The Masonic Order of Athelstan was constituted in the USA in February of this year during AMD Week with two Courts established, one in North Carolina and the other in Pennsylvania. The order is relative new in its founding country of England in that it has only been in existence for a little over five years. A slow and deliberate rate of growth has been chosen as the best method to ensure positive results. As you will learn from the attached background information, the Masonic Order of Athelstan instructs its members on many symbols and their meaning that has in some jurisdictions been removed from the Craft Lodge. Where these symbols have been retained you will find that they are presented in a more esoteric manner than they are in the Craft Lodge which leads the serious Masonic student down a totally different path of learning and perception. The Masonic Order of Athelstan not only complements the Craft Lodge experience, it stimulates the mind to various new areas of research while renewing the one's interest in the Craft and Chapter Degrees.
The body is referred to as a "Court". It is an invitation only organization. Having stated this, if you are interested in joining the Order or establishing a Court in your local jurisdiction please contact me and the appropriate information will be provided to start the process.
Those wishing to join an existing Court, will upon request, be sent a membership application form. Once received, it will be sent to the Screening Committee of the appropriate Court for review. The Screening Committee will make a determination if an invitation is warranted. You will be notified of their decision. The current joining fee is $ 250.00. The annual dues are currently set by the individual Courts and they range from $ 40.00 to $ 60.00 a year.
Those who are interested in possibly establishing a new Court in their Masonic Jurisdiction will be advise of the necessary steps to be taken to obtain approval. No new Courts will be established without the written permission of your respective Grand Lodge. To form a new Court it will require a minimum of 15 active local members to ensure the successful formation of the Court and give it the best chance of not only surviving, but experiencing future growth. After the initial formation of a Court, you are allowed to induct only two individuals per meeting. It is not necessary to have 15 existing members of the Order to form a Court.
Once you have reviewed this information, should you have further questions or need additional information, please contact me. As you may have gathered, I travel extensively for various National and International Masonic Organizations, which on many occasions delay me in responding. But, rest assured each inquiry is important to me and will receive due attention upon my return.
Bryce B. Hildreth
Provincial Grand Master
of the United States of America
The Masonic Order of Athelstan formed in 2005, growing out of the shared interests that a number of like-minded individuals had in the origins of Masonry. Their research culminated in a few members of that group focusing specifically on the Saxon Chronicles. In essence, their informal meetings became more and more regular and the rich and invigorating debates offered each member considerable encouragement and support to continue with their personal endeavours. They had become a dedicated Masonic and historical discussion group.
As the group progressed its subsequent interface with other like-minded Masons encouraged them to progress the idea of a new Order even to the writing of a ritual to support it. This ritual was based on the research of many old historic documents and the discovery of old Craft and other Masonic ritual. Eventually a draft of the ritual was produced based upon the life and symbolism of King Athelstan, the grandson of King Alfred, and the first King of England to be referred to as “The King of All the English”. The Grand Court of the Masonic Order of Athelstan was conceived if not yet born.
As the group explored the idea of setting up the Order it caught the imagination of more and more Freemasons both senior and junior. Eventually there was a following which quickly grew as “word of mouth” spread and has now become a vehicle for many well-read and like-minded Masons to come together and discuss their individual learning.
So what is the Order of Athelstan? The Order has become many different things to many different people. For many it is historic and educational, for others it is rich in symbolism and a vehicle to keep a great deal of old ritual alive, for others it is where good friends meet to share knowledge, thinking, friendship and good company.
On the practical side it is what we like to call a ‘functional’ degree, in other words it is aimed at accommodating people's modern lifestyles with low costs. Midweek meetings generally commence at around 6.30 pm and conclude after a 3 course (maximum) meal at around 9.30pm, in order to give brethren time to be together at the bar and to encourage discussion, or to proceed home if preferred. There are no ‘wine takings’ and the few formal toasts do not have any fire attached to them. Some Courts meet on a Saturday morning and meetings, followed by a lunch, are concluded by 2.30-3pm.
It is Masonic, and therefore candidates must be subscribing Craft Freemasons as well as subscribing Companions of a Royal Arch Chapter in full amity with the United Grand Lodge of England (these are the requisite qualifications). If a potential candidate holds these requisite qualifications they can be invited to our Festive Board and will be warmly welcomed by all. The intention is to enable brethren to attend the dinner, after the meeting, as a way of introducing them to the Order without disclosing the ritual and workings of the Order.
Normally a maximum of three meetings a year are encouraged, two working and a third the Installation. At this meeting the ceremonial is about 40 minutes in total and allows for a 20 minute talk or lecture. This is encouraged by way of an annual Provincial Certificate and a Grand Court Presentation to the best of the best. A number of other incentives have and will be introduced, by way of keeping brethren interested.
Like other Masonic ceremonies that use legend and allegory to tell a story and portray good ethical conduct and behaviour. In the Order we use the legend of Athelstan's York Assembly of 926 as the framework and conduit for ours. We aim to bring to life the 926 Court that was held in York to educate and raise the quality of masonry in 10th Century England and in so doing to explore the development of the Craft over the centuries in order to prompt further study and research. As such our meetings are held in a Court and our candidates are ‘Instructed’ into the Order.
The Masonic Order of Athelstan portrays the story of a Master Mason called to York in 926 to receive the Ancient Charges. It goes on through a series of delightful rituals to explain a lot of the Symbolism we still see in some Lodges today and culminates with an Historical oration taking us through the development of the various Grand Lodges and ends at 1813 with the formation of the UGLE.
‘The Inner Workings of an Eminent Prior deal with the earliest passing of the veils ceremony and the Kabbalistic explanation of the four banners of the Royal Arch. The Inner Working of a Worshipful Master or Grand Master of Speculative Masons is based on the betrayal of Athelstan by Prince Edwin and the 20° A & AR .
The Order of the Scarlet Mantle is appendant to the Masonic Order of Athelstan and has its own Statutes. It was created from the outset as the separate reward-based Order for meritorious service by members within the Order of Athelstan.
Knights are installed or promoted in a ceremony commemorative of the Knighting of Athelstan by King Alfred the Great in and around the year 898 (the first recorded making of a Knight in England). It is stated that Athelstan, upon being knighted was given a 'Scarlet Mantle and a Sword with a golden hilt and a scarlet mantle bedecked with jewels'. Members bear the initials of Knight of the Scarlet Mantle (KSM), Knight Commander of the Scarlet Mantle (KCSM) or Grand Cross of the Scarlet Mantle (GCSM) after their name and naturally can only use this in the context of the Masonic Order of Athelstan.
The Order is administered by a Grand High Chancellor following his appointment by the Most Worshipful Grand Master. A small number of Grand Chancellors are also appointed to assist the Grand High Chancellor. Knightings normally take place on the day of, and preceding, the Annual Assembly of the Masonic Order of Athelstan in October/November.