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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequesntly Asked Questions

Browse our FAQs to learn more about Freemasonry, we’ll answer everything you need to know!

WHAT WE ARE (Purpose)

We are a unique members’ organisation which has thrived for over 300 years. Having no political or religious affiliations, we comprise members of all ages, races, religions, cultures and backgrounds. We meet in our individual Lodges throughout the country where we have ceremonial traditions which encourage us both to be more tolerant and respectful and actively to fulfil our civic and charitable responsibilities; we also make time to eat, drink and meet together, and form lifelong friendships.

WHAT WE AIM FOR (Vision)

To attract those from all backgrounds and walks of life, enabling them to develop into more thoughtful and confident people. To inspire and challenge them to practise the core values we celebrate – Integrity, Friendship, Respect, Service – in their private and public lives. To cement our reputation as a force for good in our communities and society at large and as a thriving organisation that people aspire to join.

OUR VALUES

INTEGRITY: Rather than working on buildings like the masons of old, today’s Freemasons focus on building themselves as people of integrity, and membership provides the structure to help achieve that goal.

FRIENDSHIP: One of the oldest social organisations in the world, Freemasonry is not defined by an ideology. It is open to people from all religions and political persuasions, and provides the common foundation for friendships between members, many of which will last for life.

RESPECT: With a membership of more than 150,000 people drawn from communities across the UK, Freemasonry brings people together irrespective of their race, religion or any other perceived differences that can divide us as a society.

SERVICE: Whether participating in events, fundraising for a charitable cause or volunteering for public or community organisations, service is at the very heart of Freemasonry. Our members make valuable contributions by donating time, resources and skills. 

People join Freemasonry for many different reasons, some join for the friendships they will make; friendships that last a lifetime and encompass the key milestones in life for better or worse. You will meet people who are different to you, those of different ages with radically different life experiences and interests, drawn together by common experience through Freemasonry. 

Our members are, and have been for three centuries, drawn from all walks of life. From Captains of industry and chief executives to manual labourers and forklift truck drivers, so you will find people with a wealth of different outlooks from all races, religions, classes and backgrounds.

There are also those who enjoy the ceremonial aspects. Our meetings consist of centuries old lessons centered around you as an individual. How you live your life, the decisions that you make and how to become a better person are all found within our meetings.

Freemasons are taught to look after those less fortunate than themselves, charity is our lifeblood and many members devote their time and energy to helping those less fortunate than themselves.

We also have a huge amount of fun along the way, we eat, drink and meet together and form lifelong friendships.

There are three ‘degree ceremonies’ performed during masonic meetings. They are essentially one act plays and teach members how to be better people and each play represents a different stage in life.

As an ‘initiate’ or Entered Apprentice, Freemasons are taught we are all born equal, we learn that in life some do better than others and it is up to those that do well to look after the less fortunate. From this stems our belief in the importance of Charity. 

The next stage is to become a ‘Fellow Craft’ where Freemasons are taught the importance of improving yourself as a person, and finally as a ‘Master Mason’, where we learn that we have but one life, and the importance of using it wisely. 

The details of the ceremonies can easily be accessed online but nothing beats experiencing it for yourself.

After the meetings members dine together informally in order to enjoy good food, good wine, and good company. And most importantly, to have fun together.

The aprons stem from our historical and symbolic roots as stonemasons. Being leather, they were designed to protect them from sharp tools and rough stones.For today’s Freemasons, the apron is a mark of their membership. They are presented with a white leather apron and as they progress this becomes more elaborate.

Only men aged over 18 are allowed to join the United Grand Lodge of England in England and Wales. 

The two leading women’s Grand Lodges, that we have the closest relationship, with are:  Freemasonry for Women and the Order of Women Freemasons. These two groups only admit women because that is the choice of their memberships. Both of the women’s organisations, and ourselves, prefer to practice our Freemasonry in single sex environments. The United Grand Lodge of England regularly hires its facilities out for meetings of the two women’s Lodges due to our mutual respect and close relations.

