Criterion Chapter of Installed First Principals 6220


Tuesday 18 June 2019

 The Chapter received a very interesting talk entitled:

“Remembering the Royal Secret”

from memory expert and author Martin Faulks.

 The talk commenced with a demonstration of recall whereby Martin named from memory each of the Officers of the Chapter and told us to prepare for an adventure into the history of memory, and an adventure it was.

 Martin started by describing to us the art of memory as practised in Ancient Greece, explaining how to form a “memory palace” (linking thoughts to familiar images of places or people) and to use it for speech making. We then moved on to how Christianity used this art as a form of religious training to cultivate virtue. It was fascinating to see how Mediaeval memory manuals used the analogy of the building of an inner temple to represent the development of the inner mind.

 It was then time to move on to the more magical manifestation of memory that developed during the Renaissance when Hermetic and Neoplatonist philosophies became part of memory and of the path to enlightenment.

 At this point, a surprising event happened, entirely unscripted -- our speaker was describing “The Vision of Hermes”, one of the legends surrounding this tradition, and as he said the word “darkness” at the start of his description, the whole of the building went into darkness as if in response. Martin continued his story and, as he used the word “light” towards its end, the electricity came back on!

 The lecture concluded with a fascinating journey through Martin’s research into the sources of the Tripartite Name used in the Royal Arch and its early appearance in mystical alchemical texts involving the use of memory for meditation.

 All in all, a very memorable talk.

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Freemasonry before 1717: the basis of the Royal Arch

In his 30 minute talk E Comp John Acaster, a Past Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, delivered a new and surprising perspective of the origins of the Royal Arch to the gathering of nearly 60 members of the Chapter and their guests, including a party of visitors from the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland.

John opened by reminding us of the recent tragedy at Notre Dame in Paris. While the cathedral’s timber roof had been destroyed, pictures had shown us that the walls and stone rib vaulting had survived remarkably intact, a tribute to the skills and workmanship of our medieval mason-forbears, with whom we can be proud to be associated.

That what we now term ‘the Royal Arch’ had existed before 1717 is normally seen as impossible. The first commonly-accepted evidence dates from 1743 in Ireland. Yet John explained in some detail his perception that Freemasonry had actually descended from medieval times.

To support his proposition John reminded us that many alterations have occurred in the English Royal Arch, one major event had been the compilation of a new form of ritual in 1834 to meet the wishes of the Duke of Sussex. The Mystical Lecture prescribed a new Penal Sign, but the earlier Penal Sign was one given with the right hand using a circular motion . This, John had discovered, was similar, if not identical, to one of the signs (in this instance of martyrdom) used as a means of communication throughout Europe in the Middle Ages by some of the silent religious orders.

Furthermore, Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723 permit lodges to meet as chapters on occasions of emergency or similar, but the new Grand Lodge of London and Westminster, for whom the Constitutions were written, may have been uncertain of the tradition they had picked up on. German evidence from the late medieval period indicates that regional assemblies of stonemasons were held occasionally in chapter mode, headed by three or four Masters. When technical advice was needed (as, for example, in the construction of Milan cathedral) it was usual to call three experienced Masters together to discuss how the problems might best be solved.

English ‘Old Charges of Freemasonry’ from the same period are unanimous in establishing regional assemblies within the mason craft for the purposes of examining disputes and punishing offenders, and the same administrative structure can be observed within chapters held by ecclesiastical bodies such as monastic orders.

Summing up, necessarily without going into much additional detail, John Acaster stated his clear conviction that chapters were held well before 1717, originally having a purpose now assigned to Provincial Grand Lodges. Moreover he was convinced that our modern Freemasonry, now expressed in several different modes, had descended from medieval times. His certainty was derived from no written text but from evidence of many signs now used, all of which have been misunderstood.

Tuesday 16th October 2018

There were three highlights to the evening, the installation of our new three Principals, a talk or presentation, and the Festive Board to round off.

After the preliminary business had been dealt with the three Principals for 2018/2019 were duly installed in their respective chairs in the customary manner, Zerubbabel E Comp Sam Brown, Haggai E Comp Frank Taylor and Joshua E Comp Paul Smith. There then followed an exceedingly interesting and absorbing address from a Surrey Freemason, E Comp Mike Neville, a retired Detective Chief Inspector in the Metropolitan Police, the talk entitled “Masons and the Detection of Crime”.

Drawing on his knowledge and interest in the history of the Met, which was founded in 1829, Mike regaled us with tales of skulduggery and crime and of the development of the means of bringing wrongdoers to book, many of those methods having been devised by Police Officers and scientists who were prominent members of the Craft. He told us, for example, that 43 of the officers involved in the “Jack the Ripper” investigation were Freemasons and of Bro. Thomas Briggs, the victim of the first murder on a train, perpetrated by Franz Müller, who found himself in the dock before Sir Frederick Pollock, also a Freemason.

