It is believed that Freemasonry started with the forming of cooperatives among Stone masons for protection and insurance. In the days before certificates were awarded for skill. Stone masons, when travelling from job to job, were only able to prove their ability by a special universal handshake given to them in a ceremony which qualified them as a mason. This practice is now a purely ceremonial activity and is not disclosed to others, making the experience of being made a Freemason memorable. The moment of shaking another Freemasons hand quickly recalls the moment when you were first invited into the brotherhood. Our ceremonies are always followed by a dinner known as the ‘Festive Board’ where good food, amiable conversation, excellent company and good cheer abound.
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. It is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values. We are all Brothers in Freemasonry and are known collectively as Brethren. Expectations of financial or personal gain are universally frowned upon.
For many years Freemasons have followed three guiding principles, which they believe represent a way to achieve higher standards in life:
- Brotherly Love: Equality, regardless of rank or status in life, Freemasons are brothers. The qualities of kindness, understanding, tolerance and respect for the opinions of others
- Relief: Charitable giving and activities to assist the welfare of Freemasons and the community as a whole especially those less able.
- Truth: Aiming for a high moral standard
Our meetings have followed the same general format since the 1700’s. The first formal part, or ceremony, follows the ancient progression of a Mason from apprentice to Master Mason, and uses ‘stonemasons’ customs and tools as allegorical guides. This includes the wearing of a ceremonial Masons Apron. Initiates are taken through a series of ritual dramas which are learnt and performed within each Lodge with other Master Masons assisting in the process. Every mason, regardless of station in life, will follow this path. The process from Apprentice to Master Mason can take a matter of months or if the lodge has many applicants, much longer. On becoming a Master Mason there is then the opportunity to start on the ladder towards becoming Master of the Lodge. This position changes annually. Master Masons on this ladder Perform active roles within the ceremonies.
After the more formal part of the Lodge meeting we relax and retire for dinner. For some, this means a restaurant attached to the lodge or in the case of Kenyon Lodge, we move to the Hanmer Arms. The Festive Board, as it is known, is equally as important as the formal work carried out in the Lodge. It affords the Brethren the opportunity to enjoy the social side of Freemasonry. Toasting and speeches, good food and wine, if you choose, make for a memorable evening.
Freemasonry’s biggest draw is that members come from all walks of life and meet as equals whatever their race, religion or socio-economic position in society. New members very quickly realise no Mason is a stranger in any other lodge. We are part of one big family and accepted as such wherever we visit. Not only can you be invited to attend other Lodges throughout the UK, but within certain guidelines, the world is your oyster. Kenyon Lodge is well known for its generous hospitality and the quirkyness of the venue, being a first world war barrack hut, commonly known as ‘The Shed’. Visitors are always welcome.
As with most clubs or organisations there is a financial aspect to being a Mason. Each lodge requires an annual subscription. This varies for each lodge and contributes towards the costs of running each particular Lodge and also the provision of Provincial and Grand Lodge. There is also the cost of the meal for each meeting to consider. In addition, Members are encouraged to contribute, within their means, towards the Masonic Charity through internal fundraising events.