The Ancient Order of DruidsADDPMP628
The earliest known druidic order in the world (and the oldest in continuous existence), based upon the iconography of the ancient druids and represented in England, Wales, Scotland and the Commonwealth of Nations. Its motto is Justice, Philanthropy and Brotherly Love. Famous members included Sir Winston Churchill, UK Prime Minister and statesman (1874–1965).
The Ancient Order of Druids (AOD) was founded on November 28, 1781, in the King’s Arms tavern in London, England by a group of friends. By 1785, the AOD had six lodges in London, with a further one located in Ipswich, and by 1791 there was a string of them across southern England. By 1831 this had risen to 193 lodges, and the Order’s membership itself had risen to over 200,000. However, discontent was rising in the Order. Ever since its inception, its members had come from a variety of different social backgrounds, and many of the poorer members, particularly in the newly-industrial towns in the English Midlands, wanted it to act more like the benefit clubs and friendly societies, which collected membership fees into a central fund that they used to care for members who were too ill to work, or unable to pay for their funerals. In 1833, about half of the AOD, numbering over a hundred lodges, split from the Grand Lodge in protest and formed the United Ancient Order of Druids. This event has subsequently become known as “the Great Secession” amongst members of the Order.
After World War I, the relations between the AOD and the UAOD abated. After World War II, a welfare state was established in the United Kingdom, the consequences of which were that fraternal societies were no longer attractive and they faded. If the UAOD and the OD have completely disappeared in the 1990s, the Ancient Order of Druids has remained as a philanthropic and charitable society.