In 1872, the Lodge of Harmony, No. 1411, was consecrated in ValparaÍso, Chile. It is the only English Lodge meeting on the west coast of all the Americas and comes under the immediate supervision of our District for South America Southern Division. It was formed with the agreement of the Grand Lodge of Chile, then just 10 years old, and has always had happy relations with that body and its lodges.
There was no tradition of Royal Arch Masonry in Chile, where Master Masons who wished to extend their masonic experience joined the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of 33 degrees. That changed last year when the Grand Lodge of Chile agreed to its three lodges being able to work the Royal Arch. The Lodge of Harmony immediately contacted one of their initiates, now resident in England, Nicholas Bosanquet, Grand Sword Bearer and a former Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies, and asked him to liaise with Grand Chapter on their behalf.
Nicholas contacted the then Deputy Metropolitan Grand Superintendent for London, Charles Grace, who put him in touch with Wandle Chapter, No. 2699. This Chapter was in the sad position of being about to close only two years short of achieving their centenary. The Wandle companions were delighted that their Chapter would be able to continue, rather than dying, albeit many thousands of miles from London. They readily agreed to be taken over, and on 15 February 2011, 15 companions from South America Southern Division became joining members of Wandle Chapter. The first meeting was held in ValparaÍso, with great celebrations, on 16 May.
9 NOVEMBER 2011
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes
I am delighted to report that the Royal Arch Masons Bicentenary Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons, launched last November, is progressing well. I am informed that very nearly two hundred thousand pounds has been donated to date. Thank you to those who have generously donated. As we move towards the bicentenary in 2013, I encourage you, in your fund raising endeavours, to continue to request presentations from a Royal College team for example, at your annual Provincial meetings so that the Companions in your Province can fully understand the important research work that the Research Fellows can undertake as a result of our continued support.
The First Grand Principal summed this up with great clarity when he wrote, “This campaign gives us an excellent opportunity to contribute further towards something that is helping to save lives and improve the quality of life for us, our children and grandchildren”.
Your Provincial Appeal co-ordinators know the procedure for requesting these presentations and for ordering donation leaflets for distribution when those presentations take place. I also remind you that the information for donating to the Appeal is on the Grand Charity website. As a minimum target we are aiming for one million pounds and as I said a moment ago, we are well on our way.
The Appeal is a highly visible external contribution from the Royal Arch. However, there are other internal areas that we all ought, as members of the Order, to be looking at to give the Royal Arch a higher profile.
The first is encouragement by you, to bring in new members for exaltation, understanding that this will be for them the completion of their pure ancient Masonry that they have discovered during the ceremonies of initiation, passing and raising in the craft – most particularly the latter. Companions, I like to use the analogy of a four part TV drama. What is the point of watching the first three episodes and then ignoring the fourth when all is revealed.
This is not just about keeping member numbers up, it is also about making sure you have enough work at each meeting to keep the members’ skills honed. Remember, of course, to share the work out as much as possible so as to achieve the maximum involvement of the Companions in your Chapter. That way Companions will become far more interested in the beauty of the ceremonies as well as keeping up their interest. I note that we had three thousand nine hundred and thirty exaltations last year.
Companions, I have mentioned before that I, along with many other companions, find the lay out of the current ritual books to be confusing and difficult to follow. A new lay out with the new version, currently known as the “permissive” version, as the main text and the former version printed separately at the back. The ritual organisations are updating the books and it is likely that all the major rituals will be reprinted in the next eighteen months to two years.
Secondly, we have two important weapons in our ‘communication armoury’. Our house magazine, Freemasonry Today and the new members’ website launched in September. The strap line refers to the magazine as the official journal of the United Grand Lodge of England but Companions, the editorial policy is predominantly to cover stories and news about both the Craft and the Royal Arch. This is also the case with the website which will be timely in getting news to you. I know the Editor of Freemasonry Today is keen to receive more stories for consideration and possible inclusion on the Royal Arch. The Provincial Information Officers have a key role to play here and are well briefed on the process for submission for both the magazine and the website.
