Masonry developed from lodges of operative or stone masons. The Masonry of today is distinguished from the stone masonry of old by being referred to as “Speculative” Masonry. Speculative or FREEmasonry does not work with stone but instead works on the lives of men. Its teachings take the imagery of carpentry and architecture and use that imagery to teach by symbols about building a good character.
The oldest Masonic document, the Regius poem, dates to around 1390 A.D. We know of no Masonry prior to that date. Somewhere between 1390 and 1717 lodges of operative masons began to accept as members men who did not work in the building trade. Eventually whole lodges composed of such persons arose, leading to a transition from lodges being composed of stone masons to lodges being composed of men from other occupations who gathered and shared a ritual replete with allusions to carpentry, architecture, and stone masonry.
In 1717, four of these lodges in England met and formed the first Grand Lodge. A Grand Lodge is a Masonic body having jurisdiction over the lodges within a certain geographical area. Each state has its own Grand Lodge. Also the District of Columbia has its own Grand Lodge.