The following information is intended to explain the United Grand Lodge of England's relations with other Masonic bodies.
Freemasonry is practised under many independent Grand Lodges with principles or standards similar to those set by the United Grand Lodge of England throughout its history.
To be recognised as regular by the United Grand Lodge of England, a Grand Lodge must meet the following standards:
- It must have been lawfully established by a regular Grand Lodge or by three or more private Lodges, each warranted by a regular Grand Lodge
- It must be truly independent and self-governing, with undisputed authority over Craft - or basic - Freemasonry (i.e. the symbolic degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason) within its jurisdiction and not subject in any other way to or sharing power with any other Masonic body
- Freemasons under its jurisdiction must be men, and it and its Lodges must have no Masonic contact with Lodges which admit women to membership
- Freemasons under its jurisdiction must believe in a Supreme Being
- All Freemasons under its jurisdiction must take their Obligations on or in full view of the Volume of the Sacred Law (i.e. the Bible) or the book held sacred by the man concerned
- The three "Great Lights" of Freemasonry, (i.e. the Volume of the Sacred Law, the Square and the Compasses) must be on display when the Grand Lodge or its subordinate Lodges are open
- The discussion of religion and politics within its Lodges must be prohibited
- It must adhere to the established principles and tenets (the "Ancient Landmarks") and customs of the Craft, and insist on their being observed within its Lodges
Irregular and Unrecognised Grand Lodges
There are some self-styled Masonic bodies that do not meet these standards, e.g. which do not require a belief in a Supreme Being, or which allow or encourage their members to participate as such in political matters. These bodies are recognised by the Grand Lodge of England as being Masonically irregular, and Masonic contact with them is forbidden.