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.