A Demonstration of Royal Arch Chapter Workings by the Province of Bristol

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The demonstration team with the Steward’s Chapter Principals and members of the Executive

The long planned and awaited demonstration of the Ceremony of the Veils by the team from the Province of Bristol was performed to a packed Royal Arch Chapter at the Maidstone Masonic Centre on Friday 26th June.

Royal Arch Chapters in the Province of Bristol perform the ceremony of exaltation differently to anywhere else in the world, which encourages many companions from far and wide to visit and witness their unique Royal Arch workings.

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The Chapter Principals from East Kent and Bristol with their Grand Superintendents

The Bristol Craft ceremonies are believed to date from a period long before the Union of 1813 – one authority has suggested from about 1724. They are considerably different from those worked in the rest of the English Constitution – more elaborate and dramatic. The same is true of the Royal Arch in Bristol.

One of the earliest references that they have to English Royal Arch Masonry occurs in the Minutes of a ‘Moderns’ Lodge, No 220, meeting at the Crown Tavern in Christmas Street, Bristol, in August 1758. Bristol’s Chapter of Charity was consecrated in 1769 and is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, continuously working Chapter in existence.

The current Bristol Royal Arch working contains passages very reminiscent of surviving 18th century manuscript rituals and every exaltation includes a ceremony of ‘Passing the Veils’ and is substantially different from other English Chapter workings.

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Geoffrey Dearing speaking at the Festive Board

East Kent Royal Arch Masons were therefore given a rare opportunity to witness the unique Bristol workings at a meeting hosted by the East Kent Provincial Grand Stewards’ Chapter No 5866. After opening the Chapter the Stewards handed over to the Bristolians who enthralled everyone present with their demonstration.

East Kent’s own Mark Bassant acted as the candidate for the evening and was presented with a certificate to mark the occasion.

After handing back to the Stewards’ to close the Chapter everyone retired to an enjoyable Festive Board to round off a memorable evening. It was a fitting end to the masonic season for many of those present.

Grateful thanks were expressed to the organisers of the event and of course the team from Bristol, headed by their Grand Superintendent, Excellent Companion Alan Vaughan, for their efforts in contributing to the evening’s success.

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Some Companions enjoying the Festive Board

The substance of the ceremony cannot be detailed here but any Brother, not yet a Royal Arch Companion, can apply to join from as early as four weeks after being made a Master Mason. It is a truly wonderful order and if any Brother wishes to know more about it then a brief word with his lodge’s Chapter Liaison Officer would be a good place to start!

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