For your interest, we are now starting to work on the new website for the Royal Arch, to bring the current one both up-to-date and in line with all the other communications initiatives we have recently launched.
Many of you will know that Grand Scribe Ezra, as Grand Secretary, is chairing a working party on mentoring in the Craft with the aim of seeing what elements of this are relevant to import to the Royal Arch. We already have Royal Arch representatives in many of our Lodges and one of the key decisions, as I am sure you can all appreciate from your experience, is when is the right time to brief the newly joined Mason on the Royal Arch – to have him understand the importance of the Royal Arch in the completion of pure ancient Masonry. For example there are questions such as, is it best after they have been raised, how does their mentor brief them, and how does the mentor or Royal Arch representative gain the right level of knowledge to correctly brief them in the first place? These are some of the conundrums that the working party are grappling with and I look forward to briefing you on their suggestions early next year. I am sure, however, that many of you have been debating these issues for some time! Fundamental is establishing the relevance, to prospective candidates, of the Order all of us who have been exalted so enjoy.
Since the beginning of the year we have installed six new Grand Superintendants in our Provinces and I have also installed the new Grand Superintendant for North Island New Zealand. This is, together, of course, with the South Island, the furthest of our Districts and our visit was seen as both supportive and a real sign of our commitment. We also met the Grand Superintendent from South Island who explained the continued havoc in Christchurch. Much of the damage from the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 and the multitude of aftershocks had come from liquefaction, when the soils are shaken and turn into a liquid form, undermining buildings and other structures. There is little chance of buildings being replaced in Christchurch as a result. What brought it home for us was when we learnt that the Hotel we stayed in for District’s 150th Anniversary, at the end of 2010 had crashed to the ground, not that long after we had left. Aftershocks continue to this day, illustrated by the fact that Christchurch was rocked by a 5.5 aftershock last Friday – the biggest they had had since June. Our continued sympathy and support goes out to our Companions in these tough conditions.
It is good top see so many of you here today and it is also appropriate that I take this opportunity to remind you that all Companions are eligible to attend this Supreme Grand Chapter meeting.
The scheme, which relies entirely on voluntary donations, enables surgeons to explore treatments for conditions and injuries that affect millions of people worldwide. Surgical research has already provided signifi cant advances in:
- hip and knee replacements
- the prevention of strokes
- reconstructive surgery for trauma and war-wounded victims
- less invasive surgery and quicker recovery times
- skilled operations to improve hearing and sight
- cancer survival rates
Currently in the UK, less than two percent of funding for medical research is given to surgical projects. It is hoped that the 2013 appeal will provide the RCS with a significant boost, enabling the continuation of existing projects, and supporting advancements in surgical care for future generations.
Further information, including how to donate, can be found on the Grand Charity's website.
On 16th May 2011 one of the most far-flung lodges of our English Constitution realised its dream of over a century to establish a Royal Arch chapter attached to it.
In 1872 Lodge of Harmony No. 1411 was consecrated in Valparaiso, Chile, the principal port and trading post of the country, dominated at the time by English merchants. It still meets in the same building where it started life, in a side street off one of the main thoroughfares and under the steep hills (cerros) of this rather scruffy but enchanting typical port city. It is the only Lodge under the jurisdiction of UGLE on the West Coast of all the Americas and falls within our District of South America Southern Division, which has its headquarters in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
So, why has it taken so long for the Royal Arch to reach Chile?
Lodge of Harmony was formed in the days before the current convention was agreed between Grand Lodges of the World, that no foreign Grand Lodge should form a lodge under its jurisdiction in a country with a local Grand Lodge already established. By 1872 the Grand Lodge of Chile had already been in existence for 10 years: so their support was needed by the Harmony founders to form an English lodge under the jurisdiction of UGLE, which was duly given.
