London Royal Arch Digest – Winter 2022
As we head into Spring, here are just a few of the London Royal Arch Chapters that have met over the winter months, within dedicated Masonic Halls and Centres from Chingford to Harrow, Ealing to Croydon, and Southgate to Penge… not just throughout central London.
London's Royal Arch Chapters and Companions have been revelling in being back in each other's company once again. The general sense of excitement that was palpable from September onwards – as masonic friends were reunited in their chapters – remained strong throughout December, January and February with a flurry of installations, inductions, proclamations and an exciting number of exaltations taking place. Equally important, London's Royal Arch masons were able to relax and socialise in each other's company once more, breaking bread and raising a glass or two together.
At Mark Masons’ Hall, on 4th December, Three Pillars Chapter No 4923 exalted Bro Bassem Wehbe and on 20th December at Gt. Queen Street, the companions and guests of Peckham Chapter No 1475, the London Royal Arch Escorting Officers Chapter, celebrated the festive season early by Installing a new First Principal and Proclaimed the Second and Third Principals, who will remain in office for another year due to the Covid interruption. A wonderfully festive dinner, hosted within the Grand Officers Robing Room in Freemasons Hall, was thoroughly enjoyed post convocation.
- At Mark Masons’ Hall, on 14th January, Aquarius Chapter No 3113 met to rehearse the ceremony of exaltation in preparation for the 'real thing' later this coming year.
On 17th January at Freemasons’ Hall the members and guests of Amicus Chapter No 3772 reunited to progress Chapter business and make arrangements for an Exaltation at their next convocation before retiring for a thoroughly enjoyable dinner at Zeos, Southampton Row.
- On 20th January, also dining within a packed Grand Officers Robing Room, were Metropolitan Grand Stewards Chapter No 9812. It was the first meaningful convocation of this prestigious London Chapter for over two years, and everyone was treated to an excellent presentation of the Royal Arch Tracing Boards by a Metropolitan Grand Chapter Demonstration Team, led by Assistant Metropolitan Grand Superintendent, E Comp Simon White.
On 21st January, the Metropolitan Grand Chapter Royal Arch in Camera presentation team visited Royal Edward Chapter No 1489 at Freemasons’ Hall. The RAIC Team, comprising E Comps Chris Stewart, John Buckingham and Peter Hearn, and led by Metropolitan Grand Inspector E comp John Peters, provided a fascinating insight into the roles of the various officers in a Royal Arch Chapter, the significance of the regalia, the reasons behind some of the ritual and a brief explanation of the protocols, symbolism, and historical narrative of the Royal Arch. In recent times, five new Joining Members have taken office and helped to reinvigorate the Chapter.
At Duke Street St James's, SWI on 25th January, Avenue Chapter No 3231, in the presence of Metropolitan Grand Inspector E Comp Tony Shepherd and 25 members and guests, exalted Bro Mark Rumsey and installed E Comp Ross Crawley as Third Principal. Comp Tony took great pleasure in presenting Comp Dean Milton with his Supreme Grand Chapter Certificate, after which the thirsty companions retired to the Travellers Club on Pall Mall for an elegant and delicious festive board.
On 25th January, Metropolitan Grand Inspector E Comp Robert Lakic attended Bayard Chapter No 1615 at the Civil Service Club, Great Scotland Yard, SW1, to witness the exaltation of Bro Christopher Foster and to present him with his Exaltee's Guide.
- On 26th January, at Freemasons’ Hall, Euclid Chapter of Installed First Principals Chapter No 7464 proclaimed their three principals, E Comps Henry Grunwald, Norman Strong and Larry Levine respectively, for an additional year and warmly received a Lecture Presentation entitled 'What is Freemasonry's fascination with completion?' from E Comp Tony Harvey.
- At Freemasons’ Hall, on 31st January, the members and guests of London First Principals Chapter No 2712 received a fascinating lecture from E Comp Rob Soames, entitled 'So who was Laurence Dermott and why is he so important?' which focussed on the 18th-century masonic pioneer and trailblazer.
On 3rd February, at Freemasons' Hall, Lion & Lamb Chapter No 192 received a retinue of Metropolitan Grand Officers, including E Comps Chris Head, Metropolitan Third Grand Principal and John Peters, Metropolitan Grand Inspector. On behalf of the Metropolitan Grand Superintendent, Comp Chris presented a 150th Anniversary Letter of Congratulations to the Chapter’s First Principal E Comp Mark Cooper. The Chapter Visiting Officer E Comp Jack Levy then, at the personal request of E Comp John Cooper, father of the MEZ, presented Comp John with his 50 Year Long Service Certificate. A truly remarkable meeting, with 33 attendees, was crowned by a joyous festive board held with the Grant Temple vestibule.
On 3rd February, Chelsea Chapter No 3098 met at Freemasons’ Hall to witness the presentation of a 50 Year Long Service Certificate by Assistant Metropolitan Grand Superintendent E Comp Ian Clark to E Comp Denis Matthews.
