Report on the meeting of the District Grand Council of Middlesex on 25th November 2023.
The District of Middlesex held their Annual District Meeting on Saturday 25th November at the Western House Masonic Centre, Hillingdon. OBB was represented by our District Grand Master and Principal Conductor of the Work, with R.Ill.Comp. Tim kindly doing the driving (a prudent move considering Ill.Comp. Malcolm’s lack of a sense of direction).
Middlesex’s District Grand Master, R.Ill.Comp. Christopher Lewis conducted a most enjoyable meeting while bravely struggling with laryngitis which had onset that morning. The meeting was well attended and the Temple was packed. Many representatives from other Districts were present, including 18 District Grand Masters.
R.Ill.Comp. Chris Lewis with the visiting DGMs.
In addition to the regular business of the District Meeting we were privileged to witness the appointment and investment of Ill.Comp. John Simpson, P.A.G.D.C. as District Grand Principal Conductor of the Work.
Following the meeting we retired to the bar for pre-dinner drinks…
…before enjoying an excellent lunch…
R.Ill.Comp. Tim on coffee duty with some other DGMs
…and finally making our way home.
Report on the meeting of the District Grand Council of Hertfordshire on 21st October 2023.
The District of Hertfordshire held their Annual District Meeting on Saturday 21st October in The Cloisters at Letchworth Garden City. The premises were formally an Open Air School for under-privileged children, built by a benefactor, Miss A J Lawrence, in 1907. It was subsequently gifted by her to the Freemasons in 1949. It is a remarkable building:
The meeting proceeded in the Temple under the direction of the District Grand Master, R.Ill.Comp. Peter Brindle whose quick sense of humour raised more than a few chuckles from the companions. The business included the obligating and investing of a new District Grand Principal Conductor of the Work. It was a most convivial and enjoyable meeting and was followed by a splendid Festive Board.
Oxon, Berks & Bucks was represented at the meeting by the Dist. Grand PCW, Ill.Comp. Malcolm Summers.
Report on the Installation meeting of Oxford Council, 28th October 2023.
After the opening of the Council and the approval of the minutes, Ill.Comp. Francis Pate was elected an Honorary Member of the Council to universal acclaim.
The TIM invited R.Ill.Comp. Phillip Purves to take the Chair and a Lodge of Most Excellent Masters was opened. R.Ill.Comp. Phillip then conferred the degree of MEM on Companions Mark Boulle and Payam Mohaghegh, also delivering the lecture of the degree, in an impeccable manner.
The Lodge of MEM’s was closed and the Council of Select Masters resumed with the TIM, Ill.Comp. Barry Prior restored to the Chair, for the ceremony of installation. In a delightful ceremony, Ill.Comp Barry installed his successor, Comp. Peter Ellis, in the Chair of the Council. The new TIM appointed and invested his officers. We all congratulate Peter, now an Illustrious Companion, on his accession to the Master’s Chair and wish him well for his term of office.
The companions after the ceremony, looking forward to the Festive Board.
Report on the Sesquicentenary Meeting of Grand Council,
3rd October 2023.
The Sesquicentenary of the establishment in England of the Order of Royal and Select Masters was celebrated at a packed Freemasons Hall on the 3rd of October 2023. Many Companions from our District attended, together with representatives from all over the UK and from Grand Councils around the world.
Appointments and Promotions in Grand Rank had been effective from April this year and the M.Ill. Grand Master was now able to congratulate all the recipients of Honours individually. Included, from our District, were V.Ill.Comp. Graham Seeman (reappointed Grand Director of Ceremonies), Ill.Comp. Alan Baverstock (promoted to Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies), Ill.Comp. Phillip Purves (promoted to Past Grand Councillor, making him a R.Ill.Comp.), Ill.Comp. Paul Ackland-Snow (promoted to Past Grand Lecturer, making him a V.Ill.Comp.), Ill.Comp. Malcolm Summers (promoted to Past Grand Captain of the Guard) and Ill.Comp. Peter Harborne (appointed Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies).
Additional promotions and appointments had been announced in celebration of the sesquicentenary, effective as of the sesquicentenary meeting. Accordingly, from our District the M.Ill. Grand Master appointed and invested V.Ill.Comp. Ron Bridger with the rank of Past Grand Councillor, making him a R.Ill.Comp. and Ill.Comp. Andy Stephens was given a first appointment as Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies.
Ron Bridger, Tim Hancock and Phillip Purves at the reception.
A definitive volume cataloguing the history of the Order has been produced by R.Ill.Comp. Richard Gan from which he gave a brief synopsis.
Following this, the newly-commissioned Ark of the Covenant, financed by donations from each District, was introduced into the Grand Temple. The Grand Chaplain invoked a blessing and the Ark was then dedicated by the Grand Master.
