The Grand Lodge of the Royal Order of Scotland
Today, the Headquarters of the Royal Order of Scotland is in Edinburgh, as it has been for over 250 years. The Grand Lodge is unusual as it is one of the few Grand Lodges to admit new members itself, and is unique in the fact that it has no local lodges.
The Head of the Order and chairman of the Grand Lodge has the title of Deputy Grand Master and Governor. The honour is held today by Sir Archibald Donald Orr Ewing, Baronet. He presides over a network of 91 Provincial Grand Lodges around the world; five in Scotland and 33 in England, with the remaining spread across the rest of Europe, Canada, the US, Australasia, Africa, East Asia and the Caribbean.
Headquarters of the Order
The Governing body of the Royal Order of Scotland existed in London from at least 1741. Around 1750 Edinburgh became more dominant in its position and was established as the Grand Lodge when the Council of Knights laid out the first Regulations for the Order which consisted of 43 articles and changed the Edinburgh Chapter and its Inner Council into the present Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter of the Order at Edinburgh. It has remained in Edinburgh ever since.
The administrative office was re-located to St John Street, Edinburgh after the Royal Order agreed to take-over the premises in 1992 from Lodge Canongate KiIwinning when they faced increasing financial pressures. The Grand Lodge held meetings at its new premises as well as managing the Order from St John Street, it very much became home.
Attendance at Grand Lodge Meetings continued to grow and it became impractical to continue to hold its meetings within the Chapel of St John at 23 St John Street. The Grand Lodge now holds all its official meeting at Freemasons' Hall, Edinburgh, but its administrative office and headquarters is still located at St John Street.
The Chapel of St John
Freemasons the world over have considered the oldest purpose-built lodge room to be the Chapel of St John in St John Street, Edinburgh. There are, particularly in Scotland, older buildings which are used by Freemasons for their meetings but without exception they were erected for other purposes. The Chapel of St john is a Masonic lodge room that was built in 1735 to enable Lodge Canongate Kilwinning to hold its meetings there.