A Brief History of the Order of the Scarlet Cord
Although "The Ancient and Masonic Order of the Scarlet Cord in the British Isles and its Districts and Consistories Overseas" is the most recent Masonic Order to become widely accessible to brethren in the United Kingdom, it was first introduced into this country by His Honour Judge Frederick Adolphus Philbrick KC, in 1889. The Order was derived from Holland and founded upon eighteenth-century documents from the Amsterdam Masonic Archives in the Netherlands, so the Order is truly ancient in origin.
Throughout the late nineteenth century, the Degree was only conferred upon the most senior members of the major Masonic Orders, and other very distinguished brethren at the behest of the Grand Summus. Consequently it was known to only a very small number of high-ranking freemasons, and kept by them as a closely guarded secret.
As time passed, the Order then inducted fewer and fewer members, and by the early twentieth century, it ceased to exist at all, except as an archive in the vaults of Mark Masons Hall.
The archive was then re-discovered during building work at Mark Masons Hall in the late twentieth century, but it was found that many of the documents containing the ritual of the Order were badly damaged by water. Fortunately sufficient information remained to re-instate the Order, and it was re-established in 2006, by the then Grand Supreme Ruler of the Order of the Secret Monitor, Right Worthy Brother Peter Glyn Williams.
The Scarlet Cord Conclave No. 500 in the Order of the Secret Monitor was consecrated in 2006, with the authority to transpose itself into a Consistory, and confer Grades of the Scarlet Cord upon senior members of the Order of the Secret Monitor.
Between 2006 and 2010, the Order's popularity developed rapidly, and 62 Secret Monitor Conclaves, dedicated to the Scarlet Cord, were consecrated throughout the United Kingdom. By 2010, the Order had developed sufficiently to warrant its severance from the Order of the Secret Monitor, to form its own Sovereign Order.
The inauguration ceremony took place at Freemasons' Hall, Great Queen Street, London on 21st June 2010. At that meeting, all of the Scarlet Cord Conclaves were erased from the register of the Order of the Secret Monitor, constituted, dedicated and consecrated as Consistories of The Order of the Scarlet Cord.
The new Consistories were formed into 16 Provinces, each with three or more Consistories, and 12 Inspectorates, all with less than three Consistories.
The Ritual
As can clearly be seen, the Order was derived from the Order of the Secret Monitor, and it remains very closely associated with it.
Only Princes of the Order of the Secret Monitor are eligible to join, and there are three initial Grades in the Order — equivalent to the three degrees in Craft masonry.
Upon their Induction, Companions initially become Ostiarii or Doorkeepers within the Order, and thenceforth may designate themselves as Companions of the Scarlet Cord.
The Second and Third Grades are also conferred in a Consistory, when the candidates become Lectors and Fellows respectively. An unusual feature of the Order, is that a Companion may be elevated to a higher Grade in any Consistory, so long as there are 28 days between his respective ceremonies.
Further preferment within the Order is only conferred upon candidates at the invitation of the Grand Summus.
Like most Masonic Orders, the Order of the Scarlet Cord's ceremonies are based upon biblical allegory, centred around incidents found in the Old Testament.
Each inspiring ceremony is derived from a different, and at first an apparently unrelated biblical incident, which are ultimately bound together in an informative and dramatic climax in the Third Grade.
All the ceremonies involve participation by a relatively large number of Consistory members, and whilst there is every opportunity for keen ritualists to shine, there are also many possibilities for less practiced Companions to participate in a rewarding and meaningful manner.
Each Consistory is presided over by a President who is elected annually. Uniquely after being elected, the President Elect is then prepared for the Office of President in a Preparation Ceremony, following which he becomes an Eminent Companion. After his Installation, he becomes a Distinguished Companion.
As there are only a very few Consistories in the Province, there is a small, but exclusive membership, which inevitably forms strong bonds of friendship. Visiting is also a strong feature of the Order, and visitors are always very warmly welcomed. Visiting other Provinces is also encouraged, and much reciprocal visiting takes place, thus forming lasting friendships which would not otherwise occur.
The Regalia
Regalia in the Order, like that of the Order of the Secret Monitor is minimal. The Badge of the Order is a tasselled Scarlet Cord, initially worn around the waist, and in the Third Grade, worn as a sash over the right shoulder.
Together with the position of the sash, the status of each member is indicated by the wearing of either a jewel suspended from the neck by a Scarlet Cord, as in the First and Second Grades, or a breast jewel in the Third Grade. Also there is a splendid Tie of the Order available which may be worn after joining the Order.
The Province of the Chilterns
The Provincial Grand Senatus of the Chilterns covers the geographical areas of Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. It was constituted as a Province on 21st March 2013 and Right Distinguished Companion Richard Byron Owen was installed as the first Provincial Grand Summus.
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