A taste of Essex and the spirit of Royal Arch Masonry fills Freemasons Hall

The Annual Convocation of the Provincial Grand Chapter of Essex at the Grand Temple

Behind the two bronze doors each weighing 1.25 tonnes, which can be opened with just one finger, is the splendour of the Grand Temple in Freemasons Hall, one of the finest Art Deco buildings in England.

The Grade II listed HQ building of the United Grand Lodge of England and the Supreme Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons was built as a war memorial in 1929 -1933 by Field Marshal HRH Duke of Connaught. The majestic grandeur of this setting combined with the most colourful event of all the meetings in the Provincial calendar made the Annual Convocation one of the most enjoyable to all those who attended on 21st September 2023.

After welcoming Russell Race DL, the Second Grand Principal (2ndGP) and the many distinguished guests from other provinces, Paul Tarrant, the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent (MEGS), thanked Martin Cook and Stephen Porter, who were retiring as Assistants to the Provincial Grand Principals (APGPs) from the Executive. The MEGS congratulated George Lambeth and John Singh as their replacements. Jonathon Glynn, was congratulated as the new Provincial Grand Scribe E and his predecessor, Richard Jordan, was thanked for his sterling support over the last two years.

Jim Wolfe was appointed as the lead of the Royal Arch Support and Demonstration Team and Rob Lancashire as the new Provincial Assistant Grand Scribe E. The MEGS congratulated them as well as all those also being invested on their first appointment or promotion.  With 45% of all Essex Masons being in the Royal Arch, Paul Tarrant conveyed three key messages in his speeches at the Annual Convocation and the Banquet in the Gallery Suite at Freemasons Hall.

Firstly, Royal Arch Masonry in Essex is moving forward with a strong sense of purpose as membership is increasing again.  Secondly, Essex is fully in line the with Supreme Grand Chapter, in that the Craft and Royal Arch are one and therefore everyone should encourage new members, from the very beginning of their Masonic journey, to have their sights on becoming Companions. Thirdly, it is well proven that members who join the Royal Arch are far more likely to get greater enjoyment and stay in Freemasonry.

In replying to the toast to him, Russell Race thanked everyone for the warm, kind and friendly welcome given to him and he praised all the good work, enthusiasm and enjoyment there is for Royal Arch Masonry in Essex.  In response, Paul Tarrant presented him with a bottle of gin from a small distillery on the Essex coast, adding that it was “inspired by the sea and made by the sea - with junipers from the beach at Jaywick.”

Although highly delighted to receive such a ‘taste of Essex’, the Second Grand Principal did appear bemused as to whether it was his own surprise, or the effect of the grandeur and splendour of the surroundings on overwhelmed Companions, that precipitated the greatest sounds of spontaneous laughter ever to fill one of the finest Art Deco buildings in England.


Top: The new Provincial Grand Chapter of Essex Executive

Top-left: The eyes have it! - Taking wine in the grandeur and splendour of the Gallery Suite

Middle-right: The eyes have it! - The 2ndGP and MEGS toasting the future of Royal Arch Masonry in Essex

Bottom-left: Russel Race delighted with his surprise but bemused at the greatest sounds of spontaneous laughter ever to fill one of the finest Art Deco buildings in England.