The true origins of Freemasonry are lost in time. What, however, is known is that during the Middle Ages, when the great cathedrals of Europe were being built, the craft of the stonemason was held in high esteem.
Young men were apprenticed to the stonemasons (who were formed in ‘Lodges’) and in due course passed through their training and became ‘Free’. Given that they were engaged in the construction of religious edifices, their masters applied a moral code which was taught to them by word of mouth and was illustrated by allegory and symbols.
During the 17th century, the stonemasons’ Lodges began to admit men who, whilst having no connection with their trade, were attracted by their system of morality. It is thought that this is the origin of Freemasonry as it exists today. Indeed, during the Age of Enlightenment in the eighteenth century, a great many scientists and other men of note were engaged in Masonic activity.
Freemasons of the past century or so include HM King George VI, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Ernest Shackleton, Captain Scott, Sir Alexander Fleming, Sir Malcolm Campbell, Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher (Headmaster of Repton 1924 – 1932 and Master of the Old Reptonian Lodge 1928), Rudyard Kipling and Oscar Wilde.
Freemasonry has always attracted men of learning and ability. It has been graced with the company of scientists, philosophers, statesmen, writers, military and professional men, whilst welcoming all those whose natural inclinations subscribe to its principles.