Dr Thomas Bond was the first forensic profiler and his profile for Jack the Ripper would have fitted the Yorkshire Ripper in more recent times. In 1901 Sir Edmund Henry obtained the first conviction using fingerprints thus stimulating the development of the Criminal Records system.

Possibly the most well known Forensic Scientist was Sir Bernard Spilsbury (likened to the fictional Sherlock Holmes) who pioneered the routine use of the evidence bag and the science of testing blood and who was famously instrumental in bringing about the conviction of the notorious Dr Crippen.

Mike told us of other developments in detective work, the formation of the CID in 1870, the first photofit arrest in 1881, the later use of facial and logo recognition, and he reminded us that many of the developments in the means of the detection of criminals, from the distant past to the present day, have involved Freemasons.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the theme of Mike’s talk, unorthodox in the context of a First Principals Chapter, it was very well received and was acknowledged with enthusiasm at its conclusion.

After the Chapter had been closed the Companions retired for refreshment at the excellent Festive Board following which we set off home all well satisfied with the evening’s proceedings.

Tuesday  19th June 2018

 On this occasion the Chapter was delighted to welcome Masonic researcher and writer Comp John Belton of the Linlithgow Royal Arch Chapter No 5 in the Scottish Constitution, and a Craft Mason in the Province of Derbyshire.

 With the aid of “Powerpoint” technology John gave us a superb opportunity considerably to advance our masonic knowledge by his presentation entitled

 “Pure Ancient Freemasonry and the Holy Royal Arch”

 John started off with a brief history including that not only of UGLE but also that of the UGL of Ireland and of our close neighbours in the Scottish Union.

 This all led up to the Compact of 1814 between the three Grand Lodges, before which there were in all the constitutions a multiplicity of degrees which needed to be streamlined. One of the results of this rationalisation process is that the Irish and Scottish Grand Lodges both influenced the eventual establishment of the UGL of England.

 In England the 1813 Articles of Union had brought together the Ancients (who practised the Royal Arch as a Fourth Degree) and the Moderns (who did not recognise the Royal Arch as a separate entity to Craft).

 The signing of the 1814 Compact by the three Grand Lodges led to the recognition of the Royal Arch as part of English Freemasonry, but John’s explanation of the manner by which this came about was one of the most interesting parts of his presentation. John showed us photographic illustrations of documents from the time, including the minutes of the meeting at which the Compact was signed, which clearly showed errors, omissions and alterations, leaving very ambiguous the position of the Royal Arch. The conclusion is that, in effect, UGLE had no option but to recognise the Royal Arch as an entity in Freemasonry if it was to be a signatory to the Compact.

 We will all be aware, John said, of the subsequent history of the Royal Arch in England which is not now considered a further degree but at least the completion of Craft Masonry though enjoying its status as The Supreme Grand Chapter of England in its own right.

1st June 2018 - Visit to Cumberland and Westmorland

On the 1st June twelve members of the Chapter, including E Comp Stuart Carley, MEGS, and his deputy E Comp Jim Gray, travelled north to Kendal on the annual visit to our counterpart in that area, Cumberland and Westmorland Installed Principals Chapter 8071.

As usual we were made most welcome and were excellently entertained, both in the ceremony and at the festive board.

There were two highlights to the evening the first being, once again, the presence of two Grand Superintendents, E Comp Norman Thompson of the host Province and our own E Comp Carley, each accompanied by their senior officers, a very grand sight indeed.

The second highlight was to hear an interesting and absorbing address given by E Comp Edward Patnick, a member of  Sheffield’s Welcome Chapter3779, on “The Fact, Fiction and Fable of the Royal Arch”.

The presentation featured the relationship between the key officers of a Chapter, their respective contributions to the building of the second Temple, and how each part was utilised at the time. A real advancement in Masonic knowledge.

At the festive board we were served cold meat salad followed by cold dessert, very welcome on a warm summer’s evening . E Comp Nigel Hall Z replied to the generous toast proposed to the visitors but regrettably none of our contingent was able to lift the prize for the raffle, a bottle of excellent scotch.

 C & W’s next meeting is their Installation Convocation on the 31st August, details on the “Forthcoming Events” page. This will be a landmark occasion for their Grand Superintendent, and a number of our members have indicated their intention to support the event despite its being held in Carlisle.

Tuesday 17th October 2017

 This was an eventful evening for the Chapter, it being the occasion of the Installation of the Three Principals for the forthcoming year. 