Our own Companion Huw Hopkin (2nd from left) as one of the bearers of the new Ark
about to enter the Temple.
Dedication of the Ark
Representatives of the Grand Masters Council No 1 were called to the floor of the temple and the council was formally warranted as a Time Immemorial Council.
The M.Ill. Grand Master then addressed Grand Council.
The Grand Recorder reminded the Grand Master that he had an additional duty to perform before Grand Council was closed. A very surprised Graham Seeman was summoned to the Grand Master and received a field promotion to Past Grand Councillor, giving him the title of Right Illustrious Companion.
Newly-promoted, V.Ill.Comp. Paul Ackland-Snow and R.Ill.Comp. Graham Seeman
at the Festive Board.
Grand Council was then closed and, on retiring, each attendee was presented with a shoulder bag containing a copy of Richard Gan’s book and a commemorative lapel pin. The pin shows a broken triangle. Within it, reading from right to left, are the Hebrew characters for 100 and 50.
A drinks reception followed, and the Companions retired to the Grand Connaught Rooms for a splendid Festive Board.
Report on the Meeting of Unity Council of Thrice Illustrious Masters, 27th July 2023.
The Installation meeting of Unity Council of Thrice Illustrious Masters was held at Beaconsfield Masonic Centre on 27th July 2023. Prior to the Installation, the Degree of The Silver Trowel was conferred in a most moving ceremony upon Ill.Comp. Paul Wilding of Wantage Council No 282, conducted by a new team under the direction of V.Ill.Comp. Ron Bridger.
Following the Silver Trowel, a Council of Select Masters was opened and the Thrice Illustrious Master, V.Ill.Comp. Peter Hughes, ably installed the Master Elect, Ill.Comp. Malcolm Summers, in the Chair of the Council. When investing him as IPM, the TIM thanked V.Ill.Comp. Peter for his exceptional contribution to the Council, both as Master and for his many years as the drama director for the Silver Trowel ceremony, from which role he was retiring that evening. The TIM then appointed Ill.Comp. Tim Weller as Deputy Master and Ill.Comp. Neil Coleman as PCW, together with a strong team comprised of Illustrious Companions representing the three counties of the District.
The Companions then retired to the bar and to an excellent Festive Board of Roasted Beets & Goats’ Cheese Salad with Walnuts, Crispy Duck Breast with Black Cherry and Port Sauce, and Pear Bell Helene prepared by Gary Weston, the Centre’s talented chef.
During this part of the evening, the District Grand Master, R.Ill.Comp. Tim Hancock, presented V.Ill.Comp. Peter Hughes with an engraved Masonic Trowel in recognition and gratitude of the Council for Peter’s outstanding work as drama director of the Silver Trowel.
R.Ill.Comp. Tim presents Peter with his engraved trowel.
Report on the Annual Meeting of District Grand Council, 20th July 2023.
The District Grand Council of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire held the Annual District Meeting on Thursday 20th July at Sindlesham, Berkshire.
The meeting was honoured with the presence of the Grand Principal Conductor of the Work, R.Ill.Comp. Paul Norman. Also present was the Grand Director of Ceremonies, V.Ill.Comp. Graham Seeman, who as the Mark Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire was on home turf.
(L to R: V.Ill.Comp. Graham Seeman, R.Ill.Comp. Phillip Purves, R.Ill.Comp. Tim Hancock, R.Ill.Comp. Paul Norman, Ill.Comp. Malcolm Summers)
It was particularly pleasing that a large number of companions from the District of Oxon, Berks & Bucks were at the meeting. Senior amongst them was R.Ill.Comp. Charles Woodward, the primus District Grand Master of the District.
The District Grand Master, R.Ill.Comp. Tim Hancock, welcomed the distinguished visitors from the Order and Heads of other Orders within the District. He thanked the outgoing District Officers for their service during the year.
In particular, thanks were due to the outgoing District Principal Conductor of the Work, V.Ill.Comp. Paul Ackland-Snow, for his excellent work over the last three years in visiting and supporting Councils, and representing the District across the length and breadth of the land.
Ill.Comp. Malcolm Summers was then escorted into District Grand Council by four worthy companions; V.Ill.Comps. Ron Bridger and Peter Hughes, and Ill.Comps. Ian Bailey and Raymond Head. Ill.Comp. Malcolm was then appointed, obligated, and invested as District Grand Principal Conductor of the Work. He was then proclaimed by the District Grand Director of Ceremonies, Ill.Comp. Tim Weller, and saluted with five times nine by the Companions of the District.
A large retinue of District Grand Masters were in attendance, together with representatives of Districts from Devon & Cornwall to Derbyshire. Many had travelled long distances to be at the meeting.
