The Open Door

A Look at Lodge Life

The Men and Women Behind the Movement


An Orange Democracy

The Independent Loyal Orange Institution was founded in 1903 because of concerns that the rank and file membership of the Order was being denied votes and a voice in the running of the Orange Order. It was believed that party politics were being prioritised and the principles sacrificed. Therefore a founding principle of the New Order was that every member would have the same rights and entitlements.

This remains true today as new members are encouraged to attend all meeting right up to the Imperial Grand Lodge. Every member matters and we encourage debate and discussion in our decision making.

The Institution is composed of Private Lodges. These Private Lodges send representatives to the District Lodge, which looks after the private lodges in a locality. District Lodges send representatives to County Grand Lodges who in turn make up the Imperial Grand Lodge- the most senior lodge in the Order.
The structure is completely democratic. Indeed private lodges have the right to send representatives to the Imperial Grand Lodge. Any member, in receipt of the Royal Arch Purple Degree (see degrees) also has the right to attend the Imperial Grand Lodge.

Each private lodge has a number of officers elected annually by the members.

They are as follows:
1) Worshipful Master/Mistress – This is the senior officer of the lodge. They act as chairman and conducts the business. ( Worshipful is an old word for “honourable”)
2) Deputy Master/Mistress– The assistant to the Worshipful Master and takes their place in the absence of the W.M.
3) Chaplain – conducts the devotional exercises of the lodge
4) Secretary – records the decisions of the lodge and deals with public and private correspondence. They also has a responsibility to make reports to senior lodges.
5) Treasurer – They look after the accounts and all money belonging to the lodge.
6) The Five (or more) Committee Men/ Women are elected to deal with detailed arrangements of any function and to deputise for any of the senior officers.
7) The Tylers are the doormen/ doorwomen of the Lodge. It is their job to ensure that only members are admitted.

The Imperial Grand Lodge oversees the entire Institution in Northern Ireland, England and Scotland. Indeed anywhere in the world where there is an Independent Orange Lodge, with lodges as far away as Australia and Argentina who are under the auspices of the Imperial Grand Lodge it is truely an International Body.

The work of the Institution is overseen by a series of committees which report to the Imperial Grand Lodge. These committees draw expertise from throughout the Institution.

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The Meaning of Membership

Our members are from all walks of life, and stretch across the globe. Men and women united by their faith and by their shared vision and values.


Our members are united by their Protestant faith which is the key defining feature of our Order. We aim to put our faith into action witnessing through our parades and public proclamation of the gospel. We commemorate the events which we believe secured our freedoms and fundamental human rights.


The Order exists to protect and promote our Protestant, British and Ulster culture and traditions of which Orangeism itself is a unique and vibrant feature. It is in essence our identity and heritage which we value and which has an important legacy locally and internationally.


Our Order is not a secret society, but a membership based movement which offers support, friendship and practical help to those who join. It encourages them in the practice of their faith and promotes civic duty and citizenship, as we commemorate the Glorious Revolution the basis of our Constitution.

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The Orange Lodge is the focus of our activities, providing a place for members to meet and organise events. Lodges are found across the country and local groups of lodges are overseen by a District Lodge. A number of District lodges are then governed by a County Grand Lodge which in turn is subordinate to our Imperial Grand Lodge the highest Lodge in the Order.

Membership allows everyone the right to attend, speak and vote in the Imperial Grand Lodge, meaning the Independent Loyal Orange Institution is the only truly democratic Order.

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Adding to the Colour and Culture are

Bands and Drums

Each lodge prides itself in being ‘led’ by a band or drumming party as it parades. Often the band was formed by the lodge and the two work closely together, or in other cases local bands are hired to lead the lodge. Many areas of North Antrim have a long Lambeg Drumming tradition and it is the sound of fife and drum which sets the pace for the parade.

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At the the Heart of the Community

Our Orange Halls

Across the country our lodges and bands run Orange Halls, which are community facilities providing a home not only for the Order but for a range of religious, cultural and heritage activities. They provide a venue for band practices and dances as well as classes and courses all helping to build stronger communities.

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The Origins and Ethos of Orangeism

The Independent Loyal Orange Institution was founded in 1903, as a result of a desire by Orangemen to return to first principles such as the defence of Protestantism. It forms part of a rich lineage of Orange Associations which stretches back to the landing of William Prince of Orange in England and the start of the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The modern ILOI can trace its origins to the first Orange Association fromed in Exeter Cathedral in 1688.

William had been invited to England, and despite his assurances that he was there to Preserve the Protestant Religion and Laws against the arbitrary rule of King James matters still hung in the balance. James remained king, he had an army set between William William and the capital and while thousands rallied to the Prince of Orange he had taken a monumental gamble.

It was suggested by Sir Edward Seymour, Speaker of the House of Commons that those who rallied to the Williamite cause should form an Association. A declaration was written by Bishop Gilbert Burnet and formed the basis for the first Orange Association, –

“We do hereby associate ourselves, to the utmost of our power, to support and defend our great deliverer, His Highness the Prince of Orange, in his present enterprise for the delivery of the English Church and nation from Popery and arbitrary power; for the maintenance of the Protestant religion, and the establishment of a Free Parliament, for the protection of His Highness’ person and the settlement of Law and Order on a lasting foundation in these Kingdoms. We further declare, that we are exclusively a Protestant Association, yet, detesting as we do any intolerant spirit, we solemnly pledge ourselves to each other, that we will not persecute any person on account of his religious opinions, provided the same be not hostile to the State; but that we will, on the contrary, be aiding and assisting to every Loyal subject, of every religious description, in protecting him from violence and oppression.”

In response the Prince said to his followers, –

“… since God is pleased that we shall make preservation and happiness, let us not neglect making use of human means, and not expect miracles for our use of this gracious opportunity; but with prudence and courage put in execution our honourable purposes. Therefore, Gentlemen, friends, and fellow Protestants, we bid you, and all your followers, most heartily welcome to our court and camp.”    

The Association was known as “The General Association of the Gentlemen of Devon, to his Highness the Prince of Orange” and became the model for successive Associations of those loyal to the Prince of Orange and supporters of the Glorious Revolution. In Ireland associations soon sprang up, often based in a county or area stretching from Bandon in the South to the Antrim Association in the North.

Today the basis for Orangeism is remarkably close to the sentiments first penned over 330 years ago. The Order still has many of the hall marks of those early Associations, from a military bearing to a system of passwords and emblems. The colours of orange and blue are still prominent and the ethos of loyalty and democracy prevail.

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Contact Us Today

If you have any questions about the Order, its history, or what we believe just speak to us today. We would love to have a chat and answer any questions you have. Give us an idea of what you would like to know and we can either contact you directly or respond by email.