The Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of England and Wales and its Districts and Councils Overseas was formally constituted on 29 July 1873 by four Councils chartered just two years earlier by the Grand Council of New York.
They organised themselves into a Sovereign body under the Patronage of the Rev. Canon G.R. Portal, a Past Grand Master of Mark Master Masons, who was Installed as the Grand Master of the Order. By the turn of the century there were twenty seven Councils and a similar number Consecrated by the end of the second world war. The Order then grew rapidly with the number on the Roll at the end of 2013 being over 250 Councils.
The Degrees in the Order - four in total - are often referred to as the 'Cryptic Degrees', and the Order sometimes as 'Cryptic'. The ceremonies complete the Solomonic legend as they prove the essential link between the Degrees of Mark Mason, the Raising in Craft, and The Royal Arch.