Following months of meticulous planning, 6th July 2019 was an early start for many Cheshire members in anticipation of the first procession through the streets of Chester in regalia for many years. The reason – to celebrate 150 years of Royal Arch Freemasonry in Cheshire

The Provincial Grand Superintendent, Stephen Blank, led a procession of distinguished guests, partners, family, friends, uniformed organisations and well-wishers through the streets of Chester from the Town Hall to Chester famous 13th century Cathedral. More than 800 attendees sat together to recognise and celebrate the Province of Cheshire’s’ Royal Arch sesquicentenary. Remarkably, it was noted that the Town Hall at the heart of the City was also 150 years old this year, so it seems 1869 was a busy year for Chester all round.

Guests attending the event included the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire David Briggs, The Lord Mayor of Chester Mark Williams (himself a member of Cheshire Craft and Royal Arch) and from their own Supreme Grand Chapter they were delighted to welcome their Second Grand Principal, Russell Race, alongside their own Provincial VIP’s, including Deputy Provincial Grand Master David Dyson and Deputy Grand Superintendent for the Royal Arch in Cheshire J. Robert Bramley.

The service was informed, interesting, light hearted in parts and poignant in others – the preparation and execution was fabulous and congratulations were made to all those who had worked so hard to organise the celebratory event.

At the end of the service a small contingent visited the Chapel of St Erasmus to unveil a plaque detailing the work funded by Cheshire Freemasons to support the restoration of the famous mosaics originally produced by the prodigious railwayman Thomas Brassey – sadly water damaged over previous years, it will take an investment of almost £35,000 to secure these valuable works for future years, which Cheshire Freemasons have agreed to fund entirely.

Following the service, photos were taken of the brand new minibus provided by Cheshire Freemasons to local Scouts as well as an opportunity to meet the rider of the newly funded Blood Bike and his motorcycle proudly branded with the Square and Compasses.

Following a sumptuous lunch, it was announced that for the celebration of 150 years of the Royal Arch in Cheshire, Companions of the Province had committed a total in excess of £150,000 in order to support projects for the communities of Cheshire and beyond.

Later this year, on 26th October 2019, the Provincial Grand Chapter of Cheshire is 150 years old and will be celebrated at that time with the consecration of a brand new Royal Arch Chapter at Hulme Hall in Port Sunlight – the village created by none other than William Hesketh Lever, the First Viscount Leverhulme and himself a prominent Cheshire Freemason. 2019 will certainly be a year to remember and so far the celebrations are being thoroughly enjoyed by all concerned.

David Wallington found the perfect way to celebrate his 50 years as a Bristol Freemason – he went back in the Chair of his Mother lodge, St Katharine Lodge No 7051

It was a unique event, as there to propose his toast was Graham Russell who initiated him in April 1969. Their links go far deeper for 33 years later Graham was again Master and in his final ceremony installed David as his successor, going on to serve him for two years as Immediate Past Master (IPM).

For Graham it was the start of his 63 years as a member of St Katharine though he was not the most senior member there, that honour went to John Davis, Master in 1967 and 1997 and now an Honorary member. These three stalwarts claim a combined membership of 177 years since the lodge was consecrated in 1951.

Notes for the guidance of all lodges include a recommendation that every Director of Ceremonies should hold the Office for a number of years. David was there at St Katharine for 17 years; a friendly but firm figure who matched enjoyment with great dignity and impeccable performance.

David has been active in other degrees, rising to Third Provincial Grand Principal in the Royal Arch and subsequently being awarded Chapter Grand rank. In his 50 years there is only one year he has not held an active rank in the Craft.

In St Katharine, on his way to the Master’s Chair, he filled every Office including six years as Steward which was par for the course in his early years. Much to his regret it was the one Office he had to leave unfilled at his Installation.

When he came into the lodge there were seven Stewards, with six subsequently going through the Chair. This is the fourth time he has been installed, first in 1985, then 2003 and 2004, with the final two with the same IPM.

‘I intend to enjoy this very special year’, David promises, ‘but with the one regret that I won’t be able to make as many visits as I used to.’ He has already one memento to look back on for someone found a copy of the summons he received on the evening he was initiated. It was presented to him on his first meeting back as Master.