It is the sheer scale. We are one of the biggest charitable givers in the country and gave £51.1m to charities in 2020 alone.

The Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons’ Charity – our national charitable grant giving arm, tackles some of the most significant challenges facing society, in particular, reducing loneliness in later life and ensuring a positive future for young children. We work in partnership with some of the biggest charities in the country to deliver our support.

Freemasonry also does a huge amount for medical research into treatments for cancer, diabetes, heart disease and a whole range of other conditions. In addition it makes donations to support those affected by overseas disasters as well as those at home, such as the Grenfell Tower disaster.

During the Covid Pandemic Freemasons working together to help their communities. The United Grand Lodge of England, and its members, are doing all they can to help in the fight the coronavirus. We have seen remarkable stories from across the country of how our members came together – from helping to raise vital funds for the NHS and delivering food to the community, through to purchasing ambulances and manufacturing vital personal protective equipment (PPE). To support Freemasonry’s charitable response to the coronavirus pandemic, UGLE and the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons’ charity, established the Freemasons’ COVID-19 Community Fund.

This Fund has helped to support a range of local and national charities and projects that are helping people through the current coronavirus pandemic and in total has donated £3m during the pandemic.

Freemasonry exists throughout the world and the United Grand Lodge of England has Districts in many overseas countries.  Our members are free to visit any of our Lodges abroad and will often find a warm welcome from fellow members who know the local country very well. 

In addition to our Lodges, many other counties have sovereign grand lodges, which our members are free to visit and whose members visit us in England and Wales when travelling.

The United Grand Lodge of England has 180,000 members. The Grand Lodge of Scotland has approx. 27,000 members and The Grand Lodge of Ireland has approx. 20,000 members, whilst the two female Grand Lodges in England comprise of around 5,000 members. Worldwide there are estimated to be around six million members.

On average the annual dues and other fees amount to £200 a year, although there are local variations.

When becoming a Freemason, members are expected to be able to affirm a belief in a ‘Supreme Being’.  This is deliberately phrased so as to be fully inclusive; most of our members generally believe in a God – be it Christian, Muslim, Sikh or Jewish etc – of some sort, and there is no requirement to be an active practitioner of any particular religion.

If you still have questions please feel free to find out more…

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Armed Forces Covenant

Armed Forces Covenant

Signing the Armed Forces Covenant

In October 2021 The Masonic Province of Durham along with the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) signed the Armed Forces Covenant. The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise from the nation that those who serve or have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.  The covenant is a national responsibility involving government, businesses, local authorities, charities and the public.

The UGLE signing of the partnership took place during a ceremony at Freemasons’ Hall led by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Kent at Freemasons Hall.

Since signing the Armed Forces Covenant, UGLE has demonstrated its support to members through education, family wellbeing, finding a home, starting a new career, access to healthcare, financial assistance and discounted services.

“It is my great pleasure to sign the Armed Forces Covenant on behalf of the United Grand Lodge of England. We are proud of our long-standing relationship with the Armed Forces and we will continue to promote their welfare, support, and respect amongst all our members.”

The Duke of Kent

UGLE has a strong Armed Forces background through its military Lodges and the partnership represents an important step in further supporting both active and retired military personnel.

The UK government’s Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) recognises UGLE as delivering tangible support for the Armed Forces community since signing the Armed Forces Covenant.

Here in the Province of Durham we are proud to work alongside our Armed Forces and Veterans and look forward to supporting them in the future.

For more information on our activities or to enquire about signing the Covenant please contact our Armed Forces Committee by emailing sec.3417@gmail.com.

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New Masons

New Freemasons

Masons in their early years in Freemasonry are important to the Province of Durham. We want you to be a member of a Lodge but also to feel a part of the Province. We are on a journey with common values that bring us together and we want to support you as you grow in Freemasonry.

We have set up a Durham New Masons Forum, with the initial aim of learning what it is that you need as you assimilate yourself into life as a Freemason.

