THE ANCIENT AND HONOURABLE FRATERNITY OF ROYAL ARK MARINERS
As with other Degrees and Orders in Freemasonry, the early history of Royal Ark Mariners is unknown, but it has always been acknowledged to be a very ancient order.
The ceremony of Elevation is based on the events leading up to the Great Flood and the actions of Noah in building the Ark, by which mankind was preserved from perishing in the Universal Deluge.
The legend of Noah and his family were regularly enacted throughout England in the Mystery Plays of the seventeenth century and by the middle of that century there was reputedly a Masonic Degree of "Noachites". However, the first authentic record of the Degree of Royal Ark Mariner appears in the minutes of a meeting held in Bath in 1790.
Since 1871, the Degree has been administered by the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, and controlled by the Grand Masters Royal Ark Council, hence each Lodge is attached or "moored" to a Mark Lodge and bears its number.
In this Province it is known that an old Byron Royal Ark Mariner Lodge was warranted in 1884 and that it was moored to the Newstead Lodge of Mark Masters. Although it apparently met on a regular basis, it ceased to exist in 1906.
As in the Craft, the ceremony emphasises the virtues of wisdom, strength and beauty, here referring to the wisdom of Noah in constructing the Ark, his strength of character and the beauty of his workmanship.
The candidate is presented with an apron and jewel. The jewel of the Order is in the shape of a rainbow with a Dove bearing an olive branch appended and on a ribbon having the colours of a rainbow. This reference to the Dove bearing an olive branch bears witness to the past links with the Craft where the Deacons bear this same emblem.