Constitutions of the Free-Masons] ] were published, by James Anderson, in 1723 for the purposes of regulating the craft and establishing the authority for Lodges to meet.

The creation of Lodges followed the development of the Empire with the three home Grand Lodges warranting Lodges around the world, including the Americas, India and Africa, from the 1730s.

Throughout the early years of the new Grand Lodge there were any number of Masons and lodges that never affiliated with the new Grand Lodge. These unaffiliated Masons and their Lodges were referred to as "Old Masons," or "St. John Masons, and "St. John Lodges". [Coil, Henry W. (1961). Two articles: "England, Grand Lodge of, According to the Old Institutions," pp. 237-240; and "Saints John," pp. 589-590. Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia. (rev. ed. 1996). Richmond, Va: Macoy Publ. & Masonic Supply Co. Inc.]

During the 1730s and 1740s antipathy increased between the London Grand Lodge and the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland. Irish and Scots Masons visiting and living in London considered the London Grand Lodge to have considerably deviated from the ancient practices of the Craft. As a result, these Masons felt a stronger kinship with the unaffiliated London Lodges. The aristocratic nature of the London Grand Lodge and its members alienated other Masons of the City causing them also to identify with the unaffiliated Lodges.Jones, Bernard E. (1950). Freemasons' Guide and Compendium, (rev. ed. 1956) London: Harrap Ltd.]

On 17 July 1751, representatives of five Lodges gathered at the Turk's Head Tavern, in Greek Street, Soho, London - forming a rival Grand Lodge - The Most Ancient and Honourable Society of Free and Accepted Masons. They believed that they practiced a more ancient and therefore purer form of Masonry, and called their Grand Lodge "The Ancients' Grand Lodge". They called those affiliated to the Premier Grand Lodge, by the pejorative epithet "The Moderns". These two unofficial names stuck. [Batham, Cyril N. (1981). "The Grand Lodge of England According to the Old Institutions, otherwise known as The Grand Lodge of the Antients." The Collected Prestonian Lectures, 1975-1987, Vol. Three. London (1988): Lewis Masonic.]

An illustration of how deep the division was between the two factions is the case of Benjamin Franklin who was a member of a Moderns' Lodge in Philadelphia. Upon returning from France it transpired that his Lodge had changed to (and had received a new warrant from) the Ancients Grand Lodge; no longer recognizing him and declining to give him "Masonic Honours" at his funeral. ["Revolutionary Brotherhood", by Steven C. Bullock, Univ. N. Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1996]

In 1809 the two Grand Lodges appointed Commissioners to negotiate an equable Union. Over a period of four years the articles of Union were negotiated and agreed and a ritual developed reconciling those worked by the two Grand Lodges. On 27 December 1813 a ceremony was held at Freemasons' Hall, London forming the United Grand Lodge of England with HRH the Duke of Sussex (younger son of King George III) as the Grand Master. The combined ritual was termed the "Emulation Ritual" and adopted as a standard ritual by UGLE, although other rituals continue to be used in many lodges.

Current position

Today, the United Grand Lodge of England or Grand Lodge is organised into a number of subordinate lodges. The Provincial Grand Lodges are approximately equivalent to the historic counties of England. These form the local administration of the organisation. In London it is known as a Metropolitan Grand Lodge. Overseas jurisdictions that are controlled by Grand Lodge are organised into District Grand Lodges. There are a small number of lodges that are ungrouped and are administered directly from Grand Lodge.

Grand Masters

* Prince Augustus, Duke of Sussex (1813 - 1843)
* Thomas Dundas, 2nd Earl of Zetland (1844 - 1870)
* George Robinson, 3rd Earl de Grey and 2nd Earl of Ripon (1st Marquess of Ripon from 1871) (1870 - 1874)
* Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (1874 - 1901)
* Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn (1901 - 1939)
* Prince George, Duke of Kent (1939 - 1942)
* Henry Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood (1942 - 1947)
* Edward Cavendish, 10th Duke of Devonshire (1947 - 1950)
* Lawrence Lumley, 11th Earl of Scarbrough (1951 - 1967)
* Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (1967 - present)


External links

* [http://www.grandlodge-england.org/ UGLE official website]

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