Royal Arch Chapter

Penllergaer Chapter No. 5567

Warrant 13th February 1985

Meeting Place Swansea Masonic Temple

Meeting Dates 3rd Wed - Sep, Feb 3rd Sat - Nov 4th Wed - May (Installation)

The Historical Setting

As all Freemasons and many other people know, 'Craft' Freemasonry uses events and characters from the time (from about 970BC) of the building of King Solomon's Temple at Jerusalem, as an allegorical basis for its ceremonies and precepts.

As such there are 'loose ends' left untied. This is primarily because, in the time when these events unfolded, some privileged information had not been disclosed to most of the people involved.

The Royal Arch ceremony is based on events occurring over a long period following Solomon's reign (972-922BC). His temple had been destroyed, Judea divided and its tribes had become captives of the Babylonians. This situation was only relieved in around 540BC when Babylon was taken by Cyrus the Great of Persia, an extremely humane leader. He liberated the Jewish captives and encouraged them to return to Jerusalem and to rebuild the temple.

Whilst engaged in clearing the site, some of the workmen made a momentous discovery. In time this revealed not only the privileged information, which had previously been feared lost, but an insight into the very nature of the Supreme Being.

History of the Masonic Royal Arch Degree

Exactly when Royal Arch Freemasonry began is not known with any certainty. The earliest documented references are to be found in Ireland from 1743, although already (seemingly) as an established body. Minutes of a Lodge from 1752, again in Ireland, refer to the Royal Arch.

The first record of an admission into the order comes from Fredericksburg, Virginia (in what is now the United States) from December 1757.

In England the Royal Arch was regarded as a 'fourth degree' by the 'Antients' who conferred it in their Lodges under their own charters. The Premier Grand Lodge of the rival 'Moderns' was vigorously opposed to this approach, however. This brought about the formation of separate Royal Arch Chapters.

A Charter of Compact was signed in July 1766 which established the 'Grand and Royal Chapter of the Royal Arch of Jerusalem' the direct predecessor of today's Supreme Grand Chapter. This body was not universally acknowledged however until almost half a century later with the Union of the 'Antients' and the 'Moderns' to form the United Grand Lodge.

At that time (1813) article II of the Articles of Union stated "It is declared and pronounced that pure Antient Masonry consists of three degrees, and no more, viz, those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch." So that seeming compromise of words gave Royal Arch Masonry the unique status of being an integral part of the Craft, yet still separate. No other Masonic order can be described in this way.

Qualifications for Membership

To be exalted to the supreme degree of a Royal Arch Mason the candidate must have been a Master Mason for a minimum of one month.

It is necessary for a Royal Arch Mason to have been Master of a Craft Lodge before he can complete his progression to the office of a Principal in a Royal Arch Chapter.

Master Masons interested in becoming a Royal Arch Companion should contact their Lodge Secretary; or speak to any brother wearing a Royal Arch Jewel with his Craft Regalia

List of Swansea Chapters

Click on heading to see list