25 APRIL 2013
AN ADDRESS BY THE ME First Grand Principal HRH The Duke of Kent, KG
I congratulate all of you who have been invested today with Grand Rank. This accolade is not awarded solely for what you have achieved in Royal Arch Masonry, but it also looks ahead to the potential of your future contribution. That contribution should include helping to look after the smooth running of your Chapters and the happiness of your fellow members.
Recruitment into the Order is a further important task for you. However, it takes sound judgement to know when a member of the Craft is ready to complete his pure ancient Masonry. As you will appreciate, this judgement applies most particularly to the Royal Arch Representative in Craft Lodges.
As we look forward to celebrating the Bicentenary in October this year, I am pleased that the Royal Arch Masons 2013 Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons has already passed the £1.3 million mark. This is a commendable effort and I thank those who have contributed so generously to this worthwhile appeal. For members who are intending to donate, I am informed that the Appeal will continue until the end of 2013.
Finally Companions, I am sure you will want me to thank the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies for the skill with which the ceremony has been conducted and the Grand Scribe E and his staff for all their work in ensuring today’s success for all of us.
A matter of patients
As the Royal Arch marks its two-hundredth anniversary in 2013, Sophie Radice looks at how members and the chapters have been supporting the Royal College of Surgeons in groundbreaking medical research
At the Blizard Institute of Cell and Molecular Science in London, William Dawes is trying to find out how to lessen the damage done to premature newborn babies who have suffered a stroke. Part of the surgical research fellowships scheme run by the Royal College of Surgeons, Dawes is just one of the medical pioneers in the UK whose work has been funded by Freemasons.
From investigating how to prevent acute kidney injury during major heart surgery through to exploring how to decrease mortality rates following traumatic brain injury, the fellowships scheme will be benefitting from financial support given by the Royal Arch Masons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal. The fundraising exercise aims to provide a permanent reminder of the Supreme Grand Chapter’s full emergence two hundred years ago by its future relationship with the Royal College of Surgeons.
‘Schemes such as the surgical research fellowship are invaluable for surgeons,’ says Dawes, who is also being supported by Sparks, the children’s medical charity. ‘The research we have been funded for will look at ways of lessening the damage done to the brains of premature newborns who have bleeding into the ventricles of the brain. Our focus is a collection of tiny, fragile blood vessels in the germinal matrix, which is the area of brain adjacent to the wall of the ventricles. These blood vessels are vulnerable to fluctuations in blood flow, which can cause them to rupture and bleed. The younger and smaller the baby, the higher the risk. Our research will look at ways of making the cells that survive the bleed perform better so that the damage will be minimised.’
Providing crucial support
Dawes trained in Leeds and then Liverpool before moving to London, and is now at the Blizard Institute, Barts and the London School of Medicine doing a PhD. ‘I knew very little about Freemasons until I discovered how much money they give to surgical research. I have since given presentations to chapters and have found the Freemasons I’ve met to be so supportive. It has been a real pleasure to speak to them about what we are trying to do – we are extremely grateful for their generosity,’ he says.
The Royal College of Surgeons launched the surgical research fellowships scheme to enable the brightest and best surgeons of each generation to explore treatments for conditions and injuries that affect millions of people worldwide. The scheme relies completely on voluntary donations from individuals, trusts and legacies, and needs more funding to continue the number of worthy research projects supported.
George Francis, Second Grand Principal of the Royal Arch Masons and Chairman of the appeal, explains: ‘In 1966, the Eleventh Earl of Scarbrough, as Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, launched an appeal to mark the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Grand Lodge in 1717. The income from the appeal was given to the Royal College of Surgeons. We are so proud of our contribution to surgical research that it seemed natural that our 2013 Bicentenary Appeal should go into funding more research. We hope to raise well over £1,000,000.’
Professor Derek Alderson, Chairman of the Academic and Research Board at the Royal College of Surgeons, adds: ‘We feel it important that donors should understand exactly what is being done with their money, so in the past twelve months research fellows, supported by officers of the College, have made more than forty presentations to a variety of masonic bodies. We never have any problems finding young surgeons to talk about their research, but I suspect that this says more about masonic hospitality than anything else.’
