Celebrating 300 years

Annual Investiture of Supreme Grand Chapter

26 April 2018 
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes

Companions, this meeting is always a very happy occasion and I do congratulate all those of you whom I have invested today. It both recognises your past endeavours but is also a clear indicator that we expect more from you in the future. Grand Rank in the Royal Arch is both a senior, and in many cases, a public position within the organisation, and I would hope that you all feel willing to communicate the pride you now feel to those you meet, and to act as ambassadors for the Royal Arch not only to those within your lodges and chapters, but also to the general public at large. However, I do appreciate that the general public would not understand the relevance of the Royal Arch, but it clearly demonstrates your seniority within Freemasonry as a whole.

I have heard it said that the Royal Arch might have been somewhat eclipsed by the Tercentenary celebrations this year in the Craft, but far from it. The Royal Arch completes the craft degrees and increased interest and membership for the Craft can only be to the good for our Order. A new injection of pride and confidence in Freemasonry – in what we do, and in our relevance to the wider community from which we herald can only result in a strong, confident and successful future.

We must be careful to maximise the momentum, energy and enthusiasm that surrounds Freemasonry at the moment and ensure that it is neither wasted nor neglected. We must make the effort, and spare the time to explain who we are and what we do, and also ask ourselves why some of those brethren in our lodges have not taken that extra step to become our companions. We must listen to, and think hard on the answers they give. I believe we are winning. If we turn the clock back 10 years we were experiencing a 30% conversion rate from Craft to Royal Arch, now there are very few Provinces or Districts where the ratio is under 40% and some are considerably higher.

May I take this opportunity to bid a fond farewell to Excellent Companion Willie Shackell, Grand Scribe Ezra, who has served in a number of senior appointments over the last 11 years. We all wish him well in his fourth, and what I am sure he hopes will be his final retirement.

Companions, events like this do not just happen and I would like, on your behalf, to congratulate the 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 look forward to hearing of, and reading about your exploits over the summer, and also to welcoming you back in the autumn.

Published in Speeches

Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes enjoyed a special visit to the Bahamas for the Consecration of Chapter of Unity No. 8760

Companions in Nassau petitioned to Supreme Grand Chapter to form a new Royal Arch Chapter to be attached to Lodge of Unity No. 8760 and were granted a Warrant in November 2017. The Consecration was scheduled to be part of the visit of the Pro Grand Master to the Bahamas for the Regional District Grand Masters’ Conference and the Installation of the new District Grand Master and Grand Superintendent for Bahamas & Turks.

Before the Chapter was opened, the Grand Director of Ceremonies, E Comp Oliver Lodge, announced to the Companions assembled that it was a special event that had not happened for almost 15 years. The Companions were also informed that this would be the first Royal Arch Consecration that ME Comp Peter Lowndes, Pro First Grand Principal, had performed as the Consecrating Officer.

The Consecrating Team included:

  • ME Comp Peter Geoffrey Lowndes, Pro1stGPrincipal - Zerubbabel
  • E Comp James R. Bain, BEM, JP, GSupt (Bahamas & Turks) - Haggai
  • E Comp Walter H. Scott, QC, GSupt (Jamaica & Cayman Islands) - Joshua
  • E Comp William E. Shackell, CBE, GSE - Grand Scribe Ezra
  • E Comp Robert W. Rego, GInsp (Bermuda) - Grand Scribe Nehemiah
  • E Comp Oliver A. W. Lodge, TD, PGSN, GDC - Grand Director of Ceremonies
  • E Comp Sebastian C. E. A. Madden, PDepGDC - Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies
  • E Comp Peter D. Cole, PGSupt (Bahamas & Turks) - Grand Janitor

The Founding Principals are E Comp Carl W. Z. Bethel, QC, PGStB – MEZ; E Comp Duane H. E. Murray, PGStB, DistGDC – H, and E Comp Gerald A. Sawyer – J. This was also the last official function for E Comp James R. Bain before retiring as Grand Superintendent in and over Bahamas & Turks, as his successor, E Comp Robert C. Deal, was installed two days thereafter on 24 March 2018.

This was the third new Chapter consecrated during his term as Grand Superintendent – one each in Abaco, Providenciales and Nassau, thereby increasing the number to seven overall.

