Freemasonry is the UK’s largest fraternal and charitable organisation. It has some 300,000 members in about 8,000 lodges.
Its origin is lost in the mists of time, but the earliest recorded ‘making’ of a freemason in England is that of Elias Ashmole in 1646.
Organised freemasonry began with the founding of the Great Lodge of England in 1717.
The object of freemasonry is to take good men who, by assisting together, can help to improve each other and strive to attain high moral standards in life, to the best of one’s ability, based on friendship and fulfilment.
Traditionally, freemasonry has been restricted to men, probably because the early stonemasons were all male, but there are two grand lodges in England that are restricted to women only.
Most lodges meet between four and eight times a year and conclude with a dinner.
There are instruction meetings at which ceremonies of initiation, promotion and installation as a ‘master’ are rehearsed and learned.
There is a strong charitable side to freemasonry. Through optional individual contributions, UK masons donate considerable sums of money to both Masonic and non-Masonic charities.
A number of lodges use "Weybourne House", the South West Surrey Masonic Centre.