Vol. XXXVIII No. 5 — May 1960

European Grand Lodges

Conrad Hahn

The large number of American servicemen who are stationed abroad and the flood of American tourists who visit foreign countries each year have created a demand among traveling Freemasons for accurate information about recognized and regular Masonic bodies in Europe and other lands. This Short Talk Bulletin is intended to supply some of that information in a general survey of Freemasonry in Europe.

The brother who plans to visit Masonic lodges in European countries should acquaint himself with the facts about grand lodge recognition when he is planning his itinerary. The Masonic Service Association publishes annually a chart of all grand lodges recognized by United States grand lodges (

A traveling brother should remember that he will be a visitor seeking admission. The courtesies required of a visiting brother should be scrupulously observed. He should never forget that his deportment will be the evidence by which his own lodge and grand lodge are judged abroad.

Generally speaking, an American brother can determine his acceptability as a visitor in European lodges by referring to his own grand lodges list of recognized and regular grand lodges. If his grand lodge, for example, does not recognize the Grand Lodge of Austria, he would embarrass the officers of any lodge belonging to that grand jurisdiction by seeking to visit. At the same time he would be violating Masonic law in his own state by “communicating” with Masons "not recognized” by his own grand lodge.

The following paragraphs will summarize the relationships between European and American grand lodges. Wherever the statement is made that a grand lodge is not recognized by certain American grand lodges, the reverse is also true. That grand lodge does not recognize the American grand lodges so named. Masonic intercourse, including visitation, is improper between the members of lodges belonging to such grand jurisdictions, which are not “in amity” with each other. This does not mean that these grand lodges regard each other as “clandestine” or even “irregular.” That may be true in some cases; but, generally speaking, it means only that some grand lodges have not yet satisfied themselves that the Freemasonry working under some other grand lodge is sound, or representative, or that it conforms to the same standards of recognition on which it insists.

For example, the United Grand Lodge of England recognizes the forty-nine Grand Lodges of the United States, many of which recognize the United Grand Lodges of Germany. England, however, does not recognize the United Grand Lodges of Germany because it maintains “fraternal relationship” with the Grande Loge de France, which England regards as “irregular” because of its relationships with the Grand Orient of France. Eleven American grand lodges, however, recognize the Grande Loge de France!


The United Grand Lodge of England, the “Mother Grand Lodge” of modern speculative Freemasonry, founded in 1717, recognizes all forty-nine Grand Lodges of the United States.

It is composed of 6,936 lodges, 831 of which are outside the British Isles. There are 1,62$ lodges in London alone. The average membership of an English lodge is kept small, to encourage attendance and participation in lodge activities.

English Freemasonry has been planted in almost every quarter of the globe. There are 17 lodges, for example, in Jamaica; 26 in Burma and Ceylon; 198 in India; 186 in South Africa (as well as others in Rhodesia, Natal, and East Africa); 41 in New Zealand; 24 in Malaya and Singapore; and 30 in Malta, Gibraltar, and Egypt.

Headquarters for the United Grand Lodge of England is Freemasons Hall, Great Queen Street, London. This beautiful structure is a memorial to the Masonic heroes of World War I.

The grand secretary is Brother James Wilfred Stubbs. The grand master is the Right Honorable the Earl of Scarborough.


The Grand Lodge of Ireland, organized in 1725, recognizes all United States grand lodges. Utah, however, does not recognize Ireland. In the Revolutionary War, many military lodges chartered by the Grand Lodge of Ireland worked in the Colonies and left a significant imprint on American Freemasonry.

Like England, the Grand Lodge of Ireland has chartered many overseas lodges, so that its influence reaches into most of the continents of the globe. There are approximately 600 lodges in the Emerald Isle, 75 in Dublin alone. There are about 75 lodges chartered by the Grand Lodge of Ireland that are outside the British Isles.

The grand master is Raymond Frederick Brooke. The grand secretary, James O. Harte, may be addressed at Freemasons Hall, 17 Molesworth Street, Dublin.


Many of the oldest records of transactions by operative Masons’ lodges have been found in Scotland; but it was 1736 before the Grand Lodge of Scotland was formally constituted. This grand lodge chartered the Massachusetts Provincial Grand Lodge of which our Masonic hero and patriot, Dr. Joseph Warren, was the first grand master; it was later absorbed into the Grand Lodge of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1792.

