The Masonic Family: Knights Templar

With their own terminology and structures, Masonic Orders offer new opportunities for growth, development, and friendship in Freemasonry. Over the next year, Freemasonry Today will spotlight the origins, requirements, and beliefs of the other Orders – starting with the Knights Templar.

When did it begin?

The earliest records of the masonic Knights Templar can be found in the minutes of the Chapter of Friendship in Portsmouth dated 1778. At that time, the degree was worked under lodges and chapters warranted by the Antient Grand Lodge using a variety of rituals. Lancashire had 10 of the first 40 encampments (now called Preceptories).

When did the Knights Templar become popular? 

In 1791, Templar Masonry entered a new era with the formation of its first Grand Conclave (now Great Priory). Thomas Dunckerley was Grand Master. At that time, there were just seven encampments in existence;  it wasn’t until after 1851 that the Order began to expand in response to the standardisation of the ritual.

Did the masonic Knights Templar fight in the Crusades?

There is no historical connection between the medieval Christian military order and the masonic body known as the United Religious, Military and Masonic Orders of the Temple and of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta of England and Wales and its Provinces overseas – more commonly referred to as the Knights Templar.

What does the Order believe in?

Thomas Dunckerley wanted to promote a concept of chivalry and Christianity within a masonic framework.

So is it open to all faiths now? 

The Order is one of several in masonry in which membership is open only to Freemasons who profess a belief in Christianity.

 How many members are there? 

The Order numbers just under 12,500.

How do I join? 

Membership can be achieved through the recommendation of an existing member.

Is it difficult to progress?  

Having joined the Knights Templar, the next step is to take the Malta Degree, which is a two-stage process: first becoming a Knight of St Paul by taking the Mediterranean Pass, and then becoming a Knight of Malta.

Can anyone from the Craft become a member?

To become part of the Order, a brother must be a Master Mason and a member of the Royal Arch.

Who heads up the Knights Templar? 

The Most Eminent and Supreme Grand Master is Paul Raymond Clement, who joined the Order in 1984 and was installed as its Most Eminent and Supreme Grand Master in May 2017.

Where is the  nerve centre? 

The headquarters of the Order is Mark Masons’ Hall, St James’s, London, from where all administration activities are conducted.

What causes does it support? 

The Order has a favoured charity that members have supported since 1915 – the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital, which is the main provider of charitable eye care in the West Bank, Gaza and the East Jerusalem area.

Originally published: September 11 2018

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