Albert Victor Royal Arch Chapter meets at St Saviourgate Masonic Hall at 18.30 on the 1st Tuesday in March and the 2nd Tuesday in June, October and December.

All Royal Arch Masons visiting the city are assured of a warm welcome as visitors.

If you would like to visit Albert Victor Royal Arch Chapter please contact us.

Chapter History

The beginnings of Albert Victor Chapter grew in the minds of several senior Brethren of the Lodge that it was time to found a Chapter of Royal Arch Masonry attached to the Albert Victor Lodge.

Many of the Founders were members of other Chapters. I think that one of the first Founders to speak out on this subject was W.Bro. Thorpe, who mentioned his feelings to several others, one of whom was W.Bro. Calvert. After a Lodge of Instruction one evening these views were aired in the company of W.Bro. Innes Ware and W.Bro. Michael Knowles. It only needed this gentle pressure to ensure that the matter would not be allowed to be lost. It has been the experience over the years that ideas are born of quiet minds, but it is the dedicated individual that gives impetus to the idea. Such was the case in this instance. In 1889 when the idea of Albert Victor Lodge was first mooted it was an active and enthusiastic worker that breathed life into the idea. The same story is evident in the birth of our Chapter.

Once the idea was established it did not take long to attract to itself dedicated individuals; Innes Ware, Michael Knowles, George Howard within the Lodge itself and Ex. Comp. Semmens and Rhodes among others from other Chapters. Twenty three Ex. Comp. and Companions offered themselves as Founder Members and so the die was cast. As you will all readily understand this was the easy part, the tougher work was to be done. There were some members of Albert Victor Lodge that were satisfied with the status quo, they feared the advent of another Royal Arch Chapter would have the effect of thinning down the ranks of those already existing. This was not only true inside the Lodge but existed elsewhere. But the prime movers in the idea would not be undermined by dissenting voices and approached Provincial Grand Chapter.

The Most Excellent Grand Superintendent was in favour and then the Second Provincial Grand Principal, Ex. Comp. Col. E. Steel, T.D., DL. was approached and showed himself in agreement. Mention must he made here of the help that Ex. Comp. Steele gave from the start, assisting with administration details and guiding and directing the enthusiasm of the original Founders.

The Albert Victor Royal Arch Chapter was Consecrated on Friday 21st September 1979 by The Most Hon. the Marquess of Zetland, T.D., D.L., the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent of the Province of Yorkshire North and East Ridings. He was assisted by Ex. Comp. Col E. Steel, 2nd Prov. G. Principal, Ex. Comp. P. Niman, 3rd Prov. G. Principal, Ex. Comp. A.T.H. Corrigan, P.G.St.B., Prov. Grand Scribe E., Ex. Comp. Prov. Scribe N., Ex. Comp. S.H. Gibbs PAG. Soj., Prov. GDC, Ex. Comp. W.E. Branton Prov. G.Org. and our own much respected Janitor Comp. S.E. Howe. It was a delightful and moving ceremony for anyone to witness, but it was especially emotional for those of us who were witnessing the ceremony for the first time.

During the gestation period of our formation much heart searching had been undertaken on the part of the Founders regarding the Ritual we were to follow, and true to Albert Victor tradition it was decided that we would be different. As far as it was known no Chapter in York followed the St. James Ritual, but one of our Founders G.A.G. Howard, D.L., J.P. later to become Lord Howard of Henderskelf, was a Companion of the St. James Chapter.

Lord George Howard at home at Castle Howard.

He explained the Ritual to us, not hesitating to say how different it was from most other Rituals, but persuading the Companions to adopt it. This meant that at least two of the three First Principals would have to put aside the previous knowledge of their Chapter and learn a completely new Ritual. Suffice it to say that our first Principal, Ex. Comp. Innes Ware at over 80 years of age had to unlearn his own Ritual and learn a completely new one. He did it admirably, as did the other two Principals, George Howard and Ex. Comp. P.W.B. Semmens.

The Consecration Ceremony was beautifully conducted, emotionally evocative, and I am sure left a lasting memory in all who were present. I am not alone in thinking that the Chapter Ceremony, the Installing of the three Principals, and the Exaltation of a Companion are in themselves very moving ceremonies with strong Biblical connection to the Old Testament which conjures in the mind the pictures of our Biblical characters. It is easy to be lulled into an attitude of veneration by these allusive suggestions, but the words are persuasive, the allegory is overpowering, an the power beyond the words is extremely satisfying. One moves from the atmosphere of theatricality to the everyday world feeling spiritually cleaner. At one stage in the Ceremony, after the Petitioners had signified to the Consecrating Principal their approval of the Officers named in the charter, an Oration on the Nature and the Principles of the Institution was given by the Third Provincial Grand Principal, Ex. Comp. P. Niman. This was a most extraordinary feature and moved the Companions exceedingly. I have seldom, if ever, been so overwhelmed by a ritual, Masonic or otherwise, as I was by this. I think it was so important that I have taken the liberty of adding it to this history.