The Grand Lodge of Chile works the first three degrees under the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, which enables brethren to pass on to ‘higher degrees’ after reaching the final Craft degree of a Master Mason. Under this Rite, the Royal Arch is neither recognised nor required as a completion of the Third Degree, principally as the story of the Royal Arch is covered in ‘higher degrees’, particularly the 14º to 16º, albeit differently. Consequently, in Chile, particularly owing to this difference, there has been long resistance to allowing the very few Chilean lodges (3) that exceptionally practise the Emulation or York rites to attach a Royal Arch chapter to their lodges. Several appeals were made to the Grand Lodge during the 20th Century by these lodges to grant them leave to form Royal Arch chapters, even under foreign jurisdictions. It was not until June 2010 that the Grand Lodge of Chile, acting under the initiative of its outgoing Grand Master, Juan José Oyarzún, eventually passed a decree permitting Chilean lodges that practise the Emulation or York rites to form Royal Arch chapters.
Lodge of Harmony, as an English lodge, has never been under the same restrictions, a fact that was recognised under treaty between our respective Grand Lodges. However, as Harmony owes its formation to support from the Grand Lodge of Chile, lives isolated from other English lodges making inter-visiting only possible with Chilean lodges and consequently has not wanted to risk any potential offence to the Grand Lodge of Chile, with whom UGLE has been in amity since 1862, the Lodge has hitherto refrained from pursuing this course out of respect for Chilean masons. That self-imposed restraint was released with the issue of the decree from the Grand Lodge of Chile last year.
Knowing of the intentions of the Chilean Grand Master and in anticipation of realising the Lodge’s dream, 6 members of Harmony were exalted together into Lomas Chapter 2517 in Buenos Aires in April 2010 with another member, already a RA mason (exalted in London), joining at the same time.
The members of Harmony, supported by the District Grand Superintendent, E Comp Jock Rodger, lost no time in setting about establishing a RA chapter for the Lodge with the objective to be the first in the country to do so, after the issue of the Chilean decree. Having aborted an initial idea to consecrate a new chapter, the decision was taken for expediency to take over an existing chapter from England. As the only member living in England and best placed to make the necessary arrangements, E Comp Nick Bosanquet PDepGDC initiated the process last autumn and with strong support from Metropolitan Grand Chapter and the then Deputy Metropolitan Grand Superintendent, E Comp Charles Grace PGSN, in particular, a struggling London chapter was soon found as a potential candidate for transfer out to Chile.
After hearing the story and attracted by the historic nature of the project, the members of Wandle Chapter No. 2699, persuaded by their charismatic Scribe E, E Comp Alan Linton, readily agreed to the transfer, encouraged by the fact that their Chapter would not now sink into oblivion within just two years of celebrating its Centenary, but play a leading role in establishing the Royal Arch firmly in Chile. On 15th February this year, 14 Companions joined Wandle Chapter from the District of South America Southern Division – 8 from Chile (including E Comp Bosanquet) and 6 from Argentina, including the GS, the 2nd District Grand Principal, the 3rd District Grand Principal, the District GDC and District Scribe E. Meeting in a small chapter room at Clerkenwell Masonic Centre, it was perhaps fortunate that not all of these joining members could attend. The South Americans were represented by E Comp Bosanquet, who was elected Scribe E of the Chapter during this last meeting in London, a very sad occasion for the stoic ‘old’ members. In recognition of and gratitude for their magnanimous generosity, the South Americans subsequently elected all the London members to Honorary Membership.
There then followed a frantic period of sourcing chapter furniture and regalia as none existed in Chile. Following appeals to Provinces by E Comp Bosanquet, many generous Companions responded promptly to the call. Some items could be made up locally, for which copious specifications with supporting photographs from a chapter room set up in Duke Street, St James’s, were sent out to Chile. The most difficult items to find were going to be Banners and Ensigns, as these typically belong to Masonic centres rather than individual chapters, with Robes and Sceptres likely to prove challenging too. Furthermore, everything had to be in Chile well before 16th May, the day set for the first meeting of the Chapter in its new home.
