The York Rite is the oldest of the Masonic Rites, taking its name from the city of York in England, where the earliest known records of Masonry exist, dating back to 923 AD.
According to York Rite legend, the first “Grand” Lodge was created in 926 AD by King Athelstan to repay the various crafts of Masons for their service to him and to England. The several independent and separate bodies of Masons were “constituted as several bodies and orders, bound together by common vows and unity of purpose.”
The “Grand Lodge of All England” at York existed when the “Grand Lodge of England” was formed in 1717 in London. Later, in 1751, some Irish and Scottish brethren formed another “Grand Lodge” in London and proclaimed themselves to be “Ancient” and that Grand Lodge formed in 1717 were “Modern.” By 1813, these two latter Grand Lodges had formed the “United Grand Lodge of England” and the “Grand Lodge of All England” had ceased all function. During the interim, the “Ancient” Grand Lodge had authorized Provincial Grand Lodges in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and South Carolina, and those lodges styled themselves as “Ancient York Lodges,” until the reunification. It would be reasonable to believe the name York was used to denote their antiquity. The York Rite is peculiar to the Americas and evolved here, but the source for it lies in antiquity.
As the original York Rite was constituted as several bodies and orders in 926, so they remain today. There are three bodies at the international level and four grand bodies in each state. The Grand Bodies in the state govern the individual Lodges, Chapters, Councils, and Commanderies at the local level. Lodges are governed by the Grand Lodge of Iowa.
Compiled by the Education Committees of the Grand York Rite Bodies in Iowa – August, 2006.