Why did I join the Royal Arch? – A personal view by Tony Terry

Tony Terry of Patriotic Chapter No. 51 shares why he joined the Royal Arch - and why he stayed

On the 30th June 2023, Abbeygate Chapter No. 4219, a daylight chapter, hosted the Combined Chapter Convocation at St Giles Masonic Hall, Colchester, the first one for over 10 years.  It was well attended with 70 Companions representing all eight chapters in Colchester and Wivenhoe.

The Most Excellent Grand Superintendent (MEGS), Paul Tarrant, the Deputy Grand Superintendent, Elliott Chevin, and several members of the Provincial Executive were also present. The guest speaker, Colonel (retired) Andrew Jackson, the Chief Executive for the SUPPORT OUR PARAS charity, provided us with some insight into the history of the Parachute Regiment and the charity that he is CEO of, which was well received.

At the Festival Board, the MEGS, Paul Tarrant informed all present of how important the Royal Arch (RA) is and that we should encourage more to join it as it is the completion of the Third degree in Craft. There are many other additional Orders which one can choose from in one’s Masonic career, but the Royal Arch should be the priority of every Mason.

Now this got me thinking . . . . Why did I join the Royal Arch and what was the benefit that I had received from being a Companion?  So, I thought I would share some insight from when I was first initiated in Avilion Lodge No. 4879 in 1976 becoming the WM in 1983 and WM in Angel Lodge No. 51 in 1984

I made enquiries about the Royal Arch namely Patriotic Chapter No 51 and after waiting for two years was Exalted on the 22nd September 1981. In 1990 and 1992 I was First Principal.  In 1998 I was Scribe E by default as I was standing in for ‘only a short period’, I was told. Well. that lasted for 11 years until 2009. In 2018 unfortunately the then Scribe E had to retire due to ill health and again I found I was the Scribe E and have remained so to date.

So, I have been a member of Patriotic Chapter for 42 years and, at present, I am the longest serving active Companion in the Chapter. So, what is so special about the RA to keep me there?

Well, I was a very keen Mason in my younger days and wanted to find out about everything I could about the mystery of Freemasonry and thought I would join as many Orders as possible. However, one has to remember joining too many (which is easily achieved as you are asked to join by good intended Masons into their Orders), can also be very time consuming. Below are some of the degrees I joined:

1987 Coromandel Rose Croix Chapter No. 27 - 18°

1989 Saxon Shore Lodge No. 1319 Mark Master Masons

1991 Naze Tower Lodge No. 1380 Royal Ark Mariners where I was promoted for a short time as the Scribe E!

1995 Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia - William Semken College No. 15

In 1995 I compiled the History of Patriotic Chapter – with a copy held at UGLE and which is currently being reviewed.

Order of Royal & Select Masters:  Colchester Council No. 142 and a Founder Member of Stour Estuary Council No. 218 in Harwich.

The above additional Orders were very informative in Masonic knowledge and each had a unique symbolism about it and of course a lot of ritual, some of which didn’t quite make sense! But I enjoyed them whilst I was a member.

Yet I found the Royal Arch had more to offer and I felt more at ease with the ceremonies and the rich history.  It fitted in well with the continuation of the Craft. The RA ritual can be a challenge but no more than if you were the Master in a Craft lodge and once you learn the Historical, Symbolical and Mystical lectures, in addition to the Exaltation, it stays with you.

The RA is a very colourful ceremony and has a lot of symbolical meaning in its history which I had found in parts in the other Orders, so it is universal in its meanings. You can read many books on the RA and you will find some have a different view, but it’s up to the individual to decide how to interpret its teachings.

So, when you have completed your Third Degree in the Craft, do become a Companion of the Royal Arch, but also remember you only get out of it what you put into it!


Top: Tony Terry proudly showing the banner of Patriotic Chapter No. 51 and explaining why the Chapter has a different name to Angel Lodge No. 51

Left: Tony with his raffle prize ‘The Paras’ and Col (Ret’d) Andrew Jackson who inscribed the title page with ‘Utrinque Parartus’ and signed the book. 

Right: Tony being thanked by the MEGS, Paul Tarrant, for his assistance to Abbeygate Chapter in organising the Colchester Chapters Combined Convocation