Skip to content

E.3.3 How many Grand Lodges in England?

There have been six Grand Lodges in England, four of them operating at the same time:

a- The first or Premier Grand Lodge of 1717, as its name indicates, the first in the world. It regrouped with the “Antient” Grand Lodge to form the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813.
b- In 1725 an old lodge in York formed the “Grand Lodge of All England”. Following a scission in 1779 another Grand Lodge emerged out of it.
c- The “Antients” Grand Lodge was formed in 1751. With the premier grand lodge it formed the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813.
d- In 1779 a scission in the “Grand Lodge of All England” led to the creation in London of the “Grand Lodge of England, South of the River Trent”. It lasted only ten years.
e- In 1813 the Premier and the “Antients” Grand Lodges joined together to form “The United Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of England” known in England as the Grand Lodge
f- In 1823 there was a scission in the United Grand Lodge that led to the formation of “The Grand lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of England according to the Old Traditions”. It was centred in Wigan but lasted only until 1913 with various periods of inactivity in between.

It is often said that Freemasonry had an early existence in York but there is no evidence to show that the old “York rite” ever existed. It is probable that there was an operative lodge in York in the sixteenth century. The first evidence of a speculative lodge dates from 1693 but nothing tangible is known about it. The first hard evidence is from 1725 when the lodge of York refused to join the Premier Grand lodge and formed its own. It had a very limited influence and closed down in 1792, although the name of the York rite is still revered in Masonic circles, especially in the USA. The “Antients” of the eighteenth century have often claimed to be the true York masons and that their rites, that survive in the United Grand Lodge, had its origin at York. There is no hard evidence to confirm this affirmation.