Members of Dorset were entertained to a short playlet which has been performed over 200 times across 40 Provinces

‘Talking Heads’ portrays an encounter between two lodge members – one, an experienced Past Master (and a Royal Arch Companion) and the other, a Master Mason curious to know more. Jeffrey Chitty, Master of Loyal Manor Lodge, hosted a Metropolitan Grand Chapter lecture team who delivered a presentation that had originally been intended for new Master Masons. The playlet introduces the Holy Royal Arch (or Chapter) to Craft Masons wanting to know more about the Royal Arch, as well as reminding those who had been members or for whom Chapter did not 'click'.

The presentation highlights the path along a member's masonic journey from 'Initiation to Exaltation'.  It covers the history of the Order, explanations of the regalia, links to the Craft and why the Royal Arch is considered the climax and completion of pure Ancient Freemasonry. A member's time commitment and financial aspects in being a member is explained, as well as how to discover more and – importantly - how to find a Chapter to join.

The playlet starts with an encounter, at a Craft meeting, in the ante room just outside the lodge room. Two members open their cases and are preparing for the meeting. The presentation lasts about 35 minutes and covers questions ranging from idle curiosity - 'Why is the Royal Arch a separate Order?' to more personal speculations, such as 'What is the Master Mason in the 21st century missing by not being a member of the Royal Arch?'.

Chris Bond, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Dorset, was impressed with the professional and clear manner in which the Metropolitan Grand Chapter team presented the educational initiative.

Royal Arch Freemasonry in Dorset was well represented by a number of Chapter Officers including Mike Worne, Deputy Provincial Grand Superintendent, and Julian Mitchell, 2nd Provincial Grand Principal. Among the many visitors was Chris Hare, the first undergraduate to be initiated in Dorset through the UGLE Universities Scheme.

The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) welcomed members from across the globe to join the Grand Master, HRH the Duke of Kent, and Pro Grand Master, Peter Lowndes, for this year’s Craft and Royal Arch Annual Investitures at Freemasons' Hall

Investiture week saw the District Support Team of Lister Park and Louise Watts taking the opportunity to organise a number of District-centric events. On 24th April 2019, new District Grand Masters and Provincial Grand Masters were given a guided tour of Freemasons’ Hall, followed by a presentation and luncheon with the Chief Operating Officer of the Masonic Charitable Foundation, Les Hutchinson, and Senior Grant Officers.

A Workshop for District Grand Secretaries filled the afternoon before the day was concluded by a Fellowship Gathering for all District members, with their wives and significant others, in the Vestibules area outside the Grand Temple. It was a relaxed and informal evening hosted by Dr Jim Daniel, UGLE’s Past Grand Secretary, who gave a short and amusing welcome speech, alongside Willie Shackell CBE, another Past Grand Secretary, the Rt Hon Lord Wigram, Past Senior Grand Warden, and Bruce Clitherow, Past Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies.

Following the Royal Arch festivities on 25th April 2019, District Grand Masters and their guests were then invited to join the Grand Secretary, Dr David Staples, for a relaxed drinks evening.

As a result of an organisational restructure at UGLE in January 2019, the department for Member Services, under the Directorship of Prity Lad, has a renewed focus on attracting new members and engaging with its existing membership.

Comprised of three key functions, the Registration Department, District Support and External Relations, they are committed to a common goal of making UGLE an organisation that is fit for purpose and an efficient headquarters for its members.

Prity Lad, UGLE’s Director of Member Services, said: ‘Being our first opportunity this year to welcome and entertain our District guests, these events were hugely important to us. It is our commitment to work in partnership with the Districts more closely than ever by creating a function of expertise, training and events and to support and raise the profile of the charitable work which our Districts are engaged in.

‘It was a huge honour for me to meet with many of those who attended and I look forward to working together over the next coming months. I would also like to give grateful thanks to Jim, Willie, Lord Wigram and Bruce for supporting this inaugural event, which we intend to be the first of many.’

Published in UGLE

Annual Investiture of Supreme Grand Chapter

25 April 2019 
An address by the ME First Grand Principal HRH The Duke of Kent

Companions. It is an enormous pleasure to be with you today. May I first offer my congratulations to all of those whom I have invested today. Grand Rank in the Holy Royal Arch is an achievement to be proud of, and serves not only to recognise your contributions to our order, but also as an inducement to your future efforts in explaining and representing the Royal Arch to our brethren in the Craft and beyond. It is not only a senior position within the order, but also a public position and one which should only be held by those Companions who publicly exemplify our principles, enjoy their Freemasonry, and go out of their way to welcome and support others in their masonic journeys.

