There is documented evidence that the Mark Degree was being practised in the 18th Century in Portsmouth, Durham and Hull, whilst in our own Province of Nottinghamshire it is known that the Degree was being worked in Newstead Lodge some time prior to 1793. The history of the Degree is a fascinating subject of research in its own right, with the present structure having been established following the adoption of the 1813 articles of the United Grand Lodge of England, which excluded the Degree from being worked by Craft Lodges.
The Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons was formed in 1856 and now administers the Mark Degree from its headquarters at Mark Masons Hall, St James's Street, London. The Grand Master is H.R.H Prince Michael of Kent, who is supported by the Pro Grand Master, the Deputy Grand Master and the Assistant Grand Master.
The Mark Province of Nottinghamshire is led by the Provincial Grand Master and his Deputy who are supported by the Provincial executive team of a Treasurer, Secretary and Director of Ceremonies.
The "Mark" referred to in the title of the Degree takes its name from the mark or symbol which the stonemasons used to identify their own work. These marks can still be found in many Cathedrals and similar buildings of architectural significance.
Charity is one of the central pillars of the whole Masonic structure and the Mark Degree fully embraces this principle. The Mark is the only Order beyond the Craft in Freemasonry that has its own Fund of Benevolence. This is organised by Grand Mark Lodge and makes additional grants to petitioners and to non-Masonic charities, with a focus on relief being given without delay.
A most fitting statement is contained in the closing address in the Ceremony of Advancement that urges: - "Do justice, love mercy, practise charity, maintain harmony and endeavour to live in unity and brotherly love". These few words can best describe the nature of those Brethren who are Mark Master Masons. They share the pleasure of being associated with a Masonic Order that encapsulates a happy and friendly spirit and for which it is well recognised.