Masonic Province of Hertfordshire
Tercentenary - History Project
Royal Ark Mariner Lodges in Hertfordshire
This page constitutes an introduction to the degree of Royal Ark Mariner, generally known as The Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners.
The Mark degree is an important development of the Second degree in Craft Freemasonry and its ritual is based around the construction of the second temple in Jerusalem, the details of which can be found in the Old Testament of the Bible in the Second Book of Chronicles. The Mark degree teaches a number of useful lessons, the foremost of these are that fraud does not and will never succeed and that perseverance in doing the right thing regardless of difficulties on the way will bring its own reward.
In the Mark Province of Hertfordshire, which was constituted in 1886, there are 38 Mark Lodges and 30 Royal Ark Mariner Lodges with a total membership of approximately 900 brethren.The only qualification required to be advanced into the Mark degree is membership of the Craft.The Royal Ark Mariner degree has been under the protection of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons since 1871 and is administered from Mark Masons Hall in London. The qualification required for elevation into the Royal Ark Mariner degree is membership of the Mark.The degree of Royal Ark Mariner, although worked under the aegis of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, and requiring every candidate to be a Mark Master Mason, has no historical connection whatsoever with that degree. Mark Grand Lodge’s rule over the Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners is simply a quirk of fate. It stands entirely alone and totally unrelated to any other Degree in Freemasonry.
The precise origins of the Royal Ark Mariner degree are unknown. The degree is approximately two hundred years old and, as its name suggests, has a nautical flavour taking for its setting the circumstances leading up to the great flood and the steps taken by Noah to build the Ark by which mankind was preserved from 'perishing in the universal deluge’. Like the Mark Master Mason’s Degree, which is based on the fact of the construction of the Temple at Jerusalem, so the Degree of Royal Ark Mariner is also based on a happening as outlined in the bible, the Great Flood, and as verified in 1929 by the archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley, who not only found clear evidence of the Flood, but established that it had occurred some 6,000 years previously.The legend of Noah, his sons, the Ark and the Deluge were enacted in the Mystery Plays of the Seventeenth Century and continued as catechisms in many of the early Masonic rituals. By the 1750s there was a Degree of Noachites or Prussian Knights.
However, the first authentic record of the Degree appears in the minutes of a meeting held in Bath in 1790. Numerous records exist throughout the country of the Ceremony of Elevation being performed since that date. At a meeting held on 13 May 1870 in the Bow Road, London, to attempt to reform a Grand Lodge and it was agreed since a number of Mark Lodges had also begun to work the Degree. There was some conflict with The Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, which had been formed in 1856. This came to a head when Brother The Reverend Canon Portal, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, announced, also in 1870, that since the Degree of Ark Mariner had been worked in Mark Lodges since 1790, the Mark would protect the Royal Ark Mariner degree under a new Grand Master’s Royal Ark Council. This is the reason for Mark Grand Lodge’s current control of the Royal Ark Mariners.The conflict and dissent continued well after 1870 until the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons simply purchased the Degree from Morton Edwards for the sum of £25! The receipt for this transaction still hangs in the library of Mark Masons’ Hall in St. James’s Street, London.
Since that time the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of England and Wales and its Districts and Lodges Overseas is automatically Grand Master of The Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners. The Degree of Royal Ark Mariner may only be conferred on Mark Master Masons, the government of the two Degrees is inextricably linked and a Royal Ark Mariner Lodge is said to be moored to a Mark Lodge bearing the same number, irrespective of age, and generally, but not necessarily, bearing the same name.
The above infomation has been taken from the Royal Ark Mariner web-site for Hertfordshire which can be found at www.hertsmark.org and from that of the Province of Worcestershire at www.worcestershiremarkpgl.org.uk/the-degree-of-royal-ark-mariner/ our thanks go to both sites for the information.