What is Freemasonry?

Freemasonry seeks to recruit “just, upright and free men of mature age, sound judgment and strict morals.” Of these qualities two are very important, the age of 21 and being a man free from the attentions of the law, but there is an inescapable third requirement, a belief in God, the supreme being of the great religions of the world. Freemasonry is open to men of all religious persuasions and races and is thus established across the world.

In each of our Lodges moral lessons and self-knowledge are taught through a progression of allegorical rites which are learnt by heart and performed at all three of the ceremonies which introduce a new member. Morality was identified by Plato as consisting of “prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice.” This approach to life reinforces i.) thoughtfulness for others, ii.) kindness in the community, iii.) honesty in business and all other dealings, iv.) courtesy in society, and v.) fairness in all things.

What are Lodges?

Lodges are the basic units of Freemasonry and consist of a Master and a range of Officers who carry out the work of the Lodge on behalf of the Brethren. Most Lodges meet formally on a monthly basis, but it is usual for members to gather informally weekly, to practice ritual and enjoy company over a drink or two.

Masonry in Practice

Masonry in the lodges is progressive, that is an initiate is in line of progression behind the previous initiate. He is expected to undertake the various offices of the lodge in strict order of rotation. Every year at a time stipulated in the lodge by-laws, installation of a new Master takes place, and the officers of the lodge are appointed by him, normally in this strict order. Thus an initiate proceeds to the chair of his lodge by annual stages of progression, which can take was little as 7 years in smaller lodges to over 20 years in larger ones. Following on from the chair after a number of years a mason may be appointed, according to his merit, to be an officer or past officer of Provincial Grand Lodge. Likewise to a deserving few, appointment as an officer of Grand Lodge is deemed a most especial honour. At these various landmarks in progress, regalia (aprons and collars) turn from light blue to become more elaborately decked with royal blue and gold, thus making meetings quite spectacularly colourful events. Aprons and gloves are symbolic of the origins of the craft.  

Religion & Politics

Religion and Politics are not discussed among freemasons

The cost of Freemasonry

This varies from Lodge to Lodge, the main outgoings being the subscription, determined by the quality and facilities of the building, the cost of the meal at formal meetings and voluntary charitable contributions.

Entry costs are about £115, payable only once.

The Annual Subscription (2007) is £250

Monthly Dining cost is usually about £8 to £12, depending on menu and whether waitress service is required.

Annual Installation dinner usually about £20 depending on menu.

Charity – discretionary. £25 annual for a new mason is realistic, but this may be expected to rise with progression, but always according to personal circumstances. Masons place their first priority with their family, second to their means to support it and freemasonry third.  

Social events are charged individually according to cost.

The cost of new regalia is posted on web-sites, and initially need not be expensive. The Lodge carries a small stock of serviceable second-hand regalia if required.                    


Contrary to much general opinion, freemasonry is greatly concerned with national and worldwide munificence. If after this, it failed to look after its own it would be failing in its duty. Each Lodge has an Almoner, whose duty it is to attend to the needs of sick or distressed members, their families and the widows of deceased members. Every Lodge has a Charity Representative whose work involves collection of alms, covenants from Lodge members and to prepare petitions to the Provincial Grand Master for causes important to them. Masonic Charitable funds are derived solely from within the movement.   

National and Regional Organisation

The United Grand Lodge of England oversees Masonic activity in England and Wales, has over 300,000 members who work in 8,000 Lodges, with another 30,000 members overseas. In addition, Scotland and Ireland have their own constitutions which also extend across the waters, and there are also Grand Lodges established in countries across the world who are affiliated and approved by Grand Lodge. The Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England is H.R.H The Duke of Kent, assisted by the Pro Grand Master who represents him at most of the routine functions, and he in turn is supported by a Deputy and an Assistant.

Grand Lodge is sub-divided into Provinces, usually based on the traditional geographical counties, the local Province is that of Yorkshire, West Riding. This covers the ancient county from Ripon in the North to Sheffield in the South, Bentham in the West and Goole in the East. Each Provincial Grand Lodge mirrors Grand Lodge and represents its interests, and is presided over by a Provincial Grand Master, who is similarly supported by a Deputy and 5 Assistants. The Province of Yorkshire, West Riding has 214 Lodges under its jurisdiction. Each Lodge is a private undertaking and is controlled by Grand Lodge through Provincial Grand Lodge and abides by their constitutions.


