IPMEGS Letter to Exmoor Chapter


When I retired as Grand Superintendent, the Companions of Exmoor Chapter very kindly presented me with a Gift Voucher for which I truly thank you. Jenny & I spent many hours deciding what to spend this gift on and finally we decided that we would have a couple of days away.

We had visited Guildford in Surrey about 10 years ago and when we were there, we paid a visit to The Watts Gallery in Compton. At that time the Gallery buildings were in a sorry state but since then a trust has been formed and, thanks mainly to a Lottery Grant, the Gallery was closed for 2 years and during this time the building and surrounding land was completely refurbished, and so we thought that it would be a great idea to pay a return visit.

The journey from Clevedon was not great and we had torrential rain most of the way up the M4 to Newbury but from there on the weather improved and it became very hot, but this did not have any effect on our visit to Compton. George Frederick Watts OM, who was born in 1817, was one of the great Victorian Artist, not only a Painter but also a Sculptor, he is also unique amongst other artists of the age in that he never belonged to any school of painters and was very much a ‘loner’.

Late in life in 1886 he married Mary Fraser-Tyler who was at that time 36 years old, George Frederick Watts was 69. Mary Watts was one of the first women to have professional training as an artist but after her marriage and discovering a seam of clay locally she started the Compton Pottery. Together they designed the Gallery and the Foundation Stone was laid by George Frederick Watts himself. They also built an Arts & Crafts House for themselves ‘Limnerslease’ which we also visited.

The Village had at that time a Cemetery but there was no Chapel and so Mary Watts, inspired the villagers to build one that she had designed, not only to build one but to decorate it. Compton Cemetery Chapel is covered with remarkable Celtic and Art Nouveau style decoration tiles, all being designed and made by 74 villagers. The outside is magnificent, but the interior is beyond words.

Our hotel for the night was situated in Aldershot and from the bedroom window we could see the wonderful statue of the Duke of Wellington which once stood on the Wellington Arch at the top of Constitution Hill in London but was removed to its present home in Aldershot because it was too heavy for the Arch.

The following morning, we made our way to West Green House Gardens at Hartley Wintney in Hampshire. This house was gifted to the National Trust by Victor Sassoon in 1971 but is not itself of importance although it is a beautiful house. A few years later the lease was taken by Alistair McAlpine who was Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party during Mrs Thatcher’s premiership and as such was an IRA target. Three weeks after Alistair McAlpine gave up the lease an IRA bomb was planted in the front garden which caused extensive damage to the house.

Following this the National Trust restored the House and then a 99year lease was taken by Marylyn Abbot who is a professional Garden Designer but was formally the Marketing and Tourism Manager for Sydney Opera House and as a result of this instituted an Opera Season each summer at West Green House.

The resulting garden at West Green House is testament to her work and now provides a delightful series of walled gardens and beyond these a dramatic woodland garden that has many interesting follies and a wonderful walk around the lake. The small on-site restaurant also provides wonderful food and coffee.

Thank you Companions of Exmoor Chapter No 2390 at Minehead. We had a memorable time away and are very grateful to you all.

With our Best Wishes and Kind Regards

Jenny & John.

To view the letter in pdf format click here

2020 Festival Donation from Provincial Grand Chapter

At the recent Provincial Chapter meeting the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent, E Comp Barry Woodside, gave a very generous gift to the Provincial Grand Master, Comp David Medlock, towards the 2020 Festival. Following this action the Provincial Charity Steward, W Bro David Maddern, sent a letter expressing the gratitude of the Provincial Grand Lodge. To read the letter follow this link.

Well done to all who have contributed to this donation and those Chapters mentioned in the letter.

1966 Annual Sunday Luncheon

The Sunday Luncheon was held at the Oake Manor Golf Club. This was organised by E Comp Andrew Kerslake, MEZ, and was well attended by 11 Companions and their partners. The starters having been devoured we all headed for the carvery which had a choice of three meats, as well as a vegetarian option, with loads of vegetables. The puddings were very delicious and only two decided to abstain. It was a great event and lots of talking was going on at both tables and talk of a Christmas outing was thrown into the melting pot!

1st Principals Annual Dinner

On a rather damp Friday evening, well it was wetter than we have ever had before at this venue, 53 Companions and ladies gathered at the Isle of Wedmore Golf Club for the Annual Dinner. E Comp Maldwyn Davies, as MEZ, organised the evening together with his wife Anne.

E Comp Maldwyn and wife Anne

We were honoured to have three Grand Superintendents and their wives with us, namely ME Comp Barry Woodside and Peggy, ME Comp John Bennett and Jenny and ME Comp Denis Calderley and Muriel.

