When the Guardian published an article recently revealing that two secret Freemasons’ lodges were operating in the Palace of Westminster, it caused the predictable furore.
The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the ruling body for Masons, even went as far as taking full page adverts in many newspapers protesting that these exposures of Masonic secrets were an attack on the human rights and privacy of Freemasons.
UGLE chief executive David Staples made statements to anyone in the media who would listen but didn’t actually give many, indeed any, secrets away.
The Guardian article revealed that two Palace of Westminster Masonic lodges are active according to central Freemasonry records.
The two — the New Welcome Lodge, with about 40 members for MPs, peers and parliamentary staff, and the Gallery Lodge, with 45 members for journalists and members of the press corps known as lobby correspondents — are both so secret even lobby reporters do not know who the members are.
A third called the Alfred Robbins Lodge, with 18 members and also set up for journalists, appears to meet regularly in London too.
The identities of the members of all three lodges remain unknown outside the world of Freemasonry. All three lodges meet four times a year at Freemasons’ Hall, the UGLE headquarters in Covent Garden, London.
Membership of these secret societies seems amazingly exempt from any of the registers of interests, supposedly kept so that the great British public can see what our so-called leaders, be they MPs, Lords, staff or media representatives, are up to.
Although MPs and peers are not obliged to declare their membership of the Freemasons, the Commons authorities say they can disclose this information voluntarily on the registers of members’ and Lords’ financial interests. Not one currently chooses to do so.
These revealing stories from Westminster that both political journalists and politicians are Masons followed closely on the comments from outgoing Police Federation chair Steve White that Freemasons were blocking reforms in policing and thwarting the progress of women and officers from black and minority ethnic communities.
“I found that there were people who were fundamentally against any kind of change and any kind of progress and they always happened to be Freemasons,” said White.
He added that “many Freemasons chose to keep their membership secret in order to avoid being discriminated against.”
Most sensible people today regard Freemasonry as a joke, an 18th century boys’ club with rolled-up trouser legs, funny aprons and comedic handshakes.
In fact, the Freemasons are still a nasty Machiavellian group wielding secret, totally undemocratic power and influence as they have done for centuries.
Even today serious criminals inhabit the same lodges as senior investigating police officers.
Today there are about a quarter of a million Masons in England and Wales, who meet in more than 8,000 lodges. Masons include politicians, judges, military top brass, bishops, criminals and high-ranking police officers.
Less well known even in this secret world is the fact there are nearly 5,000 women Freemasons organised into a separate but just as secret network of all female lodges. They are acknowledged but not officially recognised by male Freemasonry.
Over the years famous Masons have included Sir Winston Churchill, Lord Kitchener, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Burns, Oscar Wilde, Gilbert and Sullivan, Ernest Shackleton, Captain Robert Scott, Alexander Fleming. Billy Butlin and Peter Sellers.
Harry Selfridge who founded the famous store, social reformer Thomas Barnardo, bridge and canal builder Thomas Telford were all Masons, as were TV magician Paul Daniels, John Entwistle of The Who, Sir Alf Ramsey and Rick Wakeman.
Hundreds of notorious criminals from Jack the Ripper to Kenneth Noye, currently serving a life sentence for murdering Stephen Cameron in a road rage incident while on licence from prison in 1996, found being a Mason useful in their criminal careers.
Many members of the royal family have been Freemasons. Kings Edward VII, Edward VIII and George VI were all members of the secret order.
Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh became a Mason in Navy Lodge No 2612, of which he is still a member. Prince Charles is almost certainly a Mason although he keeps his membership secret.
Princes William and Harry we know were both courted by the Masons when young men, but if and when they joined is just another Masonic secret. Perhaps being a Mason doesn’t fit in with the new-look royalty brand they are busy building.
More publicly the Duke of Kent has been the Grand Master of all English masons since 1967 while Prince Michael of Kent is also a Provincial Grand Master.
One well-known family history website publishes a previously secret list of Masons from over the years. The huge list include more than 5,500 police officers, thousands of military figures, 170 judges, 169 MPs. 16 bishops and at leas