Out of the blue and to enormous relief, through assiduous action by Provincial Grand Officers in Shropshire, Fitz Alan Chapter No.1432 in Oswestry, which had commissioned new Banners and Ensigns in 2010, most generously donated their old set. These were delivered to an exceedingly grateful E Comp Bosanquet by E Comp Mike Parry PPrGSN of Fitz Alan Chapter within days before a large box of kit was shipped out to Chile with everything else acquired from England.
Supreme Grand Chapter presented the Chapter with a fine set of Robes and surplices, whilst a set of long-forgotten Sceptres was discovered still in good condition in Buenos Aires during refurbishment of the District Grand Lodge premises earlier in the year and donated to the Chapter by the District Grand Chapter together with tools and an engraved trowel, the latter a personal gift of the Third District Grand Principal, E Comp Neville Glynn.
The day of the first meeting in Valparaiso fell on a Monday. So, in true South American fashion, the weekend before was fiesta time to celebrate the historic event. Six members of the District flew over from Buenos Aires to join the Harmony brethren for three days of parties, lunches and dinners in Valparaiso and along the coastal resort towns nearby, indulging in copious quantities of Chile’s famous seafood, wines and, of course, pisco sour – pisco being a 40-proof local liqueur made from grape. Between the partying, just enough time was squeezed in with the help of wives, girlfriends and even sons and daughters to provide finishing touches to the furniture and rig the temple for the momentous meeting.
The Masonic Hall in Calle Wagner is owned by Harmony along with two smaller lodges – one American, one German. The building has been ravaged by several earthquakes in its time and was largely rebuilt in the 1970s, like a ‘bunker’, with the help of funding from UGLE, after a particularly violent quake. As a consequence, the building was able to withstand the second most violent earthquake in the country’s history, in February 2010, without suffering too much serious damage. The last of the repairs (to damaged lavatories), again assisted by funds from UGLE, were being completed as the temple was being rigged for the first Chapter meeting. Miraculously, the large temple, with its magnificent entrance columns and painted wooden ceiling of the night sky, has survived these natural disasters and looked magnificent in its new livery as a Royal Arch chapter
The first meeting of Wandle Chapter in Chile conveniently coincided with its annual Installation meeting. Sadly but understandably none of the London members were able to make the long journey out. However, besides the 14 members, 9 guests attended to witness the historic occasion, mostly Chilean RA masons who were members of an Argentine chapter in Mendoza, the wine capital of Argentina just across the Andes from Chile’s Capital City, Santiago.
E Comp Jock Rodger, District Grand Superintendent, accompanied by E Comp Philip Thompson, Second District Grand Principal, and E Comp Neville Glynn, Third District Grand Principal, opened the Chapter soon after 8 in the evening. After important administrative matters to deal with the transfer from London to Valparaiso, a short ceremony was performed to reconfirm the dedication of the temple to include Royal Arch masonry, before installation of the new Principals – E Comps Philip Thompson as MEZ, Neville Glynn as H, and John MacGregor as J. E Comp Nick Bosanquet handed over as Sc E to Comp Francisco Díaz, only to find the Principals with typical local humour appointing him at the end as Steward, a task that he will find difficult to administer from over 7,000 miles away. Other offices were taken by Comps Dragutín Paic as Sc N and Fernando Bórquez as Treasurer, E Comps Dennis Crisp (DGDC) as DC and Ernesto Marcer (DGScE) as Principal Sojourner, Comps Germán Buchheister and Enrique Cánepa as 1st and 2nd Assistant Sojourners, Erwald Finsterbuch as ADC and Kurt Baum as Janitor.
Proceedings were completed by 10:15, when members and their guests, after viewing a display of Wandle Chapter artefacts brought out from England, retired downstairs to the bar with a roaring fire (being winter in the Southern Hemisphere) for Scotch and pisco sours before dinner of traditional Chilean fare and wines. Toasts as usual were not proposed until after midnight.
