What is Mark Masonry?

  After the three degrees of Craft Freemasonry,   The organisation of a Mark Lodge is very  
  many brethren look to “make a daily   similar to that of a Craft Lodge with some  
  advancement in masonic knowledge” as   important changes. Four additional Officers  
  instructed in the Charge after Initiation. The   are employed, three progressive, these are  
  United Grand Lodge actively encourages   the Master, Senior and Junior Overseers,  
  Master Masons to complete the Third degree   these are placed in the centre of the Lodge  
  by seeking exaltation in a Royal Arch Chapter;   and the other officer, the Registrar of Marks,  
  its makes no suggestion that they should   non progressive, sits adjacent to the  
  complete that of a Fellow Craft, by   Secretary, each has an important part to play  
  advancement as a Mark Master Mason.   in the Ceremony. The ceremony of admission  
  However one would hope that all Master   is called Advancement and chronologically in  
  Masons would want to do so, as it is simply   the Solomonic legend it follows that of a  
  an accident of history that those masons in   fellow craft. It is one of the oldest and most  
  England and Wales who are exalted in the   interesting grades of freemasonry and today  
  Royal Arch have not previously taken the Mark   incorporates two degrees, for the candidate is  
  Degree.   first acknowledged as a Mark Man then  
      subsequently advanced as a Mark Master  
  While there is evidence that a form of Mark   Mason in the same ceremony. You will be  
  Degree was in existence in Scotland as early   pleased to learn that only one fee is required.  
  as 1599, according to the earliest known      
  English records Mark Masonry was introduced   It appears that the Degree grew out of an  
  in a speculative body at Portsmouth on the   ancient ceremony in which each craftsman  
  1st September 1769, when that ubiquitous   selected for himself a private mark, with  
  Thomas Dunkerley conferred the Mark Degree   which he might designate his particular work  
  on brethren of the Royal Arch Chapter of   and this mark was duly registered with the  
  Friendship No 257. Records do not show   constituted authority.  
  where he got the Degree from, but all      
  researchers into Freemasonry know of the   At the building of King Solomon ‘s temple and  
  man and his place in the history of   before the institution of the degree of Master  
  Freemasonry.   Mason and Past Master, there were 80,000  
      operatives employed, part of whom were  
  The Mark Degree was subsequently worked in   hewers in the quarries at Zaradatha and part  
  many Lodges and even under the authority of   builders of the temple, besides these, was a  
  the Old Grand Lodge of York, but the effect of   levy of 30,000 in the forest of Lebanon. In  
  the union in 1813 between the Ancient and   order that each of the 111,000 workmen might  
  Moderns was the specific recognition of the   be known to his superior officers, every  
  three Craft degrees including the Holy Royal   portion of the work was subjected to the  
  Arch, thus completely excluding the Mark   closest scrutiny and each fellowcraft received  
  Degree. This led for many years to the active   with punctuality the reward of his industry  
  discouragement of the Mark Degree,   and skill, this immense number were divided  
  nevertheless many Lodges continued to work   into 1100 Lodges of fellowcrafts and entered  
  the Degree and whilst the original   apprentices, the latter under the direction of  
  circumstances would appear to have been   the former, who taught them the work, and  
  detrimental to masonry, they were eventually   over the whole presided 3,300 Menatschim,  
  to cause several leading Mark Masons to form   Overseers, or Mark Master, three over each  
  their own Grand Mark Lodge in June 1856 with   Lodge. These are now called The Worshipful  
  Lord Leigh as the first Grand Master.   Master, the Senior and Junior Wardens. Each  
      Fellowcraft had a mark peculiar to himself by  
  Just Prior to this at one of the Grand Lodge   which is work was known and by which he was  
  quarterly communications in that year,   able to receive payment for his labours.  
  a resolution was carried to include the Mark      
  Degree within the True and Ancient masonry,   The legend of the degree is singularly  
  however at the next meeting the minutes   instructive and is well founded on statements  
  detailing that resolution were not agreed as   of Holy Writ, relating to the period in the  
  an accurate record and the resolution fell....   building of the Temple prior to the death of  
  masonic in fighting.. politics.. jealousy., who   Hiram Abif, it teaches the valuable lesson  
  knows.   that education is the reward of labour and  
      contains a dramatic message that fraud can  
  Happily by 1860 a Concordat establishing a   never succeed. The symbol of the Degree is a  
  common ceremonial, was entered into by the   Keystone on which is engraved certain mystic  
  English Grand Mark Lodge and the Grand   letters, the meaning of which is explained in  
  Chapter of Scotland and slowly the Mark   the ceremony.  
  Degree grew in popularity to make it, together      
  with the Royal Arch, one of the most   The Mark Degree is an important Order for  
  successful supported Degrees in Freemasonry.   many reasons, next to the Craft and Royal  
  There are now some 45,000 brethren in over   Arch it is the largest of the Masonic orders  
  1700 Mark Lodges within 37 Provinces.   and has stood the test of ages.  
  HRH Prince Michael of Kent the Grand Master   Unlike many other Orders this degree  
  of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons is,   combines Masonic thought with a lightness of  
  as is well known, the blood brother of HRH   touch, but it is not frivolous. Not only has the  
  The Duke of Kent the Grand Master of the   candidate learnt more about the place of  
  United Grand Lodge of England.   Masons in the actual and speculative  
      construction of the Temple but he has come  
  Today every candidate to be advanced in the   further to appreciate both the joys and  
  Degree of Mark Master Mason must be a   sorrows within his own masonic journey, as  
  Master Mason of a regular and recognised   well as the fallibility of man and the need for  
  Craft Lodge, whilst candidates for the office of   utter humility before God, the ritual is full of  
  Worshipful Master must normally have served   beauty.  
  as the Worshipful Master of a Craft Lodge,      
  although it is possible to obtain a   It is a necessary requirement for those  
  dispensation.   wishing to progress further in the mysteries of  
      Freemasonry by seeking membership in the  
  Elsewhere, the position is quite different,   Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Royal  
  under the Irish Constitution the Mark Degree   Ark Mariners, the Royal and Select Masters,  
  is taken in a Royal Arch Chapter, while in   the Order of the Allied Degree and the  
  Scotland the Mark Degree can be received in   Worshipful Society of Free masons, Rough  
  two ways, either within a Royal Arch Chapter   masons, Wallers, Slaters, Paviors, Plaisterers  
  or separately in a Craft Lodge. No one under   and Bricklayers more usually known as The  
  the Scottish or Irish jurisdictions can be   Operatives.  
  exalted as a Royal Arch Mason without      
  previously having been advanced as a Mark   John Oakley-Smith, JP , PGSD , DPGM,  
  Master Mason. In the United States of   Province of Hertfordshire ( 2004 )  
  America the Mark is conferred in a Royal Arch      
  Chapter, and once again the Mark Degree is      
  an essential preliminary to obtaining entry      
  into Royal Arch Masonry.