Paul Palmer

The Enigma of The Royal Arch

The colourful sight beheld by new Companions during Exaltation into the Holy Royal Arch (HRA) is often remembered for the rest of their lives and a number find Chapter banquets more congenial than Craft festive boards. Combined with the story of ‘How that which was lost is discovered’, the HRA gives great pleasure to almost everyone who has taken the ‘Fourth Independent Step in Core Freemasonry’.

There is also a sense of ‘doing the right thing’ in heeding the Pro Grand Master’s call for all Craft Masons to join the HRA before considering additional Masonic Orders. Nevertheless, there is an enigma (Oxford Dictionary: a person, thing or situation that is mysterious and difficult to understand) which most Companions end up accepting but offset it against, what is to them, a most enjoyable part of Freemasonry

There is no shortage of excellent publications about the HRA which are often written for the more serious researchers or learned Companions without examining the enigma in the way Essex Freemason and author, David West, does in his new book ‘The Enigma of The Royal Arch’.

Starting with a background of current membership trends and contrasting English workings with Scottish, Irish and York Rite, the reader is drawn into exploring a combination of facts and fiction found in evaluating early ritual and manuscripts. Followed by an analysis of what was lost and other significant factors, all the content is explained in a way which helps readers clearly understand why the HRA in England is considered to be the completion of ‘pure ancient Masonry’.

Full of lots of interesting information and well-illustrated, with the cover designed by Lawrie Morrisson, the new 66-page book is easy to read and would prove useful to Scribes E, Chapter Mentors, newly elected Principals and RA Representatives. Since my own Exaltation (1978), nobody has ever been able to explain to me the mysterious and difficult-to-understand situations in the HRA, as well as David West has done in ‘The Enigma of The Royal Arch’.

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12 Million Steps for Muscular Dystrophy

112 Essex Freemasons stepped up to the plate for the Provincial ‘500 Step Challenge’. In the eight days from 23rd to 30th December 2020, the Brethren recorded a total of 12,378,321 steps, the equivalent of walking 6,189 miles.  St Philip Lodge No 4221 whose four team members, Alan Keith, Andy Cross, Joe Wiggins and Paul Leacock marched into first place with an average of 20,478 steps each day and gave their prize-winning charitable donation to Muscular Dystrophy UK, in memory of the late Spencer Walsh, the brother-in-law of Andy Cross, who sadly passed away on 7th December 2020.

For Andy Cross, the sexagenarian Treasurer of St Philip Lodge, every step was a challenge, suffering with heel pain in his right foot from a ligament inflammation (plantar fascia) he still managed to complete 242,926 steps.  Exactly 100 years ago, the Founders of St Philip Lodge were also taking challenging steps. The Warrant of the Lodge was granted on 13th December 1920 and arrangements for the Consecration were well under way. As the Founders look down from Grand Lodge above, they must be feeling very proud of the current St Philip Lodge members as they begin their Centennial year.

The leading individual was Clive Cheeseman with a total of 275,784 steps from second placed Henry de Gray Lodge No 6627. His team was followed in order by Cornerstone, St Kath’s Turkey Trotters, Spero Lodge, Orsett Lodge, The Beeleigh Abbey Lodge, Round Table Lodge of Essex, Old Parkonians Lodge, The Dragon of St George, Albert Lucking Chubbsters, Sons of Benfleet, Old Easthameian, Essex Quadrant Lodge, Team Wakering, Haven Step Brothers, Prittlewell 3 Amigos, Shenfield Lodge, Saint Cedd, Paul Geadey Gaggle, Alan Keith Quadrant, Lodge of Amity No 5753, Team Higgins and The Dragon of St George.

The widow of Spencer, Mrs Jill Welsh has written “I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Province of Essex Freemasons for the ‘500 Step Challenge’ donation. This been donated to Muscular Dystrophy UK, a cause very close to our hearts having lost our son to this cruel disease at the age of 17. With tributes also from family and friends we have been able to send in excess of £2,000 to this worthy charity. With my deepest gratitude”.

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