On Saturday 5th February, the following four chapters Aldersbrook Chapter No 2841, United Engineers Chapter No 3862, Bowes Park Chapter No 3119 and Aarheus Chapter No 6854, all met at Freemasons’ Hall, for a variety of different reasons:
- After not having been able to meet for a considerable time, Aldersbrook Chapter No 2841 held a memorable convocation where Metropolitan Grand Inspector Rob Chaproniere presented a 50-year Long Service certificate to E Comp George Mitchell. Comp George was actually exalted in February 1971, but due to the Chapter not being able to meet, the presentation had been postponed for 12 months. He was appointed to Grand Chapter Rank, PAGDC in 2001 and was a visiting grand officer from 2001 to 2007 and from 2007 to 2012 a senior visiting officer. The Chapter, in a wonderful gesture, arranged a car to bring George to and from his home in Billericay, Essex to the meeting. The Companions dined at Trattoria Verdi on Southampton Row.
- Meanwhile, United Engineers Chapter No 3862 exalted their second master mason into the Royal Arch since the resumption of convocations. Under the watchful eye of their Grand Officers, E Companions Paddy Gaffney and Don Tidiman, the acting MEZ’ E Comp Keith Purcell, exalted Bro Tony Moreton in a splendid manner. A good time was had by all at the convocation before retiring to Brown's Restaurant Covent Garden for a sumptuous festive board.
In Temple 6, Bowes Park Chapter No 3119 and Aarheus Chapter No 6854 held one of their customary conjoint meetings and retired to, once again, dine together with fabulous bonhomie at La Ballerina in Covent Garden.
- A fantastic festive board luncheon was held by Connaught Chapter No 3270 at the Kennel Club, Piccadilly on 7th February, followed by a short stroll to the Chapter's Installation convocation at Duke Street where arrangements for the Chapter's Centenary celebrations were discussed.
- In Arduis Fidelis Chapter No 3432 met for the first time in over two years on 16th February at Freemasons' Hall to conduct outstanding Chapter business and to discuss, in detail, the arrangements for the Chapter's delayed centenary celebrations. At the conclusion of the meeting, the gathered companions retired to the café & bar downstairs before heading off to dinner at the La Ballerina in Covent Garden, where old acquaintances were rekindled.
- Despite having travel plans severely disrupted by storm Eunice, an impressive array of guests and members of Johann Gutenberg Chapter No 5593 managed to arrive at Freemasons' Hall on 19th February, including E Comp Jon Pentel of the MetGC Ritual Support Team, to participate in and witness the double exaltation of Bros Paul Cresswell and Barry Smith. The dining room at the Doubletree Hilton was barely able to contain the wonderful banter of good friends reuniting.
- At Mark Masons’ Hall on 21st February, in the presence of Metropolitan Grand Inspector E Comp Robert Lakic, Bartizan Chapter No 5520 exalted Bro Alekos Kleanthos into the Royal Arch.
- On 24th February at Freemasons’ Hall, Assistant Metropolitan Grand Superintendent E Comp Simon White presented the newly installed First Principal of Armament 3898, E Comp Garry Bignell, with a 100th-anniversary letter of congratulations on behalf of the Metropolitan Grand Superintendent. Armament Chapter No 3898 is currently in advanced discussions with Royal Colonial Institute Chapter No 3556 regarding an amalgamation. Royal Colonial Institute Lodge was the sponsoring lodge for Armament Lodge and then played a significant role in petitioning for Armament Chapter in 1921. The two Chapters have since retained a close relationship. A wonderful celebratory festive board was enjoyed within the spectacular vestibule of the grand temple, where the members and guests of Armament were joined by nine members of Royal Colonial Institute Chapter.
- On 24th February, at Freemasons' Hall, the members and guests of St Pauls Column Chapter No 7197 gathered to receive a Lecture' Exploration of the Royal Arch' from visitor E Comp Lewis Cohen, which examined many of the symbolical and spiritual aspects of the Royal Arch
- On 26th February, at Mark Masons’ Hall, Three Pillars Chapter No 4923 held its installation convocation, inducting three principals in the presence of E Comp Tony Shepherd, Metropolitan Grand Inspector, who presented Comp Bassem Wehbe with his Supreme Grand Chapter Certificate before everyone retired for an enjoyable dinner upstairs full of chat and laughter.
- On 28th February, at the Southeast London Masonic Centre, Penge SE20, the members of Thames River Chapter No 5764 reunited after a considerable to discuss the future direction of the Chapter. Ivy Chapter No 1441 also met at Penge on 8th March for the same purpose, having not met for over two years. Both chapters dined well on a fulsome sausage 'n' mash dinner.
- Despite the huge challenges of a full-blown tube strike, enough members of Moriah Chapter No 34 were able to meet at Freemasons’ Hall on 3rd March to Install E Comp Phillip Presland into the first principal's chair before retiring to the Grand Connaught Rooms for an elegant and enjoyable festive board
- On 4th March, at Freemasons' Hall, Ravensbourne Chapter No 1601, the first University Scheme Chapter exalted Bros Rasif Alakbarov and Kieran Stewart into the Royal Arch with a double ceremony of the highest quality and sincerity. The unique festive board at the Royal India restaurant, Endell Street WC2, featured a wonderful selection of various curries, bread, rice and side dishes – very few left hungry!
- On 9th March, at Mark Masons’ Hall, Maguncor 3806 expertly exalted Bro Chris Balm with the assistance of E Comp Laurie Shaffer and Comp Paul Chakravarti of the Metropolitan Grand Chapter Ritual Support Team. The Chapter, named Maguncor after the telegraphic code word used for Machine Gun Corps during the First World War, was consecrated in 1924 by officers of the Machine Gun Corps, with two of its future First Principals becoming recipients of the Victoria Cross.