E Comp Charlie Barker has written an excellent paper on the formation of the Unanimity and Sincerity Lodge No 261 and its Chapter, Sincerity No 261. This paper also follows the formation of the Provincial Grand Chapter of Somerset for which 261 played an integral part.
E Comp Charlie was the MEZ at the dedication of the Chapter’s 200th Anniversary Charter on Wednesday 14th March 2018.
The Chapter was honoured to receive E. Comp Clive A.F. Lambert,the Deputy Grand Superintendent at its installation convocation on Wednesday 9th May 2019.
After the usual chapter business and a ballot for a rejoining member E. Comp David Brandhuber installed E Comp Chris Partridge into the chair of Z. Ex.Comp Chris then installed E Comp Brian Pollard as H and Ex.Comp Brian Installed Companion Ian Clift as J.
Later in the meeting Ex.Comp Clive kindly presented his Supreme Grand Lodge Certificate to Comp Graeme Clark.
Comp Clark having been newly invested as Steward made sharp exit from the meeting to man the bar and missed out on a photo opportunity with E Comp Clive. (Graeme is not known for being quick so he caught the CLO out but that said he isn’t known for being too fast either!)
A very convivial festive board followed that was enjoyed by all present.
The Chapter of Sincerity were honoured by the Presence of the MEGS, E. Comp Barry Woodside, at the January Convocation. This was Barry’s first visit since being installed as MEGS. He was accompanied by the PGDC E.Comp Chris Moore. The chapter were fortunate to have a candidate for Exaltation in the person of Companion Graeme Clark. Graeme is a subscribing member of the Emergency Services Lodge 9391 which also meets at Taunton.
At the Convocation on Wednesday 14th November E. Comp Chris Partridge finally had the opportunity to install the J of the Chapter E. Comp Brian Pollard. Brian was unable to attend the Installation Convocation in May. The Chapter Principals are now pictured above. As the majority of the Provincial Team had made the journey to London for a visit to Supreme Grand Chapter and the Somersetshire Chapter, we were honoured to be able to call E. Comp Bob Moore, PPrDGS, out of retirement and have the pleasure of his company at the Convocation. E. Comp Bob gave the Address to the Principals after the Installation.
Wednesday 14th March 2018 was a very special day for Chapter of Sincerity No 261 – the celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Chapter’s foundation in 1818.
The Principals and Companions of the Chapter were honoured by Supreme Grand Chapter attending mob-handed, when The Most Excellent Grand Superintendent, Excellent Companion D John Bennett, was accompanied by the entire Provincial Team. Our Dining Steward was very busy beforehand!
The Principals opened the Chapter with traditional 261 workings (as ever, an opening not seen by many visitors) and when Z, H and J proffered their Sceptres in deference, all were retained and MEGS with his team conducted the rest of the ceremony. Our first reading was from Excellent Companion Chris Partridge (J) who read the Minutes of the Chapter’s first Convocation (as Chapter No 497) held on 22nd December 1818.
At this first meeting, W Bro Aaron Smetham was Exalted, whilst Bros Henry Townsend and James Billet Passed the Chair in due form, after which they too were Exalted. For those who don’t know, at that time to be Exalted into a Chapter, a Brother must have been a Master in a Craft Lodge. If he had not been a Master, then he was conducted through a ceremony of “Passing the Chair” and could then be Exalted.
Further readings included the Minutes of the Centenary meeting in 1918 and the words of the Centenary Charter, including permission for the 25 subscribing Companions to wear a Centenary Jewel. We can account for three, leaving some 22 still to be found!
Following the readings, E Companions David Hartley & John Winston gave a brief history of the Chapter from 1818 to the present day, including background to the Chapter’s role in the creation of Provincial Grand Chapter of Somerset in 1880.
Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra then read the words upon our new and very decorative 200th Anniversary Charter, soon to be hung at Taunton Masonic Hall.
There then followed the rededication of the Chapter, with E Comp Charlie Barker (Z) declaring to MEGS that the Chapter of Sincerity No 261, having achieved 200 years of service in this Royal Arch Province of Somerset, desired on this special occasion to rededicate the Chapter to continued service.
E Companion David Parslow gave an entertaining Oration, pointing out much that had happened on 22nd December. DID YOU KNOW – the birthday of Maurice and Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees in 1949!
