Thames Mouth Chapter
Province of Essex - Consecrated 8th May 1954
What is the Holy Royal Arch?
Royal Arch is an Order in 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.
The Royal Arch is the continuation of Craft Freemasonry. Its members, called Companions, meet in Chapters under a Grand Chapter. Chapters are ruled over by three Principals, who rule conjointly, and the Grand Chapter is ruled over by three Grand Principals, with a Pro First Grand Principal when the First Grand Principal is a Royal Prince.
In England the Royal Arch has four ceremonies: the exaltation ceremony to bring in new members and an installation ceremony for each of the three Principals. The exaltation ceremony is in two parts: a rather dramatic presentation of the principles of the Order followed by three Lectures in which the history, symbolism and principles of the Royal Arch are further explained. Like Craft Freemasonry, the Royal Arch is open to men of all faiths.
The allegory of the exaltation ceremony is based on the Old Testament telling of the return to Jerusalem from the Babylonish captivity to rebuild the city and temple. In clearing the ground of the original temple for the foundations of the second temple, the candidate makes a number of discoveries which emphasise the centrality of God to man's life and existence and, without transgressing the bounds of religion, lead the candidate to a consideration of the nature of God and his personal relationship with Him, whatever his religion might be.
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