Excellent Companions: celebrating the Royal Arch at Library and Museum of Freemasonry

Friday, 06 December 2013

On show at the Library and Museum, the Sussex Plate silver candelabrum reveals details about the union of the Grand Lodges in 1813

One of the Library and Museum’s greatest treasures has a prominent role in its latest exhibition. The Sussex Plate is a large silver candelabrum, which was presented to the Duke of Sussex in 1838 to mark his twenty-five years as Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England. 

At the centre of the Sussex Plate, set within a circular temple, is a six-sided plinth supporting a cushion, on which is a Volume of the Sacred Law, a set square and a compass. The figure of Apollo is mounted on the top of the temple dome, around which is a frieze featuring the twelve signs of the zodiac. Outside sit four figures: Astronomy, Geometry, Sculpture and Architecture.

The temple is mounted on a four-panel base decorated with pomegranates, olives and corn. Two of the panels depict biblical scenes and the third, an inscription. The fourth is unusual in representing the union between the premier and the Atholl Grand Lodges in December 1813, two hundred years ago, showing the two Grand Masters – the Duke of Sussex and the Duke of Kent – with their Grand Officers. Although this image is much later than the event, there are no other depictions of the union. The depiction is best seen in one of a series of reproductions published in the Freemasons’ Quarterly Review in 1838. The two Royal Dukes can be identified from their portraits – the Duke of Sussex shown facing out. 

Excellent Companions: Celebrating the Royal Arch is open from 14 October 2013 to 2 May 2014, Monday-Friday. Admission is free.

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