Q&As

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

ABOUT OXFORDSHIRE FREEMASONRY AND MUCH MORE…

DO FREEMASONS REALLY WEAR APRONS, AND WHY? Expand

Yes we do.

The tradition was passed down from the practical workwear of operative masons of old. Today it’s our badge, and there are many kinds.

In Craft Freemasonry these are divided into 3 kinds. White reflects the primary stage of Entered Apprentice, then we add light blue ribbon and rosettes from Second Degree or Fellowcraft and beyond, including Master of the Lodge.

Once a Freemason receives ‘promotion’ or ‘honours’ the apron becomes dark blue (or even red or maroon) and it becomes a little more more elaborate.

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.

It is not necessarily always the case that you have to achieve becoming Master of a lodge to be honoured this way.

WHAT GOES ON AT A TYPICAL LODGE MEETING? Expand

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.

WHY SHOULD I JOIN OXFORDSHIRE FREEMASONS? Expand

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.

Oxfordshire is a small, welcoming and friendly Province.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BE A MEMBER, AND DO YOU HAVE TO BE WEALTHY TO JOIN? Expand

No, our membership comes from all backgrounds.

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

Most Freemasons are not wealthy, and some have very modest incomes.

It’s also true to say that Freemasonry will not make you wealthy.

DO YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE IN A GOD? Expand

We welcome joiners from any and every faith.

This does not mean altering or compromising your existing religion in any way.

Whilst some Freemasons are agnostic, most generally believe in a God – be it Christian, Muslim, Sikh or Jewish etc – of some sort, even if they do not necessarily practice any particular religion.

 

HOW OLD DO YOU HAVE TO BE? Expand

The minimum age for joining was previously 21.

Before the recent changes the exceptions to the minimum age of 21 were:

You could join from aged 18 under the Universities Scheme.

Under certain circumstances, the son of a Freemason (known as a Lewis) could also join at 18.

 

 

CAN WOMEN BECOME FREEMASONS? Expand

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.

WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT THE WAY FREEMASONS GIVE TO CHARITY? Expand It is the sheer scale. We are one of the biggest charitable givers in the country and gave nearly
£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.

IS FREEMASONRY INTERNATIONAL? Expand

Freemasonry exists throughout the world and the United Grand Lodge of England has Districts in many oversees 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.

HOW MANY FREEMASONS ARE THERE? Expand

The United Grand Lodge of England has 180,000 members.

The Grand Lodge of Scotland and Ireland also have 10,000 members and the two female grand lodges in England comprise of around 25,000 members.

Worldwide there are estimated to be around six million members.,

Do you have to be invited to join? Expand

No, absolutely not. As a general rule, it’s up to you to ask to join. You may already know a Freemason or two, and it you’re intested just ask them to tell you more about joining.

If you have no links to Freemasonry, that’s OK too. just contact our Membership Officer Dave Robinson who can introduce you to a suitable local Lodge.

Where do Lodges meet in Oxfordshire? Expand

We have around 10 meeting places in local Oxfordshire towns.

Our permanent halls and centres are in Witney, Thame, Caversham, Woodstock, Burford, Bicester, Oxford, Henley-on-Thames, Banbury, Chipping Norton. (One Lodge also meets in an Oxford hotel.)

None of my family are already Freemasons, can I join? Expand

Yes. You don’t have to be invited or come from a family of Freemasons. We’re open to everyone.

If you know existing Freemasons, simply ask them about joining a Lodge. If you have friends who are far from Oxfordshire, then contact our Membership Officer for an introduction to a local Lodge. We can always help.

If I join, can visit other Lodges in other areas? Expand

Yes you can.

Visiting is one of the most enjoyable parts of Freemasonry.

When you become a Freemason, you will receive invitations to visit other Lodges. You will also invite guests to yours.

We’re highly sociable and friendly. Travelling and meeting and making new friends is the essence of Freemasonry.

How much are typical membership fees and subs? Expand

There’s a start up or joining fee of a couple of hundred pounds, then a yearly recurring membership fee. This varies from lodge to lodge, but is about £150 PA or less in Oxfordshire.

Dining at each meeting is around £20, but you don’t neccessarily have to stay and eat. Most Lodges meet between 6 and 9 times each year.

What do you wear to meetings? Expand

Most Lodges require a plain dark grey or black suit, white shirt, black tie, and finally black business shoes. It’s simply the kind of kit you might wear at a formal business meeting and is universally acceptable.

Attending a Lodge anywhere in the UK has a sense of occasion, and the emphasis is smart rather than casual.

Some Lodges specify a dinner jacket suit with bowtie, and on occasions ‘head waiter’ style black jacket and stripy trousers.

There are many exceptions…

The Henley on Thames boating lodge wear colourful striped blazers!

The dress code is generally specified on your invitation or ‘summons’.

What are the basic rules on who can actually become a Freemason? Expand

Put simply:

Men over 18 (recently changed from 21), of good character and holding belief in a Supreme Being.

People of all backgrounds, faiths, and ethnic groups are very welcome.

You will of course need to be sociable, and keen to help others via our charities and by giving service in our communities.

Parallel to the men’s Orders, are two women’s Grand Lodges mirroring our own entry requirements and objectives. Information on these is elsewhere on this site.

Are Freemasons allowed to tell anyone they are members? Expand

Privacy is a matter for the individual.

But yes, we are positively encouraged to share information about Freemasonry.

Personal recommendation is the most powerful medium, and explaining who we are and what we do always attracts new members.

We have a policy of honesty and openness.

Are you ready to take the first step?

Get in touch with our membership officer…

GET NOW TO GET IN TOUCH

OXFORDSHIRE FREEMASONS CHANGE LIVES