The Grand Lodge of Scotland also chartered various lodges in the Colonies during the eighteenth century, the most famous being Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4 in Virginia in 1758. This was the lodge in which Brother George Washington was made a Mason in 1753, the lodge having been first organized by “immemorial right,” rather than by charter.

The Grand Lodge of Scotland also has many overseas lodges, scattered in almost every quarter of the globe where Anglo-Saxon Freemasonry is found. Among the lodges in Israel that gave impetus to the founding of the Grand Lodge of the state of Israel in 1953 were five lodges of Scottish constitution. The Grand Lodge of Scotland honored this new grand lodge when its R.W. past grand master, The Right Honorable the Earl of Elgin and Kincardine, presided over its constitution ceremonies in Jerusalem in 1953. The Grand Lodge of Scotland is comprised of more than 1,100 lodges.

The present grand master mason is the Right Honorable the Earl of Eglinton and Winton. The grand secretary is Dr. Alexander F. Buchan, Freemasons Hall, 96-98 George Street, Edinburgh.

The Netherlands

The supreme Masonic authority in The Netherlands is Die Groote-Osten der Nederlande, or The Grand Orient of the Netherlands. Founded in 1756, it has had a continuous existence since that time, except for the years of its suppression by Hitler during World War II. There are 87 lodges in The Netherlands with 5,200 members; but there are also 104 lodges with 4,500 members in overseas territories, such as South Africa, Indonesia, and the Dutch West Indies. This grand lodge is recognized (1959) by all United States grand lodges except Arizona, Georgia, Nebraska, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The grand master is Cornelius M. R. Davidson, who visited this country recently and addressed the delegates at the Forty-first Annual Meeting of The Masonic Service Association in Washington, D.C. The grand secretary is Dr. P. J. Van Loo, Pomonaplein 68, The Hague.


Freemasonry has existed in Belgium for more than two hundred years. Since 1833 “Blue Lodge Masonry” has been organized and controlled by the Grand Orient of Belgium; but it is not recognized by England, Ireland, Scotland, and most of the grand lodges in the United States. (Alabama, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, and Utah do recognize the Grand Orient of Belgium.)

The members of Masonic lodges in Belgium, as in other countries where the population is predominantly Roman Catholic, and where the influence of that Church is great, are not required to avow the existence of a Supreme Being or to display the V.S.L. in the lodge room. Since the Grand Orient does not make these “landmarks” mandatory, most Masonic bodies regard the Grand Orient and its constituent lodges as “irregular,” and refuse to recognize them.

However, there are many prominent and influential Masons in Belgium who believe in "a return to regularity.” On November 4, 1959, representatives of five lodges that had withdrawn from the Grand Orient of Belgium met in Brussels and organized “The Grand Lodge of Belgium,” which will adhere to the Ancient Landmarks of a belief in the G.A.O.T.U. and of displaying the three Great Lights in every lodge room. The installation of officers took place on December 6, 1959. The approximate membership of this new grand lodge is 1,000; three more lodges are under dispensation.

The five lodges originally comprising this grand lodge are La Parfaite Intelligence et L'etoile Reunies at Liege; La Constance at Louvain; Le Septentrion of DeGand; Mar-nix Van St. Aldegond at D’Anvers; and Tradition et Solidarite in Brussels.

The grand master is Franz Smits. The grand secretary is Jean Ladrierre, Avenue Homborchveld 11S, Brussels. No grand lodge in the United States has recognized this new body as of the date of this Short Talk.


There are three major grand lodges in France: the Grand Orient of France, organized in 1773; the Grand Lodge of France, organized in 1895; and the National Grand Lodge of France, founded in 1913. Only the last one is recognized by the Grand Lodges of England, Ireland, Scotland, and by all United States grand lodges.

The last named grand lodge is the smallest of the three, having less than 4,000 members. Some of its lodges are English lodges; some are composed primarily of American military personnel. It insists on a belief in the G.A.O.T.U. and on the use of the V.S.L. to obligate new members. It forbids inter-visitation with lodges of other Grand Obediences in France and Belgium because of their less rigorous attitude to these fundamental landmarks. It insists on the same “tests of regularity” imposed by the Grand Lodges of Great Britain and North America.

