Which Lodge is oldest Masonic Lodge?

Many freemasons are curious as to what is the oldest Masonic Lodge in the World?

Many believe that Mother Kilwinning in Scotland is the oldest particularly as it holds number 0 on the role of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, but Mother Kilwinning claim that most of its early records were last in fires or other disasters.

With actual evidence Lodge of Edinburgh No.1 Edinburgh is the oldest lodge in the world, this lodge is sometimes known as Mary’s Chapel.  Its oldest Masonic Lodge Minutes are dated 31st July 1599ce and it is 410 years old.

More impressively, the first 5 pages of minutes incorporate the Schaw Statutes  which are dated 28th December 1598ce. Six months later, on 31st July 1599ce are to be found the minutes which confirm the lodge’s claim as having the oldest existing masonic minutes.

The Schaw Statues are named for William Schaw, who was Master of Works to His Majesty, King James VI  and General Warden of the Masonic Craft. In the statues, he declared that these ordinances issued by him for the regulation of lodges considered the lodge at Edinburgh to be for all time, the first principal Lodge


Lodge of Edinburgh No. 1 was first called “The Lodge of Edinburgh” and retained this name until 1688ce, when the Grand Lodge of Scotland confirmed its charter in the 1730’s, it designated the lodge as: ” The Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel ) No1”.

Prominent members belonging to the Lodge in its very early days included His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales (afterwards called King Edward VII) and His Royal Highness King Edward VIII.

Both were affilated within  the Lodge, taking the obligation on the “Breeches Bible” which was printed in 1587ce. The pen with which these 2 brethren signed the roll is still preserved in the Edinburgh Lodge No. 1 museum.

As early as 1600ce, The Lodge of Edinburgh began to admit non-operative freemasons. In June 1600ce the Laird of Auchinleck was made a speculative member, the first authentic record of the making of such a member.

When the Grand Lodge of Scotland was established on 30th November 1736ce the Lodge of Edinburgh took an active part. Thirty Three lodges were represented at the meeting which was held in the lodge room of the Edinburgh Lodge. Because the oldest minute of a  lodge was that of Edinburgh Lodge, it was placed first on the roll of the Grand Lodge

6 thoughts on “Which Lodge is oldest Masonic Lodge?

  1. Although Mother Kilwinning Number 0 claim to be the oldest lodge in the world – their early records were lost in fires and other disasters and now only have records dating to the middle of the 15th Century.

  2. Lodge Edinburgh Mary’s Chapel claim to being the oldest lodge reflects only the fact that it can produce consecutive minutes for the Lodge from the 1599 Schaw Statutes as noted in the article.
    It is in fact impossible to determine who is the oldest lodge as records from middle 15th Century and earlier are rare or lost to time. If as Kilwinning claims it’s history stems from the building of the associated Abbey, then the Lodge of Melrose St John lays equal claim to being the oldest lodge in the world as the Abbey was consecrated in 1136 which is 4 years before Kilwinning.
    The resaon Kilwinning holds Number 0 on the roll of Grand Lodge is that they fell out with what became a very Edinburgh centric organisation in its early days and therefore left the amity of the union of Lodges for a period of 80 years, eventually reconcilling themselves with Grand Lodge on the basis that as they had acted as a Mother Lodge and issued charters to their own daughter lodges they would not be beholden to the list of lodges asa daughter lodge but insisted on being referred to as a Mother Lodge and in recognition of the same Schaw Statutes, Kilwinning was noted by Schaw as being the “heid ludge”; Grand Lodge accepted the proposal to then list them at the head of their roll and because Edinburgh already carried No1 they could only give Kilwinning No0.
    In the same manner, Melrose held out as an independant Grand Lodge until 1891 when agreement was finally reached to bring Melrose into the fold of Grand Lodge. There is ample evidence to proove Melrose existed as alodge well before Edinburgh’s date of 1599, especially as the Abbey has Masons marks in the stones of it’s fabric, there existed a lodge meeting house which was rebuilt in 1613 and a gravestone to Andrew Mein a Mason of Newstead who died aged 65 in 1624 which without a great deal of clever mathmatics would clearly show the lodge was active as early as 1575 and even prior to that if was to be have been made an Enterred Apprentice. In fact his ancestor Petrus de Mein was associated with the early building of the Abbey. Also John Morrow (or Murdo) was the master of works in the rebuilding of the Abbey in 1385 and there inscriptions in the stone of the building dedicated by him to the Abbey. It is historically known that he was also responsible for Glasgow, St Andrews and other eclesiastical building erected throughout the lated 14th and early 15th Centuries.
    In joining Grand Lodge , this august body accepted that Melrose was indeed a claimant to being both an ancient Lodge and possibly the oldest Lodge, however as it now had Kilwinning as No0 and Edinburgh as No1 it could not usurp these positions of Lodges that where involved in the original setting up of Grand Lodge itself and so allocated Melrose the unusual numbering of No1bis
    which is properly written as 1 with a raised 2 (bis being the latin for 2).
    Readers are encouraged to look at our website to view the history of the Lodge but please remember that without the full written eveidence of when a Lodge
    was formed and consecrated no one Lodge can properly justify claiming to be the undisputed oldest Lodge in either Scotlan or the World.

  3. Wonderful information. Would it be possible for you to send me a copy of those first minutes? If so, I would be eternally grateful.

    Thank you so very much.

    Sincerely and fraternally,

    Carl Byerly
    PM Pisgah 32, Coryson, Indiana

  4. I have really enjoyed this site. Would it be possible to send me a copy of those July 31, 1599 minutes? Thank you.

    Carl Byerly, PM,
    2625 German Ridge Road NE
    Corydon IN 47112-7405
    (812) 366-3333

  5. excellent info, would be obliged if you could send me a copy of the minutes dated 31st July 1599 for a educational piece

    thank you

  6. Lodge St John (Lodge of Dunfermline) No 26. GLS is one of the oldest lodges in the world:- http://www.lvdgeofdunfermling.org.uk/html/history.html

    In terms of Freemasonry, Lodge St. John is ancient. It connects directly with “the Ludge of Masons of dunfermling” which held ,St. Clair Charters in 1598 and 1628. It doubtless existed prior to these dates, which gives a fair assumption that it played a part in the addition to, Dunfermline Palace (1540). The earliest record in possession of the Lodge is dated 1698. At the meeting in Edinburgh on 30th November l736, when Grand Lodge was formed, the Lodge had three representatives, Captain Arthur Forbes of Pittencrieff (Master), Bailie Charles Chalmers, and Henry Finlay (Wardens), and was of course, in the original province of Fife, when formed in 1745. Interesting notes bearing on its antiquity are contained in a booklet issued in connection with the opening, of their new hall in Priory Lane (a Lodgeroom in excellent. taste) which was consecrated by the P.G.M., the Earl of Elgin and Kincardine, on 17th December 1920, The hall is at present in use for national purposes making it difficult to gain access to old records. From the information available, the Secretary informs us that the date of the present Charter is 1766; that an early meeting place was the Spire Tavern c, 1814, and that the first R.W.M. was Lieut. Charles Durie. Special gifts to the Lodge include the Master’s Chair from the Earl of Elgin; set of working tools from James C, Craig, and a brass square from Arnold Ramsay. Honorary members comprise Major P1ayfair, Elgin’s Lodge; John Russell, Lodge Union; Andrew Barnard No. 815; Joseph Inglis, Canongate; James Gibson, No. 1; The Earl of Elgin, Elgin and Bruce; Sir Alexander Gibb Elgin and Bruce.

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