Introduction into Freemasonry
This page will give you an insight into freemasonry in the County of ‘Happy’ Hertfordshire and the origins and aims of freemasonry in general. Maybe you are interested in joining or have an interest in our craft in which case feel free to browse all the pages in this site and its associated links.
If you would like any further information or would like to contact us the details for the central office are on the contacts page.
What is Freemasony?
Freemasonry is a happy association of friends which provides an interest, a discipline for life, many social activities for men and their families, and it has a long history of charitable support for the less fortunate members of our society. All this is combined with a fascinating history going back almost three hundred years.
To be more specific:
Freemasonry is open to men of good reputation, irrespective of race or creed, provided they believe in a Supreme Being. This belief is an essential qualification for admission and continued membership.
Freemasonry teaches moral lessons and self-knowledge, through participation in a progression of allegorical two-part plays, which are learnt by heart and performed within each Lodge;
Freemasonry offers its members an approach to life which seeks to reinforce thoughtfulness for others, kindness in the community, honesty in business, courtesy in society, and fairness in all things. Members are urged to regard the interests of the family as paramount, but importantly, Freemasonry also teaches and practises concern for people, care for the less fortunate and help for those in need.
Members are perfectly free to acknowledge their membership and will do so in answer to any reasonable enquiry. There is no secret about the aims and principles of the Order.
The Constitutions and rules are freely available; the local Public Library holds many descriptive Masonic books; the Internet has hundreds of web pages of information from all over the world.
Lodge meetings, like meetings of any other social and professional associations, are private occasions open only to members. Freemasons are encouraged to speak openly about their membership while remembering that they undertake not to use their membership for their own or anyone else’s advancement.
Freemasonry is emphatically not a religion.
Freemasonry requires a belief in God and its principles are common to many of the world’s great religions. Freemasonry does not try to replace religion or substitute for it. Every candidate is exhorted to practise his religion and to regard its holy book as the unerring standard of truth. Freemasonry does not instruct its members in what their religious beliefs should be, nor does it offer sacraments.
Thus, Freemasonry brings men of different faiths together in a unique way, to share a happy and rewarding fellowship with one another.
On his entry into Freemasonry, each candidate states unequivocally that he expects no material gain from his membership. At various stages during the three ceremonies of his admission, he is forcefully reminded that attempts to gain preferment or material gain for himself or others, is a misuse of membership which will not be tolerated. Abuse of membership can result in penalties varying from temporary suspension to expulsion. Nor may Freemasonry ever be used to protect a fellow Freemason, or anyone else, who has behaved dishonestly or unlawfully.
Freemasonry is wholly unconcerned with political matters. Discussion of politics or religion is expressly forbidden at Lodge meetings. The organising body of Freemasonry refuses to express any opinion, one way or the other, about domestic or foreign State Policy.
From its earliest days, Freemasonry has been involved in charitable activities, and since its inception, it has provided support for many widows and orphans of Freemasons, as well as others within its community.
All monies raised for charity are drawn from among Freemasons, their families and friends, while grants and donations are made to Masonic and non-Masonic charities alike.
Over the past five years alone, Freemasonry has raised more than £75m for a wide range of charitable purposes, including those involved in medical research, community care, education and work with young people.
Freemasonry In Hertfordshire
English Freemasonry’s governing body is the United Grand Lodge of England. For administrative purposes, the country is divided into the London area and 47 “Provinces”, of which the Masonic Province of Hertfordshire is one.
The majority of lodges which form the Province of Hertfordshire meet at Masonic centres located in Bishop’s Stortford, Cheshunt, Hertingfordbury, Letchworth, Linslade, Radlett, Royston, St Albans, Sawbridgeworth, Southgate and Watford. In other locations, such as Barnet, Berkhamsted, Bushey, Hatfield, Hertford and Harpenden other premises are used. In all there are 205 lodges with a total membership of just over 7,000.
Freemasonry is fun as well as having its more serious side. It provides a happy social life for its members and their families, with a wide variety of events run by local Lodges, as well as larger events bringing many people together. Very many enduring friendships are made.
Thus, being a Freemason becomes a happy and satisfying experience with great opportunities to become involved, allowing its members to use their talents and broaden their interests.
Lodges meet between four and seven times during the year. These meetings are usually followed by a supper, and a banquet follows the annual meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge held in Freemasons’ Hall in London. Membership allows a Mason to visit Lodges in all parts of the country and abroad, provided the Lodge is recognised by our own Grand Lodge, thus providing great opportunities for international contact.
If you have a friend who is a Freemason, ask him to tell you more about it. Alternatively, you can obtain more information from the Provincial Office.
Did You Know?
- There are about 275,000 Freemasons in England who belong to one or more of 8,500 lodges.
- In 2004 the Freemasons Grand Charity gave £2,295,123 in grants to Non-Masonic causes.
- The Grand Charity gave £550,000 to 210 Hospices in England and Wales in 2004.
- Our own Hertfordshire Provincial Charity Fund has given over £200,000 to buy new equipment to treat Breast, Prostate and other Cancers.
- Freemasons collect money for charity from Lodge members or at Masonic events – we do not normally collect money from the public.
- During the year 2004 over 45% of the Grand Charity Funds distributed were for non-Masonic causes.
- Freemasonry extends across the world. A mason can be a member of more than one lodge, in more than one country.
- English Freemasonry’s home is at Freemasons’ Hall in Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ. The library, museum, and permanent exhibition are all open to the public and receive about 50,000 visitors annually.
- Lodges generally meet four to six times a year, some more, some less. Most meet on a weekday evening, a few hold their meetings during the day. A lodge meeting is usually followed by a formal lunch or dinner.
- At meetings members of the fraternity call each other ‘Brother’. The title ‘Worshipful Brother’ denotes that a member has been the master of a lodge.
- The title ‘Grand’ denotes an officer of Grand Lodge or Provincial Grand Lodge.
A number of notable and famous people have been Freemasons, including: George Washington, Winston Churchill, Mozart, Sibelius, Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Burns, Col ’Buzz’ Aldrin, Peter Sellers, Clark Gable, Louis Armstrong, Al Jolson, Buffalo Bill, King George VI, and many more.
While Freemasonry is to be enjoyed, its objectives are serious and its members are ordinary individuals who share the following aims:
- To practise universal charity
- To foster high moral standards
- To serve the community
- To develop values such as Integrity, Respect, Self – discipline, Discretion, Virtue & Responsibility.
Freemasonry is open to men of all walks of life and of any race or religion who believe in a God (by whatever name He is known to them).
Generally, men wishing to become Freemasons must be 21 or older and need a proposer and seconder before an application may be submitted to a lodge. You do not need to ‘wait to be asked’ to join.
The proposal form requires that a candidate for Freemasonry does not expect, anticipate or seek any preferment or financial benefit as a consequence of becoming a member. There should be no conflict between a candidate’s family, business or professional interests and membership, nor can the candidate have a criminal record. There is a process for expulsion for members who commit a criminal act.
Every member has the opportunity to take office in his lodge and become its master.