LONDON ROYAL ARCH DIGEST Winter 2023
London’s Royal Arch Chapters and Companions continue to revel in each other’s company with installations, inductions, proclamations, 50-year certificates, Centenaries and a flurry of exaltations taking place. Following wonderful convocations full of fervency and zeal, London’s Royal Arch Masons continue to relax and socialise together, raising their glasses and breaking bread, fully embracing the true meaning of fellowship.
Good Hope Chapter
On 3rd June, Metropolitan Grand Inspector, E Comp Wayne Hirst, escorted by E Comp Adam Parry, Metropolitan Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies, attended Good Hope Chapter No 4856 at Freemasons’ Hall to make a presentation of a 50 Year Long Service Certificate to E Comp Gerry Pickering.
150 Years at Whittington Chapter
On 22nd July at Freemasons’ Hall, Metropolitan Grand Inspector, E Comp Tony Masella, attended the 150th year celebrations at the Convocation of Whittington Chapter No 862. He was accompanied by former Metropolitan Grand Inspector, E Comp John Peters, and escorted by E Comp Vladan Stojanovic, Metropolitan First Assistant Grand Sojourner. The meeting included a brief presentation of the Chapter’s history, from its consecration in 1873, and the presentation of a £1,000 cheque towards the Metropolitan Grand Superintendent’s London’s Air Ambulance Appeal, made by the First Principal, E Comp Cameron McGregor, to E Comp Tony. The thirsty companions then retired to the Grand Connaught Rooms for a celebratory dinner that continued long into the evening.
50 Years for Michael Crombie
On 28th June, Metropolitan Grand Inspector, E Comp Robert Lakić, was afforded the honour of presenting E Comp Michael Crombie PAGSoj with a Long Service Certificate to commemorate 50 years and 1 day since his exaltation into Royal Arch Masonry, back in 1973. E Comp Robert gave a comprehensive presentation on the life and times of E Comp Michael, which included his formative years in Golders Green, northwest London, his education, and his career as a dispensing optician where he encountered numerous celebrities and dignitaries ranging from Tommy Steele and Sir Laurence Olivier to former British Prime Minister Ted Heath and Sheikh Al Shaba of Kuwait.
E Comp Michael, now in his 77th year, continues to be a very active and inspiring Freemason. His enthusiasm for our wonderful organisation has never diminished and he consequently influences others to seek the same satisfaction he achieves through his membership.
At Freemasons’ Hall on 1st September, Ubique Chapter No 1789 welcomed E Comp Tony Masella, Metropolitan Grand Inspector, for the Exaltation ceremony of Bro Daniel McColgan. The gathering was joined by a contingent of five Norwegian Companions and a wonderful afternoon was appropriately concluded by drinks and dinner, consumed in fine form, at the Union Jack Club, Waterloo.
Henry of Auxerre & Sanctuary
At Freemasons’ Hall on 5th September, Henry of Auxerre & Sanctuary Chapter No 3051 met for its Installation meeting, welcoming Metropolitan Grand Inspector, E Comp Tony Shepherd, who was escorted by E Comp Alexander Rhys, Metropolitan Grand Steward, accompanied by fellow Metropolitan Grand Stewards, E Comps Lex Agathangelou and James Hoyes. Former Assistant Metropolitan Grand Superintendent, E Comp Cdr Ian Wellesley-Harding, was successfully balloted for as a Joining Member; and at the happy conclusion of the meeting, the hungry companions retired to an enjoyable festive board at La Ballerina, Covent Garden.