Once again the menu and food were excellent and everyone enjoyed a pleasant time chatting with old and new acquaintances. The loyal Toast was given by MEZ and afterwards gave a warm welcome to all present and wished them a safe journey home looking forward to next year’s Dinner.


Provincial Officers’ Luncheon 2019

This year the dinner was changed to a Sunday Lunch and moved to the Batch House, Lympsham. It also moved the date to avoid the Half Term rush home from holidays. This change proved  most satisfactory as it made getting to the venue much easier, though some only made it just in time for the luncheon.

After the superb food MEGS, E Comp Barry Woodside, proposed the Loyal Toast and followed by welcoming all the new Officers Installed at last month’s Annual Convocation, as well as the Officers that were reappointed. He also thanked E Comp David Parslow and his wife for their hard work in organising the event.

Somerset Royal Arch Annual Convocation 2019.

Thursday 16th May 2019 saw cars wending their way from all directions through winding country lanes to get to the Webbington Country Club and Spa, Loxton, where Somerset Royal Arch Annual Convocation was being held.

Arriving just after noon I found a variety of other early arrivals gathering in the reception area and on the decking outside. Bar snacks were ordered, to help the beers and spirits down, so that they would be able to get through the afternoon’s meeting ready for the evening meal. Fish finger sandwiches accompanied by chips seemed to be this year’s favourite.

The Devon contingent
E Comps Alan Perks and Andy Clapp PrGTreas
Barry catching up
More Somerset Companions enjoying the lunch break

Meanwhile, in the main hall, a temple had been laid out with furniture transported in from Bridgwater, by E Comp John Griffin’s team, where a variety of rehearsals were being made and the Provincial Scribe E and Registrar booked in those who were to receive first appointments and promotions and checked their papers for the meeting. Those who were to be active officers were instructed to don their regalia and report to the photographer on the end patio to have their mug shots taken and recorded.

E Comp David Dixon as 3rd PrGPrin and harassed PrGScrE Tony Beaumont sorting out the collar jewels
E Comps Tel Hayes, PrGTreas, Neil Hurcum, Pr3rdPrins, and Clive Lambert, DepGS, thirsty work at rehearsals.
W Bro William Allen behind the lens

Eventually, just after 3.00pm, the processions of Grand Officers and other Dignitaries were formed up and taken into their appropriate seats. Procession 3 was a very short one with a very important visitor, the ME

Comp Gareth Jones Third Grand Principal. Later in the meeting M E Comp Barry Woodside, Somerset’s Grand Superintendent, observed that as M E Comp Gareth had been unable to attend his Investiture the previous year it was a great pleasure to see him at this convocation.

ME Comp Gareth Jones, 3rdGPrins, E Comps: Ray Beckingham, 2nd PrGPrins, Barry Woodside, MEGS, David Dixon 3rdPrGPrins and Clive Lambert, DepGS

The meeting proceeded smoothly as such gatherings do. M E Comp Barry Woodside gave a quite long and very personal welcome to all the Dignitaries in attendance. The main business of the afternoon being the appointment of the new team and other appointments and promotions was carried out very smoothly much to the pleasure, I’m sure, of the Provincial DC, who I know had been extremely concerned that all should run without problems. The only minor hiccup was late on when the Provincial Scribe E lost his place with the list and re-announced a name that had gone through two previously. None of us are perfect!

PGM David Medlock and Barry Woodside, MEGS

Under AOB the MEGS commanded his DC to bring the Somerset PGM, W Bro David Medlock, forward. He then presented him with a large cheque from the Royal Arch to add to the Province’s 2020 Appeal. He also intimated that he hoped to give an even greater sum in the final year. The Chapter’s final business was then completed and the Provincial Chapter closed in due form.

ME Comp Gareth Jones with Barry Woodside, MEGS

At this point I had to make a rapid departure with my son-in-law as we had to get back to Sidmouth for a regular meeting of Perseverance Chapter. Traffic delays getting onto the motorway and then tractors from Taunton Racecourse through Corfe and up onto the Blackdowns delayed us somewhat but we arrived just in time for the main business of the evening. I’m therefore unable to report on proceedings during the evening meal at Loxton but am assured by an authoritative source that it all went very well. I close with two pictures provided by Bro William Allen of the Third Grand Principal with the MEGS.

Arthur W Rowe PAGDC

Postscript: Thanks to Arthur for his report above and here are some more bits and bobs from the day:

At 0900 the Provincial Team, assembled for the rehearsal under the guidance of E Comp Chris Moore, PrGDC, which was brought forward so that the Provincial Executive could have a meeting with the Third Grand Principal, ME Comp Gareth Jones OBE at 1100 in the Library.This meeting went well and involved looking at Somerset’s plans for the future and ways to recruit more Masons into the HRA, which is the natural next step for all Masons to complete their Third Degree.

