What is Freemasonry? What is Freemasonry? Now there's a question. And it will probably be asked forever, because the fact is that reliable evidence of Freemasonry before the year 1691 just doesn't exist. The key fact that is known and accepted is that Freemasonry developed either directly or indirectly from medieval stonemasons, who built the great Cathedrals and Castles. Those who favour this theory say there were three stages to the evolution of Freemasonry. 1. Stonemasons gathered in huts or lodges to rest and eat 2. These lodges became meeting places where stonemasons regulated their craft 3. In common with other trades, they eventually developed primitive initiation ceremonies for new apprentices. As Stonemasons travelled all over the country, they began to adopt a private word which they could use when arriving at a new site to prove that they were suitably skilled and had been a member of a hut or lodge. This was much quicker than carving a block of stone to demonstrate your skill! By the early 1600s these lodges began to admit non-stonemasons. Why, and what form any ceremony took, is unknown. One hundred years later, more gentlemen had joined the Lodges, gradually taking them over and turning them into Lodges of free and accepted, or speculative Masons. Examine our Nation's history around the same time and you discover that it was a time of great religious and political turmoil. Those who support the theory of a link between stone masonry and Freemasonry believe that the men who originated Freemasonry wished to promote tolerance and the building of a better world where those of differing opinions could peacefully co-exist and work together for the betterment of mankind. The Lodges provided the perfect forum. Following the customs of the times, allegory and symbolism were used to pass on their ideas and principles. The allegory came in the main from The Bible, and their forms and symbols from the operative builder's craft - stonemasons tools providing a multiplicity of emblems to illustrate the principles they espoused. In the 400 years since non-stonemasons began to join Lodges, many aspects of life and living have changed. But the three founding principles of Freemasonry adopted by our predecessors have remained constant. They are Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. Freemasons are taught to practise charity and to care, not only for their own, but also for the community as a whole – both by charitable giving, and by voluntary efforts and works as individuals. 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. Masonic charity is also exercised at every level: individual Lodges make gifts and give aid to their own communities and every Province also gives large sums of money to regional causes. Nowadays, the key qualification for any man wishing to become a Mason is the belief in a supreme being. That's it. Freemasons come from all walks of life, race and religion and in general, they have a good reputation and are concerned with increasing their knowledge of themselves and the world around them. Freemasonry is not a religious substitute and religion per se cannot be discussed at Lodge meetings. Neither is it political so you won't find politics under discussion either! The Izaak Walton Lodge is one of the biggest in Staffordshire with almost 80 members, and we meet on the second Wednesday of each month from September to May at 6pm. As well as those formal meetings, the Lodge also offers a varied programme of social events at which everyone is welcome. If, when you've browsed the site, you'd like to know more about how to join us, use the "get in touch" page to contact our Secretary, or email one of the Masons listed there for a view on Freemasonry direct from the horse's mouth! We look forward to welcoming you soon as a new member of the Izaak Walton Lodge.
Number 4281 in the register of the United Grand Lodge of England
Izaak Walton Lodge of Freemasons