The Consecration and Festive Board were joyous, seeing over 100 Companions from England, Bahamas, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Guyana, Barbados, Anguilla, Canada and more – celebrating the consecration of a new Royal Arch Chapter.

First Grand Principal HRH The Duke of Kent and Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes recognise the progress that is being made in the Royal Arch

I was delighted to be able to appoint and promote so many of you to celebrate my 50 years as First Grand Principal. This, of course, is in recognition for all you have done for the Royal Arch – but it is also, you may not be surprised to hear, in expectation of further services.

Although smaller than the Craft, there is no doubt that the Royal Arch holds a very warm and special place in our affections. Over the course of the last 50 years we have adapted our ritual to make it easier to understand, to remove some of the anomalies and to ensure a greater involvement from the companions. I am very pleased to see the progress that has been made.

While this year has been a great celebration for the Craft, I have no doubt that we too will benefit from the great success it has achieved, and I know that there are measures in hand that will ensure that Freemasonry has a prominent place in society for many years to come. Companions, I am greatly encouraged by all that I have seen this year and I thank you all for all of your hard work.

First Grand Principal
HRH The Duke of Kent

‘Freemasonry will have a place in society for many years to come’ HRH The Duke of Kent

Companions, I had the privilege of speaking at the Royal Albert Hall about the 50 years’ service our Grand Master had given to the United Grand Lodge of England. Those of you who were there, or have seen that remarkable event online, might have noticed that what I said seemed to go down reasonably well.

That took no account of the fact that the job of First Grand Principal and Grand Master run concurrently, and therefore any mathematician could work out that the First Grand Principal has also been head of our order for the same 50 years. I mentioned it as a remarkable achievement; it is even more remarkable when you look at it in that light.

Pro First Grand Principal
Peter Lowndes

Published in SGC

Last Wednesday’s Regular Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter was a special meeting as HRH The Duke of Kent celebrated his Golden Jubilee as First Grand Principal with a special investiture of Grand Ranks

Afterwards HRH The Duke of Kent was photographed with the Pro First Grand Principal, Second Grand Principal and Third Grand Principal to mark the occasion.

Read the First Grand Principal’s address here.

Read the Pro First Grand Principal’s address here.

Published in SGC

Regular Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter

8 November 2017

An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes

ME First Grand Principal, companions, over a week ago, I had the privilege of speaking at the Royal Albert Hall about the 50 years’ service our Grand Master had given to the United Grand Lodge of England. Companions, those of you who were there, or have seen that remarkable event online, might have noticed that what I said seemed to go down reasonably well.

Companions, that took no notice of the fact that the job of First Grand Principal and Grand Master run concurrently, and therefore any mathematician can work out that the First Grand Principal has also been head of our Order for the same fifty years. It is quite remarkable. I mentioned it as a remarkable achievement; it is even more remarkable when you look at it in that light.

Companions, in a moment I shall ask you to show your appreciation of the service the First Grand Principal has given to this wonderful Order. But I am going to challenge you companions to make it slightly shorter than in the Albert Hall, but I know it will be no less heartfelt companions.

Published in Speeches

Annual Investiture of Supreme Grand Chapter

27 April 2017 
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes

Companions, may I start by congratulating all those whom I have invested today and remind you that, whilst it recognises all that you have done so far, there is an expectation placed upon you for further endeavours to promote our Holy Royal Arch, thus ensuring its continued success in the future.

You can be forgiven for thinking that this year is all about the Craft – it is its Tercentenary year – but I am sure you all recognise that, the more successful the Craft is in attracting new members, so the greater is our opportunity for capitalising on this success for the benefit of the Royal Arch. It is not all that long ago that we seemed satisfied with 30% of Craft masons joining the Royal Arch. This never seemed anywhere near sufficient and we should be aiming for nearer 50%. We are undoubtedly making progress in that respect. It is a unique opportunity so let us all enjoy the year and use it to promote our Order.

For us in the Royal Arch it is the 50th anniversary of our First Grand Principal, HRH The Duke of Kent being installed as such and he has asked me to let you know that, in recognition of this milestone, he wishes to award a number of extra Grand Ranks. The details of how these will be awarded will be made known in due course but we very much hope that His Royal Highness will be able to carry out that Investiture in November this year.

