Faith Hope and Charity

A rival Grand Lodge sprang up in London in 1751. Formed by Irish Masons who had been unable to gain entry to English lodges it became known as the Antients Grand Lodge from its early members' claim that the premier Grand Lodge had departed from 'the landmarks' whereas they were practising Masonry 'according to the Antient Constitutions'. By warranting travelling Lodges in Regiments of the British Army and Provincial Grand Lodges in the Colonies, with authority to constitute new Lodges locally, the Antients did much to spread English Freemasonry abroad. They also did much to foster the Royal Arch and various additional Masonic Orders.

To complicate matters further two other Grand Lodges appeared. In 1761 the old Lodge at York was revived as The Grand Lodge of All England. It existed for some thirty years during which it elected its own Grand Masters, constituted thirteen subordinate Lodges and erected its own Royal Arch and Knight Templar bodies. It was also responsible for giving authority to the fourth Grand Lodge. The Grand Lodge South of the River Trent was a breakaway group from the time immemorial Lodge of Antiquity who, after a quarrel with the premier Grand Lodge in 1778, applied to York for a Warrant as a Grand Lodge and had a separate existence, with three Lodges, in London until they begged pardon of the premier Grand Lodge and once again became part of the Lodge of Antiquity in 1788.

The rival Premier and Antient Grand Lodges managed an uneasy co-existence both at home and abroad for some sixty-three years, neither officially regarding each other as regular. Despite this, certain prominent brethren had memberships in both Grand Lodges and further away from London, Lodges under both met together at least on a social level.