There is evidence that a form of Mark Degree was in existence in Scotland as early as 1599, according to the earliest known English records Mark Masonry was introduced in a speculative body at Portsmouth on the 1st September 1769, when that ubiquitous Thomas Dunckerley conferred the Mark Degree on brethren of the Royal Arch Chapter of Friendship No 257. The Mark Degree was subsequently worked in many Lodges but the effect of the union in 1813 between the Ancients and Moderns, led to the active discouragement of the Mark Degree. Nevertheless many Lodges continued to work the degree and it has today developed into one of the most important orders for many reasons and next to the Craft and Royal Arch it is the largest of the Masonic orders and has indeed stood the test of time.
HRH Prince Michael of Kent is the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons and his brother, HRH The Duke of Kent is the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England.
Candidates are said to be “advanced” into the Degree of Mark Master Masons and must be a Master Mason of a regular Craft Lodge to be eligible for admission.
The organisation of a Mark Lodge is very similar to that of a Craft Lodge with some important changes. Four additional Officers are employed, these are the Master, Senior and Junior Overseers, and the Registrar of Marks.
It would appear that the degree grew out of an ancient ceremony in which each craftsman selected for himself a private mark, with which he might designate his particular work and this mark was duly registered with the constituted authority.
The legend of the degree is founded on statements contained within the Holy Bible, relating to the period of the building of the King Solomon’s Temple prior to the death of Hiram Abif, it teaches the valuable lesson that education is the reward of labour and contains a dramatic message.
The symbol of the Degree is a Keystone on which is engraved certain mystic letters, the meaning of which Is explained in the ceremony and Mark Master Masons wear the distinctive keystone jewel.
In Bristol we have 7 Mark Master Mason lodges (detailed below), the earliest being the Canynges Lodge which is designated as TI, (time immemorial) and whose Warrant is dated 30 January 1874.
Membership of the Mark Degree is a necessary requirement for those wishing to progress further by seeking membership in the Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners.
Mark Lodges in the Province of Bristol
Canynges Mark Lodge TI (Keystone Lodge)
Baldwyn Mark Lodge No. 183 (Keystone Lodge)
Dunckerley Mark Lodge No. 630 (Keystone Lodge)
Brunswick Mark Lodge No. 1060 (Keystone Lodge)
Ernest Dunscombe Mark Lodge No. 1423 (Keystone Lodge)