Urmston Masonic Hall saw Barlow Moor Lodge No 4525 hosting a Holy Royal Arch, ‘The Next Masonic Step’ presentation, where an enactment of an enquiring master Mason in conversation with a seasoned Royal Arch Mason was depicted.
The presentation, more widely known as ‘Talking Heads’ attracted both Craft and Royal Arch Masons in a well-attended lodge room. Members present included grand officers, Barry Jameson (Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals), Mike Adams (South Eastern Group Chairman), David Durling (group vice-chairman) and Dave Walmsley (Eccles and District Group Chairman) along with other Provincial grand officers, group officers, members and visitors.
The scripted enactment was assisted by the visual aid of a PowerPoint display being operated by Jonathan Platt for the duration of the presentation.
The scene was set in a Craft lodge robing room where the master Mason (Jerry Lawes) was enquiring of the Royal Arch Mason (Stephen Rhodes) information about the Royal Arch, where various interesting aspects were discussed.
From an initial question of how to join Royal Arch, the answer being that there is a four weeks qualifying period after the date of being raised. There were then questions of the regalia enquired and answered, however, Barry Jameson did rise on a number of occasions during the progression to give a more in depth narration of the various aspects being discussed.
In the very early days of Freemasonry, the Royal Arch ceremony formed part of the Craft ceremony and although now separated into Craft lodges’ and Royal Arch chapters’ with very different ceremonial aspects, the Royal Arch is seen to be the completion of a journey of self-discovery that every Mason starts from an initiation. It has been noted as being the completion of the third degree ceremony or more accurately now described as the completion of the journey through pure and ancient Freemasonry.
There were narrations of the historical dates of interest emanating back from 1821 where the Supreme Grand Chapter was formed, then spanning back through other date lines including 1813 where there was a union between the Ancient and Atholl grand lodges. 1785 saw the formation of those Ancient and Atholl grand lodges’ and 1717 was the formation of the premier grand lodge otherwise known as the ‘moderns’.
On completion of the presentation, Barry rose to thank the brethren for taking part in the ceremony. He said that although this was a fourth lesson in Freemasonry and that exaltation into Royal Arch, does, quite literally, display a colourful and impressive ceremony.
Barry explained that many years ago, a ‘Passing of the Veils’ ceremony would have been enacted prior to an exaltation but that it is no longer used. He said he hoped the evening was of interest and transmitted the historical aspects and perhaps an interesting transition from the monochrome Craft to the colourful Royal Arch.
WM Simon Warrington thanked the ‘Talking Heads’ team for their presentation saying that he had enjoyed what he had seen and perhaps it had given him him ‘food for thought’ with regard to progression to the Royal Arch. Similarly, two other craft Masons at the festive board expressed their interest in looking to become members too.
On the first rising Mike Adams said he had thoroughly enjoyed the presentation, more so, having seen the London version, as he preferred the West Lancashire version which had been given. Mike said he would highly recommend the Royal Arch and that there were good chapter’s to move on to in the South Eastern Group.
Mike said he vividly recalled his own exaltation ceremony some years ago and thanked Jerry and Stephen for their enactments during the evening.
Article and photographs by Eddie Wilkinson.