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A Burns Night Exaltation in Staindrop

On a wet January evening, the companions of Rose of Raby Royal Arch Chapter assembled at Staindrop Masonic Hall to welcome the Grand Superintendent John Thompson accompanied by a full team of provincial officers, on this their first visit of 2024.

This was an extra special evening for the Chapter, not only being honoured with a full team visit, but also witnessing the exaltation of Andrew Pye of Tristram Lodge.

The three principals conducted the opening of the Chapter.

The Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies then announced that John and his team were at the door, and then followed the procession into the Chapter room.

The First Principal welcomed John into the Chapter, and the team then took their places to witness the exaltation of Andrew.

The Officers of the Chapter conducted an excellent exaltation ceremony, a highlight of which was the Mystical Lecture delivered by Owen Guy-Fisher.

The Chapter was closed, and all retired to the festive board.

In response to his toast John thanked the Chapter for a wonderful evening and for the cheques to Durham Benevolence and TLC teddies.

He continued by congratulating the 3rd Provincial Grand Principal Dr Rakesh Bhalla on his appointment as Assistant Provincial Grand Master, together with John Watts as Deputy Provincial Grand Master, the investiture taking place at Gateshead Masonic Hall to a sell-out lodge room.

The Grand Superintendent then went on to mention the Chapter Festival Month that is coming up in March and April, where one of the events ‘The Keystone Connection’ would see him, in his words, ‘Face Off’ with David Hanson the Provincial Grand Master of the Mark degree. Details of this and all the events happening can be found on the events page of the website.

The Provincial Team were thanked by John for turning out in full and supporting him.

Before the final toast of the evening, the Visiting Support Officer John Crombie Parker reminded everyone that the 25th of January was ‘Burns Night’, and even though Haggis was not served at the festive board, the evening could not pass without him delivering some ‘Rabbie Burns’.


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The Ceremony of the Veils | Durham Freemasons

On 8 th March 2023 Norman Royal Arch Chapter hosted a presentation of ‘The Ceremony of the Veils’. The lodge members, along with 51 guests packed the Temple in Durham Masonic Hall to be intrigued and enthralled by the presentation of this ancient ceremony by The Provincial Grand Chapter of Durham and the Companions of Norman Chapter.

Following a review by Supreme Grand Chapter back in 1834, this ancient ceremony was stopped and is seldom seen in English Chapters. Therefore consequently, it is no longer regularly practiced outside the Province of Bristol. The Ceremony of the Veils used to be a preliminary to the Exaltation and an integral part of the Royal Arch ceremony but can now only be practiced annually by a Province.

Michael Shaw and David Hanson led the evening and were accompanied by The Deputy Grand Superintendent of Yorkshire North and East Ridings Patrick Gambage.

The ceremony performed on the evening is very much part of the Royal Arch system in Ireland, the United States of America and in Scotland where it is known as the Excellent Master Degree. Early descriptions state that the ceremony took place in a room adjacent to the Chapter Room to seek admission.

At the time that the passing the Veils ceremony was in use in England the qualification for admission to the Royal Arch was that of being an Installed Master in the Craft. At the beginning of the ceremony the 4 veils are closed, and the candidate is challenged, between veils, before the opening of the next veil for a masonic sign and password. If successful, the candidate progresses through the first 3 Veils with the Principal Sojourner and is shown various artifacts on the way. During the progression, portions of holy scripture are read aloud by the Chapter Reader. In this ceremony, the final white veil is drawn back to reveal to the success full candidate the Chapter room as we would expect it to be today.

At the festive board Michael Shaw informed those present that he hopes The Province of Durham will be able to perform this interesting Ceremony again soon.

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