The District Grand Master was pleased to invest the officers of the year with their collarettes. He also welcomed companions new to the order and presented them with a special memento of the occasion.
The Grand Principal Conductor of the Work kindly presented Silver Trowel certificates to recent recipients and ascertained that they had enjoyed the ceremony. He also addressed all the companions, commenting on the meeting and giving information concerning the Sesquicentenary of the Order to be held at Freemasons’ Hall on Tuesday 3rd October.
In a brief Address the District Grand Master congratulated the companions on the high standard of ceremonies in all the Councils and said that it was a pleasure to visit. He also thanked V.Ill.Comp. Peter Hughes for establishing the Order of the Silver Trowel in Unity Council and overseeing the ceremony for the past 12 years. Then the meeting was closed and the companions retired to enjoy an excellent festive board.
Companions of Eliot Council No. 286 enjoy a drink before the Banquet.
The District Grand Master makes a presentation to V.Ill.Comp. Paul Ackland-Snow to mark his 3 years as District Grand Principal Conductor of the Work.
The District Grand Master makes a presentation to the Grand Principal Conductor of the Work.
The Grand Standard Bearer, Ill.Comp. Mark Bajona, with R.Ill.Comp. Rufus, Councillor of the Kennel. Rufus had received a field promotion from the Grand Master at the District Meeting of Devon and Cornwall at Plymouth earlier in the month.
Report on the meeting of Bekenesfelde Council, 12th May 2023.
The meeting of Bekenesfelde Council on the 12th May was, by any criteria, a remarkable event. We witnessed two ceremonies, the Most Excellent Master and the Super Excellent Master, conducted on behalf of Bearwood Council for their candidate, Comp. Ian Wharton. The working of the MEM degree was spearheaded by invitation by members of Bearwood Council – Ill.Comp. Neil Coleman took the Chair with Ill.Comp. Simon Jeffery acting as SW and also delivering the lecture. Comp. Ian subsequently received the SEM degree, worked by Bekenesfelde members: Ill.Comp. Peter Harborne in the Chair and Ill.Comp. Andy Stephens as Captain of the Guard. Our District Grand Master, R.Ill.Comp. Timothy Hancock delivered the lecture. All the work of the evening was carried out to an exemplary standard.
Due to the unavoidable absence of the Thrice Illustrious Master, our DGM took the Master’s Chair to open and close the Council and conduct the business side of the meeting.
The Council was honoured by many guests, including four executive members from the District of Middlesex. Middlesex’s District Grand Master, R.Ill.Comp. Chris Lewis, was accompanied by Ill.Comps. Graham Dossett (DepDGM), Paul Craker (DistGChap.) and Tony Gorman (DistGRec). Two District Grand Masters at a private Council can’t be bad!
Despite the light-headedness occasioned by this rarified atmosphere, the Companions managed to reach the bar for refreshments before enjoying an excellent Festive Board featuring roast Rack of Lamb, prepared by the Beaconsfield Centre’s expert Chef, Gary Weston.
Comp. Ian Wharton flanked by two DGMs: R.Ill.Comp. Chris Lewis on the left and R.Ill.Comp. Tim Hancock on the right.
All the Companions.
Report on the meeting of Grand Council, 18th April 2023.
Grand Council met in a limited session at Mark Masons Hall on its regular date in April. Appointments and promotions in Grand Council were effective from that date and congratulations are due to the following Companions from this District: R.Ill.Comp. Graham Seeman has been re-appointed as Grand DC and Ill.Comp. Alan Baverstock has been promoted to Deputy Grand DC; our Deputy District Grand Master, Phillip Purves, has been promoted to Past Grand Councillor, making him a Right Illustrious Companion, and our District Grand PCW, Paul Ackland-Snow, has been promoted to Past Grand Lecturer, making him a Very Illustrious Companion. Ill.Comp. Peter Harborne has received a first appointment as Past Assistant Grand DC. and our District Recorder, Ill.Comp. Malcolm Summers, has been promoted to Past Grand Captain of the Guard.
The Great and the Good at Grand Council in April 2023.
This is the year we celebrate the Sesquicentenary of the Order, and a special celebratory meeting of Grand Council will take place at Freemasons Hall on Tuesday 3rd October to which all are invited. The investment of Grand officers will take place at that meeting. Further announcements will be made concerning special agenda items but we do know that a newly commissioned Ark of the Covenant will be unveiled.
Report on the meeting of Wokingham Council, 15th April 2023.
