Royal Arch News

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Royal Arch News



Welcome and Farewell

The Annual Convocation on the 7th June brought some major changes to the Executive line-up with the appointment of E Comp Rodney Bancroft, PAGDC as Third Provincial Grand Principal. Rod is already well known to the Royal Arch, having served as Deputy Director of Ceremonies for several years and as Provincial Grand Scribe N in 2010.  He was appointed to Grand Rank as Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 2017, and brings enormous experience of Masonry with him, being active in several other Orders, notably Knights Templar and Rose Croix. Rod is stepping into the vacancy created by Mike Warner’s promotion to Second Provincial Grand Principal.

E Comp Michael Warner, PAGDC has already served as Third Provincial Grand Principal with distinction, having delivered several Orations at Dedications and Services of Thanksgiving. He has also found a talent for presenting 50 year Certificates where he has taken much pleasure in researching the history of the recipients, to the delight and amazement of the Companions. He too has great experience of Royal Arch Masonry being a member of four Berkshire Chapters, including the First Principals, and two Chapters in Middlesex, and is also active in the Craft and Other orders. Mike replaces Jeremy Whitmore who is appointed as Deputy Grand Superintendent, on the retirement of Bernard Greenwold.

E Comp Jeremy Whitmore’s, PGStB appointment as Deputy Grand Superintendent is a much deserved reward for the many years of distinguished service he has already given to the Royal Arch, having worked his way steadily up the ranks from Assistant Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, to Deputy DC, then Third, and lastly Second Provincial Grand Principal. All of these offices he has served with great distinction. He is well regarded for his coolness under pressure, a can do approach and his undoubted proven abilities to manage all issues presented to him. He is a worthy successor to Bernard who has been a steady guiding hand since his appointment as Deputy in 2015.

The Grand Superintendent expressed great pleasure in being able to make these appointments and acknowledged the various talents and characteristics that each of his team members now bring to the Executive, stating that “these characteristics will play a key factor in helping me drive the Province forward in these modern times.”

And Farewell

So, after a career in Acting Provincial Offices stretching over 11 years, and a very respectable Masonic history ranging over 48 years in Craft masonry, with 41 years in the Royal Arch, E Comp Bernard Greenwold, PGSwdB, Past Deputy Grand Superintendent has decided to retire again.

Having already served with distinction as Third provincial Grand Principal and then Second Provincial Grand Principal from 2006 to 2012 he was coaxed back by E Comp Ian Hopgood, on his installation as Grand Superintendent in 2015, to support him as Deputy. Bernard was delighted to accept and has been a rock to all on the Executive ever since. His great humour, unbounded knowledge and steady guiding hand has been a major factor in establishing the ethos of the new team, and in ensuring that the Grand Superintendent’s vision for the future has been reflected in policies and initiatives and that the Province is well set up to progress with these ambitions. He is well known and highly regarded throughout the Province, particularly for his good humour and ability to raise the game in any situation. He now stands down so that he can celebrate 50 years of marriage to Nicole next year, in style, and with extensive travel plans throughout 2019. We pass on our Congratulations to Bernard and Nicole on achieving their Golden Anniversary.

He was presented with a splendid watch, at the Festive Board following the Annual Convocation, as a gesture of thanks and appreciation for all his services, subscribed to by every Chapter in the Province, with many expressions of admiration and support for him, and best wishes for many more years to enjoy a less hectic life in Freemasonry.



And Congratulations

Supreme Grand Chapter Investitures

On the 26th April 2018, over 50 Royal Arch Masons from Berkshire travelled to Great Queen Street to attend the annual Investiture Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter. The Berkshire contingent, had turned out in great form to witness four of their number receive Grand Chapter honours, namely,

E Comp Anthony Howlett-Bolton, OBE, Sandhurst Chapter No. 8505, who received a first appointment to the acting Grand Chapter Rank of Grand Sojourner, together with:


 E Comps David Cox, Pangbourne Chapter No. 4381 and Clive Litten of St Hilda Chapter No. 1887, who both received appointments as Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies.


     In addition, a Promotion to the rank of Past Grand Standard Bearer was awarded to E Comp Brian Bicknell, PAGDC, of Etonian St John Chapter No. 209. All of whom were rousingly greeted with applause from the Berkshire group, as they were presented with their much warranted appointments.


Following the meeting, Companions, retired to celebrate the appointments, and express sincere congratulations to the recipients of the awards, with a splendid and convivial lunch at the Concerts Artistes Club in Bedford Street, a short walk from Grand Chapter. This venue proved a most worthy choice with good food and wine, for the social side of the day.


