The precise origins of Freemasonry have been lost in time, however, its traditions date back to the Middle Ages and to the stonemasons who built the cathedrals and castles of Europe.
To construct them, it was necessary for men to have considerable knowledge of geometry, arithmetic and engineering. These master craftsmen were privileged to travel from country to country employing the secrets and skills of their craft. They developed means of recognition and identification of their work, forming themselves into lodges to protect those skills and secrets as well as to pass their knowledge on to worthy apprentices.
By the 17th Century, when the building of castles and cathedrals diminished, masonry began to lose its ‘operative’ aspects and worthy men who were not craftsmen were also accepted into its membership. It was from this time that masons were known as ‘free and accepted’ masons, as they continue to be known to this day. Over the past 300 years free and accepted masons have developed a pattern of rituals, symbolic of their early heritage.
The first Grand Lodge was established in England in 1717 and thereafter freemasonry spread rapidly. Today it is practised in virtually every free country in the world.