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B.3 The “Antients” Grand Lodge

Triple Tau Emblem
The Triple Tau, Grand Emblem of Royal Arch Masonry (Wikipedia)

The “Antients Grand Lodge” has been active since 1751, although it was still known as “The Grand Committee of the Most Antients and Honourable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons” in 1752. The term “Grand Lodge” appeared in 1753. By the time of the Craft Union in 1813 its official name was “The Most Antients and Honourable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons according to the Old Institutions”. The first edition of the “Antients” Constitution, written by Laurence Dermott, dates from 1756 and is based on Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723; it is named “Ahiman Rezon” which meaning is not known. It was Dermott who called his opponents the “Moderns”, although it is not clear whose of the two organisations was more modern.

The “Antients” were promoting the “Royal Arch” that they thought stood at the heart of their Craft. It is often said that they were the first to practice it, but this affirmation has no historical base. Under the “Antients” Grand Lodge every individual lodge could confer the Royal Arch Degree as, for them, it was part of the Masonic organisation. The first official reference to the Royal Arch Degree is in the “Antients” minutes of 1752, and the first regulation dates from 1759. The “Antients” Grand Lodge had close relationships with the Irish and Scottish Grand Lodges, although these last two were not very keen to adopt the Royal Arch Degree and, from this point of view, they were closer to the “Moderns”.