The Fourth Step
The Degree is now the third largest in English Masonry.
The ceremony of admission is called ‘advancement’ and deals with the building of King Solomon’s Temple, and chronologically follows that of Fellow Craft. It is one of the oldest and most fascinating degrees in Freemasonry and actually comprises two degrees. Firstly the candidate is acknowledged as a Mark Man and immediately thereafter advanced as a Mark Master Mason in the same ceremony.
As speculative Mark Masons, our lively and enjoyable ceremony of today is known to be well over 200 years old and in those olden days the degree was conferred in Craft Lodges or within Royal Arch Chapters up until the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813. In time an independent Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons came into being in 1856.
The Mark Degree is centred on the ancient practices of operative stonemasons who in preparing stones for the construction of buildings, marked each stone with their own unique mark to identify their work and entitlement to wages. From this we are taught order, regularity, diligence and discipline; and like the Fellow Craft Degree in the Craft, it is less concerned with the past and future, but more with the here and now of our present life and a contemplation of human strength and weakness, and affirms that no man is beyond redemption, with the possibility of distinction always within our grasp.
The symbol of the degree is a Keystone on which are engraved certain mystic letters, the meaning of which is revealed during the ceremony.
The Mark Degree also has its own Charity, the Mark Benevolent Fund, and this has been very successful in raising money for a number of good causes nationally. Locally the Leicestershire and Rutland Mark Benevolent Fund and the Provincial Grand Master’s Discretionary Fund also disburse money to many local charities and also supports members and their families and can respond rapidly to requests for help.