It is gratifying to see English Freemasonry leading the initiative to establish the Royal Arch properly in Chile. The determination and dedication of the Harmony brethren has enabled this. However, with a lack of experienced companions in Valparaiso, the commitment of the six members from Buenos Aires to fill key offices and enable the Chapter to function is nothing short of heroic, especially without the benefit of an EasyJet or RyanAir in South America.
The Chapter expects most, if not all, MM of the Lodge of Harmony to join and hopes also to attract Chilean masons in the future … but they will have to speak English.
Since this first meeting in Valparaiso, there have been two further meetings with double Exaltation ceremonies at each. The first of these, in early July, took place soon after the volcanic eruption in Southern Chile cast a dense ash cloud across the Argentine halting flights out of Buenos Aires. This prevented the Argentine members of the Chapter from flying across to Chile for that meeting. Without these senior experienced companions the meeting would have had to be abandoned. The MEZ of the Chapter sent a message to the Chilean members - “maybe The Almighty is testing us to see if our Chapter is strong enough; look for Plan B”. An SOS was sent to the Chilean companions of the Mendoza chapter, who had attended the May meeting, for help. In a display of true Masonic fraternity they appeared in force to assist - in itself another historic moment for RA Masonry in Chile. Since these events these Chilean companions have been given permission by the Grand Lodge of Chile to move the meetings of their Chapter from Argentina to Chile.
Overall a great result!
Fresh Look at Status of the Royal Arch to Encourage Recruitment and Retention
A fresh definition of the status of the Royal Arch is to be considered by Grand Lodge following the publication of the report of the working group set up last year under the chairmanship of the Second Grand Principal, George Francis.
The announcement was made by Lord Northampton, Pro First Grand Principal, to the November meeting of Supreme Grand Chapter following publication of the report into the recruitment and retention of Royal Arch Masons. The report was going to Grand Superintendents, who would make it more widely available in Provinces.
The report covers neither the Metropolitan Grand Chapter, as they are to bring out their own report, nor Districts overseas.
Lord Northampton said that overall numbers had been dropping steadily, broadly in line with the falls in membership in the Craft generally, but as a proportion of the total membership of the Craft, they have been rising very slightly over the past ten years. However, there was much to do.
The first conclusion of the report related to the additional paragraph to the 1813 Declaration in the preamble to the Book of Constitutions, relating to the status of the Royal Arch.
This was added to by Grand Lodge in December 2003, and described the Royal Arch as ‘an extension to, but neither a superior nor a subordinate part of the Degrees which precede it’.
Lord Northampton commented: “There is no doubt that the Royal Arch is not the completion of just the third degree, but the 2003 declaration has not been entirely satisfactory.”
Neither did it help to describe the relationship of the Royal Arch to the three degrees, so had not been helpful to those joining or those seeking to recruit new members.
Lord Northampton added: “I am minded to request Grand Lodge to give careful consideration to replacing the 2003 paragraph with a fresh definition. A number of companions will be assisting me in trying to find a more suitable form of words for consideration.
“We should all seek to describe the Royal Arch as the next step in Freemasonry after the Craft degrees and the final step in pure ancient masonry. It is, of course, both an integral part of Craft masonry as well as being its completion.”
The other important conclusion of the report was a recommendation to that a Royal Arch representative should be appointed in each Craft lodge. Lord Northampton said that this representative, at least until further research and consideration, would not be a lodge officer, but would have the responsibility of promoting the Royal Arch within the lodge.
He added: “Where this role has already been implemented in some lodges, it has had a dramatic effect on the levels of recruitment and retention. Representatives need to be carefully chosen and the report gives advice and guidance on this matter.”
Lord Northampton said the report made a number of recommendations, and pointed to the dangers of allowing Chapters to become smaller and smaller to the point where they will no longer become viable.
There was a recommendation to look for ways of holding joint meetings with other chapters from time to time – with a possible view to encouraging amalgamation rather than inevitable closure.