After a brief respite the Team had a further rehearsal with 3rd Grand Principal M E Companion Gareth Jones OBE and his acting DC, E Comp Mark Hall.

At 1530 the Chapter was opened by MEGS, E Comp Barry K Woodside, then the Third Grand Principal, ME Comp Gareth Jones, was welcomed, accompanied by Grand Superintendents of other Provinces.

The Chapter was then presented with the Somerset Sceptre by MEZ of the Tyntesfield Chapter, E Comp Dale Sherman, which was to be passed on to the Parrett and Axe Chapter later in the ceremony to start another circuit of the Province.

The roll call of the Chapters of the Province was called with the usual responses of the Chapter’s members, followed by a report of the Grand Officers in attendance. The Minutes of the last Annual Convocation were confirmed and the adoption of the Accounts were also passed.

Grand Scribe Ezra then gave his report, click here to view it, after which the Treasurer , E comp Terry Hayes, was re-elected with the Account Examiner.

MEGS then re-appointed E Comp Clive Lambert as Deputy GS, E Comp Ray Beckingham as 2nd Pr G Principal, then he appointed, obligated and invested E Comp David Dixon as 3rd Pr G Principal. E Comp Barry then appointed and invested his Provincial Team and then those receiving honours for the first time and those being promoted.

MEGS rose to address the Companions, click here to view. He then presented the Somerset Sceptre to E Comp Steve Ablon MEZ of Parrett and Axe Chapter for onward delivery to Royal Cyrus Chapter on 26th June.

The Provincial Convocation was closed in peace and harmony followed by the first two verses of the National Anthem. The Companions then took a break before being seated at 1745 ready for the festive board.

ME Comp Gareth Jones with his goody bag from MEGS

At the Festive Board toasts were given to the Queen and Royal Arch and also the First Grand Principal followed by the ME 3rd Grand Principal proposed the toast to Barry, MEGS, who responded to it and presented ME Comp Gareth Jones with a bag of goodies including a bottle of Somerset Cider Brandy.

The companions having wined and dined made there way home, both near and far and no doubt talking about the wonderful Convocation.

Adrian Halliwell
Provincial Liaison Officer

Installation at Chapter of St George 3158, May 2019

The Chapter was pleased to welcome the 2nd Provincial Grand Principal, E Comp Ray Beckingham, accompanied by E Comp John Pinder, PrAssDC, and the MEZ, E Comp Simon Cassling proffered him the Sceptre hoping Ray would take over the ceremony. The Sceptre was returned with thanks but Ray hadn’t brushed up his Installation ritual. The MEZ then ran through the Agenda items until he got to the main item to Install the three Principals: E Comp Peter Light was Installed into the Chair of Zerubbabel; E Comp Kenneth Clarke as Haggai and Comp Michael Day as Jeshua.

The three Principals: E Comps Mike Clarke, H, Peter Light, Z, and Mike Day, J
E Comp Ray Beckingham, Prov 2nd G Principal

The MEZ then appointed his officers and the addresses to the Principals, Officers and Companions was then given by E Comp Ray Beckingham, E Comp Neil Trood and E Comp David Bates respectively. Following this the IPZ, E Comp Simon Cassling was presented with a Past Z perpetual jewel which he thanked the companions of the Chapter of St George for.

The final items on the Agenda were completed and the Companions retired for the Festive Board. E Comp Peter produced some of his finest Merlot for his guests and White Port for all. The Toast to the Province was given E Comp David Palmer, Scribe E, which was ably replied to BY E Comp Ray Beckingham, That to the new Principals by E Comp Simon Johnson, ADC, and all three of the Principals replied. The Toast to the Installing Principals was given by E Comp John Rudge, DC, to which E Comp Simon Cassling, IPZ, responded. The toast to the Visitors was given by Comp Kevin Perry and responded to by E Comp Adrian Halliwell.

Provincial Team visit Brotherly Love

The Provincial Team joined together to perform an Exaltation for the Chapter of Brotherly Love in Yeovil. Unusually the Team were in the Chapter for the opening as 329 have a unique way of opening their convocation. E Comp Derek Marpole opened the Chapter and then greeted MEGS, E Comp Barry Woodside, proffered him the Sceptre which was returned for a short while. The other agenda items were covered and a ballot was taken for Bro Daniel Burnell, a member of the Lodge of Science No 437, as a candidate for Exaltation.

E Comps Norman Crang, MEGS and Ken Crang

The ballot proved clear, thank goodness and the Provincial DC, E Comp Chris Moore, then presented MEGS to MEZ who then took the Sceptre. His next duty was to call for PrDC to present to him E Comps Norman and Ken Crang. The shocked Companions were then presented with the MEGS Award for their exemplary commitment to not only 329 but also the Province of Somerset, giving a brief history of their life in HRA.