On 6th September at Freemasons’ Hall, Acanthus Chapter No 2715 received a visit from E Comp John Burnapp, Metropolitan Grand Inspector, escorted by E Comp Michael Thwaites, Metropolitan Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies. E Comp John witnessed the double Exaltation of Bros Harry Liman and Julian Hardy of Ludgate Lodge No 4972 and presented the newly made Companions with their Exaltees’ Guides. The Companions then retired to the café & bar at Freemasons’ Hall before dining well, for the first time, at the Boulevard Brasserie, on Wellington Street, Covent Garden
Temple Chapter at Jerusalem No 4611 met on the 8th September for their Installation meeting at Mark Masons’ Hall. They proclaimed E Comp Tony Shepherd as First Principal for a further year and installed E Comp Bill Gaish as Third Principal. A lively dinner was then enjoyed within the Hall. Temple Chapter at Jerusalem practices Oxford Ritual, one of only seven chapters in the world to do so, and currently the only one in London.
Royal Jubilee Chapter
At Freemasons’ Hall on 20th September, E Comp Tony Masella, Metropolitan Grand Inspector, visited Royal Jubilee Chapter No 72 and was delighted to receive from the First Principal, E Comp Ed Picton, a generous £5,000 donation towards the Metropolitan Grand Superintendent’s London’s Air Ambulance Appeal. A delightful dinner was then enjoyed downstairs at Tuttons, Covent Garden.
Ceylon Chapter No 6436 met at Freemasons’ Hall on 21st September and presented its Visiting Officer, E Comp Larry Levine SLGCR, with a £2,000 donation towards the Metropolitan Grand Chapter’s London’s Air Ambulance Appeal.
Drury Lane Chapter
On 5th October at Freemasons’ Hall, Metropolitan Grand Inspector, E Comp Wayne Hirst, escorted by E Comp Vladan Stojanovic, Metropolitan First Assistant Grand Sojourner, visited Drury Lane Chapter No 2127 for their last meeting in the UK, before relocating to Balchik on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria. E Comp Ognyan Kralev was installed as the new First Principal and 20 Bulgarian Companions were successfully balloted for as Joining Members. It is planned that the other two Principals will be invested at the next meeting in Bulgaria. It was a very fruitful and joyous meeting with the original members of Drury Lane Chapter delighted that the future and provenance of the Chapter would continue in Bulgaria.
Woodard Chapter No 4410 met at 10 Duke Street, St James’, on 28th September and received a dramatic and enlightening Explanation of the Royal Arch Tracing Boards by the Metropolitan Grand Stewards Demonstration Team, led by Metropolitan Grand Inspector, E Comp Nick Critchlow. The Demonstration Team comprised of E Comps Nick, Doug Syrett, Lewis Conquer, Ian Morrison and Nandan Kumar.
Warrant Officers Chapter
Warrant Officers Chapter No 2346 received E Comp Robert Lakic, Metropolitan Grand Inspector, for its Installation meeting at 10 Duke Street, St James’ on 9th October before retiring for a wonderful dinner at the St Martins Lane Hotel, WC2
Royal Colonial Institute Chapter
At Freemasons’ Hall on 16th October, Metropolitan Grand Inspector, E Comp Tony Shepherd, escorted by E Comp Tony Martin, Metropolitan Grand Steward, visited Royal Colonial Institute Chapter No 3556 to help celebrate its Amalgamation with Armament Chapter No 3898, approved by Supreme Grand Chapter in April 2023. Following the high-quality Exaltation ceremony of Bro Alex Cook, delivered by members of both Chapters, 12 Companions of Armament Chapter were successfully balloted for as Joining Members.
In Arduis Fidelis Chapter
In Arduis Fidelis Chapter No 3432 enjoyed a visit from Metropolitan Grand Inspector, E Comp Tony Shepherd, on the 18th October at Freemasons’ Hall; he witnessed an excellent, sincere and emotional Exaltation. The Exaltee, Bro Tom Barton, is the grandson and nephew of Chapter members E Comps Fred Carey and Nick Carey respectively. The hungry companions then swam, in the lashing rain, to a wonderful celebratory dinner at Fishworks, Covent Garden. E Comp Shepherd was escorted by Metropolitan Grand Standard Bearer, E Comp Jason Pearson, accompanied by E Comps Lex Agathangelou and Costa Trizis, acting and former Metropolitan Grand Stewards respectively. In Arduis Fidelis Chapter was formed by members of the Royal Army Medical Corps, adopting the motto ‘In Arduis Fidelis’, meaning ‘Faithful in Adversity’. It celebrated its Centenary in October 2022. It’s no surprise that many of its members were attracted by the philosophy of Freemasonry: Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
The installation of the new Royal Arch Metropolitan Grand Inspector in Bulgaria
E Comp Ivan Yordanov LGCR reports on the establishment of the new Royal Arch Inspectorate in Bulgaria, September 2023.