He added: “The sharing of work is made much easier by the new ritual, but greater efforts are needed to include as many Companions as possible in ceremonies. This is to prevent boredom on the part of experienced companions, and fear and trepidation among newer Companions.”
Royal Arch to Adopt Hybrid System of Appointments and Promotions
The Royal Arch is to follow the Craft and revert to the principle of first appointments to Provincial and District Grand Ranks being based on the number of Chapters in a Province or District, and not as currently, on the number of Royal Arch Masons in such areas. The existing scales of acting ranks, based on the number of Royal Arch Masons, will, however, be retained.
The change was announced at the meeting of Supreme Grand Chapter in November. In addition, the working party headed by Past Second Grand Principal Peter Lowndes – who is also Deputy Grand Master in the Craft – has recommended that there be no formal restriction on the number of promotions that may be made. The changes will also apply to Metropolitan and Overseas Grand Chapter Ranks.
A notice of motion to amend the Royal Arch Regulations was given at the November Convocation of Grand Chapter, but as the retention of the existing scale of acting ranks was only decided on after the paper of business had gone to press, the formal motion will be subject to amendment when it comes before Grand Chapter on 1 May.
Supreme Grand Chapter of Estonia is Set Up
A Supreme Grand Chapter of Estonia is expected to be formed in early April 2008 with Hackney Brook Dependable Chapter No. 7397 of London planned to appear, without number, at the head of the register.
The London Chapter is currently meeting by dispensation in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, and is to retain its original charter, after cancellation, as an integral part of its history and that of the new Grand Chapter.
Subject to the Estonian Grand Chapter being constituted on or after 1 April, Hackney Brook Dependable Chapter will be erased from the register of the English Supreme Grand Chapter.
Two Chapters under the Grand Chapter of Finland have been exalting brethren from lodges under the Grand Lodge of Estonia with a similar view. All three Chapters will form the new Supreme Grand Chapter of Estonia.
Four good reasons to join this Order are put forward by John Hamill
In line with the fashion of the day, I should perhaps begin with a declaration of interest. At the age of 23, and only three months after becoming a Master Mason, I was exalted into the Royal Arch. That is something I have never regretted.
On joining the Grand Lodge Library staff in August 1971 like all keen young historians I looked for a subject on which little work had been done. Knowing the seniority of the Royal Arch and its indissoluble link with the Craft I was amazed to find that little was available on its origins, history and development and I spent a fair amount of my 28 years in the Library and Museum trying to repair that loss.
In the best sense of the word, I am an enthusiast for the Royal Arch and find it difficult to understand why more brethren do not seek membership in it.
Why should anyone join the Royal Arch rather than any of the other Masonic degrees and Orders available to us? My first reason would be that indissoluble link, which is peculiar to English Freemasonry.
For historical reasons, when the two Grand Lodges came together in 1813 to form the United Grand Lodge of England they adopted a definition of “pure ancient Masonry” which stated that it consisted “of three degrees and no more, viz., those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft and the Master Mason, including the Supreme order of the Holy Royal Arch.”
As a result the two became indissolubly linked administratively and thematically.
Unfortunately that definition was open to misinterpretation and until relatively recently the general view was that the Royal Arch was the completion of the Master Mason degree. Indeed, so widely held was that view, that in the ritual the candidate was informed that he must not think that he had taken a fourth degree but that he had completed his third.
I always had a problem with that statement. It was both illogical and rather insulting to those who remained solely in the Craft. Illogical, because the Third Degree is complete in itself, and insulting in that it implied that those who did not go into the Royal Arch were somehow incomplete or second class Master Masons.
Completion in a different form would be my second reason for joining. Our progress through Freemasonry is a journey of selfdiscovery and self-knowledge. In the Craft we are presented with eminently practical principles and rules which, if we follow them in our lives, we would hope to live a life of service to our fellow man and pleasing to God, however we worship Him.
