14 December, 2017 10:14
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Early History of the Guild
Like the Knights of the Golden Horn (K.G.H.) the Guild Companions of the Ark (C.A) started out as an additional or higher Order available to members of Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes (R.A.O.B.). Unlike the K.G.H., however, which broke away from the R.A.O.B., becoming a Sovereign body in its own right, the Guild Companions of the Ark only survived for about 21 years.
In keeping with many Fraternal Societies in the Nineteenth Century, the Guild Companions of the ARK (G.C.A.) was heavily influenced by Masonic ritual and protocol. Indeed three out of its five founders were Past Masters in Masonry and as such, the constitution of the Order was very simple being instituted for “philanthropic purposes upon what could be called a ‘Masonic’ basis.” As stated earlier the G.C.A. was formed as a higher degree (although it was always in reality a distinct organisation) for those who had attained the second degree in the R.A.O.B..
The first meeting of the G.C.A. was held on Wednesday October 8th 1873 at the “Coach & horses,” opposite Somerset House in the Strand, where it met for some years. The five founders were Byrnes; Bullock T. Rushton; E. Michael-Banister & W. E. Harland-Oxley. Unfortunately information about these founders is scarce, owing to many of the R.A.O.B. records being at Harrogate destroyed in a flood [not that Flood]. There was only one Lodge of the Guild ‘The Armenia,’ or Armenia Lodge Number One, as it was deemed desirable by the founders to limit its membership.
As in all Fraternal Societies the Guild changed the venue for its meetings and over the years it met at the “Peacock,” Maiden Lane, Covent Gardens; then at “Ye Savoy Palace,” Savoy Street, Strand; and finally at the “ Portugal Hotel,” Fleet Street. During the nearly twenty one years of its existence a large number of members joined its ranks; but by 1894 the Guild having fallen into decline and was not in a flourishing condition and we assume that very shortly afterwards it ceased to exist as a viable organisation.
Through some research in the libraries / museums at Grove House, Harrogate (R.A.O.B.) and Great Queen Street, London (United Grand Lodge of England), a number of jewels and aprons of the Guild were discovered which bear a striking similarity to those used by Ancient Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners. The jewels have a dove shaped bar from which a representation of an All Seeing Eye and Noah’s Ark is suspended on a plain or rainbow collared ribbon. The aprons have a boarder of rainbow ribbon, but unlike the Royal Ark Mariner degree, the apron is curved at the bottom and bears an All Seeing Eye and Noah’s Ark device similar to that of the jewel. Some jewels discovered bear the name of the New Armenia Lodge and we can only assume from this that at some time after 1894 the Guild was reformed, but it cannot have lasted long as there is no documental proof of its existence.
The Ritual of the G.C.A. was the work of Companion Byrnes, although the other founders had an equal share in all other matters. As many of the founders were Masons and the regalia of the G.C.A. was very similar to that used by the Royal Ark Mariners it would be safe to assume that there was some resemblance between the two Orders. Unfortunately Companion Byrnes original ritual and beautiful initiatory exordium have been lost.
Reinstitution of the Guild Companions of the Ark
On Saturday 30th April 2011 at a Grand Camp meeting of the Grand United Order of the Knights of the Golden Horn, five of its members were discussing the history of the K.G.H. over lunch when the subject of the Guild Companions of the ARK came up in the conversation, as the G.C.A. is closely linked historically to the K.G.H. and it was therefore resolved that they would, together, research this now defunct organisation. After much investigation into the Guilds history it was determined to look into the possibility reinstituting the Order.
The five founders met again and as all of them were members of a number of fraternal organisations: G.U.O.K.G.H., R.A.O.B. G.L.E. and Freemasonary they decided that the qualification for membership would be, to be a subscribing member of a recognised Fraternal Society. A ritual and rule book was written using the information gained from the research and incorporating the traditions of all three of aforementioned societies, but as the Guild had obvious links with the Royal Ark Mariner degree, great care was taken to make this a very different ceremony. It is hoped that this new ritual will be regarded as highly as Companion Byrnes.
The new lodge would be called the ‘Armenia Lodge Time Immemorial’ in the hope that it will grow and expand. With this in mind it was decided not to restrict the membership as in the past, but to accept members from other societies and to run the lodge in a peripatetic fashion, travelling and meeting in different areas of the country, thereby enlarging the catchment area from which to draw prospective members. Also it was decided that if the Guild should grow, that there would be an opportunity to form additional lodges of the Guild throughout the country.
On the 10th March 2012 the Guild Companions of the Ark was re-launched as a fraternal organisation when the Armenia Lodge, T.I., held its first meeting at the Tall Tree Hotel, Yarm , Stockton on Tees. The Ceremony of Reception into the Guild was worked by the Supreme Grand Companion, Clive Warham, after which the Companions retired for a celebratory Lunch to which family and friends were invited..
The members of the Guild Companions of the Ark are called Companions and if past the chair, Supreme Companions. There are 14 Officers of the Lodge as follows:
The regalia now worn by the members of the Guild is a rainbow sash with a breast jewel suspended from a rainbow coloured ribbon. In addition to this a Supreme Grand Companion of the Ark (Present and Past) wear a jewel suspended from a rainbow collaret.
To become a member of our organisation, that is the Guild Companions of the ARK, one must be a member of a fraternal organisation such as the Freemasons, Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffalos or Grand United Order of the Knights of the Golden Horn. To then, contact the Grand Scribe, Robin Todd, 14 Court Grove, PURITON, Somerset, TA7 8DB
Phone 01278 686578 or e-mail Robin Todd for further information and if necessary an application form.
Send mail to
Robin Todd with questions or comments
about this web site.
14 December, 2017 10:14