Introduction

Freemasonry is a secular fraternal association that has evolved worldwide, particularly over the last two or three centuries. In England and Wales, entry and progression by a series of three degrees is now via Lodges that are grouped into Provinces and administered by the United Grand Lodge of England and Wales (UGLE), which is also responsible for certain Districts and Lodges overseas. Its precepts promote moral values and self-knowledge, and are embodied in allegorical rituals, typically related to the ancient craft of stonemasonry and its tools.

As the craft degrees have evolved, so too have independent Orders of Freemasonry and rituals peculiar to them. Prominent among them in England and Wales is the Ancient and Accepted Rite, whose Chapters are grouped into Districts and administered by a Supreme Council, which is also responsible for certain Districts and Chapters overseas. It chooses to accept the three craft degrees of UGLE as a qualification for entry into a Chapter, rather than administering entry degrees of its own. Progression to further degrees is then within Chapters, and in ceremonies generally conducted by the Supreme Council itself. The Rite is frequently referred to as the 'Rose Croix', although this is only one of its degrees.