An international visit took place on 15th September 2023, when E Comp Sir Michael Snyder, Metropolitan Grand Superintendent, invested E Comp Borislav Sarandev PGSoj as a Metropolitan Grand Inspector. The meeting was organised in Sofia, Bulgaria and hosted by the Treaty of Uxbridge Chapter No 8379 with Principals E Comp Spasimir Vladimirov (M.E.Z.), E Comp David Mossop (H.) and E Comp Svetoslav Lipansky (J.). The ceremonial was expertly supervised by the acting MetGDC, E Comp Matthew Christmas, Metropolitan Grand Scribe Ezra. The event was attended by 87 Royal Arch members from Bulgaria, including the Grand Master of Bulgaria, Comp Nikolaj Bojilov. The delegation from the UGLE included distinguished Companions who had diligently laid the groundwork for this Inspectorate, including E Comp Robert Morrow PGSE and E Comp Timothy L’Estrange PGSN, Deputy Metropolitan Grand Superintendent; with apologies from E Comp Christopher Head PGSoj, Third Metropolitan Grand Principal.
The proceedings commenced with the opening of the Chapter and the reading of the Dispensation. Sir Michael was escorted to the First Principal’s Chair, graciously accepting the sceptre. He extended his welcome to all in attendance and expressed his delight at being in Bulgaria for this historic occasion. Then he conducted the Investiture ceremony in the most memorable manner. The meeting adhered to the Summons and the Chapter was closed in peace and harmony.
Subsequent to this momentous event, a festive board followed providing all Companions with a unique opportunity to forge connections with fellow Royal Arch Masons from across Bulgaria. During the banquet, speeches were delivered by Sir Michael; the newly invested Metropolitan Grand Inspector, Borislav Sarandev; E Comp Robert Morrow; and the Grand Master of Bulgaria, Nikolaj Bojilov. The new RA Metropolitan Grand Inspector expressed his deep appreciation to Sir Michael for his visit and the unwavering support of his team to Royal Arch Masonry in Bulgaria. He highlighted the importance of this visit and the significance of the inauguration of the new Inspectorate as “a clear route for the future of Royal Arch masonry in Bulgaria”. In response to the toast, Sir Michael shared the captivation he felt from the hospitality he had received and described Bulgaria as “a beautiful country”. Then, he extended his invitation to the Bulgarian Companions to visit London and participate in the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter.
This event could not have been such a grand success without the organisers and the volunteers who adeptly facilitated the meeting, the festive board and the leisure programme for the visitors from Metropolitan Grand Lodge. Comprehensive documentation and photography captured the essence of the meeting and banquet, with select information and images having already been disseminated through Freemasonry media channels in Bulgaria, thereby etching this historic gathering into the chronicles of Masonic history for years to come.
E Comp Tony Masella, Metropolitan Grand Inspector, attended Anglo-Dutch Chapter No 5862 on 17th October at Freemasons’ Hall to assist in the Chapter’s 75th Anniversary celebrations. The Chapter was consecrated in 1948 to allow Dutch nationals to become Royal Arch masons, allowing the creation of the first Royal Arch chapter to be consecrated in the Netherlands the following year.
Yorick Chapter No 2771 met on 20th October at Freemasons’ Hall to celebrate its Centenary. The Chapter received a welcome visit from Metropolitan Grand Inspector, E Comp Ian Burgess, escorted by E Comp Michael Thwaites, Metropolitan Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies. A lot of hard work went into the preparations for the meeting; and the Founders would have been delighted to know that the Chapter has achieved such a wonderful milestone.
