Regular Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter

13 November 2019
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes

Companions, for a long time we have been trying to come up with good reasons why all Brethren should join the Royal Arch and I think between us we have had some success and the percentage of brethren who are members has increased almost everywhere over the last few years.

Today I want to turn the question round and ask, 'Why don’t all our Brethren join the Royal Arch'.

It seems to me that there are five main reasons (but I am sure others will come up with many more).

Firstly, they don’t know anything about it. If this were to be the main reason, I would be very depressed, which I am not. However, I am sure that there will be some who fall into this category and that is a real condemnation of those who appoint the Royal Arch Representatives in Lodges. They must clearly be failing in their duties. Where there are no Royal Arch representatives then senior Brethren and particularly Mentors as well as Proposers and Seconders must step up.

Secondly, they have heard about it, but have been put off by some aspect. Frequently I have heard people talking about how difficult the ritual is to learn. Surely our Brethren should be able to make up their own minds about that and not have seeds of doubt sewn in their minds without having tried it. Let them find out for themselves and if they are reluctant to join the ladder they can watch from the side until they feel ready. The exaltation ceremony is one of the best to sit and watch.

Personally, I don’t consider it any more difficult than any other ritual and the main long sector delivered by the Principal Sojourner is a good story which I have always found sticks in the mind reasonably well. Also, Companions, the Principal Sojourner has two assistants. Why should they not live up to their names and assist in the ceremony. The work splits naturally and gives the Assistant Sojourners good reason to attend.

With the fairly recent changes to the ritual the 1st Principal’s task has been considerably eased by sharing much of it with the other Principals.

Thirdly, cost. This is clearly relevant, and it is imperative that any candidates are fully briefed on this just as they should have been when joining the Craft. In part this can be considered in the same way as my fourth reason, time. Again, extremely relevant. Many Chapters only meet three times a year, but that is still an added burden for working people to manage. Do our Lodges, perhaps meet too often. Many meet 10+ times a year and along with Lodges of Instruction and rehearsals this is an enormous time burden on the young working brother. I know I shall be unpopular with many, but if Lodges that meet that often considered reducing the number of their meetings, it could possibly invigorate their Chapters, by saving the Brethren both time and money.

Fifthly, they have joined other orders already and have reached the limit of the involvement in Freemasonry that they want. If this is the case, we have again failed in our duties as Craft Masons. There can be no logical masonic reason for a craft mason to join any other order before joining the Royal Arch, unless they don’t know about the Royal Arch or the reasons for joining have been poorly explained.

I must add that I am all for our craft brethren joining whatever other legitimate order that they want, but strongly believe that the Royal Arch should come first.

Companions, the Royal Arch is a wonderful order as everyone here this morning knows, I am extremely proud of being the Pro First Grand Principal and look forward to the day when we can boast that more than 50% of Craft masons have joined the Order and we can then move upwards from there.

Published in Speeches

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemasons in the Royal Arch degree raised more than £60,000 for Prostate Cancer UK in a single year

The final amount of £60,375 was announced at the provincial meeting in June 2019 – but since then the total has risen to £63,770. Among the fundraising events was a charity walk leaving from Botley Masonic Centre and around River Hamble Country Park. Those involved raised just over £4,000.

Alan Berman, who heads the Royal Arch Freemasons in the Province, said: 'We decided to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK because we had raised money for every hospice in the Province and wanted another charity. We had hoped to raise £40,000, but the response was phenomenal. We didn’t have to twist any arms, the donations just came in as most men relate to it.

'Prostate cancer is something that one in eight men will get at some point in their lives and the charity is working hard to find a cure.'


Another hugely successful event that highlighted the fellowship of Freemasons was a thanksgiving service organised by Alan Berman at Portsmouth Synagogue.

It was attended by around 250 people and included the heads and representatives of other orders and those from many faiths. Readings were given by Alan Berman, David Gosney and Steven Allum.

Alan said: 'We had events at the synagogue in 2000 and 2008 and it was time for another one. It was wonderful to see those from all denominations there for the common purpose of thanksgiving.

'I was also able to present a 40 year certificate to George Deacon for his service in the Mark Degree.'

During 2018, Suffolk-based Laconic Lodge No. 9771 decided to sponsor a Holy Royal Arch Chapter. A total of 28 Founders signed the Petition and, after due deliberation by Supreme Grand Chapter, the new Chapter – with the name Sparta Chapter – was granted a warrant which was dated April 5th 2019

The basic precept of Laconic Lodge is, as the name suggests, brevity and so Sparta Chapter has continued in this vein with the motto ‘Per breviloquium’ meaning ‘Through brevity of speech’. 

On 2nd August, 140 Royal Arch Freemasons gathered at Ashlar House, Bury St. Edmunds to witness the Consecration of Sparta Chapter, the likes of which will probably never be seen again. There was a total of seven Grand Superintendents and eight Deputy Grand Superintendents along with numerous heads of orders attending.

The Consecrating Team of Anthony Henderson (PGM/MEGS of Beds) as First Principal, James Sharpley (MEGS of Herts) as Second Principal, John Keeble (MEGS of Bucks) as Third Principal and Steve Allen (PGM/MEGS of Norfolk) as Scribe N Installed David Boswell (MEGS of Suffolk) as Founding Z, Ian Yeldham (PGM of Suffolk) as Founding H and Bill Dastur (PGM/MEGS of Cambs) as J. The ceremony was performed with a perfect mix of sincerity and humour which will long be rememebered by all those who attended.

The whole day proved to be a prime example of the unity in the Province of Suffolk between the Craft and Royal Arch as well as the friendliness shown by the Leaders of several Provinces and their willingness to help fellow Leaders in Suffolk in the Consecration of Sparta Chapter.

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.

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