Like William Dawes, Nishith Patel and Angelos Kolias have made presentations to chapters throughout the UK to discuss their vital research work
Bodies of work
Research Title: Acute kidney injury following heart surgery
Location: Bristol Heart Institute, Bristol Royal Infirmary
‘I first heard about the fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons and I jumped at the chance to apply. It is very competitive, with a four-part application process, because so many surgeons want the chance to kick-start vital research in their surgical area.
‘We are looking at the way two different methods can prevent acute kidney injury during major heart surgery. The first method is a drug trial and the second is to put the blood through an automated washer during surgery to prevent organ injury. We looked at the blood used in blood transfusions and found that some of it had gone off because it had been stored too long. Putting blood through an automated washer to remove toxins could be very useful for all those who need blood transfusions and so that has become part of our research too.
‘I was surprised that the Freemasons funded these fellowships because I knew very little about them.
I have since given presentations to small groups of Freemasons and found that they not only asked very detailed and intelligent questions but that they also seem to really appreciate and understand our work when we explain it to them.
I have found the Freemasons to be very decent and down-to-earth people who are open to hearing complex medical explanations, which is very refreshing. I so appreciate the opportunity they have given me.’
Research Title: Traumatic brain injury: the role of veins
Location: Addenbrooke’s Hospital and University of Cambridge
‘I heard about the fellowship from my supervisor, Peter Hutchinson, who was himself supported by a Freemasons fellowship during his PhD.
Peter is now a reader and honorary consultant in neurosurgery at the University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
‘Head injuries still claim the highest toll in terms of lost lives and disability for those under the age of forty. The aim of my research project is to examine whether blockage of the large veins inside the head is contributing to the brain swelling after head injuries. Research in patients suffering from another condition that leads to high pressure inside the head has shown that quite a few of these patients have blockage of the veins. A novel way of dealing with this problem is the insertion of a stent, which is an artificial tube, inside the blocked vein. As a result of this, the pressure inside the head is reduced and the patient gets better. This treatment was developed in Cambridge about ten years ago.
‘Essentially, my research project aims to find out whether a similar mechanism applies to patients with severe head injuries. So far we have some promising results showing that about one-third of those who have a severe head injury and skull fracture develop blockage of the veins. Without the help of the Freemasons, we would not have been able to undertake this kind of research – we are very grateful for all their help and support.’
‘Without the help of the Freemasons, we would not have been able to undertake this kind of research’ Angelos Kolias
Letters to the editor - No. 22 Summer 2013
Charity for all
Sir, I read with satisfaction the article ‘A Matter of Patients’ in Freemasonry Today, spring 2013. Satisfaction because it reminded me that thanks to the focus of both the Royal Arch and UGLE on the medical profession in general as recipients of our charitable giving, we have recently attracted two initiates (both GPs) who said they had previously had no idea of
With the spread of the Royal Arch across the world creating different rituals in each of the countries it has touched, John Hamill explains why international relations can be complex
In the news section of this issue there is a short piece on the change of Grand Chancellor in the Craft. That office has now been in place for just over five years and the question has been asked why, unlike the other ‘executive’ offices in the Craft, there is no equivalent of the Grand Chancellor in the Royal Arch? The simple answer is that, from a combination of historical reasons and the close administrative links between the Craft and Royal Arch in England, there is little in the Royal Arch for a Grand Chancellor to do.
There is no doubt among historians of the Royal Arch that it originated within the British Isles. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it quickly followed the spread of the Craft into what were then the Colonies and became firmly established in North America, the West Indies and Caribbean, India, Africa, the Far East and Australasia, in all of which it is still practised today.
After the Second World War, England was asked by various European Grand Lodges to assist in establishing the Royal Arch
The Royal Arch, however, never took hold in mainland Europe until the second half of the twentieth century. Apart from a short-lived Grand Chapter in France in the early nineteenth century, there is no evidence for any Grand Chapter being formed in Europe before the one attached to the National Grand Lodge of France in the 1930s.
Scandinavian countries that have the Swedish Rite do not work any of the degrees we have ‘beyond the Craft’, yet the degrees above the first three in the Swedish Rite are regarded as being equivalent to, but different from, our Royal Arch, Knights Templar and Ancient and Accepted Rite degrees. In other European countries and in Central and South America, the Ancient and Accepted (Scottish) Rite and the Rectified Scottish Rite were the preferred steps after the Craft.