The meeting of Wokingham Council on 15th April 2023 was honoured with a visit by the District Grand Master, R.Ill.Comp. Timothy Hancock, accompanied by many District Grand Officers. The occasion witnessed the admission of Companion John Remmington to the degrees of Most Excellent Master and Super Excellent Master in two impressive ceremonies conducted by the TIM, Ill. Comp. Chris Hodges and Ill.Comp. Simon Gillas respectively.
Following a photo-call the Companions retired to the bar and then enjoyed a most convivial Festive Board.
Comp. John Remmington receiving congratulations from the District Grand Master.
Ill.Comp. Chris Hodges, TIM, looking very illustrious.
Members of Wokingham Council.
The attending District Officers.
Ill. Comp. Simon Jeffery honoured with the Excellent Master degree.
On 28th November at Mark Masons Hall, Ill.Comp. Simon Jeffery was honoured with the Degree of Excellent Master. Grafton Council of Anointed Kings, whose membership reads like a Who’s Who of Very Illustrious, Right Illustrious and one (!) Most Illustrious Companions is the only Council of our Order permitted to confer this degree. Although it is still practiced in Scotland, Ireland and Bristol, the EM degree was lost from the English Constitution until rescued by concord with the Scottish Constitution to become the second of the honorary Royal and Select Masters degrees conferred, in very limited numbers, by invitation of the Grand Master, upon Past Masters in the Order.
The degree is also known as The Passing of the Veils and outside of the English Constitution, forms an essential prelude to the Holy Royal Arch.
Conveniently, MMH published a photo of the recipients of the degree in its regular newsletter, and this is reproduced below. To save you searching, I have circled Simon, who is deserving of our congratulations.
Report on the meeting of Bekenesfelde Council, 8th December 2022.
At the request of the Master of Bearwood Council No 134, Bekenesfelde Council was delighted to be invited to confer the degrees of Most Excellent Master and Super Excellent Master on Comp. Johnny Lewis of Bearwood Council. Comp. Johnny was unable to attend his Mother Council to receive the degrees, but as the meeting dates of the two Councils would have it, Johnny found himself in receipt all four degrees of the Order in the record time of four weeks.
The MEM degree was conducted in fine style by the TIM, Ill.Comp. Spencer Swanson, followed up by the SEM degree worked by the Council Recorder, Ill.Comp. Malcolm Summers. The TIM was ably assisted by Ill.Comp. Simon Jeffery of Bearwood Council, who acted as Deputy Master in the opening and closing of the Council, as SW in the MEM degree and as 1st Keeper of the Temple in the SEM degree. Ill. Comp. Andy Stephens played musical chairs throughout, abandoning his Treasurer’s seat in the north to act as Captain of the Guard. Thanks were extended also to Ill. / Comps. David Tremaine, Tim Weller and Stephen Adamek who, although present as visitors, supported the Council in key roles during the ceremonies.
Following the work in the Temple the Companions retired to the bar and were then treated to a truly excellent meal of roast beets and goats cheese salad, crispy duck breast with black cherry and port sauce, followed by Eton Mess, all expertly prepared by Gary Weston, the resident Chef.
From L to R: Ill.Comp. Simon Jeffery (acting Deputy Master), Comp. Johnny Lewis (Candidate) with Ill.Comp. Spencer Swanson (TIM) behind him, and Ill.Comp. Peter Harborne (PCW) on the far right.
Visit to East Anglia’s District Meeting, 10th September 2022.
On Saturday 10th September 2022 the District Meeting of the District of East Anglia was held at Freemasons’ Hall at Cambridge. The Hall is adjacent to the Botanical Gardens and the impressive buildings date from 1915. They were originally built to house Cheshunt College, a Theological College which relocated from Cheshunt to Cambridge.
Cheshunt College owed its foundation largely to the expulsion from St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, early in 1768, of six Anglican students because of their alleged Methodist leanings. Lady Huntingdon then founded the College to provide for the theological training of young ministers of the Methodist persuasion.
The Grand Master and his team were in attendance to Install V.Ill.Comp. Geoff Spencer as the new District Grand Master for East Anglia in a very impressive ceremony. R.Ill.Comp. Geoff, as he then was, then appointed, obligated and installed his Deputy District Grand Master and the District Principal Conductor of the Work. The remainder of the District business was swiftly despatched and the companions retired for an East Anglian feast consisting of Cromer crab pate, Suffolk pork sausages, and Eton Mess. Surely Eton is on our patch, but we are happy to lend the recipe to East Anglia!
(Oxon, Berks & Bucks was represented by the District Grand Master, R.Ill.Comp. Tim Hancock, and the District Grand PCW, Ill.Comp. Paul Ackland-Snow.)
Meeting of Oxford Council, 22nd October 2022.
