In 1879 it was decided to establish a Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees to take under its direction all Lodges of various Orders that had no central authority. Initially the Orders of Grand High Priest, St. Lawrence the Martyr, Red Cross of Babylon and the Knights of Constantinople acknowledged this new central authority and subsequently the Degree of Grand Tilers of Solomon, which originated in the United States of America, was added as a fifth Order in 1893.
The Degree of St. Lawrence the Martyr is that in which all administrative business of a Council of the Order is conducted. The Master of a Council is elected, as such, in a Lodge of St. Lawrence the Martyr and the only ceremony of Installation is that of a Master of a Lodge of St. Lawrence the Martyr. Thereby, he constitutionally becomes Master of the Council and appoints the Officers of the Lodge. The Master of the Council is responsible for designating Officers to work any other Degree of the Order, when required.
At every meeting of a Council, a Lodge of St. Lawrence the Martyr must be opened and closed and a Lodge or Council of any of the other four Degrees is opened and closed only when the ceremony of Admission to that Degree is worked.
Every Candidate for Admission to the Order of the Allied Masonic Degrees must be a Companion of the Holy Royal Arch and a Mark Master Mason.
He is first admitted to the Degree of St. Lawrence the Martyr. Although this is not a Christian Order, this Degree deals with the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence and teaches fortitude. The other four Degrees are conferred upon him subsequently, in any order, and in any Council.
The Degree of the Knights of Constantinople links the legends of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great with Masonry and teaches humility, justice and equality.
In the Degree of Grand Tilers of Solomon the Lodge represents a vaulted chamber beneath King Solomon's Temple. The Degree warns of the great danger of carelessness and hasty judgement.
The Red Cross of Babylon is the most profoundly mystical of the five Degrees. The scene is set partly in Babylon and partly in Jerusalem and is closely associated with the rebuilding of the second Temple.
The Holy Order of Grand High Priest takes us to a high realm of Masonic thought and the Companion who is admitted is left in no doubt that he is set apart for higher duties and responsibilities in life. It is founded on the Blessing of Abraham and the consecration of Aaron.
Having taken the five Degrees of this Order, the candidate is awarded a breast jewel appropriate to each degree. There is no other regalia worn by the Brethren. Officers of a Council wear a collar. Grand Officers and District Officers wear a collar, and Active Officers of Grand or District Councils also wear a collarette.
The Order is headed by a Grand Master and is administered from Mark Masons' Hall in London. The Order is divided into Districts, each led by a District Grand Prefect. The District of East Midlands covers the Craft Provinces of Nottinghamshire (2 Councils), Derbyshire (1 Council), Lincolnshire (3 Councils), Leicestershire and Rutland (2 Councils), and Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire (1 Council). 2 new Councils, to meet in Long Eaton and Peterborough, have been proposed, and may be consecrated in 2009 or early 2010.
In the Craft Province of Nottinghamshire, the Nottinghamshire Council No. 63 meets at West Bridgford on the 3rd Fridays of June and September, and The Maun Council No. 215 meets at Mansfield on the 3rd Monday in September and the 1st Thursday in May.