The Commemorative Order
of St Thomas of Acon
What is it?
It is an independent Masonic Order restricted to those who are already subscribing members of the United Religious, Military and Masonic Order of the Temple, generally referred to as ‘KT’. It is therefore both Masonic and Christian in character, and membership is by invitation only.
Why do we need another Masonic Order?
The Order was revived by a Mason by the name of John Walker some thirty years ago, who came across it during his researches in the City of London. An Order of a similar name had been founded in the twelfth century during the third crusade, but was eventually dissolved by Henry
VIII. John Walker was so impressed by its specifically English origins and the nature of its aims (embracing the twin principles of Humility and Kindness) that he determined to revive it as a Masonic Order, which he accordingly did, becoming its first Grand Master.
How did the Order get its name?
The St. Thomas referred to in its title was St Thomas ‘a Becket and the Order is named after him because the first Prior built a church which he dedicated to St Thomas ‘a Becket who had been murdered in Canterbury Cathedral not long beforehand. That church was built in Acre, scene of a terrible siege in the twelfth century. Acre was subsequently Anglicised to ‘Acon’ but for those who wish to locate its place of origin more precisely, Acre is known as Akko in the state of Israel.
Why haven’t I heard of it before?
For most of its life the Order has maintained a low profile, being kept in existence by a small group of Knights Templar who liked its aims and decided to keep it alive by working its ceremony in a single Chapel in Blackheath. In due course however, news of its existence became more widely known and eventually because of popular demand its third Grand Master decided to authorise the consecration of more Chapels, which has resulted in the consecration of over 100 Chapels with current membership of over Two Thousand five Hundred.
What Regalia do they wear?
Their regalia is like that worn by KT knights of a white tunic and mantle but, in addition, members wear a badge of a large scallop shell (the sign of a Pilgrim) on their tunic, a smaller scallop shell badge on their mantle and on their cap. These scallop shell badges are coloured bronze for members, silver for Provincial Officers and gold for Grand Officers. Those in charge of Chapels, Provinces and the Grand Master also carry Batons on top of which are similarly coloured shells. It is the custom for new members to wear Knights Templar regalia when they come into the Order.
What is different about our ceremonies?
Possibly the most unusual features of our ceremonies are the unique ‘tests’ which candidates undergo on admission, and the ruling of each Chapel which is in the hands of two of its members, a Prior and a Master, thereby maintaining the two functions of Knights during the Crusades i.e. Warrior and Priest. The election of its Masters, Provincial Masters (we call them Preceptors) and the Grand Master are steeped in humility and are unlike any other ceremony in Masonry.
What might I gain from membership?
Those who join this Order find their interest and understanding of the crusades greatly enhanced and their circle of Masonic friends increased considerably. They find it satisfying to be involved in an Order which has Humility and Compassion at its core.
Similarly, those who particularly enjoy the study of history, especially the Becket family and the Orders of Chivalry, the Guilds of London and the City of London itself, find much of interest in this Order.
What are the Qualifications for joining?
All members of the order must be subscribing members of a Knights Templar Preceptory recognised by the Great Priory of England and Wales.