In customary manner Ex. Comp. Nigel Hall PGStdB was placed in the chair of Zerubbabel by his predecessor, Ex. Comp Ron Sugden PPGSN following which he, Nigel, installed Ex. Sam Brown PPGSN as Haggai and Sam in turn installed Ex. Comp. Frank Taylor as Joshua. 

Following the ceremony of Installation the floor was taken by our guest speaker, Ex. Comp. Jeremy Mallin PGStdB. Jeremy, a Past Provincial Grand Principal of the Province of Worcester and Provincial Grand Orator in the Craft, is no stranger to the Chapter having been to speak to us three or four ago. He was very well received on that occasion but this time he surpassed himself both in content and in mode of delivery. 

The intriguing title of Jeremy’s talk was “Aholiab and Bezaleel - Who were these two Grand Originals? Jeremy, speaking without notes, surmised that 99.9% of us would not know the answer, and he was probably right. After starting in a somewhat humorous vein Jeremy moved on to the more serious stuff explaining that Aholiab , a master builder and designer, and Bezaleel, an artist adept in the decoration, adornment and embellishment of buildings and structures, were chosen by Moses to take charge of the Holy Tabernacle during the long years of the flight from Egypt.

 The “twist in the tail” as Jeremy describes it, is that although Aholiab and Bezaleel undertook the task successfully and worked in complete harmony, their families had previously been parties to a blood feud involving violence and death. The moral being that even the most hostile of enemies, if they are right-thinking, can put aside their differences to co-operate for the common good.

 The conclusion of Jeremy’s presentation was greeted by spontaneous applause from the audience of seventy which, incidentally, included a party visiting from Cumberland and Westmorland.

Tuesday 18th April 2017

 Comp. Dr. David Harrison  -  The York Grand Lodge

 Our first Convocation of the year attracted an attendance of over 100  combining, as it did, the Joint Meeting of the Bradford and District Royal Arch Council and a Fraternal visit from members of Cumberland and Westmorland Chapter of Installed Principals along with their Grand Superintendent , ME Comp,  Norman Thompson and his retinue of Acting Officers.

 However, the primary business of the evening was to receive from Comp. Dr David Harrison a presentation entitled “The York Grand Lodge”, a subject which featured in David’s  PhD thesis, subsequently published,  on the history of English Freemasonry.

 David, who has a well deserved reputation as an authoritative historian, writer and lecturer on all aspects of the origins and development of Freemasonry, treated us to a fascinating  talk on a topic of special regional interest.  The talk, which  was accompanied by “powerpoint” illustrations, explored the influence the York Grand Lodge had on the Holy Royal Arch, and a very interesting, informative and entertaining evening was enjoyed by all.  


The Crypt of York Minster, the meeting place of the York Grand Lodge.


The “York Board” painted in the 1770’s


 The “Rainbow”  Royal Arch symbol

Tuesday 18th October 2016

E Comp Michael Baker (SLGR, Director of Communications, UGLE)

"Pure Antient Freemasonry Consists of ....."

At the Installation Convocation in October the Chapter received a very interesting address from Mike Baker, Director of Communication at Grand Lodge, entitled “Pure Antient Freemasonry consists of . . . . . “. Mike referred to the presentation as “a deconstruction of the Royal Arch” and in it he considered the origins of the Order, its subsequent development and, comparing it with other Constitutions, where it might have been today had different paths been followed.

 Tuesday 21st June 2016

E Comp Dr John Wade (Past Master, Quatuor Coronati Lodge and Editor of its published transactions, AQC)

"The Beginning and Changes in Layout and Ritual over 250 years"

Another eminent researcher into Freemasonry, Ex. Comp. Wade gave a very well received talk on the origins of the Holy Royal Arch in the 1700’s, and the subsequent changes in the ritual and in the layout of Chapters.

His talk, illustrated by Powerpoint slides, included material on tracing boards as well as local information from Derbyshire and Sheffield as well as from the remainder of West Yorkshire. 

Ex Comp Wade, a Past Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2017, was its secretary in 2006 and is now editor of its published research material. He is a former Prestonian Lecturer and has presented talks and lectures in many parts of the world.

Friday 3rd June 2016


It was a unique occasion when Criterion Chapter of Installed First Principals No 6220, Baildon, made their annual fraternal visit to Cumberland & Westmoreland Installed Principals’ Chapter No 8071; all but one of the four Rulers from both of the Provinces were present. Hearing that our own Grand Superintendent, Stewart G Carley was to be in the visiting party, Norman Thompson, Grand Superintendent of Cumberland & Westmoreland, took the opportunity of welcoming Stewart, his Deputy James S Gray and Paul G Collinge, Third Provincial Grand Principal and requested they wear their full regalia. 17 Companions from Criterion Chapter journeyed north to Kirkby Lonsdale and enjoyed an excellent Convocation and Festive Board.