This year I have invested new Companions into one of the most senior roles within our order – President of the Committee of General Purposes, and also one of our most visible roles – that of the Grand Director of Ceremonies. It is only right and proper that I pause to again pay tribute to those companions who have held these offices before them, in both cases for more than a decade.

So, to companions Malcolm Aish and Oliver Lodge, on behalf of all the Companions here present, I thank you for your leadership, patience, wise counsel, stewardship and good humour. You will be missed and we wish your successors good fortune for the future. They both have quite a task ahead of them, defining the Royal Arch for a younger generation of Masons, ensuring that it is both relevant and enjoyable, but I have no doubt that they will find no shortage of volunteers to help them in that task from amongst those other Companions that I have invested today.

One aspect that I am sure they will want to emphasise is that no Mason should be joining other orders without first completing their journey in Pure Antient Masonry by becoming a member of the Holy Royal Arch.

Companions, events like this do not just happen and I would like, on your behalf, to congratulate the new Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for once again arranging such an impressive ceremony and the Grand Scribe Ezra and his team for ensuring all the other arrangements have gone so smoothly.   

Companions, I congratulate you all on your preferment and wish you peace, happiness and good will in the next stage of your masonic journeys.

Published in Speeches

Local charities gathered at Freemasons’ Hall in Leicester on 6th April 2019 to tell their story and receive generous donations from lodges, chapters and the Leicestershire & Rutland Masonic Charity Association

The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire & Rutland David Hagger opened proceedings by welcoming everyone and introducing the assembled charities to the work of the Leicestershire & Rutland Masonic Charity Association in the community.   

The first guest to be introduced was the Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Michael Kapur OBE, who was not only present to receive £1,000 for his Charity Award for Young People, but to also assist in presenting donations to other well deserving organisations. Michael said: ‘This award scheme helps to shine a light on our brave young people in Leicestershire.’

The Hinckley based SNIPS (Special Needs Integration Project) received £2,000 to aid their mission of providing Saturday sessions, Summer play schemes and residential breaks for children with special needs. Phil Hall of SNIPS said: ‘This donation will go towards supporting the children and help us achieve our funding targets.’

Holmes Lodge No. 4656 from Leicester donated £3,000, split between Wishes 4Kids, Jakin Pregnancy Care and Counselling and Alex’s Wishes. 

The Rainbows Hospice for Children & Young People were represented by Gary Farnfield and Dee Sissons to receive a donation of £8,318. Gary said: ‘We would like to say a huge thank you to the Freemasons’ for their continued support of Rainbows.’

Noel Manby, the Grand Superintendent of the Leicestershire & Rutland Royal Arch Freemasons, was on hand to present £3,700 to local charities including Bloodwise, Hope Against Cancer, Mesothelioma UK, and Shopmobility Melton Mowbray. 

To round off the event, David Hagger said: ‘Freemasons are proud to support you, the workers and volunteers who give up your time to help those in need within our local community.’

Lodges and chapters in Dorset have come together in an effort to support Budmouth College with a potentially life-saving donation in the form of defibrillator equipment

Together with the Craft and Royal Arch Provinces of Dorset, Rose Croix, Mark and Royal Ark Mariners, local lodges and chapters have donated more than £2,000 of defibrillator equipment to the school in Weymouth, Dorset. The defibrillator was installed at the entrance to the secondary school building and is available for use by the public.

Graham Glazier, Provincial Grand Master of Dorset, said: 'As Freemasons we believe in playing a key role in our communities and give time and money to charitable ventures. It’s an honour to be able to supply this machine to the school.'

A defibrillator gives a high energy electric shock to the heart through the chest wall to someone who is in cardiac arrest. It's an essential lifesaving step in the chain of survival.

This defibrillator is the latest in a succession of similar donations by Dorset Freemasons who have placed public access defibrillators on all 17 masonic buildings across Dorset. The cost of the Defibrillator was £2,398.80 with donations from a number of lodges and chapters in the local area as well as contributions from the Provincial Grand Master's Discretionary Fund.

Alongside the Province of Dorset, the lodges and chapters who donated were Portland Rose Croix, All Souls Lodge No. 170, Dorset District Rose Croix, Quintus Lodge No. 8118, All Souls Mark Lodge No. 126, Portland Royal Arch Mariners No.133 and Portland Lodge No. 1037.

Kinson Chapter No. 5331 in Dorset have made a £700 Donation to support a local homeless charity

Based in Bournemouth, Hope Housing Training and Support is a charity for single homeless individuals aged between 18 to 65. Last year, 150 people were encouraged to move forward into independent living through addressing their needs, which included substance misuse, crime, poverty, mental health and unemployment.