But we are not simply practical beings.
We have a vital spiritual aspect to our natures which is addressed in the Royal Arch. In essence the Royal Arch, without transgressing the bounds of religion, invites the candidate to consider the nature of God and his relationship with Him.
In that way the Royal Arch completes the man by leading him from the practical to the spiritual, and the Craft and Royal Arch form “pure ancient masonry”.
My third reason would be the ceremony and the ritual itself. Done well, the exaltation ceremony is one of the most beautiful and thought-provoking in Freemasonry.
More dramatic than the Craft, the climax of the ceremony forms a vivid memory for all who go through it. Done “by the book” the ritual lays a heavy burden on the principal officers. Sadly, that has been used in the past to deter candidates from coming forward, suggesting that they should concentrate on getting through office in the Craft before joining the Royal Arch.
That should no longer be the case, as for more than 20 years Supreme Grand Chapter has been encouraging Chapters to share the work. This has three advantages: it lessens the burden on the principal officers, it enables more Companions to take part in the ceremony rather than sitting as spectators, and it allows newer members to learn the ritual at their own pace and to fit in with what they are doing in the Craft.
My fourth reason would be companionship and enjoyment. It is rare for a Chapter to draw its membership from only one Lodge. By joining a Chapter you will increase your Masonic acquaintance beyond the membership of your own Lodge, which, in turn, can lead to an increase in your Masonic experience and knowledge.
But, above all, joining the Royal Arch should increase your enjoyment of Freemasonry. It brings with it new experiences, new insights and new Companions, all of which add to our pleasure and our enjoyment of Freemasonry.
They key role played by John Knight in the Royal Arch in Cornwall is outlined by John Mandleberg
For speculative Freemasons, times have always been a-changin’, and the erection of the Premier Grand Lodge by ‘Four Old Lodges’ in 1717 was itself a novelty. When, in 1722 the Grand Master, the Duke of Wharton, laid down the procedure for constituting a new Lodge, this was almost revolutionary.
Not only had it not occurred to anyone before this that a special ceremony was needed to do such a thing, but it was the first time since 1717 that the detailed ritual for any ceremony had been written down. When, during the next 30 years the Royal Arch emerged from the shadows, many brethren in the Premier Grand lodge considered this not only a novelty, but an outrage – it was not ‘Pure Ancient Masonry’.
Those who founded the Grand Lodge of the Antients in 1751 took the opposite view – they regarded the Royal Arch as “the heart and marrow of Masonry.” However, by the end of the century the Premier Grand Lodge – the Moderns – had not only recognised the Degree, but had set up a Grand and Royal Arch Chapter, something which the Antients never effectively did.
Often too little thought is given to how Masonic developments taking place in London affected Brethren and Companions in the rest of the country. The “collective wisdom of the tribe” to use Galbraith’s phrase, is that communications in England were so poor at the end of the 18th century that it is a wonder that changes made in London ever filtered down to distant communities. And where was more remote than the north coast of Cornwall, 300 miles from London, the other side of Exmoor, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor.
Here, Freemasonry flourished in many towns, including Redruth, where for some 40 years before his death in 1828 John Knight was the leading Masonic figure.
In fact, Knight was to correspond at considerable length with leading London masons – Thomas Dunckerley, Robert Gill and Edward Harper for example – with little more difficulty than he would have experienced today.
Weekly at 2pm each Friday the mail coach left neighbouring Truro for London, where it arrived on Monday morning, and weekly it left London at mid-day on Tuesday and returned to Truro on Thursday. In 1791 Dunckerley, “the Grand Master of Royal Arch Masons”, could reply from Hampton Court on 15 July to a letter written in Cornwall three days earlier.
Parcel post took no longer, for packages of regalia, Books of Constitutions and Lodge and Chapter furnishings travelled on the same mail coach. Cornish Freemasons could be made aware of developments in London as they occurred, little more slowly than would be the case today.