On Saturday 22nd October, Oxford Council held its Installation meeting with 17 companions in attendance. Ill. Comp. Barry Prior was installed as the new Thrice Illustrious Master, having missed last year’s installation due to an appendicitis, by Ill. Comp. Andrew Trueman. The meeting also saw Comps. Bernie Wegerhoff and Paul Buck take their Super Excellent Master degree, worked by the outgoing Master with a superb lecture of the degree delivered by Ill. Comp. Philip Kavanagh, P.G.St.B. At the end of the meeting, the Companions dined in fraternal harmony.
(Ill.Comp. Barry Prior, newly-installed as TIM, with the Warrant of the Council.)
(Members of the Council looking cheerful after the installation. Comps. Paul Buck (L) and Bernie Wegerhoff (R), having received the SEM degree, are at each end of the front row.)
Meeting of Wantage Council, 18th October 2022.
Companion Kevin Dodd was treated to an excellent SEM ceremony, conducted by the IPM, Ill.Comp. Terry Speight, at the request of the TIM, Ill.Comp. Raymond Head. Circumstances demanded a few changes to the officers of the evening, with Ill.Comp. Eugene Gratwohl oscillating between Recorder and PCW for the opening and Ill.Comp. Richard Wood occupying the Chair of PCW for the closing. Ill.Comp. Malcolm Summers occupied the Chair of Deputy Master and Ill.Comp. Simon Jeffery acted as Capt.G. The ‘Musical Chairs’ certainly added a twist to the proceedings, which were greatly enjoyed by the Companions. The meeting was rounded off with a talk on the Excellent Master degree, delivered by Ill.Comp. Malcolm Summers.
(Comp. Kevin Dodd being congratulated on taking his SEM degree by Ill.Comp. Terry Speight (L) and Ill.Comp. Raymond Head (Centre). In the background, left to right are, Ill. Comps. Silverio Ostrowski, Eugene Gratwohl, Charles Woodward, Simon Jeffery, Richard Wood and Tim Weller.)
Meeting of Wokingham Council, 17th September 2022.
The Companions of Wokingham Council were treated to two first class ceremonies on 17th September, when Companion Matthew Coward was chosen as a Select Master, following which Companion Matthew and Companion John Carpenter were further honoured as Royal Masters. Both ceremonies were ably worked by the TIM, Ill. Comp. Christopher Hodges, with the perambulations in the Royal Master degree being conducted by the PCW, Comp. Steven Field in a most enlightened manner.
(Comps. John Carpenter and Matthew Coward in the foreground with V.Ill. Comp. Peter Hughes, DM; Ill. Comp. Christopher Hodges, TIM; and Comp. Steven Field, PCW behind them)
Team Visit to Thame Council, 20th August 2022.
Thame Council was honoured by the presence of our District Grand Master, R.Ill.Comp. Tim Hancock, accompanied by V.Ill.Comp. Phillip Purves, Deputy DGM and Ill.Comp. Paul Ackland-Snow, Dist.G.PCW. plus many of the acting District Officers.
The Council was delighted to welcome as a joining member Comp. Nicholas Walker. R.Ill. Comp. Tim Hancock presented him with his Grand Council Certificate which circumstances had prevented him receiving from his Mother Council.
Companions Steve Adamek and John Sear received their Most Excellent Master degree from V.Ill.Comp. Phillip Purves in the Chair, and their Super Excellent Master degree from Ill.Comp. Malcolm Summers in the Chair. Companions Steve and John were congratulated by the R.Ill. District Grand Master who gave a brief explanation of the position of the four degrees of the order with respect to the Craft and the Royal Arch.
(Comps. Steve Adamek (L) and John Sear (R), proudly wearing their new aprons)
Meeting of District Grand Council, 21st July 2022.
The District Grand Council of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire held the Annual District Meeting on Thursday 21st July at Sindlesham, Berkshire. Fortunately it was 15 degrees cooler than the high of 40oC two days beforehand.
It was a special occasion to mark the 25th Anniversary of the creation of the District from the former Division. The meeting was honoured with the presence of the Grand Master, M.Ill.Comp. Kessick John Jones, and the Deputy Grand Master, R.Ill.Comp. Ian Alexander QC. Also present was the Grand Director of Ceremonies, V.Ill.Comp. Graham Seeman, who as the Mark Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire was on home turf.
(L to R: Ill.Comp. Paul Ackland-Snow, V.Ill.Comp. Phillip Purves, R.Ill.Comp. Ian Alexander QC, M.Ill.Comp. Kessick J Jones, R.Ill.Comp. Tim Hancock, R.Ill.Comp. Charles Woodward, V.Ill.Comp. Graham Seeman)
A large retinue of District Grand Masters were in attendance, together with representatives of Districts from Devon & Cornwall to Northumberland.
