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History & Relation to the Craft

This 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’. Whilst the Royal Arch is, therefore, an integral part of Freemasonry and interwoven with the Craft, it is organised as a separate Order, distinct from the Craft degrees, the teachings of which it completes.

Why Should Craft Freemasons Join the Royal Arch?

Pure ancient Freemasonry, which is composed of Craft masonry and Royal Arch masonry, presents the inquiring mind with an inspirational framework for life. 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. 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 our unseen creator. The Royal Arch makes good the promise 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 antient 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. Indeed the Grand Master encourages Master Masons to join the Royal Arch only when they are ready to do so but before joining any other Masonic Order.
Companionship
Members of the Royal Arch are known as “Companions”. The word Companion is derived from two Latin terms, meaning someone with whom you shared your bread, was one 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”.

How to join

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 , it will probably have an arrangement with a local Chapter. Your Lodge Royal Arch representative will provide you with details and locations of Chapters meeting at different times and days of the week. Or click below to ask Bruce

Want to know more, or ready to join?

Ask the Royal Arch Membership Officer, Bruce Mapson a question.