This is even more impressive given that it was feared that the Chapter would hand in its Charter a few years ago, were it not for the hard work of a number of dedicated members who were determined to see the Chapter succeed. With another exaltation in January, they look to continue to develop links with Yorick Lodge – a Whisky Special Interest Lodge – and the Lodge of the Men of Sussex No 3172, all work that bodes well for the future of the Chapter. To cap it off, the Chapter made a generous donation of £1,000 towards the Metropolitan Grand Superintendent’s London’s Air Ambulance Appeal. The Centenary was concluded with a wonderful Festive Board at Trattoria Verdi, Southampton Row, where the notorious ‘sweet trolley’ was left completely empty!
On 24th October, Empire Chapter No 2108 met at 10 Duke Street, St James’, receiving Metropolitan Grand Inspector, E Comp Tony Shepherd, escorted by E Comp Tim Hawkins, Metropolitan Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies, and E Comp Bradley Collings, Metropolitan Grand Steward. E Comp John Richards was impressively Installed as First Principal by E Comp John Buckingham SLGCR on behalf of the Metropolitan Grand Chapter’s Ritual Support Team, and at the invitation of the Chapter. A Notice of Motion that the Chapter donate £500 towards the Metropolitan Grand Superintendent’s London’s Air Ambulance Appeal was extremely well received by the members. The thirsty companions then retired for a thoroughly well-earned and enjoyable post-convocation Festive Board at the Royal Ocean Racing Club, St James’ Place.
United Engineers Chapter
United Engineers Chapter No 3862 met at Freemasons’ Hall on 28th October for the double Exaltation of Bros Giles Cooke and John Fowler, in the presence of Metropolitan Grand Inspector, E Comp Tony Shepherd, escorted by E Comp Lex Agathangelou, Metropolitan Grand Steward. Before retiring to dine at the Grand Connaught Rooms, the Chapter made a generous £500 donation to the Metropolitan Grand Superintendent’s London’s Air Ambulance Appeal.
New Morning Chapter
At 10 Duke Street St James’, on 24th October, New Morning Chapter No 9207 welcomed E Comp Robert Lakic, Metropolitan Grand Inspector, for the Exaltation of Bro Michael Adamson. The East India Club, St James’ Square hosted an excellent Festive Board.
Faith and Walthamstow Chapter
On 19th October at Freemasons’ Hall, Faith and Walthamstow Chapter No 141 Exalted Bros David Smith and Shaun Kerrigan of Canonbury Lodge No 657, the main feeder Lodge of the Chapter, and a joyous dinner was enjoyed by all at the Royal India restaurant in Covent Garden.
Armament Chapter had celebrated its Centenary meeting in February 2023, in the presence of Assistant Metropolitan Grand Superintendent, E Comp Simon White. Royal Colonial Institute Lodge was the sponsoring Lodge for Armament Lodge, and had then played a significant role in petitioning for Armament Chapter in 1921. The two Chapters have retained a relationship ever since, culminating in their Amalgamation after many years of hard work. The celebratory dinner at Tuttons, Covent Garden was suitably joyous.
At Freemasons’ Hall on 17th October, Amicus Chapter No 3772 met for its Installation meeting and proceeded to Install E Comps Steve Dixon, David Dunn and Max Placks as First, Second and Third Principal respectively. A fine festive board was served in Freemasons’ Hall and the Companions finalised the Centenary celebration plans scheduled for January 2024.
Farringdon Without Chapter
On the 24th October, Metropolitan Grand Inspector, E Comp Tony Masella, attended the Installation convocation of Farringdon Without Chapter No 1745 at Freemasons’ Hall and all enjoyed a Festive Board at La Ballerina on Bow Street, Covent Garden.
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 53 December 2023 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 53 here.