The Rituals of Freemasonry: Some of the various differing Rituals used in England
Because the Emulation Ritual was not officially put into print until 1969, many aspiring Masons needed assistance in various lodges throughout England and the overseas provinces, to learn and revise the ritual. Thus, many independent editions were printed over the years, some privately by individual lodges, others published because the particular working catered for a number of lodges in a particular area. This led to slight differences in ritual, and led to traditions in certain lodges who did the ritual their way. It may only be slight differences in wording, perambulation, or a certain part delivered by another Officer, but these differences make up a different working, a working that has, over time, become fiercely protected by the lodges that work it.
The West End Ritual appeared in published form in the 1880s, and the tiny ritual book which was passed to me looks very much like a hymn book; with beautiful gold edging on the leaves, each page bordered by red and bound in dark blue fine leather. There are slight differences in the wording to Taylor’s Ritual, published in 1908, and the Nigerian Ritual, which was published in 1939. The slight differences between these rituals appear to be altered wording in certain lines, an example can be seen in Taylor’s opening of the first degree, when the Junior Warden says:
‘Being armed with a drawn sword to keep off all cowans and intruders to Freemasonry…’
In the Nigerian Ritual, the Junior Warden says:
‘Being armed with a drawn sword to keep off all intruders and Cowans to Masonry…’
Another example of this slight deviation can be seen in the questions given to the candidate before the second degree ritual, the West End Ritual says:
‘Then I will entrust you with a test of merit, which consists of a P.G and P.W…’
In Taylor’s however, the wording is ever so slightly different:
‘Then I will entrust you with a test of merit, which is a P.G and P.W…’
The illustrations of the Tracing Boards also differ in the ritual books; they do not appear at all in the Nigerian Ritual book, the West End Ritual however has beautiful black and white fold out versions on glossy paper, and the Taylor’s Ritual book has almost rustic looking black and white etched versions.
The ‘Bottomley’ Ritual, which is use in a number of lodges in Liverpool and on the Wirral, emerged in the mid-late nineteenth century. The ritual differs slightly in every lodge that practices it, and the ritual uses more descriptive flourishes and has additional explanations to embellish the working. It refers candidly to ‘Antient Freemasonry’, especially in the first degree, and has an almost Victorian fancy to the ritual
The ‘Humber Use’ is a ritual used by a number of lodges in the Hull area of the north-east of England, is, like the York Working, considered an older version of the Craft ritual. It does have archaic elements reflected in certain phrases, and has some noted ‘quirks’ such as when the Junior Warden is asked by the Worshipful Master in the third degree opening ‘Whence come you?’, instead of answering from the East, the ‘Humber Use’ gives the answer of ‘The West’, the Junior Warden moving from the opposite direction to search for what is lost.
 M.M. T aylor’s Manual or Hand Book of Craft Freemasonry, (London: L.J. Taylor, 1908), p.10.
 C.M. Browne (Compiler), Nigerian Ritual, (London: Lewis, 1956), p.11.
 Ritual of Craft Freemasonry: London West End Working, (London: Printed for Private Circulation, Fifth Edition), p.41.
 Taylor’s, p.55.
 Llewellyn Kitchen, (ed.), A Ritual of Craft Masonry “Humber Use”, (Hull: Privately Published, 1988), p.55.
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