This old and ancient Lodge of Freemasons dates back to the building of Kilwinning Abbey around 1140, and has a unique history second to none in the Masonic world.
The Lodge was founded in the chapter house of the Abbey and remained there until the Reformation in 1560 when the Earl of Glencairn, a blood enemy of the Earls of Eglinton who held a long tradition with the Lodge, sacked the Abbey.
Little is known of the masons at this point but they still met at various locations including the Abbey in 1598, the house in the Crossbrae in the town centre in 1643 known as the "masons howf" (See 11 - Mercat Cross, 17th and 18th century buildings), and the court house of the Earl of Eglinton. In 1779, the masons decided to build a new Lodge, at the entrance gates of the Abbey. Unfortunately, 100 years later due to decay and fear of the building collapsing, it was demolished and a new Lodge was built 30 yards from the former site and remains there today. The present Lodge you see here was consecrated in 1893.
Before the forming of Grand Lodge in 1736, Mother Kilwinning was a Grand Lodge in her own right, issuing warrants and charters to Lodges wishing to enjoy the privileges of Freemasonry, and many Lodges still carry Kilwinning's name today. But it was felt undesirable to have two Grand Lodges in Scotland, so Mother Kilwinning gave up this right. Mother Kilwinning was placed second on the roll of the Grand Lodges, a position she strongly disagreed with, so withdrew from the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1743, but continued to issue charters as before.
This dispute lasted until 1807 when the Grand Lodge of Scotland and the Grand Lodge of Kilwinning met in Glasgow and settled their differences when a new and binding agreement was reached. Mother Kilwinning was placed at the Head of the Roll of the Grand Lodge of Scotland and now has the famous and distinctive Number '0'.
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