Date posted: 13 September 2018

Royal Arch Support Group

Berkshire R A Support Group Volunteers

The Provincial Executive and DC’s team, has decided to set up a Support Group (similar to that of the Craft) to assist struggling Chapters in the Province of Berkshire. This will be co-ordinated by E. Comp. Steve Hieke, ProvDepGDC, and overseen by the 2ndProvGP, E. Comp. Mike Warner.

  • A dedicated group of Companions is required who are willing to attend all regular meetings of the identified Chapters, including rehearsals, and to assist with the ritual where required. Group members will be allocated to their preferred Masonic Centres, according to Chapter needs and to that end it will be of great help if those interested in helping can indicate which Masonic Centres they are able to attend and which particular parts of the ritual they can assist with.
    At the present time three Chapters have asked for assistance and the Co-ordinators are looking to have a team of at least four or five Companions per Chapter – each having a Team Leader who will liaise with Steve Hieke.
    The Province is also looking to set up a dedicated team of Companions, with reliable skills, who are able to assist other Chapters within the Province, at short notice, to fill vacant offices due to non-attendance such as illness, work and family commitments.
    Steve Hieke and Mike Warner will also attend as many of these meetings as they can to try boost numbers and assist with the ritual where necessary. Please only apply if you have sufficient time to actively support these Chapters.
    A similar initiative has proved to be very successful within the Craft in Berkshire - and has helped many struggling Lodges, a lot of whom are now flourishing.

If you are interested in helping the Province with this extremely important task, please download and complete the Support Group questionnaire with your details.

Date posted: 13 September 2018

50 years with St Hilda Chapter No. 1887

St. Hilda Chapter team visit

On the 28th February 2018 E Comp Derek Hawkins celebrated 50 years, to the day, since his Exaltation into the St Hilda Chapter No. 1887 on the 28th February 1968. He was joined on the occasion by 23 Provincial Officers of the Year, and presented with a framed Certificate by the Third Provincial Grand Principal, E Comp. Mike Warner.

Mike had carried out extensive research into Derek’s background and gave a moving and informative presentation of his early life from school days, through his war time service with the RAF, and subsequent civilian life working at a prominent Wallingford Department store, finally as its Managing Director.

Derek’s Royal Arch Masonry has been entirely with the St Hilda Chapter, which in itself is a remarkable achievement and shows they must be doing something right, to keep his attention for so long. During the past 50 years Derek has passed through all of the Chapter Offices, reaching the chair of First Principal in 1986, and he has continued to actively support the Chapter in various roles and Offices since, including as Treasurer for 8 years.  His party piece with ritual is to deliver the long version of the Mystical Lecture, including the use of the old Hebrew names relating to the Block of White Marble. Such is his dedication to the Chapter, that even on this special occasion in his life, Derek was acting as ADC of the Chapter for the Exaltation of Mathew Summers, later on.

This was a most moving occasion enjoyed by all who attended and a most fitting tribute to a Royal Arch Mason whose 50 years of service to the Chapter and Province is truly worthy of congratulation, and an example and an inspiration to us all.

Well done Derek.

Date posted: 30 March 2018

Union Chapter celebrates its 150th anniversary

150 not out!

Union Chapter Milestone

A unique occasion in Berkshire took place on Wednesday 29th November 2017 when Union Chapter No. 414 celebrated 150 years since its consecration on 22nd October 1867 at the Masonic Hall, Greyfriars Road, Reading.

The celebrations took place in The Berkshire at Sindlesham when over 100 members and guests gathered to witness a service of Thanksgiving conducted by The ME Grand Superintendent, E Comp. Ian Hopgood assisted by the Provincial Executive.  Many active Provincial Officers were also in attendance together with those of the Province of Hampshire and Isle of White led by their Grand Superintendent, E Com. Alan Berman continuing the tradition of fraternal exchange visits between our two Provinces.

E Comp. Mike Warner, Third Provincial Grand Principal, presented an oration in which he detailed the consecration and history of the Chapter and set the scene of the times by reference to notable events of 1867.  The full text of the oration can be found here.

After the Service of Thanksgiving, the Chapter was restored to its Officers and the Installation ceremony was conducted with all three Principals being Proclaimed as such for a further year.

The Companions then enjoyed the Festive Board together which completed a most enjoyable day.

