Two Freemasons’ lodges set up for members of parliament and political journalists are continuing to operate secretly at Westminster, the Guardian has learned.
New Welcome Lodge, which recruits MPs, peers and parliamentary staff, and Gallery Lodge, established for members of the political press corps known as the lobby, both remain active, according to Freemasonry records.
A third lodge called the Alfred Robbins Lodge, which was also set up for journalists, also continues to meet regularly in London.
The identities of the members of these three lodges remain unknown outside the world of Freemasonry, however, and so discreet are the members of Gallery Lodge that few journalists working in the lobby appear to be aware of its existence.
When did Freemasonry begin?
The first grand lodge, established to govern Freemasonry in England and Wales, was formed in 1717, during a meeting at a pub in the City of London called the Goose and Gridiron. But in Scotland, a masonic lodge in Edinburgh has records to show that it has been in existence since at least 1599.
Why are they so secretive?
Freemasonry models itself upon the fraternities of medieval stonemasons who would use secret words and symbols to recognise each others’ legitimacy. During some periods of history, Freemasons have needed to go underground to survive. But there are persistent suspicions they remain secretive in order to conceal the way in which they can assist each other in business.
Is there any substance to these claims?
Such rumours are very rarely substantiated, and masons are expected to swear an oath that they will not be involved in “any act that may have a tendency to subvert the peace and good order of society, by paying due obedience to the laws of any state”.
Is Freemasonry a religion?
No it is a secular movement, although new members are expected to acknowledge a belief in a God-like superior being. Anyone believing in a single deity may be admitted.
Are the identities of all Freemasons kept secret?
No, individual masons can declare themselves if they wish, and the names of senior officers of the brotherhood in England and Wales can be found in a masonic year book. However, a great many masons do not disclose their membership outside the brotherhood…