The Royal Arch is the continuation of Craft Masonry and is open to men of all faiths.
Its members are called Companions, and they meet in Chapters.
The Supreme Grand Chapter of England is the governing body of the Royal Arch in England, Wales and the Channel Island.
Chapters are ruled over by three Principals, who rule conjointly, and Supreme Grand Chapter is ruled by three Grand Principals.
Chapters under the jurisdiction of Supreme Grand Chapter of England are grouped as Metropolitan area or Provinces, which are based on the old Counties.
Overseas Chapters are grouped in Districts. Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Chapters are ruled over by a Grand Superintendent who is appointed by the First Grand Principal as his personal representative for the particular area.
The Royal Arch in England has four ceremonies: the exaltation ceremony for new members, and an installation ceremony for each of the three Principals.
The exaltation ceremony consists of two parts.
The first part is a dramatic representation of the principles of the Order, and the second part consists of three lectures in which the history, symbolism and principles of the Royal Arch are further explained.
The exaltation ceremony is based on an allegory of the Old Testament telling of the return to Jerusalem from the Babylonish captivity to rebuild the city and temple, and in clearing the ground of the original temple for the foundations of the second temple, the exaltee 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 exaltee to a consideration of the nature of God and his personal relationship with Him.
The Royal Arch is considered to be the completion of “pure ancient Masonry”.
In the Craft the candidate is presented with a series of eminently practical principles and tenets which if he practices them he may hope to live a life pleasing God, however he worships him, and of service to his fellow man.
But man is not simply a practical being, he has an essential spiritual aspect to his nature.
That spiritual aspect is introduced in the Third Degree, in which the candidate is led to a contemplation of man’s inevitable destiny, and becomes the central message of the Royal Arch.
In that sense “pure ancient Masonry” can be seen as a journey of self-knowledge and discovery with the Royal Arch completing the practical lessons of the Craft by a contemplation of man’s spiritual nature, not replacing but reinforcing and supporting what he has learned from his religion.
Why Join the Royal Arch?
The Royal Arch is the culmination of “pure ancient masonry”
The Craft gives its members eminently practical rules by which they can live their lives in service of both God, however they worship him, and the community as a whole.
Man , however, is not simply a practical being but has an essential spiritual aspect to his nature. This is taken up in the Royal Arch, in which the candidate, without trespassing on the bounds of religion, is led to contemplate the nature of God and his personal relationship with him.
The Royal Arch leads the candidate from practical to the spiritual and completes “pure ancient masonry”, a fascinating journey of self-knowledge and self-discovery beginning with the Entered Apprentice degree and culminating in the First Principal’s chair of the Chapter.
How to Join the Royal Arch
The prime qualification for admission into the Royal Arch is to be a Master Mason, of at least four weeks standing, in a Lodge under the United Grand Lodge of England, or a Lodge under a Grand Lodge recognised by it.
As in all other Masonic Orders you will need a proposer and seconder who are members of the Chapter in which you seek to be exalted. If your Lodge does not have a Royal Arch Chapter attached to it, it will probably have an arrangement with a local Chapter. Check your Lodge summons which may give details of either the Chapter attached to it, a Chapter to which it supplies candidates or a member of the Lodge who is a Royal Arch Mason who will assist members interested in joining the Royal Arch.
If there are no details on your Lodge summons you can usually identify the members of your Lodge who are Royal Arch Masons as they normally wear the jewel of the Order with their Craft regalia. They will be delighted to be approached about membership.
If all that fails, you can contact the Provincial Office:-
Provincial Grand Chapter of Middlesex
148 London Road, Twickenham, Middlesex TW1 1HD
Tel: 020 8891 3300 FAX: 020 8892 5770