After the ceremony, a wonderful Festive Board was held with 90 Diners, based loosely on a Masonic menu from 1918. (Though the 3/6d dining fee could not be repeated!). In researching the menu, the bar was noted as stocking a brand of Champagne still in production and after some sleuthing, 2 bottles were sourced and presented to E Comp D John Bennett, one to be passed on to E Comp Dennis Calderley, who sadly could not attend.
Finally, in commemoration, all those attending were presented with a specially-designed lapel pin, as well as cuff links, and E Comp Charlie presented the Chapter with a 200 year-old decanter and Port glasses to be used by the Principals at all future Festive Boards.
At the Convocation on Wednesday 8th November E. Comp Charlie Barker finally had the opportunity to install the H of the Chapter E. Comp David Brandhuber. Unfortunately due to ill health David was unable to attend the Installation Convocation in May. The chapter Principals are now pictured above. As the majority of the Provincial Team had made the journey to London for a visit to Supreme Grand Chapter and the Somersetshire Chapter, we were honoured to be able to call E. Comp Bob Moore, PDGS, out of retirement and have the pleasure of his company at the Convocation. E. Comp Bob gave the address to the Principals after the Installation.
On the evening we also received the Travelling Sceptre from the Companions of Brotherly Love Chapter (Z-Neil Tinkley and 6 accompanying Companions). The convocation concluded with the presentation of the Historical Lecture in Catechetical format led by J, E. Comp Chris Partridge assisted by E. Comps S Leyton, R Bailey, P Hitchcock and Comps R Town, J Leeming & D Hughes.
Peter was born on the 10th September 1934 and during his working life he was an Accountant. He was initiated into Freemasonry on the 5th November 1965 in Edward Holiday Lodge No 7997 under The District Grand Lodge of Eastern Archipelago and meeting at Kuala Lumpar. This Lodge still exists and still meets in the same place. Peter resigned from Edward Holliday Lodge on the 13th March 1992.
Peter also became a joining member of the 23rd September 1966 of Lodge of St George No 1152 and they meet at Freemason’s Hall, Singapore, this Lodge made him an Honourary Member on the 28th August 2001.
He was also a joining Member of Lodge of St Michael No 2933 again meeting at Freemason’s Hall, Singapore and he resigned from this Lodge on the 6th March 1992. It was obviously at this time that he left Singapore to return to England.
Peter became a joining member of the Lodge of Unanimity & Sincerity No 261 meeting at Taunton on the 15th April 1992 and was Master of the Lodge in 2000 and has served that Lodge as Treasurer from 2007 until 2013. He holds the Provincial Grand Rank in Somerset of Past Provincial Grand Warden.
Peter Tomkins was Exalted into the Holy Royal Arch on the 4th April 1967 in St George Chapter No 1152 in Singapore under the District Grand Chapter of the Eastern Archipelago and is a Past 1st Principal of the Chapter, he resigned his membership on the 28th August 1998.
He became a joining Companion of Chapter of Sincerity No 261 on the 11th November 1992 and has served the Chapter as Almoner between 2001 and 2003 when he became Treasurer, and Office he held until 2009. Peter holds the Ranks of Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah in the Provincial Grand Chapter of Somerset.
At the May Convocation of the chapter the MEGS had hoped to be able to present a 5o year certificate to Ex. Comp. Peter.Unfortunately Peter was not well enough to attend and the certificate was left in the safe keeping of Ex. Comp Roger Bailey (Z) for later presentation.
There was word that Peter might be returning to Hong Kong so it was hoped he could be presented with his certificate before he disappeared.
Subsequently Ex. Companions Roger Bailey and Bob Nicholls visited Peter at Nynehead Court where he was convalescing following a recent illness. Their visit coincided with a visit from his family and presented him with his certificate and Badge. Peter quickly tired but asked that his gratitude for the honour bestowed was passed onto the MEGS.
The Annual Convocation of the Chapter took place on 10th May 2017 at the Taunton Masonic Hall.
The chapter was honoured by the presence of the MEGS Ex. Comp. D. John Bennett, The Deputy Grand Superintendent Ex. Comp Barry Woodside and The 2nd Provincial Grand Principal Ex. Comp Maldwyn Davies. Also in attendance was Ex.Comp Bob Moore, Past Deputy Grand Superintendent.
The meeting was unusual in so far as the Haggai Elect had been taken ill and was unable to be present. Ex. Comp Kieran Hughes stood in as Haggai for the meeting.
The MEGs had hoped to present a 50 year certificate to Ex. Comp Peter Tomkins, however Peter was not well enough to attend. The MEGS therefore presented the certificate and badge to Ex. Comp Roger Bailey (Z) for presentation to Peter later in the year and ideally before he moves to Singapore to be with his daughter.
