As my mother Lodge is in Scotland and celebrated their 300th year of continuous existence in 2014. I am often asked who is the oldest lodge in Scotland?
The Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel), No.1 possess the oldest minutes, in the world, of a Lodge which remains in existence. It is the proud owner of written, continuous, minutes from 31st July 1599 to the present day. The Grand Lodge of Scotland was formed in 1736.
The first non operative mason to be admitted to the Lodge was William, Lord Alexander (together with his younger brother and a family friend), on 3rd July 1634. That is, 7 years before the admission of the first non operative in England, Sir Robert Moray (1641), and 12 years before Elias Ashmole (1646).
The Mother Lodge of Scotland is situated in the Ayrshire town of Kilwinning. This old and ancient Lodge of Freemasons dates back to the building of Kilwinning Abbey around the year 1140, the ruins of which still stand to the rear of the Lodge to this day and has a unique history second to none in the Masonic World. Before the forming of Grand Lodge in 1736 Mother Kilwinning was a Grand Lodge in her own right issuing warrants and charters to Lodges wishing to enjoy the privileges of Freemasonry, many Lodges still carry Kilwinning’s name today. Scotland being a small country it was undesirable to have two Grand Lodges so Mother Kilwinning gave up this right. However in 1743 Grand Lodge decided to number lodges by seniority and oldest records, unfortunately Mother Kilwinning’s minute books date back to 1642, previous records thought to have been smuggled by the monks to France during the reformation or destroyed in the disastrous fire at nearby Eglinton Castle. Mother Kilwinning was placed second on the roll of the Grand Lodge a position she strongly disagreed with, so withdrew and continued to issue charters as before. This dispute lasted until 1807 when the Grand Lodge of Scotland and the Grand Lodge of Kilwinning met in Glasgow and settled their differences and a new and binding agreement was reached, that being that Mother Kilwinning was placed at the Head of the Roll of the Grand Lodge of Scotland and now has the famous and distinctive Number ‘ 0 ‘
The above information is taken from The Grand Lodge of Scotland and Mother Kilwinning 0’s websites.
The United Grand Lodge of England was formed in 1717. Freemasonary did not start then as is often mistakenly quoted.