PROVINCIAL GRAND CHAPTER OF ROYAL ARCH MASONS OF CHESHIRE
Quadruple Exaltation at St Mary’s Chapter
St Mary’s Chapter No.8098 who meet at Queen Street, Chester performed a very unique and rare ceremony on Friday 11th October, which will be remembered for a very long time, the simultaneous Exaltation of four candidates!
Three of those candidates were Master Masons from the University Lodge of Chester.
To see this ceremony enacted was the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent Stephen Martin Blank, the Deputy Grand Superintendent Excellent Companion Robert Bramley PGSwdB, the Second Grand Principal Excellent Companion Philip Edward Rowland PGStB, Assistants to the Provincial Grand Principal Excellent Companions Stephen Christian PGStB and Richard Dobbing PAGDC accompanied by a retinue of Supreme Grand Chapter and Provincial Grand Chapter Officers.
The scene was set with EComp Richard Dobbing acting as narrator, the four candidates were led by the Principal Sojourner Norman Jinks assisted by the Assistant Sojourners and EComp Royston Jones, PGStB and Exalted by the MEZ EComp John Mawson, part of the ceremony also included the assistance of the Provincial leaders. The whole ceremony was choreographed with precision within the confines of the Queen Street Lodge Room, a testament to hours of meticulous preparation and rehearsal, to the credit of the Officers and Companions of St Mary’s Chapter.
The festive board was a lively time with Officers, Companions and guests recanting the previous two hours of ceremony and ritual. During his response, a major announcement was made by the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent that St Mary’s Chapter No. 8098 is the very first Royal Arch Chapter in Cheshire to secure the coveted Universities Scheme accreditation – well done to everyone!
WHAT IS THE ROYAL ARCH?
History & Relationship to the Craft
This is an order of Freemasonry closely associated with Craft Freemasonry. The first documented evidence of a “Royal Arch” comes from Ireland in 1743; it seems likely that this was `an added extra’ worked within Craft Lodges in England, Ireland and Scotland for many years. Thus it came to be regarded, by the Antients in England as a fourth Degree in Freemasonry. The Moderns, on the other hand, do not appear to have officially recognised the Degree at all (with a few exceptions). Leading in due course, to completely separate Royal Arch Chapters. These differences were partially resolved at the Union of the Grand Lodges in 1813, by a compromise: the new United Grand Lodge of England declared the Royal Arch to be an official and accepted part of `Pure and Antient Freemasonry’ The Royal Arch is an integral part of Freemasonry and interwoven with the Craft, the teachings of which it completes.
Why Should Craft Freemasons Join the Royal Arch?
Because the Royal Arch is the completion of Pure and Antient Freemasonry. Through the lessons presented in the Craft ceremonies, a Freemason is called upon to improve his relationship with his fellows and to practice the three great principles upon which the Craft is founded; brotherly love, relief and truth.
The Royal Arch takes matters further and can be seen to be the superstructure that makes all that has been presented complete and perfect. Royal Arch Masonry presents the inquiring mind with an inspirational framework for life. The ceremony in the Royal Arch is colourful, thought-provoking and uplifting. It is based upon the Old Testament legend of the rebuilding of the Temple and invokes, simultaneously, sensations of humility and our dependence on an unseen creator.
The Royal Arch makes good the promises of `recovery’ when what is lost in the Third Degree of Craft Masonry is revealed in a fascinating ceremony. Progress through the Royal Arch completes an individual’s journey through pure ancient Freemasonry. Craft Masons are, therefore, actively encouraged to become members of the Royal Arch in order to further develop and enrich their understanding of Freemasonry.
Members of the Royal Arch are known as “Companions”. The word Companion is derived from two Latin terms meaning someone with whom you share bread and who could be trusted with your life; it suggests a higher affinity than that of a Brother. It is a particularly apt description of a member of the Royal Arch, who has a duty to support and encourage his Companions and to attain a high standard of his conduct in his personal life. New Members very quickly discover why we say the desire of all Royal Arch Masons is to “please each other and to unite in the grand design of being happy and communicating happiness”.
Government of the Royal Arch
HRH The Duke of Kent heads both the Craft and the Royal Arch; being the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England and the First Principal of the Supreme Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of England. Similarly, in Cheshire, the RW Provincial Grand Master is also the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent in and over our Province. Many Brethren hold similar ranks both in the Craft and the Royal Arch and it is often the case that Officers of the Province `transfer’ from one to the other, during their career. The Most Excellent Grand Superintendent for the Province of Cheshire actively encourages Craft and Royal Arch members to support each other’s activities in order to demonstrate the indissoluble link that exists between Craft and the Royal Arch.
Qualification for Membership
Membership is open to Freemasons of all faiths who have been Master Masons for at least four weeks. Members of the Chapter to which they seek admission must propose, second and ballot for them.
St. Mary’s Chapter No 8098
Meeting at The Masonic Hall, 2 Queen Street, Chester, St Mary’s Chapter was Consecrated in 1985, and in 2019 was the very first Royal Arch Chapter in Cheshire to secure the coveted Universities Scheme accreditation. They meet on three occasions during the year; on the second Friday evening of February, April and October.
There are two: - Exaltation, when a new member is admitted to the Chapter, and The Installation for each of the three Principals, (This is held in April at St. Mary’s Chapter). Both are most impressive, colourful and moving occasions. Meetings or Convocations as they are known, are usually followed by a meal at the Social Board.
Three items; an apron, sash and breast jewel, all of distinctive design. The breast jewel is worn by Freemasons who are members of the Royal Arch at their Craft meetings in order to show their membership of the Royal Arch. The total cost of the regalia, new, is around £65. Chapters often have used regalia at a much-reduced cost. Please ask the Secretary or Scribe E about used regalia. There are minor changes to all three on becoming a Principal of your Chapter.
Subscriptions and the cost of meals at the social board vary somewhat from Chapter to Chapter, but subscriptions are much lower than a Craft Lodge.