The Provincial Rulers taking the high chairs; E Comps Ray Beckingham, Clive Lambert and Neil Hurcum

E Comp Clive Lambert then took over Z’s office, E Comp Ray Beckingham as H and E Comp Neil Hurcum as J. The other Provincial Officers took their respective seats and E Comp Clive announced the next item on the Agenda to Exalt Bro David Burnell.

E Comps Doug Stembridge, Pr 1st Ass Soj, Darryl Hinder, Pr Prin Soj, Daniel and Alan Perks

The Prov Prin Soj,  E Comp Darryl Hinder, then retired to entrust Daniel and returned having done so. E Comp Andy Clapp, acting Prov Janitor, then announced to E Comp Tony Guthrie, Prov Scribe N, that Bro David was prepared and E Comp Alan Perks, Prov 2nd Ass Soj, brought David in.  The Ceremony then proceeded with Prov 2nd Principal leading the first part. After the candidate took his Obligation he retired and was reintroduced with E Comp Darryl taking the lead. On the next entry E Comp Doug Stembridge, 1st Ass Soj, took over from Darryl.

E Comp Neil Hurcum gave the Signs followed by the Mystical Lecture which was presented by E Comps Roger Reina, Tony Cooper and Adrian Halliwell.

E Comps Ray Beckingham, 2nd Pr Prin, Clive Lambert, DGS, Barry Woodside, MEGS, Comp Daniel Burnell and Neil Hurcum, 3rd Pr Prin

Comp Daniel was then presented with the MEGS’s special Cuff Links which he gives only to those Companions who are Exalted by the Provincial Team. On the completion of which the Officers of 329 were returned to their rightful places with thanks given by MEZ to the Provincial Team on an excellent Ceremony and MEGS to allow the Team to undertake the Ceremony.

On the 2nd and 3rd Rising MEGS asked that as many members of 329 to attend the Annul Convocation to support their members be appointed/promoted to Provincial Rank. The Provincial Team assembled under the direction of PrDC and retired from the Chapter.

The Chapter was then closed in peace and harmony and all proceeded downstairs for the Festive Board.


1966 Have a Memorable Evening

At the April Convocation Fidelity and Sincerity had a most enjoyable and informative ceremony. The chapter was pleased to receive E Comp Barry Woodside, MEGS, accompanied by E Comp Chris Moore, PrGDC. E Comp Barry was proffered the Sceptre by E Comp Andrew Kerslake, MEZ, which was returned with thanks.

The chapter was unfortunately hit by two cancellations at a very late hour so a substitute to act as J, E comp Keith Kerslake, was clothed though, his part was to only undertake the readings. There had also been two other subs brought off the bench, E Comp Peter Chidzey as Principal Sojourner, E Comp John Brown as Scribe N and E Comp Mike Condick as IPZ. The evening was to undertake a demonstration Exaltation with timely interruptions from Scribe E, Jim Nicol, with snippets of information. E Comp Jim had borrowed this from E Comp Bob Moore. Comp Gary Beasley acted as candidate, he was not hoodwinked, and he was entrusted inside the temple, so that all could see what happened, especially Gary.

The demonstration was completed and the agenda items were duly processed. E Comp Jason Vincent was elected as Z, E Comp Paul Spoors was elected H in his absence, as was Comp Chris Waterhouse for the office of J. E Comp Keith Smith was re-elected as Treasurer and the remaining officers were left for the incoming Principals to appoint.

E Comp Ron Troup, the Charity Steward then proposed that £300 be donated to the Musgrove Park Hospital Scanner Appeal, which was duly seconded and carried.

The Chapter was then closed and during the Risings MEGS commented on the quality of the evening and said that he was looking forward to seeing many from 1966 at the Provincial Convocation where several members of the Chapter would receive honours and promotions.

The evening finished off with a tasty Festive Board and conviviality.

Chapter of Brotherly Love No. 329

At our regular convocation on Thursday 28th February we were pleased to receive the Somerset Sceptre from a delegation of Companions, led by E. Comp Andrew Kerslake the MEZ, of the Chapter of Fidelity and Sincerity No. 1966.

The Sceptre was then safely conveyed to St Lukes Chapter No. 6540 by E. Comp Derek Marpole MEZ and the 3rd Principal on the 20th March.

Our forthcoming convocation is on 18th April and we will be honoured by the presence of E. Comp B.K. Woodside, Most Excellent Grand Superintendent, who will be joined by members of the Provincial Team.

Following the usual business we will be balloting for a candidate and, if successful, exalt Daniel Burnell a member of the Lodge of Science No 437