Masonic Obediences in England
THE UNITED GRAND LODGE OF ENGLAND: was founded in 1717 in London and is the largest Masonic body in the world. It is restricted to men only. It works many different rituals in the Craft Degrees. Its Emulation ritual is perhaps the most famous. After the degree of Master Mason, other degrees can be taken, Scottish Rite Masonry, 4th to 33rd degree. Operative Masonry, Knight Templar Masonry, S.R.I.A., Allied degrees etc. The United Grand Lodge controls the Craft degrees only. Each of the other degrees has its own governing body, the degree of Master Mason being prerequisite. Its official organ is the "Square".
LE DROIT HUMAIN (International Co-Freemasonry) British Federation of its French parent body was taken to England by Annie Besant in 1902. It is composed of men and women and also practises different rituals in the Craft:- Scottish, Irish, Emulation, Verulum and a working called the Lauderdale Working. For the higher degrees it works the Mark, Royal Ark Mariner, Holy Royal Arch, 18th R+C degree, Royal Order of Scotland, 30th, to 33rd degree. The head of the British Federation takes the title of Most Puissant Grand Commander.
THE GRAND ORIENT OF FRANCE: is also represented in England by one Lodge which was founded nearly 100 years ago in London. It does not initiate women but accepts Sisters as visitors from other Obediences. Its official organ is "Humanisme".
GRAND LODGE OF ITALY: has Lodges in London and is a mixed Obedience. In the Craft it works the rituals of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. Some of the higher degrees are worked.
Other Masonic Obediences exist in England which are offshoots of Le Droit Humain. Annie Besant who was also President of the Theosophical Society tried to prepare Masonry for the second coming of the World Teacher. With this Co-Masonry took on a slightly Theosophical approach with the adoption of the Count of Saint Germain as the head of all true Freemasons. Not happy with these ideas some members holding the 33rd degree withdrew and formed their own Orders.
THE ORDER OF WOMEN FREEMASONRY: founded in 1908 is the largest of these, and follows exactly the system of the United Grand Lodge of England. This Order is for women who are mostly the wives and relatives of the Brothers in the Grand Lodge of England. Its official organ is the "Gavel" which is privately printed.
THE ORDER OF ANCIENT FREE AND ACCEPTED MASONRY: This was created by A., Bothwell Gosse who was the publisher of perhaps the best Masonic magazine to appear in this country, "The Speculative Mason". She was a personal friend of John Yarker, Grand Hierophant of Memphis-Mizraim. This work was also carried on after her death by her successor A., Debenham. About ten years ago a break in this Order occurred and a new Order was born named:-
ANCIENT FREEMASONRY FOR MEN AND WOMEN: Its Supreme Council is based in Holland. It works the three Craft Degrees, the Mark Degree and the Holy Royal Arch. The Higher Grades are taken in Holland.
Other Masonic Obediences which have Lodges in London, The French National Grand Lodge, the German Grand Lodge and the Grand Orient of Italy.
And of course Memphis-Mizraim. Its official organ is "Bulletin Interieur" published in French and the "Kneph" new series, published in English.