"Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave: even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve."
THE LEGEND OF YORK
"This craft came into England, as I tell you, in the time of good king Athelstan's reign; he made then both hall, and also bower and lofty temples of great honor, to take his recreation in both day and night, and to worship his God with all his might. This good lord loved this craft full well, and purposed to strengthen it in every part on account of various defects that he had discovered in the craft. He sent about into all the land, after all the masons of the craft, to come straight to him, to amend all these defects by good counsel, if it might so happen, He then permitted an assembly to be made of divers lords in their ranks, dukes, earls, and barons, also knights, squires and many more, and the great burgesses of that city, they were all there in their degree; these were there, each one in every way to make laws for the state of these nations. There they sought by their wisdom bow they might govern it; there they found out fifteen articles, and there they made fifteen points." ---- Regius Manuscript, circa 1390.
The York Rite takes its name from the Ancient English city of York, around whose minster, or cathedral, cluster many Masonic traditions. Here, these traditions tell us, Athelstan, who reigned more than a thousand years ago and who was the first king of all England, granted the first charter to the Masonic guilds. Here, in 1705, a Grand Lodge was formed, to whose constitution the Grand Lodge in London later appealed as the true source of authentic Freemasonry. Though early disappearing from the Masonic scene, this Grand Lodge left an indelible impression upon the institution, and its name - York - will survive as long as Freemasonry continues.
The year 926 A.D. marks the beginning of the Order, working under an authoritative Charter. The Charter of York was drawn up long before the first English Parliament was held by Henry II in 1160 This document was adopted at the general assembly of the Craft held in ancient York under the patronage of King Athelstan, the first Saxon monarch to assume the title "King of England." King Athelstan prepared and submitted all documents and deeds, which had been saved from the fires of the Roman invaders. These were discussed and accepted by representatives of the Lodges and were fashioned into the Charter in 926 A.D.
Every Grand Lodge of today is a lineal descendant of the 926 York Assembly of Masons. Every copy of the Ancient Manuscript Constitutions reaffirms this end in 1717, when the first organized Speculative Grand Lodge came into existence; the terms of the York Charter were adopted and used as a basis for its Constitution and Declaration of Principles.