Expansion in Europe
After the Second World War, England was asked by various European Grand Lodges to assist in establishing the Royal Arch, leading to the erection of Grand Chapters in Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Hungary and Estonia. That process continues today with English Chapters meeting by dispensation in Bulgaria, Russia and Macedonia. There are also Grand Chapters in Austria, Germany, Italy and Slovenia set up under the American Royal Arch system.
There is an added complication in that not all Grand Chapters work the same ritual. Some have preliminary degrees that are taken between the Craft and the Royal Arch. The closest rituals to the English traditions are the Grand Chapter of Scotland and those in Canada and Australasia – the majority of whose founding Chapters originally worked under either England or Scotland. Scotland works the same Royal Arch ritual as England but requires candidates to take the Mark Degree and the Excellent Mason before they can be exalted into the Royal Arch.
The English and Scottish ritual explains to the candidate how certain major discoveries were made when the Children of Israel returned to Jerusalem from their Babylonish captivity and were clearing the ground for the rebuilding of Solomon’s temple under Zerubbabel. The principal officers of English and Scottish Chapters are Zerubbabel the Prince, Haggai the Prophet and Joshua the High Priest.
While the import of the ceremony is the same in Ireland and the US, the discoveries were made at a different time, when the second temple at Jerusalem was being built under King Josiah. Their principal officers are King Josiah, Hilkiah the High Priest and Shaphan the Scribe, although in the US – the Great Republic – the High Priest is the senior of the three. As in Scotland, Irish and American Chapters include the Mark Degree and the Ceremony of Passing the Veils as preliminaries to entry into the Royal Arch.
Add to these differences the unique relationship between the Craft and Royal Arch in England – the bicentenary of which we will be celebrating next year – and you will begin to understand how complex international relations are within the Royal Arch. In all other constitutions the Craft and Royal Arch are entirely separate. The closest is Ireland, where the Grand Secretary is always the Grand Registrar of the Grand Chapter (the equivalent of our Grand Scribe E) and Chapters bear the number and, in very many cases, the name of the lodges to which they are attached.
Royal Arch acceptance
When, in 1813, the indissoluble link was forged by the acceptance of the Royal Arch as an integral part of pure ancient masonry, a number of links were put in place to strengthen the relationship. In particular, a preamble was made to the General Regulations governing the Royal Arch which, in short form, states that anything not specifically covered by the regulations is to be considered as bound by the Book of Constitutions of the Grand Lodge.
While the Grand Chapter is sovereign over the regulation and administration of the Royal Arch, the Craft is paramount and certain aspects remain in its sole remit. This is particularly so in regard to our relations with other constitutions. It is Grand Lodge, on the recommendation of the Board of General Purposes and its External Relations Committee, which grants recognition to other constitutions. The Royal Arch has a voice in such recommendations, as the President of the Committee of General Purposes of Grand Chapter is ex officio a member of the Board and sits on its External Relations Committee.
As recognition has always been a Craft matter, Grand Chapter does not formally recognise or exchange representatives with other Grand Chapters. It is, however, very happy to receive companions from, and to allow its members to visit Chapters under any Grand Chapter that draws its membership solely from a Grand Lodge recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England.
With all these differences, a companion wishing to visit a foreign Chapter would be wise to seek advice from the Grand Scribe E’s office in advance.
Bicentenary celebratory Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter
Wednesday 16 October 2013
To mark the bicentenary of the formal recognition of the Holy Royal Arch as part of pure antient Masonry and the culmination of the appeal in favour of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter in November 2013 has been moved to the afternoon of the third Wednesday in October to take advantage of what it is hoped will be more clement weather before the clocks go back.
The provisional programme for 16 October is:
|11.00 a.m.||Convocation of Metropolitan Grand Stewards Chapter No. 9812 in which a demonstration of the Ceremony of Exaltation using the changes authorised in 2004 will be given||Grand Temple|
|1.00 for 1.30 p.m.||Luncheon presided over by the ME Pro First Grand Principal||Grand Connaught Rooms|
|4.30 p.m.||Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter, presided over by the ME The First Grand Principal, HRH The Duke of Kent, KG||Grand Temple|
|6.15 for 7.00 p.m.||Dinner, presided over by the ME The First Grand Principal||Savoy Hotel|
The above timings are approximate
It is not proposed to levy any charge for attending either the Demonstration or the Convocation of the Grand Chapter. The cost of the luncheon in the Grand Connaught Rooms, including a reception, is expected to be between £70 and £85, and the cost of the dinner at the Savoy Hotel between £120 and £150.
