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Order of the Royal and Select Masters of England and Wales

District of Somerset and Wiltshire

The Excellent Master Degree (Passing the Veils)

It has been agreed with the Masonic authorities in Scotland that the Degree of Excellent Master, otherwise known as the Passing of the Veils, may be conferred under Grand Council of the Order of Royal and Select Masters.

The ceremony may be considered as emblematic of the wanderings of the Israelites in the wilderness, and of their return from Babylon to Jerusalem. The decree of Cyrus for the Jews to return to Jerusalem and to rebuild their Temple was given in 538BC, the year after he had taken Babylon and is the setting for the Excellent Master Degree

This will be first time the Degree will be conferred on candidates in England and Wales, although demonstrations are being made under the authority of Supreme Grand Chapter and the Degree is included, by name only in the Order of Knight Templar Priests and elsewhere. It is also a preliminary to the ceremony of Exaltation in the Holy Royal Arch in Bristol. However, the ritual in both the Knight Templar Priest version and Bristol, is slightly different to that in this Order.

Candidates for the Degree in this Order must be Installed Masters and have received the Order of the Silver Trowel previously. In a similar fashion to the Silver Trowel, recommendations are made by the District Grand Master, directly to the Grand Master of the Order of Royal and Select Masters in very limited numbers, currently 2 per year.

Those members of the Royal and Select Master who have previously taken the Excellent Master Degree elsewhere, such as Scotland, are able to affiliate. Application may be made directly to Mark Masons Hall and it will be necessary to produce a copy of the certificate received from the Masonic authority which conferred it.

Members of Bristol HRAC Chapters may also affiliate and need to produce similar proof as those affiliating from elsewhere. Joining members will also be considered providing they have taken part in the ceremony as a candidate thereby Passing the Veils. Again written proof is required.

Those who have the Degree conferred upon them by the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters, as well as those who affiliate, are presented with a breast jewel. This jewel, which is worn to the left of the Royal and Select Masters jewel and consists of an interlaced five pointed star suspended from a ribbon, striped white, light blue, crimson, purple and white, with a Royal and Select skeletal triangle superimposed and bar at the top with the words Excellent Master.

The Degree is being performed within Grafton Council of Anointed Kings No. 16 at Mark Masons Hall. Given the extensive furniture required it will be difficult to practice the Excellent Master Degree elsewhere. Grafton Council was consecrated following the Silver Trowel Degree being brought by our Grand Master from New York State in 2008, with the purpose of admission to that Degree. It has now the responsibility of conferring the Excellent Master.

Excellent Master Ceremony On Wednesday 15th February 2017 the Grafton Council of Annointed Kings No 16 came to Bristol and carried out two ceremonies. First they annointed 4 candidates as Thrice Illustrious Masters which included our own Ill Comps. Julian Frost and Tony Carter and then they followed on to confer the degree of Excellent Master on 16 Illustrious Companions which included Ill Comps. Sydney Brailey, Trevor Burton, Paul Cooper, Mike Farrow and Peter Wollington from Somerset and Wiltshire.

Companions of the District who have Received the Excellent Master Degree

R. Ill. Comp. D B Nelson 2014 aff V. Ill. Comp. C Court 2015
Ill. Comp. J D Allen 2014 aff Ill. Comp. C T Cooper 2015
Ill. Comp. A R Baker 2014 aff Ill. Comp. K R S Surry 2016
Ill. Comp. N F Bevan 2014 aff Ill. Comp. R T Cooper 2016
Ill. Comp. F S Parsons 2014 aff Ill. Comp. S L Brailey 2017
Ill. Comp. G R Paskins 2014 aff Ill Comp. T C Burton 2017
Ill. Comp. A L Thompson 2014 Ill. Comp. P Cooper 2017
V. Ill. Comp. M P Burridge 2015 aff Ill. Comp. M W E Farrow 2017
Ill. Comp. C T Callow 2015 aff Ill. Comp. P D S Wollington 2017
R. Ill. Comp. D Hartley 2015 V. Ill. Comp. A T Jones 2017
Ill. Comp. D J Stubbings 2015 aff
R. Ill. Comp. J Massey 2015