Welcome


The Mark Province of Oxfordshire was constituted in 1994, when it was split from the joint province with Berkshire and consists of 13 Mark Lodges and 10 Royal Ark Mariner Lodges with a total Mark membership of approximately 450. Although it is one of the smaller provinces, it does mean that members know each other well, creating a very happy Province.

The aim of this website is to provide information about the Mark and Royal Ark Mariner degrees to our members, to the Masonic world who are not members of the Mark degree and to the rest of the world who are not Masons.

The website shows the locations and dates of the meetings of our Lodges as well as upcoming social events and our charitable side.

I am sure you will find this site helpful and informative but if you want further information about the Mark and Royal Ark Mariner degrees, the Province or any of our Lodges please contact us.

I hope you will find our website both interesting and informative.



R.W.Bro. Ian W. Wright
Provincial Grand Master






Reasons for Joining


To find out how to make your mark and about joining our friendly degree, simply fill in the 'get in touch' form below and a member of the Provincial Team will contact you.



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Charitable Giving

The Mark Benevolent Fund (MBF) is a registered charity which came into existence in 1868 on the suggestion of the Reverend George Raymond Portal, Grand Master of the Mark Degree.

He felt that for charity to be effective it had to be disbursed swiftly and without the bureaucratic formalities of other Masonic charities, hence "he gives twice who gives promptly" became, and still is, the principal guideline of the MBF.

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Discover the true link between the Second and Third Degrees in Craft Freemasonry

Our enlightening ceremony teaches you, as a Craftsman, invaluable and practical lessons and how to apply them as you conduct yourself through life.

You will also gain a clearer understanding of many of the terms, phrases and characters which have been introduced to you during your journey through Craft Masonry.

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Better understand the Royal Arch

One of the consequences of the 1813 union between the Antients and Moderns in England was the specific recognition of the three Craft degrees only, including the Royal Arch, thus excluding the Mark Degree. As a result of this, a Craft Mason who joins other orders before the Mark Degree may be confused by their symbolism.

Our Degree aids your understanding by adding essential background to the history of the construction of the Temple, the importance of the Keystone and the work of the Overseers.

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Why are we called the friendly degree?

Ask any Mark Master Mason to describe the Mark Degree and they will invariably smile first and then tell you that it is a most friendly of Masonic Orders.

Brotherly love is the keystone of Mark Masonry and the friendliness of the degree is clearly seen and experienced in our Lodge rooms in the genuine warmth of welcome that is universally extended among all Mark Masons.

Indeed, whilst our message is key, there is no doubt that among Mark Master Masons you will ever find friends.

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A bridge to other Orders in Masonry

At least four other orders require you to be a Mark Master Mason before you can discover their symbolism and further aid your Masonic knowledge and journey.

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Social Activities

As you would expect from the friendly Degree we are a sociable order with a variety of Masonic, family and sporting activities for you to enjoy.

Throughout the year we host many local and Provincial events from a family luncheon and a Burns Night, golf, cricket, waling and racing events.





Frequently Asked Questions


Freemasonry is one of the world's oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisation.
It teaches self-knowledge through participation in a progression of ceremonies.
Members are expected to be of high moral standing and are encouraged to speak openly about Freemasonry.



A Lodge meeting, like those of other groups and organisations, is normally in two parts and is only open to members.
Firstly, there are the normal administrative procedures such as minutes, proposing new members, charitable giving, annual accounts, masonic news and correspondance.
Secondly, we have ceremonies for new members, new masters and his officers.
After the meeting we have the festive board where our members and visitors share wine and good conversation over a meal.

To find out where and when a Mark Lodge or a Royal Ark Mariner Lodge meets within the Province of Oxfordshire please see the section "Find a Mark Lodge" below.

That is a question to which there are many answers. In terms of Freemasonry and the relation to Craft Masonry, the Mark is the fulfilment of the Fellow Craft degree, the second stage in Craft Masonry. It provides many of the answers to those questions posed to a member as he journeys through the various stages of becoming a Freemason.
Mark Masonry as a whole means different things to each of those join. For some, it's about making new friends and acquaintances. For others it's about being able to help deserving causes – making a contribution to society, making his Mark so to speak, while having fun; but for all, Mark Masonry is a means to further improve oneself, intellectually, morally, spiritually and socially.