As in Italy, where rival groups claim to be the authentic and "regular” ruling body of Freemasonry, it is important to know the address of the Grand Lodge office, as well as the name of the grand master and grand secretary, to be sure with which group one is dealing.

The grand master of The National Grand Lodge of France is Ernest van Hecke; the grand secretary is M. S. Drabble; 65 Boulevard Bineau, Neuilly-sur-Seine. The National Grand Lodge office is at 8, Square du Roule, Neuilly-sur-Seine.

The Grand Lodge of France has 8,900 members in 232 lodges, some of which are overseas, in North Africa, or the West Indies, for example. In 1953 this grand lodge moved in the direction of "regularity” (as defined by American grand lodges) when it again required the use of the three Great Lights in the lodge room, as well as a belief in the G.A.O.T.U. However, it failed to prohibit inter-visitation by its lodges with those of the Grand Orient of France, some of which are described as having atheistic or communistic members. In fact, it continued to recognize the Grand Orient and “to be in amity” with it. For this reason, other grand lodges have been reluctant to recognize the Grand Lodge of France. In the United States only Alabama, California, District of Columbia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin recognize the Grand Lodge of France.

In September 1959, however, this grand lodge suspended relations with the Grand Orient of France. The grand master admits, nevertheless, that some inter-visitation continues despite this action of the Grand Lodge. The grand master of the Grand Lodge of France is Richard Dupuy. The grand secretary is Emmanuel Drapanaski, 14 Rue de Chateaudun, Paris 9. The Grand Lodge office is at 8 Rue Puteaux, Paris.

The Grand Orient of France first began to have difficulty with British and American grand lodges in 1867, when it recognized a revived Council of the Scottish Rite in Louisiana, which claimed authority over the Craft degrees. In response to an appeal for aid from Louisiana’s grand lodge, some 25 to 30 grand lodges in the United States severed relationships with the Grand Orient.

When in 1877 the Grand Orient of France abandoned the landmarks of a belief in the G.A.O.T.U. and of obligating members on a V.S.L., the withdrawal of recognitions was accelerated and became almost universal. All United States grand lodges, as well as those of England, Ireland, and Scotland, now regard the Grand Orient of France as “irregular.”

The Grand Orient is the largest Masonic group in France, having over 17,000 members in 400 lodges. Its headquarters is at 16 Rue Cadet, Paris.

The most hopeful fact in the French situation is the continuing discussion between brethren of The National Grand Lodge and the Grand Lodge of France to explore all problems frankly and objectively and to find solutions that will lead to the unity of French Freemasonry so ardently desired by all her friends and well-wishers.

Unfortunately, one other complication has recently occurred. In 1958, several Grand Lodge officers and four lodges withdrew from The National Grand Lodge of France and set up a rival grand lodge with exactly the same name. This body cannot be regarded as anything but “irregular” and “clandestine.” Its address is 5, Avenue de l’Opera, Paris.


German Freemasonry is now united in the United Grand Lodges of Germany, the Brotherhood of German Freemasons, constituted in 1958 when the Grand Land lodge of Germany joined with the United Grand Lodge of Germany to form an overall authority for German Freemasons. The United Grand Lodge itself was a union of eight German grand lodges that existed before World War II, drawn together by the inspired labors of Dr. Theodor Vogel, who served as grand master of the United Grand Lodge of Germany from its creation in 1949 until 1958, when he became grand master of the newer body.

By 1958 all United States grand lodges had recognized the United Grand Lodge of Germany and are now in the process of transferring their recognition and exchange of representatives to the United grand lodges. England, Ireland, and Scotland do not recognize this German grand lodge because it is in amity with the Grand Lodge of France.

The United Grand Lodges of Germany comprise 380 lodges with approximately 20,000 members. Many lodges are composed of American military and other service personnel.

The grand master is Dr. Friedrich A. Pinkerneil of Frankfurt a.M. Headquarters is at Frankfurt a.M., Kaiserstrasse 37.


Freemasonry in Italy has always been difficult to understand from afar. Various groups under differing or even the same names have claimed to be the supreme Masonic authority in Italy. United States grand lodges have been slow to recognize Masonic bodies in Italy because of the confused and rival claims. Gradually the conviction has been growing that there is only one legitimate Masonic grand lodge in Italy, the Grand Orient of Italy, Via Giustiniani 5, Rome. The grand master is Umberto Cipollone.