(The Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master and R.Ill. Companions together with the District Principals)
It was particularly pleasing that a large number of companions from the District of Oxon, Berks & Bucks were at the meeting. Senior amongst them was R.Ill.Comp. Charles Woodward, the founding District Grand Master of the District.
A superb history of the District had been prepared by the Deputy District Grand Master, V.Ill.Comp. Phillip Purves. V.Ill.Comp. Phillip gave a resumé of the past 25 years, including suitable background and context and much information about the development of the Councils and certain significant companions. A printed copy of the history was available for all the companions present and was very well-received.
The Grand Master kindly presented Silver Trowel certificates to 10 recent recipients and gave a brief outline of the Order. He also addressed all the companions, commenting on the achievements of the past 25 years and giving great encouragement in his remarks for the next 25 years ahead of the District.
The District Grand Master, R.Ill.Comp. Tim Hancock, welcomed the distinguished visitors from the Order and Heads of other Orders within the District. He thanked the outgoing District Officers for their service and had much pleasure in investing the incoming officers. The District Grand Master also welcomed companions new to the order and presented them with a special memento of the occasion.
After a brief Address from the District Grand Master the meeting was closed and the companions retired to enjoy an excellent festive board.
(The District Principals – L to R: V.Ill.Comp. Phillip Purves, R.Ill.Comp. Tim Hancock, Ill.Comp. Paul Ackland-Snow)
Installation Meeting of Unity Council of Thrice Illustrious Masters, 28th July 2022.
The installation meeting of Unity Council of Thrice Illustrious Masters was held on Thursday 28th July at Beaconsfield. Twenty-nine Companions attended the meeting to witness V.Ill.Comp. Graham Seeman install V.Ill.Comp. Peter Hughes as his successor in the Chair of the Council. V.Ill.Comp. Peter then appointed and invested his officers, including Ill. Comp. Malcolm Summers as Deputy Master and Ill.Comp. Tim Weller as PCW. As is traditional in this Past Masters’ Council, the three Principals were representatives of the three provinces of the District: Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.
The newly-installed Principals.
(L to R: Ill.Comp. Malcolm Summers, V.Ill.Comp. Peter Hughes, Ill.Comp. Tim Weller)
The Council was delighted to welcome four new joining members; Ill.Comps. Mark Ball, James Payen, Huw Hopkin and Eugene Gratwohl.
Preceding the installation, the Council conducted the Silver Trowel ceremony, when Ill.Comps. James Hilditch of Oxford Council and Andrew Stephens of Bekenesfelde Council were honoured with the degree in what all agreed was a fine ceremony, worked by a newly constituted team.
The new recipients of the Silver Trowel degree.
(Ill.Comp. Andrew Stephens (L) and Ill.Comp. James Hilditch)
Installation Meeting of Bekenesfelde Council, 13th May 2022.
In a most impressive ceremony, Companion Spencer Swanson was promoted to the rank of ‘Illustrious Companion’ when he was installed as TIM of Bekenesfelde Council by his predecessor, Ill.Comp. Paul Savage.
The Council was honoured by the presence of the District Grand Master, R.Ill.Comp. Timothy Hancock (also a member of the Council), escorted by the District Grand DC, Ill.Comp. Timothy Weller. A total of ten Grand Officers were present at the meeting.
Ill.Comp. Spencer was congratulated by the District Grand Master, R.Ill.Comp. Tim Hancock.
The Companions enjoyed an excellent Festive Board of Breaded Camembert, Lamb Shanks and Eton Mess, chosen by the new TIM, producing a very full and satisfied group of diners!
Ill.Comp. Paul proposed the toast to Ill.Comp. Spencer…
(L to R: R.Ill.Comp. Tim Hancock, Ill.Comp. Spencer Swanson, Ill.Comp. Tim Weller, Ill.Comp. Paul Savage and Ill.Comp. Peter Harborne)
…and Ill.Comp. Spencer replied appropriately.
(something seems to have amused the DGM!)
50th Anniversary Meeting of Oxford Council, 26th February 2022.
On Saturday 26th February Oxford Council No. 105 of Royal and Select Masters held their 50th Anniversary Meeting. The Council was consecrated on Wednesday 27th October 1971 by Most Illustrious Companion Dr. Arthur S. Hollins, the Grand Master of the Order, at Freemasons’ Hall, Oxford.
The meeting was opened by the Thrice Illustrious Master, Illustrious Companion Andrew Trueman, assisted by the Deputy Master, Companion Barry Prior, and the Principal Conductor of the Work, Companion Graham Ellis. Barry is the Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Oxfordshire Mark, and Graham is the Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Oxfordshire Craft.
