When a Freemason has attained the rank of a Master Mason he is then entitled, after a period of one month, to be exalted into a Royal Arch Chapter in order to complete fully his Master Mason's Degree. He is then in the Royal Arch referred to as a Companion.
Royal Arch Chapters meet independently to Lodges and, in Sussex, one in three Masons are also Royal Arch Companions. A Chapter is normally attached to a Lodge and in Sussex there are 72 Chapters with approximately 2,300 members.
The regalia is different to a Craft Lodge. It consists of an Apron with red and blue surround, a red and blue sash and a special Jewel which Royal Arch Masons should also wear in their Craft Lodges in order to show the bond that exists between Craft and Royal Arch.
As in all Masonic degrees, the ritual of the Royal Arch is an allegory. It helps to focus the minds of the Companions, without conflicting with their religious beliefs, to a contemplation of the nature of, and their relationship with their God which will be appropriate to their own religion.
A Royal Arch Chapter has a number of officers with particular titles but, most important, are the three Principals who collectively rule the Chapter for one year. Each year there is an Installation meeting for the new team of officers.
In England, the Royal Arch has four ceremonies: the exaltation ceremony to bring in new members and an installation ceremony for each of the three Principals. The exaltation ceremony is in two parts: a rather dramatic presentation of the principles of the Order followed by three Lectures in which the history, symbolism and principles of the Royal Arch are further explained.
If you are interested in joining a Royal Arch Chapter you should first speak to your Lodge Royal Arch Chapter representative or your Lodge Secretary.
Like Craft Freemasonry, the Royal Arch is open to men of all faiths.