Great early enthusiasm gives birth, then there is a relatively static period when everything seems to stop. Numbers do not grow as was foreshadowed, but though this is daunting to original parents, there is a strong fibre of life behind what appears to be moribund. Times are changing and Masonic life has to gird itself to accept the change. The middle executive, the professional, can no longer give as much time as his parents and grandparents were wont to do. But he is none the worse for this. Moreover, Albert Victor Lodge has never coveted large numbers, satisfied with its nominal growth over the years, and the Albert Victor Chapter is alive and virile and will continue, we hope, to thrive in its pleasant but small family atmosphere, welcoming all who wish to come but striving to be big - never!


What this Chapter means to its members

Some Personal Thoughts about Albert Victor Chapter
by David Cottrell

Royal Arch Chapter in General

Recently my wife borrowed a book from the library entitled "Jerusalem". It is a cookery book by the celebrity chef Yotam Ottolenghi.

Yotam Ottolenghi

The introduction to the recipes includes a section on the history of Jerusalem. I was intrigued to read that Scribes Ezra and Nehemiah are credited with being the driving force behind the construction of the Second Temple. It is the building of the Second Temple which is the historical setting for Chapter ritual and study.

King Solomon's Temple (The First Temple) was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II after the siege of Jerusalem in 587 BC and the Jewish people went into captivity. Seventy years later under Cyrus the Great, the Jewish people were allowed to return to Jerusalem. The building of the Second Temple started and was completed in about 515 BC. The Second Temple lasted until 70 AD, when it was destroyed by the Romans. However, part of the Second Temple remains today - the West Wall, commonly referred to as "The Wailing Wall".

I find Chapter masonry fascinating. Particularly as it refers to sections of Old Testament narrative, some details of Judaism, and also the history and symbolism surrounding the building of the Second Temple on the site of the First Temple. The fact that the West Wall of the Second Temple still exists makes this feel like "living history".

Albert Victor Royal Arch Chapter

Albert Victor Chapter was founded in September 1979 (nearly 37 years ago). I was fortunate to have been Exalted during the second year of the Chapter, when Lord George Howard was Z. I knew many of the founders of the Chapter, from Albert Victor Lodge and it was very impressive to have so many senior Masons present at the time of my Exaltation. I still have a vivid memory of that evening. As the new Companion, I was placed next to Col Innes Ware (then IPZ) at the festive board. Innes was quick to tell me that Royal Arch Chapter was his favourite degree in Masonry. Innes talked about how he had researched some of the main points in the ritual and had been pleased to find how accurately those points were portrayed in our ritual. Innes explained that Chapter is much more informal than Craft and that the founders had decided that the dress code should be dark suits and no gloves, in contrast to the black tie and gloves worn at Albert Victor Lodge.

The founders decided that they wished to adopt the St James Chapter (London) ritual. Provincial Grand Chapter gave permission and we have been using St James ritual since inception. Although the meaning and content of the ritual is the same as other Chapter rituals, there are many differences. Visitors to our Chapter are invariably intrigued by what they see and hear. Hearing a variant of the regular ritual can reinforce a meaning which may have become perhaps over-familiar.

Having been a member of Albert Victor Chapter for over 35 years, I can attest to its warm, informal, open and very friendly nature. It is a great pleasure to attend Convocations (although only 4 per annum) and catch up with friends. The membership is not large but very welcoming. We are always pleased to welcome visitors and we have been delighted by the number of visiting Companions who have decided to expand their Chapter Masonry by asking to join Albert Victor Chapter. Our Chapter has been blessed by bequests from former Companions. Not only does this place Albert Victor Chapter on a firm financial footing but also allows us the privilege of distributing financial support to local charities. Financial support decisions are taken in open Chapter, so that every Companion has the opportunity to express his opinion and become fully involved. In conclusion, I feel very privileged to have been a Companion of the Albert Victor Chapter for 35+ years. From the outset, I have found the ritual and areas of study to be fascinating. However, more importantly for me, I have enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) the company of so many wonderful friends.

May 2016