Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around 5 million, with around 480,000 in England, Scotland and Ireland alone, and just under two million in the United States. The various forms all share moral and metaphysical ideals, which include, in most cases, a constitutional declaration of belief in a Supreme Being.
The fraternity is administratively organised into Grand Lodges (or sometimes Orients), each of which governs its own jurisdiction, which consists of subordinate (or constituent) Lodges. Grand Lodges recognise each other through a process of landmarks and regularity. There are also appendant bodies, which are organisations related to the main branch of Freemasonry, but with their own independent administration.
A Masonic Lodge, often termed a Private Lodge or Constituent Lodge in Books of Constitutions, is the basic organisational unit of Freemasonry. Every new Lodge must be warranted by a Grand Lodge, but is subject to its direction only in enforcing the published Constitution of the jurisdiction. A Master Freemason is generally entitled to visit any Lodge in any jurisdiction in amity with his own. He is first usually required to check, and certify, the regularity of the relationship of the Lodge - and be able to satisfy that Lodge of his regularity of membership. Freemasons gather together as a Lodge to work the three basic Degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason.
Freemasons meet as a Lodge not in a Lodge, although Masonic premises may be called Lodges, as well as Temples ("of Philosophy and the Arts"). In many countries Masonic Centre or Hall has now replaced these terms to avoid arousing prejudice and suspicion. Several different Lodges, or other Masonic organisations, often use the same premises at different times.
In Great Britain, the term Mother Lodge is used to identify the particular Lodge where the individual was first "made a Mason" (i.e. received his Entered Apprentice degree). 'Mother Lodge' may also refer to a Lodge which sponsors the creation of a new Lodge, the Daughter Lodge, to be warranted under the jurisdiction of the same Grand Lodge; specific procedures pertaining to this vary throughout history and in different jurisdictions.
Freemasons’ Hall in Great Queen Street, London, England.
The Hall is the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England and a meeting place for the Lodges in the London area. The art deco building was built between 1927 and 1933 as a memorial to the 3225 Freemasons who died on active service in the First World War. Initially known as the Masonic Peace Memorial, the name was changed to Freemasons' Hall at the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939..
"The grand object of Masonry is to promote the happiness of the human race." - George Washington
“Freemasonry is an institution calculated to benefit mankind.” - Andrew Jackson
"Masonic labor is purely a labor of love. He who seeks to draw Masonic wages in gold and silver will be disappointed. The wages of a Mason are earned and paid in their dealings with one another; sympathy that begets sympathy, kindness begets kindness, helpfulness begets helpfulness, and these are the wages of a Mason." - Benjamin Franklin