Some Information About Freemasonry
The Aims of Freemasonry
Whilst 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 build friendships
- To serve the community
- To develop values such as integrity, respect, self-discipline, discretion, virtue and responsibility.
Freemasonry is open to men of all walks of life, of any race or religion, who believe in a Supreme Being. It has always actively encouraged its members to be active in their own religion.
Men wishing to become Freemasons must, with few exceptions, be at least 21 years of age. They will need a proposer and seconder before an application may be submitted to a Lodge.
The proposal form requires a candidate for Freemasonry not to 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. A candidate must not have a criminal record and 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 eventually to become its Master for a period of one year.
There are about 330,000 Freemasons in England who belong to one or more of 8000 Lodges.
Freemasonry in Hampshire & IOW
The governing body of English Freemasonry is the United Grand Lodge of England. For administrative purposes the country is divided into ‘London and 47 Provinces’. The Masonic Province of Hampshire & IOW is one and comprises of Hampshire, the Isle of Wight together with Bournemouth, which more correctly is in Dorset. Around the border of the County there are other anomalies.
The headquarters of Hampshire & IOW Masonry is at Chandlers Ford. The address of the Provincial Office is 85 Winchester Road, Chandlers Ford, Eastleigh, Hampshire SO53 2GG it is in fact situated in Hillway, off Winchester Road. There is a Masonic Centre nearby known as Kings Court. The Province has 38 Masonic Centres situated in Aldershot, Farnborough, Farnham, Alton, Basingstoke, Bordon, Botley, Woolston, Bournemouth, Chandler’s Ford, Eastleigh, Cosham, Havant, Horndean, Petersfield, Fareham, Gosport, West Cowes, East Cowes, Freshwater, Newport, Ryde, Sandown, Seaview, Ventnor, Brockenhurst, Christchurch, Fordingbridge, Lymington, New Milton, Portsmouth (x2), Southampton, Totton, Andover, Hursley, and Winchester. In all there are 253 Lodges in the Masonic Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight with a total membership of around 11,000 individual brethren”.
Some Centres have small Masonic museums and occasionally hold Open Days and Garden Fetes, when the public is welcome. Members are encouraged to involve their ladies in the social activities of their Lodges, which they do by holding Ladies Evenings and socials. In addition there is a Golf Society, which holds annual meetings amongst its members and matches against other Masonic Provinces. Speakers are available to address public meetings about Freemasonry.
Many of the Masonic Centres are available for hire by the local community for functions such as business meetings, receptions and dinner dances. For availability and terms of hire each Centre should be contacted individually.
The Hampshire & IOW Grand Lodge has two websites – this site, which is mainly focussed on existing members – and a public site, which is designed to be more understandable to prospective members, or perhaps just curious browsers! Our public site can be found at www.HampshireFreemasonry.com. Both websites are fully open to anyone with an Internet connection – i.e. there are no restricted-access areas on either website. Other Masonic associations can also be accessed from both sites through their ‘links’ pages.
There are two Masonic Homes which are in or close to the Province. Zetland Court at Bournemouth and Shannon Court on the Surrey Hampshire border at Hindhead. These are part of a network of residential homes across the country caring for and providing a home for life, to over 1,150 older Freemasons and their dependants.
An important aspect of Freemasonry is its support for charities – both Masonic and non-Masonic. 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.
The annual sum raised is about £20M. Charitable giving emanates from three levels in Freemasonry: from individual Lodges, at Provincial level where a special Fund has been established to support local charities and at national level operated by the Grand Lodge (UGLE), which supports many national non-Masonic charities.
A defining factor in Masonic charitable donations is that all funds are generated by Masons alone, from their own pockets. Freemasonry does not raise money by public appeal and therefore you will not see a mason using a collection box for the benefit of a Masonic Charity.
What is Freemasonry
Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest, secular fraternal societies. Its members develop moral and spiritual values by a series of ritual dramas, which follow ancient forms and use stonemason’s tools and practices as symbolic and allegorical guides. Its members believe that these values represent a way of enabling Freemasons to make a better contribution to the ethics and welfare of the community.
Freemasonry, therefore, offers intellectual and social challenges. It brings together and creates lasting friendships among those who might otherwise have remained apart. Its key focus is charity, which enables it to care for its own as well as the wider community.
Freemasonry demands a respect for the laws of any country in which its members live and work.
All Freemasons are expected to have a religious belief, but Freemasonry does not seek to replace a Mason’s religion or provide a substitute for it. It expects each member to follow his own faith. It concerns itself with a man’s relationship with his fellow man and not in a man’s relationship with his God. The discussion of politics is also forbidden at Lodge meetings.
Freemasonry is not closed since all members are free to acknowledge their membership and, indeed, are encouraged to do so. Its constitutions, rules and ritual are in the public domain and its aims and principles are available for all to understand.
English Freemasonry dates back to the 17th century. The first Grand Lodge in the world was formed in London in 1717. In 1813 the union of the two Grand Lodges of England, existing at that time, formed the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE).
The current Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England is His Royal Highness, the Duke of Kent
Freemasonry extends across the World. A Mason can be a member of more than one Lodge, and even a member of Lodges abroad.
The ‘home’ of English Freemasonry is Freemason’s Hall situated in Great Queen Street, in London. The library, museum at permanent exhibition at Freemason’s Hall are all open to the public and receive about 50,000 visitors annually. Conducted tours of the building take place daily, on weekdays.
Lodges generally meet six or seven times a year, some more, some less. Most meet on a weekday evening, but there are now some which meet during the day catering for the older Brethren. A Lodge meeting is usually followed by a formal meal.
At meetings, members of the fraternity call each other ‘Brother’ and the title ‘Worshipful Brother’ denotes that a member has been Master of a Lodge. The title ‘Grand’ denotes an officer of Grand or Provincial Grand Lodge.
A great number of notable and famous people have been Freemasons including George Washington, Winston Churchill, Mozart, Sibelius, Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan Doyle. In fact there are many web sites dedicated to famous Freemasons.
In ordinary conversation there is very little about Freemasonry which may not be discussed.
For more general Masonic information in Hampshire and Isle of Wight contact the Provincial Office on 02380 261555