Companions, we all know that our Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team are very accomplished at organising these events but on your behalf I must congratulate them on another splendid performance. Similarly, our Grand Scribe Ezra and his staff have once again put a tremendous effort into ensuring that you all enjoy the proceedings and so well done to them.

Finally, my sincere thanks to you all for coming along to support your friends who I have invested today.

Published in Speeches

Regular Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter

9 November 2016 
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes

Companions, I am very pleased to see so many of you here both from our Districts overseas and from our Provinces, including sixty companions from Cambridgeshire.  Since our last meeting in April the Most Excellent First Grand Principal has been pleased to appoint Comp Willie Shackell as Grand Scribe Ezra and we wish him well. He was, of course, formally invested as Grand Secretary at the June Quarterly Communication.

This meeting, companions, always falls near to 11th November, Armistice Day, and as you are well aware this marvellous building is a peace memorial to all those who gave their lives for us during the First World War. It is worth, therefore, drawing your attention to two events taking place next year.

The first is on 18th April 2017 at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, when the newly constructed Masonic Memorial Garden in memory of all those masons who gave their lives during conflict in the service of our country will be opened. You are all invited.

The second is the unveiling of the Victoria Cross Memorial by the Grand Master on 25th April 2017. It will be placed on the pavement in front of the Tower Entrance of this building and will take the form of a number of paving stones with the names of the 63 Victoria Cross holders who were awarded the Victoria Cross in World War I and who were members of UGLE. Of these, 17 were also companions in the Royal Arch.

Companions, this seems to be an appropriate time to say a few words about Comp Denis Beckett who was one of the companions we stood in memory of earlier in the meeting. Comp Beckett was a very remarkable man and I had the good fortune to know him well. Indeed he was President of the Committee of General Purposes when I joined it in 1987. He was a Craft mason for 71 years and a Royal Arch mason for 59 years. He was initiated immediately after World War 2 in which he served with such distinction. He was awarded the DSO for his extraordinary courage during the battle of Monte Cassino. There were those who felt a VC would have been more appropriate.

Companions, we were privileged to have him as a member and particularly so that he presided over the Committee of General Purposes for 7 years.

Companions, whilst it is clearly important to remember the past, we must also look to the future. I am therefore very pleased that the successor to the Membership Focus Group, the Improvement Delivery Group, is composed of both Provincial Grand Masters and Grand Superintendents, with our Third Grand Principal, Gareth Jones, as its Deputy Chairman. It will be designing and delivering the future direction of both the Craft and Royal Arch.

Companions, you may have seen that, after my address at Quarterly Communications in June, I have been accused in the national media of suggesting that masons are all grumpy and boring – a misrepresentation, companions. At least I consider it to be a misrepresentation, but, if any of you think otherwise, I apologise. I said that if an amusing incident occurs at one of our meetings, it should not be frowned upon as had sometimes been the case in the past. It is not a capital offence to smile during meetings. Whilst I was not suggesting we should turn our meetings into a pantomime, there is no harm in us being seen to enjoy ourselves.

I believe this to be particularly so in the Royal Arch, as our Exaltation Ceremony is one of the finest and, in my experience, candidates derive great enjoyment from it. I think this is particularly so when the new format of the ritual is used which involves more of the companions and has the benefit of changing the voice that the candidate hears which I always feel refreshes his interest.

Finally, since Supreme Grand Chapter arranged the refurbishment of our magnificent organ, we have been treated to a number of superb concerts in this temple and I congratulate the Organ Committee on its achievements to date. I am very keen to draw your attention to the next concert at 5.00 pm, on 14th December, after the Quarterly Communication, to be given by the international concert artist, Jane Parker-Smith. The concerts are free, companions, and, so far, they have been wonderfully entertaining, and I am quite certain that this will be no exception.

Companions, I have no doubt that after our closing, you will enjoy listening to a team from the Royal College of Surgeons led by Professor Neil Mortensen, RCS Research Board Chairman at Oxford University, who will enlighten us on what has been achieved through your most generous support.

Thank you, companions.