The District Grand Master, Right Illustrious Companion Tim Hancock, then entered the Council with a Team of a dozen District Officers. The District Grand Master took the Chair, gave a few introductory remarks and signed the minutes. The Council then embarked on a full agenda.
The ceremony of Most Excellent Master was worked with Very Illustrious Companion Phillip Purves, Deputy District Grand Master and the Council Director of Ceremonies, acting as Right Worshipful Master. Companions Bernd Wegerhoff and Paul Buck were Received and Acknowledged as Most Excellent Masters and the History was delivered by Very Illustrious Companion Phillip Purves.
The Council resumed in the degree of Select Master and Brother Mark Boullé was Chosen as a Select Master in a ceremony conducted by the Thrice Illustrious Master, Illustrious Companion Andrew Trueman. The History was delivered by Very Illustrious Companion Phillip Purves and Companion Mark was welcomed to the Council, the District, and the Order.
The companions were then treated to a brief history of Oxford Council given by Very Illustrious Companion Phillip Purves. Phillip was warmly thanked for his splendid work in researching the history of the Council and delivering a fascinating talk. Copies of the full printed history were then distributed to the companions.
Phillip thanked three of the senior members of the Council for their invaluable help in researching and preparing the history. These were Right Illustrious Companion Charles Woodward, Past Grand Principal Conductor of the Work, Past District Grand Master, who was the sole remaining Founder of the Council; Right Illustrious Companion Hillier Wise, the long serving Council Chaplain; and Right Illustrious Companion Bob Morrow, the IPM and formerly Treasurer for 40 years. These companions between them have 138 years of service to the Oxford Council.
The District Grand Master informed the Council that the Grand Master had approved the issue of a Jubilee Warrant. The Warrant was read by the District Grand Recorder. The District Grand Master then congratulated Right Illustrious Companion Charles Woodward on his 50 years as a member and requested him to present the Jubilee Warrant to the Thrice Illustrious Master of Oxford Council.
R.Ill.Comp. Charles Woodward presenting the Jubilee Warrant to the Thrice Illustrious Master, Ill. Comp. Andrew Trueman.
(L to R: Comp. Barry Prior, Deputy Master; R.Ill.Comp. Tim Hancock, District Grand Master; Ill. Comp. Andrew Trueman, Thrice Illustrious Master; R.Ill.Comp. Charles Woodward, Founder; Comp. Graham Ellis, Principal Conductor of the Work.)
Following the remainder of the business the Council was closed and the companions retired to enjoy a convivial lunch together.
The R.Ill. District Grand Master responding to his toast.
(L to R: Ill.Comp. Paul Ackland-Snow, Dist.G.P.C.W.; R.Ill.Comp. Tim Hancock, Dist.G.M.; Ill.Comp. Paul Savage, acting as Dist.G.D.C.; Comp. Mark Boulle, the newly admitted Companion; Ill. Comp. Andrew Trueman, TIM.)
Comp. Mark Boulle, the newly admitted Companion, responding to his toast.
(L to R: Ill.Comp. Paul Ackland-Snow, Dist.G.P.C.W.; V.Ill.Comp. Phillip Purves, Dep. Dist.G.M.; R.Ill.Comp. Tim Hancock, Dist.G.M.; Comp. Mark Boulle; Ill.Comp. Paul Savage, acting as Dist.G.D.C.; Ill. Comp. Andrew Trueman, TIM.)
The Companions at lunch.
Meeting of Eliot Council, 1st March 2022.
Eliot Council No. 286, meeting at Winslow in Buckinghamshire, held a regular meeting on Tuesday 1st March 2022. The Thrice Illustrious Master, Ill.Comp. Ian Bailey, opened the meeting assisted by his Deputy Master, Comp. John Bellamy, and the Principal Conductor of Work, Comp. Terry Foley. The Council was honoured with the presence of Ill. Comp. Paul Ackland-Snow, District Grand PCW, escorted by Ill. Comp. Mark Ball, Deputy District Grand DC. In addition the Council was pleased to welcome Comp. Raymond Head, District Grand Treasurer; Ill. Comp. Bill Hall, TIM of Terra Sancta Council; and Ill. Comp. John Palmer, TIM of Bearwood Council.
Companions Ian Bamsey and Tim Kirby were Received and Acknowledged as Super-Excellent Masters in a splendid ceremony performed by the TIM, Ill. Comp. Ian Bailey, assisted by his officers. The TIM presented them with their aprons, and the District PCW congratulated them on behalf of the District and presented them with Cryptic lapel pins.
The District Grand Master, who is a member, pointed out that for the first time in the Council’s history there were present the Grand Superintendent in and over the Province of Buckinghamshire, the Provincial Grand Master of the Mark Province of Buckinghamshire, and the District Grand Prefect of the Thames Valley District in the Order of the Allied Masonic Degrees. They being respectively Ill. Comps. Graham Dearing, David Tremaine, and Ian Bailey. The District Grand Master commented on how pleasing it was to see the different orders of freemasonry working together.