New members make solemn promises concerning their good behaviour both in a Mark Lodge and in society in general. Members also promise to keep confidential the way they recognise each other when visiting other Lodges. Freemasons also promise to support others in time of need but only so far as it does not conflict with their family and public obligations.

Certainly not. This would be unacceptable and may lead to action being taken against those involved. On joining, each new member states that he expects no material gain from membership.

Mark Masonry as with Craft Masonry, as an organisation, will never express a view on politics or state policy. The discussion of politics, as with religion, has always been prohibited at Masonic meetings. Your religious beliefs and political opinions are your own affair, providing such are not contrary to the law, and are not for discussion with other members during a meeting.

Freemasonry is not a substitute for religion nor does it seek to replace or supplant membership of any particular religious organisation.
Craft Freemasonry is open to men of all faiths and beliefs. However, if you want to become a Freemason and join us you must have a belief in a 'Supreme Being'. This belief, although necessary to membership, is entirely the affair of each individual.
Once you have become a Freemason, you are eligible to be Advanced as a Mark Master Mason.
With Mark as with the Craft each individual member's belief system continues to remain entirely his own affair.

Freemasonry exists throughout the world. However, each Grand Lodge is sovereign and independent. There is no international governing body for Freemasonry. The United Grand Lodge of England, which is the body which governs Craft Freemasonry within England and several territories abroad currently has over 250,000 members meeting in over 8,000 Lodges in many different countries. The other home nation's Grand Lodges, in Ireland, which covers both Northern Ireland and Eire, and Scotland have a combined total of approximately 150,000 members.
Mark Masonry is one of the largest Masonic Organisations after Craft Masonry with around 1,500 Mark Lodges being under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons which is the body which governs Mark Masonry within England & Wales and its Districts Overseas.
Worldwide, there are approximately six million Freemasons.

Yes. Freemasonry is open to men from all walks of life, regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation or socio-economic position in society.

Like most organisations there are specific items which are required, for example golf shoes for golfing. Within Mark as with all orders of Freemasonry the wearing of 'regalia' is historic and symbolic and, like a uniform, indicates the rank of the wearer in the organisation.

Under the United Grand Lodge of England, there are over 200,000 Freemasons.
There are Grand Lodges in Ireland, which covers both Northern Ireland and Eire, and Scotland which have a combined total of approximately 150,000 members.
Worldwide, there are approximately six million Freemasons.

Under the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons the Order has one Degree comprising two stages namely Mark Man and Mark Master Mason. To become a Mark Master Mason you must first be a 'full member' of Craft Masonry. In England, under the Constitution of the United Grand Lodge of England, 'Craft Freemasonry' consists of three stages or degrees Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason. After you have become a full member of the Craft you are eligible to join other Masonic Orders such as Mark Master Masons, known as the Mark and similarly once you have become a Mark Master Mason you are eligible to join further Masonic Orders such as the Royal Ark Mariners.
Membership of other Masonic Orders is entirely optional and for the individual member to consider.

Membership of an Oxfordshire Mark Lodge usually around £50-90 per annum plus an advancement fee of £28.50 for registration at Grand Lodge.
In addition you have the option to attend the festive board, which is typically around £15-30 per meeting of which there are normally three each year.
The costs for membership of a Mark Lodge are in addition to a current membership of a Craft Masonic Lodge.
There are also charitable donations in addition to membership costs but these are voluntary and private.
You will also need to purchase some regalia.


