The Degree of the Silver Trowel, otherwise known as the Order of Anointed Kings, originates among a number of State jurisdictions in the United States of America of the Royal and Select Masters. Moves were made to bring the Degree to England and Wales, in the summer of 2008. Our previous District Grand Master - Roger O’Brien - was a member of a party headed by the then Grand Master, Most Illustrious Companion J. Alan Wright, when it was conferred on them during a visit to the Grand Council of the State of New York at Albany. This was an appropriate venue given the origins of our Order of Royal and Select Masters.
Having witnessed a most impressive ceremony it was decided the Degree should be brought across the Atlantic under the aegis of the Grand Council of the Royal and Select Masters for England and Wales and should be conferred only as a special award. Grafton Council No.16 was specifically consecrated for the working of the Degree for the whole of our jurisdiction. Later it was decided it would be worked at Past Masters' Councils of the Order. Those who had been admitted prior to it being brought here from the United States, would be recognized as having taken it.
The Silver Trowel is practiced as an adjunct to the Order of Royal and Select Masters, not as a separate Order but as special reward for merit and conferred in very limited numbers. The basic requirement is a candidate must be a Past Master of a Royal and Select Masters' Council; thereafter approval for it to be conferred on any individual Illustrious Companion rests solely with the Grand Master himself, on recommendation from a District Grand Master. The Grand Master also settles the total number of recommendations a District Grand Master may make in any year. In Kent I am able to nominate 8 Illustrious Companions.
Once approval has been given there is a one-off fee, currently £75, with no further annual charges and no further commitments. As the Degree can only be conferred in a Past Masters' Council, most Kent Companions will take the degree at the June meeting of our own Kings of Kent Council No. 316. The regalia consists of a hallmarked silver trowel, which is attached (with care) to the flap of a Royal and Select Masters apron, point downwards.
The English version of the Degree has been adapted by taking into account rituals from a number of States. I would stress it does not form part of the series of events commemorated in the four Degrees of the Royal and Select Masters, but relates to the reigns of King David and his son King Solomon. To participate requires considerable ritual - even acting - skills, as the ceremony is very dramatic, culminating in a twist unlikely to have been witnessed in any other Masonic ceremony.
Once conferred on any Illustrious Companion there is no further commitment. Should anyone who has received it already and should like to witness it again, you should contact the Recorder of Kings of Kent Council.