Members of Kinson Chapter presented a cheque for £700 to Garth Underhill, Hope Trustee, who promised this would help to improve people’s lives.

60 vulnerable people are housed by the charity, whilst trained counselling and support workers help to overcome personal issues faced.

Hope believes in the right of the individual to be treated with respect and due regard at all times, adhering to a comprehensive Equal Opportunities ethos. They aim to offer the highest possible quality of service which reflects the diversity of each individual needs.

Granite Chapter No. 2028, in the Province of Leicestershire & Rutland, was honoured to receive many distinguished guests at the installation of Daniel Hayward as MEZ for the ensuing year on 18th March 2019

The Chapter at first was pleased to receive the Grand Superintendent Noel Manby together with his Provincial team. With Daniel being a member of the committee of the Universities Scheme, he was also pleased to have present at his installation the Past Third Grand Principal, and UGLE’s Assistant Grand Master, Sir David Wootton, as President of the scheme, and also the Chairman Mark Greenburgh.

The Holmes Lodge room at Freemasons' Hall in Leicester was in full splendour with the Royal Arch banners ready for the evening. All were treated to a superb installation ceremony as Don Salt handed over the running of the chapter to Daniel and his new team. 

The warrant was expertly presented by the Grand Superintendent before everyone retired to enjoy the festive board, where Noel presented the Past Third Grand Principal with a bottle of Burleigh’s Tigers Gin, sporting the full colours of the Leicester Tigers.

Noel Manby said: ‘What a great occasion to have nearly 80 Companions present, a truly magnificent sight of all in their striking Royal Arch regalia.’

With their own distinctive terminology, structures and practices, each masonic Order is different from the others. Here Brian Price breaks down the origins, requirements and organisation of Royal and Select Masters.

When was it constituted? 

The Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of England and Wales and its Districts and Councils Overseas was constituted on 29 July 1873 by four councils chartered two years earlier by the Grand Council of New York. They organised themselves into a sovereign body under the patronage of Canon Portal, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, who was installed as the Grand Master of the Order. After World War II, the Order grew rapidly and there are now over 250 councils and nearly 5,000 members.

Where is it based?

The original councils met in Red Lion Square in London, but moved to Great Queen Street (to today’s Connaught Rooms). The Order is now administered from Mark Masons’ Hall at 86 St James’s Street, London.

Who can join the Order?

It welcomes Master Masons in good standing who are also Companions of the Royal Arch, and Mark Master Masons. Members are called Companions.

What is the emblem of the Order?

It is a stylised depiction of the Ark of the Covenant surrounded by a triangle and the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Beneath is a scroll bearing the motto ‘Ego Alpha et Omega Sum’ - meaning ‘I am alpha and omega’.

What is the relationship between the Craft and Royal and Select Masters?

Although UGLE’s position is that ‘pure Ancient Masonry consists of three degrees and no more’, during an address in 2007 the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, acknowledged the existence of many masonic Orders and accepted their sovereignty. He included Royal and Select Masters as one of those which had a role in providing Freemasons with additional scope for extending their research in interesting and enjoyable ways.

Is the country divided into Provinces in the same way as the Craft?

Yes, although in this Order they are called Districts. Each is headed by a District Grand Master and a team of District Grand Officers. And individual units are referred to as councils rather than lodges.

Does the Order have distinctive regalia?

It has crimson and gold regalia with a triangular apron. The Grand Officers collar and apron bear the emblem of the Order of the Silver Trowel. The Order also features some distinctive jewels.

Who runs it?

The Order is controlled by a Grand Council headed by the Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master and a Principal Conductor of the Work. The current Grand Master is Most Illustrious Companion Kessick Jones.

Isn’t it sometimes called the ‘Cryptic Order’?

The four core degrees (with ceremonies based on the Old Testament Solomonic legends) are Select Master, Royal Master, Most Excellent Master and Super Excellent Master. They are sometimes referred to as the ‘Cryptic Degrees’, and the Order as ‘Cryptic’, as the traditional history of the Degree of Select Master references the underground ‘crypt’ of King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, which also features in Royal Arch and other masonic ceremonies.

I have a friend who’s a member overseas. Is he allowed to visit here?

So long as he’s taken the four core degrees of the Order in a recognised jurisdiction – subject to invitation, of course. However, in many jurisdictions, the degree of Most Excellent Master is not a ‘Cryptic Degree’ but part of the Royal Arch.

Published in More News
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