The District Grand PCW invested Ill. Comp. David Tremaine with his collarette as District Grand Lecturer. David was appointed to this office in July 2020 but due to the pandemic the last two District Meetings had been online.
After the Council was closed the companions repaired to the Bell Hotel in the Market Square and there enjoyed the traditional carvery and each other’s company.
Meeting of the District Grand Council of Derbyshire on 5th February 2022.
The District of Derbyshire held their Annual District Meeting on Saturday 5th February at Freemasons’ Hall at Littleover, just outside Derby. The premises were previously owned by Rolls Royce and development work on the Merlin engine was conducted there.
The meeting in 2021 had been a virtual District Meeting, and there was a spirit of ecstasy that the companions could now again meet in person. The meeting proceeded like a smooth-running engine and the business included the obligating and investing of a new District Grand Principal Conductor of the Work, and an interesting report from R.Ill.Comp. Ryan Williams, the Grand Recorder. He reminded the companions that despite the difficulties of the past two years that there is much to look forward to, and in particular that plans are being developed to celebrate in 2023 the 150th Anniversary of the formation of the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters.
Oxon, Berks & Bucks were represented at the Derbyshire Meeting by R.Ill.Comp. Tim Hancock, V.Ill.Comp. Phillip Purves, and Ill. Comp. Paul Ackland-Snow, and all three found it to be a very worthwhile trip.
Meetings of Wantage and Unity Councils on 11th January 2022.
Wantage Council enjoyed an excellent meeting on 11th January, at which Comp. Kevin Dodd was Received and Acknowledged as a Most Excellent Master in a fine ceremony conducted by the TIM, Ill. Comp. Terry Speight. The meeting was preceded by a meeting of Unity Council of Thrice Illustrious Masters, at which three Past Masters received the Degree of the Silver Trowel. Both Councils dined together in a most convivial atmosphere.
The Councils were honoured by the presence of R. Ill. Comp. Tim Hancock, Dist.G.M., V. Ill. Comp. Graham Seeman, Pres.E.C., Ill. Comp. Paul Ackland-Snow, Dist.G.P.C.W., V. Ill. Comp. Peter Hughes, P.Dist.G.P.C.W. and many other distinguished Companions.
L to R: Paul Ackland-Snow (Dist.G.P.C.W.); Peter Hughes (King David in the ST degree); Terry Speight (Wantage TIM), Tim Hancock (Dist.G.M.)
Bekenesfelde Council Installation 9th December 2021.
Bekenesfelde Council celebrated its first meeting since 2019 on the 9th December, when Ill. Comp. Paul Savage was installed as TIM by R. Ill. Comp. David Hunt in a very fine ceremony.
The Council was honoured by the presence of the District Grand Master, accompanied by the Deputy District Grand Master, the District Grand PCW and many officers of the District Team.
Prior to the business of the Council, the R. Ill. District Grand Master occupied the Chair to formally invest Ill. Comp. Paul Ackland-Snow as District Grand PCW – a ceremony that had, by necessity, been delayed for many months because of the Covid suspensions. The DGM was ably supported by the District Deputy Grand DC, Ill. Comp. Mark Ball, and the rest of the District Team throughout the investiture.
(face coverings were worn throughout the meeting, but briefly removed for the photo)
Thame Council Installation 21st August 2021.
Thame Council celebrated the installation of Ill. Comp. Eugene Gratwohl on Saturday 21st August. Eugene was elected back in 2019, but his installation was delayed due to the Covid-19 suspensions. The Council was also delighted to Choose two new companions; Comp. Steve Adamek and Comp. John Sear, who were immediately promoted to Manciples! The ceremonies were shared between several Companions in what was a most pleasant return to the ritual after a two-year hiatus.
The Council was honoured by the presence of the Deputy District Grand Master and the District Grand Principal Conductor of the Work together with many other distinguished Companions.
Eliot Council Installation 3rd November 2019.
Ill Comp Phillip Kavanagh, PDistGSwdB, installed his successor, Ill Comp David Hance, as TIM of the Council in the presence of the District Grand PCW, V Ill Comp Peter Hughes, PGLect.
Ill Comp David appointed and invested Comp Ian Bailey as Deputy Master and Comp John Bellamy as PCW.
Oxford Council Installation 26th October 2019.
The Council was honoured with an official District Visit to mark the installation of Ill Comp James Hildtich, the Provincial Grand Master of the Craft and Grand Superintendent of the Royal Arch in Oxfordshire, as TIM.