What’s it all about?
Freemasonry is one of the oldest social and charitable organisations in the world, yet it remains as relevant today as when it was founded. We have over 200,000 members in England and Wales, brought together under the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE).
Freemasonry means different things to every member. For some, it’s about making new friends and acquaintances. For others, it’s about being able to help deserving causes. But for most, it’s an enjoyable pastime with the added bonus of providing opportunities to develop as a person.
The roots of modern Freemasonry lie with the medieval stonemasons that built our castles and cathedrals, and who organised themselves into groups or ‘lodges’ to discuss trade affairs.
It’s thought that, during the 1600s, these lodges began to accept men who were not stonemasons into their ranks. These ‘free masons’ gradually took over the lodges, and shifted the focus from matters of trade to creating a better society, in a time of great religious intolerance and civil war.
Although Freemasonry has changed over the centuries, we’ve never forgotten the foundations of our organisation. Today, we still use the stonemason’s tools as symbols of our aim to ‘build’ better men and a better world for everyone, whatever their background.
As Freemasons, we use four principles to help define our path through life: Integrity, Friendship, Respect and Charity. In today’s uncertain times, these principles ring as true as they always have done.
We uphold these principles by providing a structure that helps our members to learn more about themselves, make lasting friendships, and contribute positively to society. Through the use of ceremonies and rituals at our meetings, we help members to remember the lessons they’ve learnt, and so apply them in their day-to-day lives. In brief, ‘we make good men better’.
We’re open to people of all races and religions, and although – like stonemasons of old – members of all lodges governed by UGLE are men, there are also two separate Grand Lodges specifically for women.
Our Charitable Work
From its earliest days, Freemasonry has helped orphans, the sick, the aged, and a wide range of other deserving causes. This work continues today, with our members freely giving their time and expertise to help raise money for charities at local, national and international levels. Thanks to this effort, we’re one of the largest charitable givers in the country – in 2018 we donated over £48 million to good causes.
In South Wales, we are particularly lucky to have many members who are dedicated to supporting our charitable activities – from helping feed the homeless to organising summer barbeques and quiz nights, there’s always plenty happening.
To read more about our charitable work, click here.
South Wales Freemasons
South Wales Freemasons, or more formally the Provincial Grand Lodge of South Wales, has a long history. The first lodge was founded in the 1720s, and although interest in Freemasonry reached a low point in the early 1800s, it soon recovered, and we had particularly strong growth in membership through the second half of the 20th century.
Today, we have about 5600 members, based in over 160 lodges within the old counties of Glamorgan, Brecknockshire and Radnorshire. We’re one of 47 Provincial Grand Lodges in England and Wales, and like them our activities are supervised by the United Grand Lodge of England.
Lodges usually have between 20 and 60 members, drawn from all walks of life and with a wide range of interests. There are many lodges in the cities of Swansea and Cardiff, but smaller towns are also well-represented, from Barry in the south to Llandridnod Wells in the north. Lodge meetings take place in one of our 23 ‘Masonic centres’.
Find out more
To learn more about what it means to be a Freemason, and our four guiding principles, read our short leaflet, “Discover Freemasonry”.