The Mark Degree is undoubtedly one of the most successfully supported degrees in Freemasonry. There are nearly 1500 Mark Lodges in the English Constitution, with Kent being one of the largest Provinces, outside of London. Together with the Royal Ark Mariner Degree, the Province of Kent has 105 Lodges with some 3200 members. Details of these Lodges, showing where and when they meet, are included in the Red Kent Year Book, available from the Kent Mark Provincial Secretary (see details later).
The “Mark” portion of the degree title takes its name from the practice of the stonemason appending his unique mark on his work to identify it, a practice existing from time immemorial. Cathedrals and other prominent buildings worldwide, carry the marks of the masonThe Mark Degree is open to all Master Masons. The Order is generally perceived to be more informal than the Craft and there is no doubt that among Mark Master Masons you will ever find friends. The ceremony of admission is called “advancement” and chronologically the degree follows that of Fellow Craft. The legend of the degree is most instructive and, is well founded on statements of Holy Writ, relating to a period in the building of the Temple prior to the death of Hiram Abif. It teaches the 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 revealed during the ceremony. The Mark Degree assists old and young brethren alike to gain experience in Freemasonry, and thus make their mark, without first having been installed in the Craft Chair.
The “Mark” portion of the degree title takes its name from the practice of the stonemason appending his unique mark on his work to identify it, a practice existing from time immemorial. Cathedrals and other prominent buildings worldwide, carry the marks of the masons who built them, which can still be seen on the masonry to this day. There is evidence a form of Mark Degree was extant in Scotland as early as 1599. The effect of the Union in 1813 between the Ancients and Moderns in England was of course the specific recognition of the three Craft degrees only, including the Holy Royal Arch, thus completely excluding the Mark Degree. Nevertheless many Lodges continued to work the degree, particularly in Kent, and eventually in 1856 Grand Mark Lodge was formed.
It should be noted that in Scotland, and many other parts of the recognised masonic world, the Mark Degree can be conferred in either Craft Lodges or Royal Arch Chapters and indeed is an essential pre-requisite before exaltation into a Royal Arch Chapter can take place.
The Mark Fund of Benevolence makes large donations to other Masonic Charities and good causes. Whilst the local Kent Mark Benevolent Fund is able to provide extremely rapid relief to needy Kent Mark Master Masons, and their dependants, as well as supporting the main local Craft Charities.
There is no doubt that a vast number of brethren who have attained eminence in the Craft have been no less eminent in the Mark. Any Master Mason who is interested and would like further information on this ancient and honourable degree, but nevertheless friendly degree, is likely to find that a Mark Lodge is held at his Masonic Hall and information will be available there. Alternatively contact the Mark Provincial Grand Secretary for Kent.
Name: Bill Balderston
Position: Mark Provincial Grand Secretary for Kent,
Telephone: 01634 230889