No grand lodge in Continental Europe has extended recognition to other than the Grand Orient. England, Ireland, and Scotland recognize no Grand body in Italy. With the exception of Georgia, Maine, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, all United States grand lodges recognize the Grand Orient of Italy.

Another group, the Grand Lodge of Italy, organized in 1948, is recognized by Arizona, Oklahoma, and Tennessee (as of 1959). Its address is usually given as the Piazza del Jesu, Rome. American Masons sojourning in Italy should be careful to check the Masonic relationships they may establish there, because many "irregular” groups are involved in political activities that American Masons would not wish to sanction or take part in.

On April 6, i960, a compact was signed by the two large Masonic groups in Italy. After minor details are worked out, unity will probably become a reality.


Small in numbers, but strong in Masonic labors, the Swiss Grand Lodge Alpina is almost universally recognized. Its Chancellery is at 8 Bogenschützenstrasse, Berne. The grand master is Theodor Hinnen. There are 57 lodges, the largest number being at Geneva, Zurich, Basle, and Berne. Five United States grand lodges, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, and Oregon do not recognize the Swiss Grand Lodge Alpina.


Following the peace treaty after World War II, the Grand Lodge of Austria was re-organized at Vienna. There are 14 lodges with approximately 750 members. It is regular and legitimate in every respect, but it meets with considerable prejudice in a predominantly Catholic country as well as enmity from communistic neighbors. It is recognized by England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, and most United States grand lodges, except Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

The grand master is Carl Helmke. The Chancellery is at 12 Dorotheergasse, Vienna. Eight of the lodges are in Vienna.


The National Grand Lodge of Denmark is recognized by England, Ireland, Scotland, and all forty-nine grand lodges in the United States.

The grand master is Dr. Forde H. Rydgaard. The grand secretary is Alfred Nyvang, 23 Blegdamsvej, Copenhagen.


The Grand Lodge of Greece, also small in numbers, is recognized by England, Ireland, Scotland, and by forty-five United States grand lodges, the exceptions being Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, and Pennsylvania.

The grand master is Prof. Thrassivoulos Vlissidis. The grand secretary is Dr. Panayiotis Hadjipetros, 19 Acharnon St., Athens.


The Grand Lodge of Finland was encouraged and sponsored by the Grand Lodge of New York in the 1920s. It consists of only 14 lodges, but their spirit and activity are out standing. This grand lodge is recognized by England, Ireland, and Scotland; but so far only California, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Utah have established relationships with this grand lodge.

The grand secretary is Lauri Sarkia, P. Esplanaadikatu 35 E., Helsinki.


The National Grand Lodge of Iceland is a legitimate and sovereign Masonic body, which is recognized by England, Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, and most of the United States grand lodges. Exceptions are Arizona, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada. Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The grand secretary is Olafur Gislason, Freemasons Hall, Borgartun, 4, Reykjavik.


While it is recognized by the Grand Lodge of France, the United Grand Lodges of Germany, and the Grand Orient of the Netherlands, the Grand Lodge of Luxembourg enjoys no recognition outside the continent of Europe, with the exception of one United States grand lodge, Alabama.

Norway and Sweden

Norway and Sweden have old and honored Masonic traditions and history. The grand master of Sweden is H.M. King Gustav VI; other members of the royal family hold office as pro grand master and deputy grand master. Norway’s Freemasonry was strengthened by trials during the Hitler persecution of World War II. It is active and dedicated to Masonic ideals and landmarks.

Because the "Swedish Rite” is employed in Scandinavian Freemasonry, which includes other degrees in addition to the Symbolic degrees of ancient Craft Masonry, some grand lodges in the United States have withheld recognition. In some cases relationships have lapsed because of the events of World War II.

However, England, Ireland, Scotland, and most United States grand lodges “are in amity” with these two grand lodges. The exceptions are Maryland and Mississippi, which recognize neither; and Nebraska, Oklahoma, and West Virginia, which do not recognize the Grand Lodge of Norway.

The grand secretary of Norway is Odd Lie Davidsen, Frimurerlogen, Nedre Voidgate 19, Oslo. The grand secretary in Sweden is Sven Svedin (acting), Blasieholmsgatan 6, Stockholm.

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N.B. The information in this reprint reflects the situation in 1960. The Masonic Service Association publishes annually a recognition chart which should be consulted for current statuses.

The Masonic Service Association of North America