Ex. Comp Roger Bailey then installed Ex.Comp Charlie Barker as First Principal of the Chapter. The newly invested First Principal got off lightly this evening as he had no-one to install. It is intended that he will be installing Ex. Comp David Brandhuber as Second Principal at our November Meeting. Ex. Comp Kieran Hughes then installed Ex. Comp Chris Partridge as the Third Principal.
The newly installed Principals (Z & J) with (L-R) Ex. Comp. M. Davies (2ndPrGP), Ex. Comp K. Hughes (H-Acting), Ex. Comp B. Woodside (DGS), Ex. Comp C. Barker (Z), Ex. Comp. D. J. Bennet (MEGS) and Ex. Comp C. Partridge (J)
The meeting continued with the Principals installing their Officers for the year.
After the Chapter was closed the Companions retired for the festive board, as shown in the pictures below.
A Holy Royal Arch Tracing Board was presented to the Taunton H R A Chapters at the February convocation of The Chapter of St George by the the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent, E Comp John Bennett. The host
chapter was represented by E Comp David Bates, Z of 3158, The Chapter of Sincerity by E Comp Charlie Barker and Taunton Deane Chapter by E Comp Sid French.
The MEGS explained that a full explanation of the Tracing Board would be given in due course with Chapter members being invited to participate in the proceedings
In 2016 the three chapters meeting at Taunton Masonic hall came to the conclusion that the banners that were in use by all three chapters were beginning to show their age and should be replaced. The chapters agreed that the cost would be shared and the new banners were purchased.
January 11th 2017 saw the MEGS Ex. Companion John Bennett together with the Provincial Team visiting the Chapter of Sincerity No 261, meeting at Taunton. The MEGS and Team were visiting the Chapter primarily to dedicate the new chapter banners that were a joint purchase between the Taunton Chapters: Sincerity, No 261; St. George, No 3158 and Taunton Deane, No 5221.
The Three Principals, or their representative, from each chapter were present at the meeting together with a goodly number of Companions (86 in total).
After taking the chair the MEGS explained that the Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra had stood down and that it was his pleasure to announce that Ex. Companion Tony Beaumont was to be appointed and invested as the new Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra.
After the investiture the MEGS moved the business onto the Dedication of the new Chapter Banners.
The Standard Bearers were: Companion Town (261); Companion Prior-Sankey (5221) and Companions Green & Clarke (3158).
During the Dedication Ceremony the Oration was given by the Provincial Second Grand Principal Ex. Companion Maldwyn Davies during which he explained that:-
‘The reason for the acquisition of the new Banners is that the original Banners have, with age and usage, become almost illegible. The banners which have been replaced once before but have been in use for many years and it is almost certain that they were originally obtained by the Chapter of Sincerity as they obviously pre-date the formation of the Chapter of St George in 1954 and the formation of the Taunton Deane Chapter in 1986.
There is no record in the Archives of the Chapter of Sincerity to indicate when or even if they were purchased. There is a note in the minutes of the Chapter of Sincerity that on 9th November 1983 the then M.E.Z. E. Companion David Hartley “drew the attention of the Companions to the Chapter Banners and Ensigns which had been renovated during the summer recess by Companion. Malcolm Plastowe and Mrs. G. Fish, wife of Ex. Companion. F. A. Fish, H of the Chapter. The M.E.Z. requested that the Scribe E, E. Companion Sidney Honniball thank those involved for undertaking this task.
The Accounts of the Chapter for that year shows an expenditure of £23.00 for repairs to Banners. As a point of interest the Chapter Subscription at that time was £7.00 P.A. and cost of Dining was £2.75!’
The Dedication Ceremony completed the MEGs continued by explaining that during a recent meeting in London he had been speaking with Ex. Companion David Hughes a Grand Inspector in the Metropolitan Grand Chapter. Ex. Companion David is the son of the late Ex. Companion Thomas Albert Hughes, Past Grand Superintendent in and over the Province of Somerset. Ex. Companion David had explained that he had his father’s original Patent and kindly offered to return it to the Province. As Taunton had been the Masonic home of Ex. Companion Tom it had been decided that the patent would be presented to the Taunton Masonic hall for display there.
The MEGS then called upon Ex. Companion Ray Baines Chairman elect of the Taunton Masonic hall Company and presented him with the patent for display at Taunton.
The chapter being closed 74 companions enjoyed a splendid festive board.