The Order of the Allied Masonic Degrees consists of five independent degrees unrelated to each other with the exception that they all contain a moral code of teaching.
A Council of the order of the Allied Masonic Degrees is opened and closed in a Lodge of St Lawrence the Martyr where all the business of the Council is conducted. The form of the Council is identical to that of the Craft Lodge with the Worshipful Master, Wardens, Deacons, Inner guard and Tyler.
St Lawrence the Martyr is the degree where all candidates must first be admitted into the Order. The story of this degree relates to the persecution of Christians in Rome around 258 AD by the Prefect of Rome and the execution of Lawrence who later was recognised as a Saint for his Martyrdom. It is known that this degree was principally practiced in Yorkshire and Lancashire over 150 years ago to distinguish genuine Operative Masons from the new fangled Speculative Mason who were joining Craft Lodges in increasing numbers. St Lawrence through his faith overcame the torment and pain the Prefect of Rome had inflicted. A Lodge of St Lawrence is always adjourned prior to any of the other Degrees or Orders being opened and is resumed after the closing of any of the Degrees or Orders being worked, to allow further Council business to be conducted and closing of the Council.
The other degrees can be taken in any order as they are, as stated, totally unrelated in their story line.
The Degree of Knights of Constantinople relates to Emperor Constantine the Great who reigned during the Fourth century AD and is what was referred to in the true sense as a side degree prior to the Allied being formed and could be conferred on a brother following a Craft Lodge meeting with a simple obligation and entrustment. It’s origins are thought to lie in that period of transition from Operative to Speculative Masonry. The meeting takes place in the Council Chamber arranged like a Craft Lodge with officers similar to that of a Craft Lodge, but in this case the Master is called Illustrious Potentate. The Brethren are referred to as Brother Knights. This degree shows that by sharing of responsibilities and the acceptance of man for what he is, we can and will open our hearts to a greater understanding of our self.
The Degree of Grand Tilers of Solomon or Masons Elect of Twenty Seven is said to have originated in France and then taken to the USA and thereafter established here in England. The story relates to the building of the Temple and is the only degree in this Order that directly connects with Craft Masonry. The meeting takes place in a Lodge which represents a vaulted chamber. The officers are the three Grand Masters, King Solomon, King Hiram and Hiram Abif with other officers similar to the Craft, which are Senior and Junior Deacon. There is on this occasion no Inner Guard or Tyler. The story of this degree reminds us that we need a Tyler or Sentinel at our every thought, word or deed to keep us on the right path.
The Degree of Red Cross of Babylon is the most profoundly mystical of all the Allied Degrees. It is said that it is one of those ancient degrees from which the Royal Arch was formed. The degree is set in two distinctive parts. The tragedy at the building of King Solomon’s Temple described in the third degree of the Craft inspires a connection with the building of the second Temple. In each part of the ceremony the scene is set partly in Babylon and partly in Jerusalem. The Council is opened in the Throne room of a Persian Court at Babylon by the Thrice Illustrious Sovereign. The scene changes and the ceremony is then conducted in a Royal Arch Council at Jerusalem by the Reverend Prelate (or 1st Principal). The candidate in this ceremony represents Zerubbabel. The ceremony is conducted at Babylon when Zerubbabel procures the help of King Darius in his enterprise is the main story line of this degree.
The Holy Order of Grand High Priest has preserved its title from the time when it was taken under the control of the Grand Council and is therefore not known as a Degree but an Order. Again this Order is closely associated with Royal Arch Masonry and carries us to a high realm of Masonic thought. The ceremony is carried out in a Tabernacle in the form of a Chapter layout and with the principle office being occupied by the Most Excellent President. The ceremony is in two parts when the Companion, who is admitted, is left in no doubt that he is set apart for high duties and responsibilities in life, both as a Mason and as a man to dedicate himself to the service of the Most High God.