Published in Speeches

Travelling together

Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes explains how strong leadership combined with a responsible approach will help to build a successful future for the Royal Arch

I congratulate all the Grand Officers whom I have invested on behalf of the Most Excellent the First Grand Principal. At the same time I would remind you that with your new ranks come new obligations. 

Appointments and promotions are therefore not just a reward but an encouragement for further participation in the success of the Order, whether providing support for members of your chapters or giving encouragement to those in the vital role of Royal Arch representatives in your Craft lodges. If, indeed, you are not that representative yourself.

It has been a great pleasure to invest Most Excellent Companion Gareth Jones as Third Grand Principal in succession to Most Excellent Companion David Williamson, who was himself appointed in 2010. We owe Companion Williamson an enormous debt of gratitude for his many contributions, both in our Order and in many others as well. This succession, coupled with that of Most Excellent Companion Russell Race in November last year, continues the strong leadership that the Royal Arch has enjoyed for many years and ensures an exciting future for the Order.

I believe that the Royal Arch is in its strongest position for many years. The profile of the Order was greatly enhanced by the outstanding success of the bicentenary celebrations in 2013, coupled with several key initiatives during and since that time, including the Royal Arch participation in the Freemasons’ Fund for Surgical Research.

As a reminder, there are two Royal Arch fellows in every five fellowships supported. This is thanks to the incredible generosity of our members and the skilful management of our assets.

I take great pride in the work of the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team and want to thank the retiring Grand Scribe Ezra for his work over the past nine years. We have travelled a lot together, although we have not always returned without mishap. But be it Icelandic volcanic ash, Barbadian hurricanes or Heathrow snow, we have made it in the end, one way or another. 

‘Appointments and promotions are not just a reward but an encouragement for participation in the success of the Order.’

Published in SGC

Surprise guest at West Wales chapter

The Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes was a surprise guest at the installation meeting of Dinbych Chapter, No. 1177, in the Province of West Wales. Bradley Davies, a long-time friend of Peter Lowndes, was being installed in the chapter chair for a record fifth time.

The Pro First Grand Principal had told Grand Superintendent Stephen Hookey that he would like to come and surprise his friend, so a plot was hatched to smuggle him into the meeting without anyone finding out, and it proved a huge success. 

Annual Investiture of Supreme Grand Chapter

29 April 2016 
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes

Companions, I know that you would want me to congratulate all of the Grand Officers whom I have invested today on behalf of the Most Excellent the First Grand Principal. At the same time I would remind you that with your new ranks come new obligations. Appointments and promotions are therefore not just a reward, but an encouragement for further participation in the success of the Order whether providing support for the members of your chapters or giving encouragement to those in the important role of Royal Arch Representatives in your Craft lodges. If, indeed, you are not that representative yourself.

It has been a great pleasure to invest today Most Excellent Companion Gareth Jones as Third Grand Principal in succession to Most Excellent Companion David Williamson who was himself appointed in 2010. We owe Companion Williamson an enormous debt of gratitude for his many contributions, both in our order and in many others as well. Today’s succession coupled with that of Most Excellent Companion Russell Race in November last year, continues the strong leadership that the Royal Arch has enjoyed for many years and ensures an exciting future for the Order.

Companions, I believe that the Royal Arch is in its strongest position for many years. The profile of the Order was greatly enhanced by the outstanding success of the bicentenary celebrations in 2013 coupled with several key initiatives during and since that time, including the Royal Arch participation in the Freemasons’ Fund for Surgical Research. As a reminder, there are two Royal Arch fellows in every five fellowships supported. This is thanks to the incredible generosity of our members and the skilful management of our assets.

Finally, companions, I must, on your behalf and mine, thank the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team and the Grand Scribe Ezra’s staff for the success of today. Somewhat naturally I take great pride in the work of the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team, but on this occasion I want to thank, particularly, the retiring Grand Scribe Ezra for his work over the last nine years. We have travelled a lot together, although we have not always returned without mishap – be it Icelandic volcanic ash, Barbadian hurricanes or Heathrow snow, but we have made it in the end one way or another. I am sure he would agree with me that these were testing events and we were both extremely grateful for the calming influence of his PA, Louise, back at base.

Thank you companions.

Published in Speeches
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