Our New Masons Forum focus groups will give you a say and allow us to consider what has worked and not worked in the past as well as to review what others are doing in the other Provinces around the country.

Our ultimate aim is to build a vibrant and fulfilling experience for our early years Masons, with a sense of belonging which will sustain them in years to come on their Masonic journey. Watch this space.

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The Universities Scheme

University Scheme

About the Scheme

Tradition and continuity are just two of the values that characterise the relationship between Freemasonry and Universities. It was more than 200 years ago that the first University Lodge, Apollo University Lodge was founded in Oxford in 1818.

Isaac Newton University Lodge soon followed at Cambridge in 1861 and since then many thousands of young men have been introduced to Freemasonry through these two Lodges.

It was these very foundations that led to the United Grand Lodge of England establishing the Universities Scheme in 2005 and introducing Freemasonry’s important values to a new generation.

There are now 87 Lodges and seven Chapters pursuing a similar, yet distinct, course across England and Wales, where towns and cities have Universities. Here in the Province of Durham we have 3 Universities Lodges, Mowbray Lodge in Sunderland, Universities Lodge in Durham City and Lodge of Fraternity in Stockton-on-Tees.

All these Lodges welcome new members and those wishing to become Freemasons, who are undergraduates, postgraduates, senior members of the university and alumni, and any students from Further Education, ranging in age from 18 upwards.

“We know from these long-established University Lodges that students – whether undergraduates or postgraduates – enjoy Freemasonry to the full. Through the Universities Scheme, we hope that university members from all over the country will be able to gain the same inspiration, fulfilment, and enjoyment.”

Sir David Wootton, Deputy Grand Master, and President of the Universities Scheme

I’m interested in joining The Universities Scheme

Complete a few details below

Lodges in The Universities Scheme

Undergraduates, Graduates, Researchers, Academics and Lecturers who are interested in learning more about Freemasonry are all welcome to contact the respective Lodges directly by following the links below.

Billingham Masonic Hall

Lodge of Fraternity L1418
Stockton Masonic Hall

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Mowbray 5373

Mowbray L5373
Wearside Masonic Temple

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Billingham Masonic Hall

Universities L2352
Durham Masonic Hall

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Our History

old durham map

Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest secular fraternal societies. There are many legends linked to its birth but the general consensus amongst masonic scholars is that it descends directly or indirectly from the organisation of operative stone masons, those who built the great cathedrals and castles of the Middle Ages. However, evidence exists of gentlemen being made Freemasons in non-operative lodges, by the late 1600`s.

The original area of County Durham lies only 50 miles from the Scottish border and has within its boundaries many places of historic significance and great natural beauty. The limits of the original County were marked by the River Tyne to the North, the River Tees to the South, the North Sea Coast to the East and the Pennine Hills to the West.

The growth of Freemasonry in the county may be considered in three distinct parts

Earliest records to 1734

Earliest records to the appointment of a Provincial Grand Master in 1734.
Continued below…

1734 to 1787

The appointment of a Provincial Grand Master to the formation of Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham

1788 to date

Formation of Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham

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What is Freemasonry

Modern Freemasonry

Our Guiding Principles

For Freemasons there are four important values that help define our path through life: Integrity, Friendship, Respect and Charity. In today’s world these principles ring as true as they have at any point in the organisation’s history.

integrity

Integrity

Building Good People

Rather than working on buildings like the masons of old, today’s Freemasons focus on building themselves as people of integrity, and membership provides the structure to help achieve that goal.

friendship

Friendship

Building Together

One of the oldest social organisations in the world, Freemasonry provides the common foundation for friendships between members, many of which will last for life.

respect

Respect

Building Unity

With a membership of more than 200,000 people drawn from communities across the UK, Freemasonry brings people together irrespective of their race, religion or any other perceived differences that can divide us as a society.

charity

Service

Building Compassion

Whether participating in events, fundraising for a charitable cause or volunteering for public or community organisations, service is at the very heart of Freemasonry. Our members make valuable contributions by donating time, resources and skills. 

