A KNIGHT OF THE ORDER OF THE BATH

The "Most Honourable Order of the Bath" is an Order of the Crown: its "Grand Master" is Britain's Sovereign. It is the highest possible military honour available to a British soldier. Members have included Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, Field Marshal Earl Kitchener and Field Marshal Earl Haig.

Chapel of the Order of the Bath King George I re-established this Order of Knights in 1725, with Westminster Abbey's King Henry VII Chapel designated as its Chapel. The 'letters patent' recalls how in former times, "upon special occasions a Degree of Knighthood, with hath been denominated the Knighthood of the Bath, has been conferred." There is an account of this ceremony in the reign of Henry IV; it was continued until the time of Charles II (1670s), after which it fell into disuse.

As to the "Bath": admission to this Order included a ritual analogous to those entering Holy Orders. That is, spiritual purification was symbolized by ritual washing. There followed a night of prayer and meditation; and then attendance to the mass. In 1815, the ancient rites of bathing, vigil and other preparations for installation were abolished. More recently, a "Civil Division" has been added to the "Military Division."

Badge The Badge of the Order of the Bath has three crowns, with the motto, "Tria Juncta in Uno" (Three joined to become One). This refers either to the Holy Trinity, or (more probably) to the Union of England, Ireland and Scotland (or just maybe, back in the time of Henry IV, the Union of England, Ireland and France!)

Because of their limited number, only the most senior of the Knights can be allocated one of the Chapel's stalls. When a stall becomes vacant (through death), it is offered to the next senior Knight. These lucky people are entitled to have their banners, crests and stall plates affixed upon their stalls.

Archibald Campbell of Inverneill became a Knight of the Order of the Bath in September, 1785. In his time, membership comprised 36 Knights Grand Cross.

Campbell with Knight Grand Cross

Scotland also lavished Campbell with honours, discussed in the next page.