Essex Royal Arch Masons Getting Back on Track

Kirby Masonic Hall hosted the Installation Convocation of Essex First Principals Chapter No 3256 on Thursday 23rd September 2021 

Alongside the railway track, a short distance from the famous ‘Frinton Gates’ level crossing, stands Kirby Masonic Hall which hosted the Installation Convocation of Essex First Principals Chapter No 3256 on Thursday 23rd September 2021.  It was the Chapter’s first convocation since the lifting of restrictions and an appropriate location to get back on track since the last meeting two years ago.

Tributes were paid to departed Companions, including the late Rodney Bass whose valued support for the Chapter and its work will long be remembered.  Proceedings were enhanced with 19 new members joining but as Bruce Mapson, an Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals (APGP), said “the surprise of the evening was that the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent (MEGS), Paul Tarrant, presented Elliott Chevin with his Patent as the Deputy Grand Superintendent (DepGSupt)”.

Following the Installation of David Branch and David Jones as Second and Third Principals, the 89 Companions in attendance watched as their Past First Principal of 1995, Dennis Baum standing in for Frank Sharp who was unable to be present, Installed Richard Mead, according to ancient custom, as the First Principal of the Chapter.

The newly appointed First Principal delivered an oration to the Companions entitled ‘Thomas Dunckerley – A Freemason of Great Renown’, in which he gave many facts to demonstrate how Thomas Dunckerley (1724-96) was a prime mover in the expansion and development of English Freemasonry. Some interesting analysis was presented pointing out that Dunckerley was a decisive man and capable of acting on his own initiative.

It seems appropriate for such an address to have been given on this occasion for two reasons. Firstly, as explained by Prestonian Lecturer Tony Harvey in the latest edition, Issue 55, of Freemasonry Today, the earliest record of a Royal Arch degree itself in England was when Thomas Dunckerley was made a Royal Arch Mason in Portsmouth in 1754. Secondly, the Grand Superintendent for Essex from 1776 – 1796 was Thomas Dunckerley and his present-day successor, Paul Tarrant, is the 14th to lead the Essex Royal Arch Masons.

As the First Principal of Essex First Principals Chapter, Richard Mead will be a great advocate for Royal Arch Masonry in Essex. He commented “Because Royal Arch Masonry follows on from Craft Initiation, Passing and Raising, the members tend to be more established Masons and because of that are generally more committed. I personally find the ceremonies very impressive and easy to understand. The story following on from the Obligation is very interesting and is a fantastic ceremony to participate in whether as the Candidate, an Officer or as a Principal. In addition, there are three great lectures, which add further to the ceremony of Exaltation”.

With so many passionate Companions in Essex, such as Paul Tarrant, Elliott Chevin and Richard Mead, it looks like the 4,200 Royal Arch Masons of the 120 Chapters which meet at 25 Centres in the Province did ‘Get Ready to Get Ready’ and are now ‘Getting Back on Track’.