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The Mark Benevolent Fund

Charitable Giving

 News 3rd Jan 2020 Updated 18th Feb 2021

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How We Use Your Donations

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Guide to Honorifics

The Mark Benevolent Fund is a registered charity (no. 207610) came into existence in 1868 on the suggestion of the Reverend George Raymond Portal, Grand Master of the Mark. His views on charity were far more radical and progressive than the general thinking of the time. He felt that for charity to be effective it had to be disbursed swiftly and without the bureaucratic formalities of other Masonic charities. To him it was wrong for there to be any delay in providing assistance to those in need and his own Latin tag "Bis dat qui cito dat" – he gives twice who gives promptly – became, and still is, the principal guideline of the M.B.F.
The Fund has disbursed many millions to individual petitioners and an even greater sum in grants to charities within the wider community. A major grant of £1.6m has been made to the RNLI help fund a new life boat, Addenbrooke’s Hospital Trust received over £2m for machines to help in the diagnosis of prostate cancer and a pledge of £2.6 million has been made to Hope for Tomorrow Cancer Charity for the purchase of mobile chemotherapy units throughout the UK. These projects can only be funded with your help and dedication to the fund.
When it comes to individual Petitioners things are handled slightly differently. When a Lodge Almoner is made aware of a Brother or his family in distress he should immediately arrange a visit by himself or a visiting Brother to assess the circumstances and then complete a grant application form with as much information as possible. This is then passed to the M.B.F. via the Provincial Almoner. The case is then reviewed, any further information deemed necessary asked for and then submitted to the next Petitions Committee.
It is important for Lodge Almoners to be aware of Brethren not dining at the Festive Board, missing meetings or failing to pay annual fees. This may be a sign of distress and it is their role to try and assist if at all possible.
Every year a different Province hosts the M.B.F. Festival. A Province will organise its own fund raising towards a target that it sets and concludes with a Festival Banquet when the final results are announced.
Festival stewardships are obtained by a Brother and/or his Lady by paying a fee to the Stewards Fund, which is entirely distinct from the Mark Benevolent Fund.
When the proceeds of each Festival are sent to the Mark Benevolent Fund the individual donations are set out in a list and those sums are credited towards honorifics in the fund. Qualifications cannot be achieved or acknowledged until your funds have been transferred to the Mark Benevolent Fund.
The income to the MBF is principally from individual and Lodge contributions which can be found in the MBF Honorifics Brochure above right.



MBF Donations in Oxfordshire 2019

Where the money goes?

 News 28th Oct 2020 Updated 29th Oct 2020


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My Life My Choice

The charity, covering the whole of Oxfordshire, builds the profile, skills and self-esteem of those in the learning disability community. It is led by people with learning disabilities. They were given funding to equip their new training room at their new office at Watlington House in Cowley near Oxford.


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Elizabeth Jane Jones Charity

This charity has 72 homes for use of those in distress and of need. They were given funding for one house in Oxfordshire to be refurbished due to out-of-date and dangerous facilities.

"Bis dat qui cito dat"

He gives twice who gives promptly.


MBF Reviews

Helping Good Causes

 News 18th Aug 2021 Updated 15th Dec 2023

Click on any of the pages below to read the MBF yearly or quarterly review documents.

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Social Media


Get Involved and Get Informed!

Help Us Build Our Community.

Join The Conversation via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



           







The two Degrees are collectively known as the "Friendly Degrees" and like all of the masonic degrees they carry an important message covering the manner in which we conduct our day to day lives and encourage learning and the expansion of our knowledge.



Find a Mark Lodge

There is a Masonic Centre serving all parts of Oxfordshire, find out where your nearest centre is and which lodges meet there.

To see a more detailed map, click on the Google map below.


 Centres
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 Mark
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 Members
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 Ram
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Abingdon

Abbey Mark No. 225
Abbey RAM No. 225

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Banbury

Cherwell Mark No. 847
Cherwell RAM No. 847

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Bicester

Weyland Mark No. 1305
 

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Burford

Wychwood Mark No. 1443
Bowyer RAM No. 1655

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Chipping Norton

Bowyer Mark No. 1655
 

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Henley-on-Thames

Thames Mark No. 1183
Thames RAM No. 1183

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Oxford

University Lodge of Mark Masters No. 55
Oxford University Lodge of RAM No. 55
Alfred Mark & RAM No. 247
Menatschim Mark & RAM No. 1838

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Thame

St. Mary's Mark No. 1242
St. Mary's RAM No. 1242
 

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Wallingford

Installed Mark Masters No. 1330
Installed Commanders No. 1330
 

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Witney

Windrush Car & Motorcycle Mark No. 1386
Windrush RAM No. 1386

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Woodstock

Marlborough Mark No. 980
Marlborough RAM No. 980
Godstow Mark No. 1546




  Get in touch!