The letter which Dunckerley wrote on 15 July 1791 provided a Dispensation to open the Druids Chapter of Love and Reality in Redruth – at the time there was a tradition in Cornwall that the Ancient Druids had brought Freemasonry to the country.
It was a Dispensation and not a Warrant or Charter “as the Grand Chapter will not meet til the last Thursday in Oct.” Dunckerley wrote it out in due form in his own hand on the back of the letter. John Knight was named as the First Principal Z., an office which he was to occupy for the rest of his life.
Consecrations differed somewhat from what we are used to today. A senior Companion would be delegated to install the three principals, who appointed their officers at the following meeting.
For example, in 1810 John Foulstone, the Grand Recorder, was delegated to travel to Falmouth to install the principals of the newly Warranted Valubian Chapter. He took the Chair of ZX, with John Knight acting as H. Foulstone “opened [a Chapter] in Ample form the several Comps who had not passed the Chair of Zerubi being duly passed with the proper Signs & Words.”
In other words, all those present were made Passed Zs so that they could witness the installations. [To have been Exalted, a Brother would already either have presided over a Lodge as it Master, or have been through a ‘Passing the Chair’ ceremony.]
When the Druids Chapter of Love and Liberality had been founded in 1791, Knight had evidently wanted the Companions to be properly clothed. He wrote to Dunckerley in August 1792 wishing to obtain “proper Royal Arch Masons Aprons”, but received the reply that “Royal Arch aprons were directed to be worn by the old Chapters, but to have been discarded for several years, & Sashes being deem’d sufficient.”
Dunckerley omitted to point out that the reason why sashes had been “deem’d sufficient” was because Grand lodge had refused to allow Companions to wear their red-bordered aprons in Craft Lodges, with the result that in a fit of pique Grand Chapter ordered them to be discarded.
In the early 19th century new regalia was designed for Royal Arch Companions, so that John Knight could write to London in 1803: “You mentd. in your last letter that patterns of Jewells & aprons to be worn by officers and companions of the order were to be fixed on & when ready shall be glad to know what they are.” The new aprons had the indented red and blue border with which we are familiar today.
But these were minor changes compared with those imposed by Supreme Grand Chapter when it was formed in 1817, four years after the Union of the Grand lodges.
For example, while each Antient Chapter worked under the Warrant of the lodge from which it had sprung, a Modern Chapter such as Love and Liberality had been granted its own separately numbered Warrant.
Now, every Royal Arch Chapter had to be sponsored by a regularly Warranted lodge, the number of which it assumed.
Supreme Grand Chapter then issued Charters of Confirmation” to each Chapter which complied with this instruction, those formerly Modern and Antient alike. For some reason this gave John Knight particular concern. He involved himself in considerable correspondence to ensure that the new Charter would fit exactly into the frame which surrounded the former Warrant.
John Knight then summoned the Companions of his Chapter to an especial meeting “for the purpose of framing Bye- Laws, entering into Annual Subscription, Electing members for the Better Regulating & Support of the Royal Arch Chapter.”
Up to this time there had been no well defined ‘Membership’ of a Chapter. Now, in accordance with the new Regulations of the order, all those who had previously been Exalted in the Chapter had to make the decision whether they should formally become members of it.
This would involve them in paying an annual subscription and adhering to its bye-laws – which had yet to be written – or being excluded from it except as visitors.
Several Companions who had formerly considered themselves part of the Chapter declined to become subscribing members.
However, John Knight was elected to continue as First Principal.
The records of how John Knight and his Companions reacted to the further changes which were made in his lifetime have not survived, and Love and Liberality Chapter itself did not long survive his death in 1828. His 35-year reign may have made it impossible to find anyone to follow him.
Redruth was then without Royal Arch Masonry for nearly 40 years.
John Mandleberg is Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, the premier Lodge of Masonic research
Royal Arch Masons and Knights Templar at Redruth, Cornwall, 1791–1828, C J Mandleberg and L.W. Davies, QCCC Ltd.