The origins of Freemasonry are somewhat obscure and are said to be a continuance of the system practiced by the operative stone masons who built the great cathedrals, churches and castles through the middle-ages, whereby “lodges” were formed to foster discussion among equals on trade affairs. There being no City & Guilds, trade unions or other trade organisations, secret signs and words were adopted to prove or demonstrate that they were trained and qualified masons to undertake the required grade of work as they moved from site to site. Gradually as such building was curtailed in the reformation and civil war periods, non-operative members began to be admitted and the focus moved to the Holy Bible and the building of King Solomon’s Temple. Hence the allegorical allusions and the incorporation of mason’s tools, provided a wealth of symbols with which to illustrate moral teachings. There are other views as to how freemasonry might have evolved, but a definitive answer cannot be found. Grand Lodge was founded in 1717 and freemasonry spread throughout the land, across to Europe and subsequently across the globe as the British and European empires grew.








The history of the Lodge and of freemasonry in Halifax is amply covered in “The Lodge of Probity No. 61 1738-1938” by T. W. Hanson, a well-known local historian which is available in the local reference library or by arrangement with the Lodge. (Members may purchase a copy) The Lodge was founded in 1738 and it has enjoyed continuous existence since then, it is the oldest Lodge in Yorkshire as well as the West Riding, being born out of the expansion of freemasonry following the foundation of Grand Lodge in 1717. The Lodge is very proud of its long history and most carefully guards its ancient traditions. From the early days the Lodge met in public houses, notably the Bulls Head, Union Cross, and the Old Cock. In 1874 the Lodge of Probity in conjunction with St. James’s Lodge No. 448 opened the Freemasons’ Hall at St. Johns Place. This was purpose built and the Lodge met here until 1988, when the present facilities at Southwood were purchased. The magnificent façade of the Freemasons’ Hall at St. Johns Place is preserved intact within the replacement HBOS buildings, and can be viewed from outside and is well worth a visit. It is floodlit at night.


The Lodge meets formally on the 3rd Monday in every month, when its normal business is transacted which is always followed by a dinner. In addition it meets informally on all other Mondays in the month (except Bank Holidays), when ritual is practiced and afterwards relaxed discussion takes place over drinks in the Southwood Club’s comfortable facilities. The installation of the new Worshipful Master takes place at the January meeting in which dignitaries from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Yorkshire, West Riding attend, and a special celebratory dinner is held afterwards.  

Social Occasions

In addition to freemasonry, there is a thriving social side to the craft in which our Ladies take part.

The Ladies Evening. The principal such event being the Ladies Evening, which is a dinner and dance, when a toast to the Ladies is proposed and the Worshipful Master’s Lady responds on their behalf.

The Ladies Weekend in the spring, when Brethren and their Ladies are invited to a weekend at a hotel of the Master’s choice. There is a dinner and dance on the Saturday night.

Sunday Lunches are sometimes held by the Lodge at Southwood.

W. M. at Home, when the Master and his Lady entertain Lodge members and their ladies at their home.

Christmas After-Lodge. As the December Lodge meeting is near Christmas, the Ladies and widows of the Lodge are invited to dinner following the meeting.

The Ladies also hold a separate dinner on installation night at a local restaurant.


If you wish to receive further information or wish to talk to us about membership please send your details, giving full names, address and telephone number to The Secretary, The Lodge of Probity No. 61, Southwood, Birdcage Lane, Halifax, HX3 0JQ.

Potential candidates should be

i.)                   fully supported by their families.

ii.)                  aware of the costs involved.

iii.)                aware that a regular and continuous commitment is expected.



After the closure of the Freemasons Hall at St. Johns Place, Halifax in 1988, the Lodge of Probity moved to the Masonic Hall at Willow Royd, West Vale, Greetland, for the 2 years during which Southwood was being converted into a Masonic Hall. It there was welcomed by the resident lodges, Savile No. 1231 and Mexborough No. 6117, and the friendships forged in those happy years are still alive today.  The Southwood Club was established in 1990 when the lodges formerly at St. Johns Place reunited in their new home at Southwood. Today 6 Lodges and a variety of other orders meet in the building and enjoy excellent club facilities, including comfortable bar, lounge and dining rooms. The rooms are let to commercial organisations for conferences, seminars etc., are licenced for weddings and outside functions. The rooms are available to brethren of resident lodges for private functions.








Lodge of Probity,

No. 61