We'd be delighted to hear from you and help answer any questions you may have about Mark masonry.


 

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"...the Mark tradition is one that forms 'a graceful addition' to our Craft experience and ought truely to be regarded as a necessary part of being a complete Freemason."

'Delving Further Beyond the Craft' by Revd Neville Barker Cryer


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Mark History

The Origins of Mark Masonry

  News 3rd January 2020 Updated 3rd January 2020

This paper is intended to provide a brief introduction to Mark Masonry for Brethren of the Craft who wish to widen their knowledge of Freemasonry in general and of the Mark Degree in particular.

An inspection of the stonework of many ancient buildings will reveal that from early times, operative stonemasons had indented the stones which they had prepared with special marks. They were of two types, one indicating the position and orientation of the stone, the other, their personal mark by which it was known who had prepared the stone. The use of Marks is a continuing feature in the Mark Master Masons' Degree.


Operative stonemasonry, as a skilled trade, began to evolve in the early 11th century with the early Saxon builders and grew following the Norman conquest. The first regulatory body, the Mason's Company was formed in London in the late 14th century. It later became the London Masters' Company and was granted a coat of arms in 1472. The coat of arms still forms one half of the arms of the present United Grand Lodge of England.
The first mention of a Brother being made a Mark Mason was at a Lodge in Newcastle in January 1756 although no reference is made to any degree ceremony.
The early Mark degrees were closely associated with the Royal Arch, as they still are in many parts of the world. Their development probably followed soon after that of the Royal Arch. It is clear that Mark Degrees were worked in Craft Lodges and Royal Arch Chapters up until 1813.
The earliest records of a speculative Mark degree being worked in England are those of Royal Arch Chapter No. 257 at Portsmouth on 1st September 1769 when several brethren were made Mark Masons and Mark Masters. It is apparent that at that time the conferring of the degrees of Mark Man and Mark Master was performed as two separate degrees. In the present day the practice of a Mark Man is an introductory phase to the Mark Master Degree. It is apparent that in those days the Degree of Mark Man was conferred on Fellow Craft and the Mark Master degree on Master Masons.
One Lodge, the Lodge of Hope, Bradford conferred the degree under a constitution originating from a body called "The Grand Lodge of All England, held at York". Its influence was confined to York, Cheshire and Lancashire and existed until 1792.
Compromises have ever been part of society and when the two Grand Lodges were reconciled and the Act of Union signed in 1813, the inclusion of the Degree of Mark Master Mason appears to have been a step too far. In 1856 a separate English Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons was established.
None of the deliberations, however, alter the logical argument that Mark is, in reality, as much part of pure Freemasonry as the Royal Arch. This view is reinforced by the fact that the Mark Degree is recognised in most constitutions throughout the world including the Grand Lodges of Scotland and Ireland. In fact, in almost every constitution the Mark Degree is a pre-requisite for the Royal Arch.
What of the ritual? It is sometimes said that Mark is an extension of the Second Degree in the Craft however, this is an over simplification. The ceremony of admission, called an Advancement is longer in content than the Third Degree and as mentioned above, the early practice was to only confer the degree of Mark Man on Fellow Crafts with only Master Masons being eligible to be made Mark Masters.
The ceremony of Advancement is based on the building of KST and follows the fate of an ambitious Fellow Craft (the candidate) seeking promotion in his trade by demonstrating not only his skill and ability with his tools but also his acumen in spotting the need for a stone different to all the others. In the early part of the ceremony his talents are unrecognised and his actions called into question. Eventually he triumphs over adversity and is rewarded for his work.
It is a wonderful ceremony containing elements of drama and humour and above all, strong moral lessons.
The present structure of Mark Grand Lodge is similar to United Grand Lodge. It has 41 Provincial Grand Lodges, 26 District Grand Lodges and several unattached Lodges abroad. In addition to the Mark degree, Mark Grand Lodge also controls the Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners through a body called the Grand Master's Royal Ark Council.

