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The Rite of Baldwyn

The Rite of Baldwyn or Rite of Seven Degrees is only practiced in the Province of Bristol, England in Freemason's Hall. It is a collection of separate Masonic Bodies and associated Degrees that would otherwise operate independently. The three primary bodies in the York Rite are the degrees of Craft Freemasonry, the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch, and the Camp of Baldwyn (also called The Five Royal Orders of Knighthood) and is structured as follows:

Craft Freemasonry

Iº − Craft Freemasonry

  • Entered Apprentice

  • Fellowcraft

  • Master Mason

Holy Royal Arch

IIº − Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch

Camp of Baldwyn

IIIº − Knights of the Nine Elected Masters

IVº − The Ancient Order of Scots Knights Grand Architect

  • Order of Scots Knights Grand Architect

  • Order of Scots Knights of Kilwinning

Vº − Knights of the East, the Sword and Eagle

VIº − Knights of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta

VIIº − Knights of the Rose Croix of Mount Carmel

The Masonic regalia worn in the I°, II° and VI° of the Baldwyn Rite are generally the same as those worn by Craft Freemasons, Companions of the Holy Royal Arch and Knights Templar elsewhere. Members of the III°, IV°, V° and VII° wear a special breast jewel unique to the Baldwyn Rite, which comprises a Maltese Cross of silver, which is suspended from a black ribbon. Members of the VII° also wear a special apron with a pelican emblem, which used to be worn in the 18° of the Ancient and Accepted Rite but has been discontinued there.

The earliest records relating to the Baldwyn Rite is a Charter of Compact which was drawn up in 1780. In 1786 Thomas Dunckerley became Provincial Grand Master of Bristol and also Grand Master of the Knights Templar. In 1843, the degree of 'Knight of the Rose Croix' was passed to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Council 33° for England, Wales and its Districts and Chapters Overseas, which governs the Ancient and Accepted Rite in England in Wales.

Another Charter of Compact was established in 1862, reading "Under the Banner of the Grand Conclave of Masonic Knights Templar of England and Wales" where it was agreed to give precedence to the Baldwyn Preceptory as a Provincial Grand Commandery with the powers to work all knighthood degrees of the Baldwyn Rite, including that of 'Knight Templar' and 'Knight of Malta'. The Ancient and Accepted Rite's claim to the Rose Croix degree was also disputed, and the Treaty of Union of 1881 ensured that the Rose Croix degree as practiced in the Baldwyn Rite was recognized as independent.

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