PROVISIONAL REGISTRATION FORMS
The Committee of General Purposes thanks all Companions who sent in completed Provisional Registration Forms: the results have been extremely useful in confirming interest for the various events.
Please Note: Completion of the Provisional Registration Forms has not committed any Companion to taking up, nor guaranteed, a place at any of the events.
Since 2005 Michael Hampson of Brewood Rotary Club, Staffordshire, has been organising the collection of abandoned tents after the annual V-Festival held at Weston Park. He is aided by members of Round Table, the Lions, and by Staffordshire Freemasons.
The masonic contribution has come mainly from Royal Arch masons, some of whom are also Rotarians, but there is an increasing input from from other members of the Craft to this very worthwhile activity.
The tents, along with camping chairs and beds, are sent to International Aid at Preston, where they are cleaned and repaired. They are then stored, ready for use in the case of international disasters and other emergencies, including providing holiday accommodation on the Black Sea for orphans of the Chernobyl disaster.
After the most recent V-Festival in August 2012, more than 3000 tents, along with other useful discarded items, were collected over the course of two days by more than three hundred helpers.
Would the of the two Grand Lodges have gone ahead in 1813 if the Royal Arch had not been recognised? John Hamill takes a whistle-stop tour through Antient history
The earliest documentary evidence for the Royal Arch in England comes in the minutes of the Antients Grand Lodge. At their meeting on 4 March 1752, charges were laid against a group claimed to have been made masons ‘for the mean consideration of a leg of mutton’. Of one of the miscreants it was said that he had not ‘the least idea or knowledge of Royal Arch masonry’. A small detail, perhaps, but over the next 60 years the relationship between the Antients and the Royal Arch was to prove pivotal in shaping English Freemasonry.
1752: Antient recognition
At a meeting on 2 September 1752, the minutes of the Antients Grand Lodge record that ‘every piece of Real Freemasonry was traced and explained: except the Royal Arch’ by the Grand Secretary, Laurence Dermott. An Irishman who had become a mason in Dublin before moving to London, Dermott claimed to have entered the Royal Arch in Dublin in 1746.
1759: Part of the Craft
It was ordered at an Antients meeting on 2 March 1759 that ‘the Masters of the Royal Arch shall also be summoned to meet and regulate things relative to that most valuable branch of the Craft’. Those last few words encapsulate the Antients’ attitude to the Royal Arch. They regarded it as a part of the Craft and considered their lodge warrants as sufficient authority to work the Royal Arch. In later years they often called themselves ‘the Grand Lodge of the four degrees’. Dermott himself characterised the Royal Arch as ‘the root, heart and marrow of masonry’ and ‘the capstone of the whole masonic system’.
1771: Dermott protects
Dermott, who had a positive loathing for the premier Grand Lodge, was clearly far from happy when its members formed the first Grand Chapter in 1766. He had to wait, however, until 1771, when he had become Deputy Grand Master, before he could take action. During that year he engineered a question in the Grand Lodge as to whether or not the Grand Master was Grand Master ‘in every respect’. His successor as Grand Secretary, William Dickey, stated that he had heard it claimed that the Grand Master ‘had not a right’ to enquire into Royal Arch activities. The Masters of the Royal Arch were summoned to discuss this and other Royal Arch matters.
1773: Royal Arch regulates
In November 1773, Dermott got his way when it was agreed that ‘a General Grand Chapter of the Royal Arch shall meet on the first Wednesdays in the months of April and October in every year to regulate all matters in that branch of masonry’. Whether or not the General Grand Chapter ever met it is not possible to say as no minutes for it survive and there is no further reference to it in the Antients Grand Lodge minutes. If it did meet it can have had no greater status than as a special committee of qualified members of the Antients Grand Lodge. Any decisions it might have made would have to have been ratified by the Grand Lodge itself. Certainly there was no separate administration, list of Grand Officers or individual Chapters under the Antients system.
1794: In black and white
It was not until 1794 that regulations for the Royal Arch were printed, and these were incorporated as a supplement to their Book of Constitutions. These regulations would be used within their lodges as and when candidates came forward. Some Antients lodges had, by the 1790s, developed a regular progression of degrees within the lodge. After the three Craft degrees you moved towards the Royal Arch but first went through the Mark Degree, Passing the Chair (if the candidate was not already a Master or Past Master of a Lodge) and the Excellent Mason Degree. After the Royal Arch you could then join the Knights Templar followed by an early version of the Rose Croix, which they termed the Ne Plus Ultra of Masonry.
