Because you need to be a Freemason before you can join the Royal Arch, this section is written for Masons. However if you wish to know more about joining Royal Arch read on. Alternatively, if you wish to know how to become a Freemason go to the United Grand Lodge website www.ugle.org.uk or a local Provincial Grand Lodge website which in Worcestershire is http://www.worcspgl.org.uk/
Your first step in Freemasonry is to join a Lodge. Collectively, Lodges are referred to as “the Craft” and once you have become a fully fledged Craft Mason, known as a Master Mason, there are a number of other Orders that you can join. Royal Arch has the closest ties to the Craft and, at some point in their membership, all Craft Masons are likely to be encouraged to join Royal Arch.
Once you have become a Master Mason, after one month you are entitled to join Royal Arch. The term for joining is Exalted. You join a Royal Arch Chapter of which there are nearly 50 in the Province of Worcestershire with at least one meeting at every meeting place within the Province.
It is generally considered that membership of the Royal Arch is an important step in your journey through Masonry and Craft and Royal Arch have very close ties. Indeed, they are said to be “indissolubly linked”, so much so that in Scotland (which has its own Grand Lodge which is independent of the United Grand Lodge of England) you must become a member of Royal Arch, which you do in your Craft Lodge, before you are fully fledged.
In Worcestershire all Lodges should have a Royal Arch representative and, if you want to join, he is a good port of call. You can also download the leaflet on this website (Downloads/Master Mason Pack).
You may consider speaking to your friends who are members of the Royal Arch, or view the Royal Arch Section in the Worcestershire Year Book.
As in all Masonic Orders you will need a proposer and seconder who are members of the Chapter you wish to join.
Like Lodges, Chapters meet a number of times during the year, usually four and at your first meeting you will take part in an Exaltation ceremony. Once you are Exalted, whilst at a Chapter meeting, you will be addressed as “Companion” in the same way as you are “Brother” in a Craft Lodge.
As a Mason you will already be familiar with Masonic ceremonies and many Masons consider the Exaltation ceremony to be particularly interesting, colourful and thought provoking.
Whilst Chapters are separate and distinct from Lodges and meet on different nights, originally each Chapter will have been sponsored by a Lodge and they usually share the same name. However, whilst a Chapter may have close relationships with that Lodge, it may also have close links with other Lodges whose members will often join the Chapter.
Companions wear distinctive regalia of a different design from that of Craft
The apron retains its basic white centre but has a red and blue border, these colours being repeated on a sash which is also worn. These two colours are normally found on the border of the Masonic Pavement; the carpet in the Lodge room. Companions also wear a Royal Arch jewel which they should wear when they attend both Chapter and Craft meetings. The wearing of this jewel in Craft serves to reinforce the special tie between the two orders which has already been referred to.
The ritual of Royal Arch, in common with that of all Masonic degrees takes the form of an allegory. In the Craft this allegory guides you to find your true self. Royal Arch is designed to prompt each Companion to consider his relationship with and dependence on a Supreme Being.
In a Craft Lodge members usually progress through a number of Offices before ultimately attaining the position of Worshipful Master. Likewise in Royal Arch there are a number of Offices which ultimately lead to the Office of Principal. However, in Royal Arch each Chapter has three Principals who are appointed and Installed each year, each having different responsibilities within the Chapter. It is usual for a Companion to progress through the three Principals’ Offices or “Chairs” in consecutive years.
In Worcestershire all Chapters come under that administration of the Provincial Grand Chapter of Worcestershire, the head of which is the Grand Superintendent. In turn all Provinces operate under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Grand Chapter of England. Both Provinces and Supreme Grand Chapter have Officers who are usually appointed annually.
The head of the Order is HRH The Duke of Kent whose title in the Order is First Grand Principal.