Mason OriginNo one knows exactly how Masonry started. Its traditions, however, can be traced directly to the guilds of stonemasons who built the stone cathedrals and castles of the Middle Ages.

With the decline of cathedral building in the 17th century, many guilds of “operative,” or practicing, stonemasons opened membership to those who didn’t practice the mason’s craft. These members were called “accepted” masons. The groups were called lodges.

Modern Masonry was founded in England in 1717 when four lodges in London joined to form the first Grand Lodge of England. From Britain, Masonry spread over much of the world and today there are approximately four million Masons and some 150 Grand Lodges.


Grand Lodges are independent of each other—there is no central governing authority but each Grand Lodge must maintain acceptable traditions, standards and practices to be acknowledged by other lodges.