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What is The Royal Arch?

Who is eligible to join the Royal Arch?

A Master Mason may join a Royal Arch Chapter four weeks after being Raised to the Third Degree. It is the natural and traditional next step in Freemasonry.

What is the Royal Arch?

Long ago, the Royal Arch degree would have been worked in a Craft Lodge. For many years following the re-organisation of Freemasonry after the Union of the Grand Lodges in 1813, the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch was stated to be the completion of the Third Degree, but it is now more accurately described as the completion of the journey through pure, ancient Masonry.

This is undoubtedly a most rewarding and enlightening step for a Master Mason to take. It offers him an opportunity to fill the gaps left in Craft Masonry after the Third Degree and to continue his Masonic journey towards a spiritual conclusion.

In the degrees which you received in the Craft you were taught that Freemasonry is a system of morality, based on a belief in T.G.A.O.T.U. and promoting brotherly love, relief and truth as the rule for your earthly pilgrimage.

The Ceremony of Raising implies that there is more to learn, for it urges us to lift our eyes beyond our civil duties and routine existence. The Royal Arch develops this theme and teaches us that the true secrets of a Freemason are to be found within ourselves.

Why should I join?

The Royal Arch has a unique position as part of the mainstream of Freemasonry, so that it and the Craft are totally complementary, and are together described as forming the whole of “pure, ancient Masonry”. There are other Masonic Orders, all of which require Craft membership as a pre-requisite; many of them also requiring candidates to have been exalted into the Royal Arch.

Usually, a Royal Arch Chapter is attached to a specific Lodge, and will most likely use its name and number, though not all Lodges have a Chapter. It follows that Companions of a Chapter will come from different Lodges, and perhaps from the Provinces.

Certainly, joining a Chapter will extend the circle of your Masonic friends.

How is it organised?

The close affinity of the Craft and the Royal Arch is further emphasised by the fact that the Grand Master is automatically the First Grand Principal of Supreme Grand Chapter, the Pro Grand Master is the Pro First Grand Principal, and the Grand Secretary is also Secretary of the Royal Arch in which he is called the Grand Scribe Ezra.

The Royal Arch Regulations are in the Book of Constitutions of Grand Lodge which you received at your initiation. Chapters meet less frequently than Lodges, commonly three times a year. Joining Fees and Annual Dues are usually less than those of the Craft.

Our members are known as “Companions”. Companions who become one of the three Principals of a Chapter (broadly equivalent of the Worshipful Master and Wardens) are known as “Excellent Companions”. It has recently become permissible to be elected a Principal of a Chapter without having been a Worshipful Master of a Lodge, though this will probably happen relatively rarely.

The Royal Arch in West Kent

There are at present about 75 Chapters under the Provincial Grand Chapter of West Kent. The Provincial Grand Master is also the Provincial Grand Superintendent, in charge of the Royal Arch. There is a Deputy Provincial Grand Superintendent as well as Second and Third Provincial Grand Principals. Along with two Assistants to the Provincial Grand Principals, they have particular responsibility for the Royal Arch. The Royal Arch in West Kent is administered by the Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra, who is also the Craft Provincial Grand Secretary. The complete list of Royal Arch Provincial Grand Officers may be found in the Annual Yearbook. Further information is available on the Royal Arch section of the Provincial Grand Lodge website

What are the Royal Arch Ceremonies?

Apart from the annual Installation Ceremony, there is only one ceremony in the Royal Arch ritual, that of the ‘Exaltation’ of a new Companion. After the darkness of the Third Degree, it is a colourful, enlightening and memorable ceremony, with profound, challenging, allegorical significance. The story told, which contains some of the most delightful lines of Masonic ritual, concerns the re-building of the Temple after the Exile of the Israelites.

Regalia

The Aprons and Sashes worn by Companions in Chapter meetings are shown in this leaflet. Companions wear the Jewel of the Order, also shown, in Lodge, with their Craft regalia as a visible sign of the indissoluble link between Royal Arch and Craft Masonry. (No emblems of other Orders should be worn in Lodge.)

What next?

Every Lodge should have a Royal Arch Representative named on the Summons, but there will always be many Brethren eager to give advice about joining the Royal Arch and make the necessary introductions. Your Lodge Mentor will also be able to offer advice. A Lodge Summons may give details of an attached Chapter although it is not obligatory for a Brother to join the Chapter attached to his Lodge.

If you are unable to obtain an introduction to a Chapter you should contact the Provincial Grand Lodge/Grand Chapter office:

Telephone: 020 8462 9249

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