What is Freemasonry

Freemasonry means different things to every Mason. Some Freemasons enjoy meeting new people and expanding their circle of friends. For others, our charitable fundraising and works, are fundamental to their membership, helping deserving causes and making a difference to family, friends and society as a whole. For most Freemasons it is a great way to spend quality time in an enjoyable hobby that they share with like-minded people from an incredibly diverse cross section of society.

As one of the world’s largest and oldest fraternal, charitable, non-religious and non-political organisations, Freemasonry teaches self-knowledge. Members are encouraged to speak openly about Freemasonry and are expected to be of high moral standing.

Members are taught our guiding principles (moral lessons and self-knowledge) via a series of ritual dramas, a progression of allegorical plays which are learnt by heart and performed within each Lodge, using stonemasons customs and tools as their guide.

A moral and ethical approach to life is instilled in our members. Its values are based on integrity, kindness, honesty and fairness. Members are urged to regard the interests of the family as paramount but, importantly, Freemasonry also teaches concern for society, care for those less fortunate and help for those in need.

Everyday Freemasons
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Where & When we meet

Billingham Masonic Hall

Try our interactive hall map, with information and links to our Masonic Halls and the lodges that meet there.

Durham Masonic Halls

Hover over the map to identify the Masonic Halls, then click on the hall to view more information on that venue.
Durham Province Masonic Halls Map
South Shields Masonic Lodge Jarrow Masonic Hall Gateshead Masonic Hall Dunston Masonic Hall Ryton Masonic Hall Chopwell Masonic Hall Birtley Masonic Hall Wearside Masonic Hall Queen Street Masonic Temple Penshaw Masonic Hall Chester-Le-Street Masonic Hall Stanley Masonic Hall Blackhill Masonic Lodge Consett Masonic Hall Seaham Masonic Hall Hetton-le-Hole Masonic Lodge Durham Masonic Hall Stanhope Masonic Hall Wolsingham Masonic Hall Tow Law Masonic Hall Crook Masonic Hall Willington Masonic Hall Spennymoor Masonic Hall Ferryhill Masonic Hall Castle Eden Masonic Hall Hartlepool Raby Masonic Hall St Helens Masonic Hall Shildon Masonic Hall Middleton-in-Teesdale Staindrop Masonic Hall Barnard Castle Masonic Hall Darlington Masonic Hall Stockton-on-Tees Masonic Hall Billingham Masonic Hall Lumley Castle Hall

South Shields Masonic Lodge

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Jarrow Masonic Hall

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Gateshead Masonic Hall

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Dunston Masonic Hall

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Ryton Masonic Hall

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Chopwell Masonic Hall

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Birtley Masonic Hall

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Wearside Masonic Hall

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Queen Street Masonic Temple

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Penshaw Masonic Hall

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Chester-Le-Street Masonic Hall

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Stanley Masonic Hall

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Blackhill Masonic Lodge

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Consett Masonic Hall

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Seaham Masonic Hall

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Hetton-le-Hole Masonic Lodge

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Durham Masonic Hall

Stanhope Masonic Hall

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Wolsingham Masonic Hall

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Tow Law Masonic Hall

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Crook Masonic Hall

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Willington Masonic Hall

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Spennymoor Masonic Hall

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Ferryhill Masonic Hall

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Castle Eden Masonic Hall

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Hartlepool Raby Masonic Hall

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St Helens Masonic Hall

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Shildon Masonic Hall

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Middleton-in-Teesdale

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Staindrop Masonic Hall

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Barnard Castle Masonic Hall

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Darlington Masonic Hall

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Stockton-on-Tees Masonic Hall

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Billingham Masonic Hall

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Lumley Castle Hall

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You can also visit the lodge pages directly using the ‘Lodge Finder’ page.

Diary of Lodge / Chapter meetings in Durham