Why should a Craft Mason be a Mark Mason?

Firstly, it greatly enhances his knowledge of Craft Masonry;- for example, why at the closing of a Craft Lodge does the Senior Warden use the words "having seen that every brother has had his due"? Many other questions arise in Craft ritual to which the answers will be found in the Mark ritual.
Secondly, it teaches, in an entirely enjoyable manner many important practical questions in life as one would expect from a true craftsman's degree
Thirdly, it gives a greater appreciation of the Royal Arch. A Craft Mason who joins the Royal Arch directly from the Craft is confronted with a sudden and bewildering change of symbolism. This is because an important intermediate step has been omitted - The Mark ritual. The Mark adds essential background and meaning on the construction of the Temple, the Principle Arch and the Keystone, thereby enabling a clearer understanding of the Royal Arch ceremony.
This explains why in other constitutions a Craftsman cannot join the Royal Arch until he has become Mark Master.

Who should become a Mark Master Mason?

All Master Masons of the English Constitution can be admitted to the Mark Master Degree or of a constitution recognised by the English Craft Grand Lodge, Mark Masons of other bodies recognised by Mark Grand Lodge may become joining members of English Mark Lodges


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RAM History

The Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners

  News 3rd January 2020 Updated 3rd January 2020

Although it has no real historical connection with the Degree of Mark Master Masons, the Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners, otherwise known as the Degree of Royal Ark Mariners, is worked under the aegis of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons.
Every Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners is attached (moored) to a Lodge of Mark Master Masons and bears the same number, and all candidates for Elevation into the Degree must have been first Advanced into the Degree of Mark Master Mason.



These elements apart, the Royal Ark Mariner Degree stands alone and is entirely unrelated to any other Masonic degree.
It is undoubtedly one of the most inspiring and beautiful degrees found in Freemasonry and echoes the good fellowship and enjoyment found in the Mark Master Masons' degree and indeed a candidate will often find himself in the company of friends from his Mark Master Mason's Lodge.
There is only one ceremony of "Elevation" which is relatively short, usually less than one hour, other than the annual Ceremony of Installation.
The Degree is around two hundred years old and, as it's name suggests, it has a nautical flavour taking for it's setting the circumstances leading up to the Great Flood and the steps taken by Noah to build the Ark by which mankind was preserved from perishing in the "Universal Deluge".
Just as the Mark Master Mason's Degree is based on established fact (the construction of the Temple at Jerusalem), so the Degree of Royal Ark Mariner is based on an actual happening i.e. the Great Flood as recorded in the Bible and verified by the archaeologist, Sir Lionel Wooley in 1929.
The Officers of a Royal Ark Mariner's Lodge represent Noah and two of his sons, Japheth and Shem.
The legend of Noah, his sons, the Ark and the Deluge was enacted in the Mystery Plays of the seventeenth century and parts featured in many of the early Masonic rituals.
The first authentic record of the Degree appears in the Minutes of a meeting held in Bath in 1790. The organisation of the Degree went through many changes, until in 1870, the then Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons announced that the Mark would protect the Royal Ark Mariner degree under a new Grand Master's Royal Ark Council based upon the fact that the degree of Ark Mariner had been worked in Mark Lodges since 1790. After some dissension, the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons "purchased" the degree for £25.
The Royal Ark Mariner Degree does not have a Provincial structure but is governed by the respective administration controlling the Mark Lodges in a particular Province.

How do I join?

It is hoped that you have received this leaflet from a Royal Ark Mariner who is a friend or acquaintance. Ask him to tell you more about the Degree and if this arouses your interest ask him if he will propose you to join his Lodge or to give to you the address of the Scribe of the Lodge which you might like to join. Otherwise you can obtain details of the Lodges of Mark Master Masons from the Provincial Grand Secretary via prgsec.mark(at)oxfordshirefreemasons.org, replacing '(at)' with '@').


Links

Useful links to other websites

 News 28th Jan 2021 Updated 19th Sep 2023


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Berkshire

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Bristol

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Buckinghamshire

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Cheshire

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Cornwall










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