This progression was often depicted on the aprons worn by members of the Antients, which in addition to symbols of the Craft would include those for the degrees listed above. A very rare example of a multi-degree tracing board turned up some 20 years ago at an auction in Suffolk with other masonic artefacts, which had been in the possession of a local clerical family for more than 150 years. East Anglia had been a stronghold of the Antients and it may well have been commissioned by one of the local lodges.
1813: A very English compromise
That the Antients did much to foster the Royal Arch is beyond doubt. It could also be argued that it was their attitude towards the Royal Arch that preserved it and produced that very English compromise: the of the two Grand Lodges in 1813, by which the premier Grand Lodge acknowledged the Royal Arch as the completion of ‘pure ancient masonry’, provided that it was worked separately from the Craft in chapters rather than in lodges as had been the Antients’ custom.
I think it more than probable that had that compromise not been reached the Antients would have withdrawn from the negotiations, the would not have taken place and the future progress of English Freemasonry would have taken a very different path.
Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes discusses the mechanisms that have been put in place to promote the Royal Arch within Freemasonry
As we move towards the bicentenary of the Order in 2013 we have taken the opportunity to further ensure the long term future of the Royal Arch. In raising the profile to achieve this, it is important to make sure we are seen as appealing, inspiring and relevant. To that end, a strategic working party, under the chairmanship of the Second Grand Principal, reported their nine recommendations to me in March. The first of these recommendations in their report was that the strap line ‘initiation to exaltation’ be adopted to promote the Order.
The working party looked at mentoring and how it should align to the work being done on this in the Craft. Here it was suggested that the Craft personal mentor and the Royal Arch representative actively guide a new master mason towards membership of the Royal Arch at an appropriate point in his masonic journey. Also that once exalted the new companion has a knowledgeable Royal Arch mason to help him better understand the ceremony and meaning of the Royal Arch and how best to become involved in the Chapter.
PROMOTING THE ORDER
The role of the lodge Royal Arch representative is fundamental to the promotion of the Order and it is recommended that Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Lodges continue to encourage Craft lodges to make this appointment and to develop the role. It is also considered important that the adoption of the permitted ritual variations, introduced by the 2004 Royal Arch Strategic Working Party, be encouraged in Chapters.
I am aware that the Metropolitan Grand Lodge, as well as several Provinces and Districts are already presenting a letter to the newly made master mason on the merits of the Royal Arch. Efforts to improve the profile of the Order in website contexts is also underway.
Two clear outward ways to promote the Order are emphasised. First, the taking of wine with Royal Arch members at selected Craft Festive Boards and secondly, that the wearing of the official Royal Arch tie be further encouraged. The final recommendation is that Chapters be encouraged to re-engage with lodges from which they have traditionally derived members.
In order to encourage a greater participation among all companions, the working party looked at the layout of the ritual books so that the revised and permitted alternative variations adopted in 2004 be encouraged as the standard. I emphasise that nothing is now being suggested which in any way enforces or changes what was introduced by Supreme Grand Chapter in 2004.
A wider participation in the ritual is clearly beneficial in encouraging a deeper understanding of the teaching and by giving the permitted variations of 2004 a greater prominence in the various printed and authorised rituals – for example, Aldersgate, Domatic, Perfect and Metropolitan – I trust more Chapters will be encouraged to adopt them and benefit accordingly.
The 2013 Royal Arch Appeal for The Royal College of Surgeons is progressing well – with over half a million recorded so far. This means that we are well on our way to exceeding our target. I encourage you to keep up your efforts.
Today the formation of a Grand Chapter would be widely reported. As John Hamill explains, such was not the case for the Excellent Grand and Royal Arch Chapter of England
As I wrote in the last issue of Freemasonry Today, the Royal Arch was brought into being by the signing of the document now know as the Charter of Compact on 22 July 1766, although the date was later tampered with. Strangely, there is no mention of that charter within the minutes of the chapter, which turned itself into the Grand Chapter. So exactly how did events pan out?
