Celebrating 300 years

Pro First Grand Principal's address - April 2010

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Royal Arch Investiture 
29 April 2010 
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes 

Companions, firstly I congratulate all those of you that I have had the pleasure to appoint to or promote in Grand Rank this morning. It is important for you all to understand that the Royal Arch is both the completion and the climax of pure Antient Masonry. In our constitution there is an indissoluble link between the Craft and the Royal Arch making the Royal Arch not just a graceful adjunct to the Craft but a vital part of pure Antient Masonry. This theme will be the common thread through my speech.

As in the Craft, Grand Rank is a rare accolade – not given liberally – and with that Grand Rank comes the responsibility to explain and promote the Order – with the aim of recruiting and retaining members.

I have also had the especial pleasure, on behalf of the First Grand Principal, of installing Most Excellent Companion David Williamson as Third Grand Principal. He is already well known to you and respected in the Royal Arch and he has frequently carried out Royal Arch duties in his previous capacity of Past Third Grand Principal. On your behalf I congratulate him and wish him every success in this important role. At the same time I wish recorded our heartfelt thanks to the Past Third Grand Principal, the Very Reverend Neil Collings, for his enormous contribution to the Order for which he will never be forgotten.

Companions, it has been too long since we last had a Royal Arch celebration and I am delighted to announce the decision that we will celebrate the Bi-Centenary of the Declaration of the Royal Arch as the completion of pure Antient Masonry in 2013. In the 18th century the Premier Grand Lodge and the Antients Grand Lodge developed differing attitudes to the Royal Arch. The Premier Grand Lodge would only accept it as an order completely separate from the Craft. The Antients Grand Lodge readily embraced it and worked it within their Lodges. This divergence of opinion was settled in 1813 – two years before the Battle of Waterloo and I am delighted to say with no bloodshed – with the of the two Grand Lodges.

The Articles of between the two, forming the Craft and Royal Arch into pure Antient Masonry, defining it as consisting of ‘...three degrees and no more, that is to say, those of Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch’. For your added interest the  between the original Grand Chapter and the Royal Arch members of the former Antients Grand Lodge was initially known as the United Grand Chapter, with the name changed to Supreme Grand Chapter in 1820.

With the understanding that, although the in 1813 is also very significant to the Craft, the major Craft celebrations will be in 2017 to celebrate three hundred years since the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717.

The Royal Arch celebrations in 2013 will take the form of a Special Convocation here in the Grand Temple followed by a commemorative dinner. The 2013 Royal Arch Committee is being chaired by the Second Grand Principal and the Executive Committee for the event is being run by Grand Scribe Ezra. Grand Superintendents will be briefed in detail by Grand Scribe Ezra who, in turn, will promulgate the information accordingly.

This will be a most important event in the history of the Royal Arch. To further recognise the event it has been decided that a collection be made for a donation to the Royal College of Surgeons, to be used specifically for Royal Arch bursaries. Again, the detail of this will be communicated by your Grand Superintendent.

An approved Royal Arch tie has been produced and is on sale as from today.

I am wearing one now. As another example of the indissoluble link between the Craft and the Royal Arch, the Grand Master announced yesterday, in his speech at the annual Craft Investiture, that the Royal Arch tie can be worn in Craft Lodges.

Grand Scribe Ezra will be issuing guidelines on the wearing of the tie within both Grand Chapter and Chapter meetings.

Finally, I wish to thank the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies for the excellent way the ceremony has been conducted and Grand Scribe Ezra and the large number of people in this building who have been involved in the detailed planning and organisation of this important meeting.

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