Date posted: 11 December 2017

Golden Boy! Barclay Howard Warden PAGSoj

Celebrating 50 years of Royal Arch Masonry at a special meeting of the Heather Lodge No. 3131, on the 27th February 2017. E Comp Mike Warner, PAGDC, Third Provincial Grand Principal, presented Barclay Warden with a Certificate marking the 50th Anniversary of his Exaltation into the Richmond Chapter No. 2032 on the 15th February 1967.

Pictured here with his guests Len Sullivan and Gus Fielding

During these 50 years Barclay has spent most of his time in Lodges and Chapters in Middlesex where he was a member of four Lodges and five Chapters. He also joined two Lodges in Surrey and East Lancashire before moving back to Berkshire in 2012, and is now a member of Windsor Forest Lodge and Heather, Downshire and Berkshire First Principals Chapters.

He has held various Provincial Offices in the Royal Arch and the Craft, and was a Visiting Grand Officer in Berkshire. He holds the Grand Ranks of Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in Grand Lodge and Past Assistant Grand Sojourner in Supreme Grand Chapter.

Mike expressed his great pleasure in being able to make this presentation to Barclay as he had known him for many years and had been instrumental in persuading him to join Masonry in Berkshire. He stated that, while Barclay could present an imposing exterior, he had a heart of gold, and a ready willingness to help and encourage other Masons, and to share his immense knowledge of all things masonic.

In response Barclay said he was highly delighted that this milestone in his masonic life should have been recognised in such a warm and enthusiastic manner in the Chapter this evening. He had enjoyed every aspect of his masonry to date and hoped to be able to do so for many more years to come.

The evening convened with an excellent festive board in the Abbey Room which was followed by a response to the visitors toast from Gus Fielding, in which he expressed his pleasure at being able to add his warmest congratulations to a most deserving and remarkable Mason, and sincere thanks to the Heather Chapter for a thoroughly enjoyable evening all round.

Date posted: 1 March 2017

50 Years A Mason - Celebrating E Comp. Gary Mitchell's Milestone

On Saturday 4th February 2017, the Grand Superintendent, E Comp Ian Hopgood, accompanied by his two predecessors E Comp Robert Faulkner and E Comp Ken Benford, with Roger Jones, ProvGSE, visited the Waller Rodwell Wright Lodge No. 2755 in the Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight, to see E Comp Wg Cdr Gary Mitchell, OBE, presented with a Certificate to mark the 50th anniversary since his Initiation in that Lodge on the 17th January 1967.

We were joined, on this occasion, by 35 other Brethren and Gary was presented with his Certificate by W. Bro. Roy Quinn, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, who gave a short account of Gary's extensive Masonic History, mentioning in particular his roles within Royal Arch Masonry in Berkshire. W Bro Ken Benford was invited to expand on this and he took the opportunity to express his respect and admiration to Gary for his work and Companionship, particularly whilst acting as Deputy Grand Superintendent.

As you may imagine the Festive Board following this event was a lively and very good humoured affair, with his colleagues disclosing many of the dark corners of Gary's Masonic life, and the fact that his great sense of humour and sense of fun were honed in the Crypts of Maltese Churches where the Lodge had met during the War. The shy and retiring Mason we had all come to know was revealed as an instigator of much mischief. Who'd of thought it.

Fortunately, due to time constraints, Gary was given very little time to reminisce on his 50 years in Freemasonry in any great detail, but he did manage to express his thanks for the efforts made by the Lodge to make this a special occasion for him, and to all who had taken the time to join him on this occasion. He said that he had greatly enjoyed his time as a Mason and did not know where the time had gone.

Gary's career has extended to membership of four Craft Lodges, and four Royal Arch Chapters, along with involvement in other Orders. During his time he has served in all the Chapter and Lodge Offices, gained Provincial Appointments in both Hampshire and Berkshire, the highest of which was Provincial Grand Senior Warden in both Provincial Craft Lodges, and Deputy Grand Superintendent in Berkshire. In 2002 he was appointed as an Acting Standard Bearer to Supreme Grand Chapter, and promoted to Past Grand Sword Bearer in 2006.

Just like the eminent Mason Waller Rodwell Wright (1775 –1826), after whom the Lodge is named, it is difficult to know how Gary has managed to find the time to devote to these activities without "affecting his ordinary station in life". He is a credit to his Lodge and an inspiration to us all. It was most pleasing to be able to witness the depth of feeling shown towards him on Saturday, and the warm congratulations showered upon him by his Brethren and Companions.

Date posted: 11 February 2017