1765: The signing of a manifesto
On 12 June 1765, a group of twenty-nine companions met at the Turk’s Head Tavern in Gerrard Street, Soho and signed a manifesto by which they constituted themselves into an independent Chapter of Royal Arch Masons. The manifesto – a set of rules to govern the operation of the chapter – was copied into the minute book in an illuminated style and was signed by those present and then by every brother on his exaltation within the chapter.
1766: Grand Chapter catalyst
Among those who joined were many of the major figures then involved in the running of the premier Grand Lodge. Exactly a year after its formation, the success of the chapter was crowned by the candidate at the meeting on 11 June 1766 being the then Grand Master – Cadwallader, Lord Blayney. It would appear that this event was the catalyst for the formation of a Grand Chapter, although the minutes are silent on this matter, any discussion of the Charter of Compact, or even to its signing. The only reference in the minute book is in the accounts where it is noted that a Mr Parkinson was paid two guineas for engrossing the charter.
1769: Just a private chapter?
The chapter continued to work as a private chapter, regularly exalting new members and it is not until 1769 that the minutes begin to show evidence of it acting as a Grand Chapter. In that year it began to issue charters to form new chapters. Of these foundations five are still in existence today. It would appear from the minute books that the chapter continued a dual role as both a private chapter and a Grand Chapter until it evolved into Supreme Grand Chapter in 1817. From 1795 it began to function on a regular basis as we would expect today.
1778: Spreading the message
In 1778, the chapter began to organise Provinces with the appointment of Grand Superintendents, whose main function appears to have been to stimulate the formation of new chapters. Thomas Dunckerley, who did so much to promote the Royal Arch in the late eighteenth century between 1778 and his death in 1795, was appointed Grand Superintendent in no less than eighteen counties.
1795: Grand Lodge softening
Despite many of its leaders being involved in the Grand Chapter, the premier Grand Lodge consistently refused to acknowledge the Royal Arch as part of its system. By 1795 that attitude had softened and the premier Grand Lodge announced, rather condescendingly, that it had no objections to the Royal Arch as a separately organised society.
1809: Royal Arch an integral part
With HRH The Duke of Sussex becoming both Grand Master of the premier Grand Lodge and First Grand Principal of the Grand Chapter, the latter body gave him full powers to negotiate on their behalf whatever settlement could be achieved as to the position of the Royal Arch, once the of the two Grand Lodges had been carried through. It was as a result of that, and his position as Grand Master, that a compromise was achieved and the Royal Arch was accepted as an integral part of pure antient masonry.
1817: Birth of the Supreme Grand Chapter
The Grand Chapter continued to exist until 1817 when, with the Craft arrangements being almost completed, The Duke of Sussex turned his mind to the Royal Arch. The Grand and Royal Chapter merged with the former members of the Antients Royal Arch, with the Supreme Grand Chapter coming into being. Surprisingly after 1817, the dual nature of the original Grand Chapter – acting both as a regulatory body and a private chapter – continued with men of eminence being exalted within the Grand Chapter itself.
1832: Last exaltations
The last occasion the Grand Chapter acted as both regulator and private chapter was in May 1832 when the Marquis of Salisbury, the Marquis of Abercorn and Lord Monson were exalted at an emergency meeting of Grand Chapter.
At the April meeting of the Essex First Principals Chapter No.3256, over 200 members and guests went on to see a demonstation of the 'Ceremony of the Veils' given by the Essex Provincial Stewards Chapter No 8665. The chapter was particularly honoured by the presence of many distinguished Royal Arch masons which included: ME Comp George Pipon Francis, 2nd Grand Principal, ME Comp David Kenneth Williamson, 3rd Grand Principal and our own ME Comp John Michael Webb, Grand Superintendant.
This Ceremony had been authorised by the Committee of General Purposes of Supreme Grand Chapter solely for demonstrations at a Provincial or District level held under the authority of the respective Grand Superintendent.
The basis of the current Royal Arch ceremonies worked in England was established and agreed by Supreme Grand Chapter in 1834. There is some evidence that before the 1834 changes the ceremony of Passing the Veils was practised as a preliminary to the Exaltation ceremony. This was particularly true in Lodges under the former Antients Grand Lodge which worked the Royal Arch within the Lodge, but there is little evidence of it being worked in Chapters under the original Excellent Grand and Royal Chapter.
