The Rose Croix of Heredom
The Rose Croix degree is one of the degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Rite, an Order of Freemasonry as old as the Craft itself. The Rose Croix degree is in fact the 18th of 33 degrees of the Rite. In the ceremony of joining a Rose Croix Chapter, a brother is ‘Perfected’ as a ‘Prince Rose Croix of Heredom’. In England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, this degree is specifically Christian.
Our Order is governed by the ‘Supreme Council 33° for England and Wales and its Districts and Chapters Overseas’. There are other Supreme Councils, for example, for Scotland. Full details of the requirements for membership of the Order are given in the ‘Rules of the Supreme Council’, but advice would be given by a Recorder (he is the Secretary of a Chapter) or any of the members.
With effect from 1 March 2024, the Supreme Council for England and Wales has decreed that any Brother who has been a Master Mason in UGLE for at least six months and who is willing to join the Order by means of a degree based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth will be eligible for membership.
The Supreme Council actually suggests that prospective candidates should apply for membership of Chapters near to their homes or to their places of work.
As in other Masonic Orders, a member of a Chapter will be invited, over a period of years, to progress through a number of Offices in succession, should he so wish, before attaining the Chair as Most Wise Sovereign. The learning requirements of these offices are minimal. The ritual of the Chair requires more work but is usually shared throughout the year, the Sovereign conducting various different parts of the ceremony of Perfection at different meetings. It is not necessary to have been Worshipful Master of a Lodge before becoming Sovereign.
Some of the names of the Offices in a Chapter, for example, ‘Captain of the Guard’, are reminders of the days, long ago, when the Rose Croix degree was worked by the Knights Templar.
The Degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Rite.
The ﬁrst three degrees are deemed to be equivalent to the first three degrees of the Craft.
The Intermediate degrees, the 4th to the 17th, are conferred on a candidate by name just before the ceremony of the 18th degree.
One or two of these Intermediate Degrees are demonstrated each year at some places in the country, by the King Edward VII Chapter of Improvement Demonstration Team. Mostly, these degrees continue the stories of the Hiramic legend.
The degree of the Rose Croix of Heredom, the 18th, is the last of the degrees of the Rite that can be conferred by a Chapter.
Subsequent degrees are conferred by the Supreme Council of Sovereign Grand Inspectors at the Headquarters of the Order, known as the ‘Grand East’, at Duke Street in London. Usually, members are recommended to be given the 30th degree after having served as Most Wise Sovereign of a Chapter, and having been a member of he Order for at least three years. The 19th to 29th degrees are again conferred by name.
Promotion to the Higher Degrees, 31st, 32nd, and 33rd, is strictly limited to senior members.
The VSL used in the ceremony is the Bible. The ritual is metaphor based on the ﬁrst verse of St. John’s Gospel (at which the Bible is open for most of the time) extolling the principles of Christianity. Almost every line of the ritual is either a direct quotation of, or Masonic allusion to, verses of the New Testament, culminating in Christ’s words to the Disciples in St. John 13:34.
The scriptural references tend to be tantalisingly brief, forever offering new insight for the Christian Freemason. The last part of the ceremony incorporates ‘a secular feast of fraternal rejoicing’, whose origins pre-date even Christianity.
The Rose Croix in Essex
There are two separate Rose Croix districts in the County, North Essex and South Essex, each commanded by an Inspector General. Each District is administered by a District Recorder who will always be pleased to give further advice. The complete list of District Officers, with contact details for members of the Executive, may be found in the Essex Freemasons’ Handbook.
The only regalia required initially would be the collar and jewel pictured here. The significance of the symbolism in the designs of the collar and jewel is explained during the ceremony. The beautiful apron of the degree ceased to be worn many years ago; examples of aprons can still be seen in some Chapter rooms, perhaps being used as decorative cushion covers.
Dress worn is usually a dark suit and ‘sober’ tie with a white collar. (Some colourful shirts have been seen recently!) Some Princes do wear their Masonic morning dress, but wearing a black tie is forbidden; this is a degree of rejoicing rather than mourning.
Higher degrees have their special collars or sashes.
Further interesting information is available in a Youtube lecture given by Most Puissant Brother, Alan John Englefield 33°, Past Sovereign Grand Commander of the Ancient and Accepted Rite on 18th August 2020 as part of the Freemasons Without Borders series and titled ‘An Introduction to the Ancient and Accepted Rite’. Click here to view.
If you would like to become a member of our wonderful Order please
contact Eric Terry, our District Recorder, using the Contact Us page and he will put you in contact with a suitable Chapter.