for women came to this country from France in 1902 in the form
of mixed Lodges (Co-Masonry). In 1908 some Co-Masons decided
to break away to start a new Order because they objected to
control from France and to some of the ritual and influences
found in Co-Masonry. They wanted to practise Freemasonry on
the same lines as the male United Grand Lodge of England.
The Honourable Fraternity of Antient Masonry was founded on
20th June 1908 and its first Grand Master and driving force
was a man - the Rev. Dr. William Frederick Cobb. However, since
1912, the Grand Masters have all been women. The new Order at
first included both men and women, but eventually the decision
was taken in the early 1920s to restrict entrance to women only
and no longer admit men as visitors. Although a handful of loyal
men remained in office, by 1935 we had become an exclusively
female organisation and we remain so today.
Another Masonic Order for women split
off from ours in 1913. This was called the Honorable Fraternity
of Ancient Freemasonry, and so to avoid confusion in names we
added "Order of Women Freemasons" to our title in
1958. This is the name by which we are known today.
From a beginning
with three small Lodges in 1908 we have gradually increased
in numbers and locations. The 1950s and 1960s were particularly
active in expansion, especially abroad, and recently (2005)
a Lodge was opened at Fuengirola near Malaga in Spain.
The present Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother Brenda I.
Fleming-Taylor, has been in office since 1989 and has been instrumental
in bringing to the Order an openness and pride in our presence
in the wider world.
The United Grand
Lodge of England have, in a statement of 10th March 1999, acknowledged
the regularity and sincerity of women’s Freemasonry although
they do not officially recognise it and their members cannot
take part. Many of our own Lodges meet in premises owned by
the men’s Order and informal relations are cordial and