Today in England the ceremony is solely authorised for use in Chapters in Bristol but it is still very much part of the Royal Arch system in Ireland, the United States of America and in Scotland - where it is known as the Excellent Master Degree. For those wishing to see the Bristol ceremony, the Province and its Chapters are always delighted to receive visitors.
This demonstration is not the ceremony as practised in Bristol, Ireland, Scotland or the USA but necessarily includes material which appears in the ceremonies worked in those countries. It has been compiled from manuscripts in the Library and Museum of Freemasonry and published sources such as Carlile and Claret.
Following the demonstation the 1st Principal, E. Comp Edward A Hilburn, PGStB, presented a cheque on behalf of the Chapter to E Comp Keith Huddlestone, PGStB, PAPrGP, the Essex Provincial Stewards Chapter 'Demonstation Team' represntative, who announced that the very generous donation of £500 would be going to the The Royal Arch Masons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal for 'The Royal College of Surgeons of England'.
As the bicentenary of the inclusion of the Royal Arch chapter into ‘pure antient masonry’ draws near, John Hamill examines the mystery behind its formation
On 22 July 1766, the first Grand Chapter in the world came into being when members of an independent chapter met in London to draw up what is now known as the Charter of Compact, converting their chapter into the Excellent Grand and Royal Arch Chapter, with Cadwallader, ninth Lord Blayney, at its head. We know this because the chapter’s minute book, which commences with a meeting held on 22 March 1765, stills exists. Until as recently as the late forties, however, masonic historians believed that the Grand Chapter had been formed in 1767.
The mystery can be traced back to the charter itself, which concludes with the statement that it was signed at the Turk’s Head tavern in Gerrard Street, Soho, on 22 July 1767. It wasn’t until masonic historian J R Dashwood examined the document in 1949, while preparing a paper on the first minute book of the original Grand Chapter, that evidence of tampering was discovered. Dashwood noticed that at the top of the document, in the recitals of the styles and titles of Lord Blayney, a capital P (standing for Past) had been inserted clumsily before the words Grand Master of Free and Accepted Masons. At the other end of the document, it was equally clear that the original final digit of the year had been scraped off and been substituted in all cases, except the Anno Lucis (AL) date, with a seven. In the AL date the final digit had become a one.
One explanation is that despite the fact that many of its senior members were involved in the Royal Arch, the Premier Grand Lodge was not well disposed towards it and would not recognise it as part of its basic system. Dashwood argued that it would have been a huge embarrassment to them to have their current Grand Master, Lord Blayney, as a member. As head of the order, Blayney would have been one of the prime movers in turning a private chapter into a governing body as well as being the principal signatory to its founding document. On 22 July 1766, Blayney was still Grand Master, but by 22 July 1767 he had retired from that high office. Hence, Dashwood argued, the alterations were made to suggest that the events all took place after Blayney ceased to be Grand Master.
That theory appeared to meet with general acceptance until, in 1998, Freemason Yasha Beresiner gave a short talk on the charter in Supreme Grand Chapter. He queried whether, as most of them were involved in the chapter, the hierarchy of the premier would have been embarrassed by the events in July 1766. Beresiner theorised that it was more likely that once news got around that a new masonic order had been formed, and the Grand Master was at its head, their members would have flocked to join it.
A pious fraud
Another mystery is the twenty-one signatures on the left of the charter who attested that they accepted the terms documented ‘on the Day and Year above written’. Dashwood described this as ‘a pious fraud’. He had good reason for doing so as of the twenty-one signatories only the Earl of Anglesey was present in the chapter on 22 July 1766, having been exalted that evening. Of the remainder, more than two thirds had not been exalted at that date. The majority of them were exalted between 1767 and 1769.
While it is always satisfying to solve a mystery, in the great scheme of things does it really matter that the document was tampered with? Surely what is important is that the events of July 1766 took place and gave birth to the Excellent Grand and Royal Chapter, enabling members of the premier Grand Lodge to become involved in the Royal Arch.
Had it not existed, it could be argued that the ‘antients’ would not have had the numerical strength to persuade the premier Grand Lodge, in the negotiations leading to the of the two Grand Lodges in 1813, to accept the Royal Arch as a part of ‘pure antient masonry’. Had that not happened we would not have had our indissoluble link between the Craft and Royal Arch. And, very importantly, would have no reason to have a party in October 2013 to celebrate its bicentenary.