History of the Order
The Order of St. Thomas of Acon was established in 1974 as a result of twenty years’ research in the Guildhall Library in London by John E. N. Walker, who for many years was the Secretary General of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia. The ancient records of the Order, written in medieval French and Latin, had been deposited in the Guildhall Library and escaped the Great Fire of 1666. The Order now operates under the official title of The Commemorative Order of St Thomas of Acon.
That we have a revival of this very English Order of Chivalry is due to the untiring efforts of our first Grand Master, Sir John (Walker) of Dorking. John spent more than twenty years searching the archives of the Guildhall Library for information about the Order of St. Thomas of Acon, intending initially to write its history. Happily, he discovered the report of the Installation of the Master in 1510, an account so unusual and so typically English, that he felt compelled to revive the Order, albeit Masonically.
The Order in the United States
Reese L. Harrison, Jr., and a group of other Freemasons, traveled to England in October 1999. There, they attended Craft Lodges and various appendent bodies around the Country. During the trip, Brother Harrison also arranged to have the group welcomed into the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon in Blackheath Chapel Time Immemorial (T.I.), on October 23, 1999.
Interest in the Order was strong and there was a desire to establish a Chapel of the Order in the United States. On February 17, 2000, Pilgrim Chapel No. 11 and Trinity Chapel No. 12 were consecrated in Washington, D.C. during the annual Masonic Week event. In line with the growth of the Order in the United States, a Province was established for the United States of America on September 11, 2005.
Following several years of rapid expansion across the United States, a separate Grand Master’s Council for the United States of America was established on January 29, 2015.
Our Armorial Bearings
As a chivalric order of English origin, the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon in the United States takes its history seriously.
In 2022, under the direction of then Most Worthy Grand Master Sir Joseph (MacIntyre) of Toftingall, K.H., aided by Sir Brett (Gordon) of Arboye, the Order engaged the American College of Heraldry to officially register the arms of the Grand Master’s Council. Designated by number 4570, the arms are described as:
“Argent per fess a cross overall Gules surmounted by a cross filet Argent, in dexter chief an escallop inverted or, fimbriated Gules, and in sinister chief a representative of the Crest of the Great Seal of the United States of America (a Glory Or breaking through a cloud proper and surrounding thirteen stars forming a constellation Argent on an azure field.)”
Using this initial design, any Province or Chapel of the Order may now create their own distinct arms. However, all arms MUST be approved by the Grand Master of the Order before they are used in any official capacity, whether digital or upon a physical object. The Grand Secretary’s office can assist with this process.
The Founders in the United States
Today, there are more than 1,000 Knights of the Order, meeting in more than 30 Chapels across the country. Each of those Knights owes a debt of gratitude to the founders of the Order in the United States. We proudly recognize those Knights that served as officers at the founding of the former Province of the United States of America, at its closing, and those that founded the independent Grand Master’s Council.