On Wednesday 26th October, 100 Royal Arch Companions gathered at Blackburn Masonic Hall to witness a ceremony that hadn’t been worked in the Province for nearly 15 years, that of Consecrating a new Royal Arch Chapter. Due to the rarity and the importance of the event, the ceremony was to be presided over by EComp Sir David Trippier RD, JP, DL, the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent, EComp Paul MA Rose, PGSwdB, Deputy Grand Superintendent, EComp David H Thompson, PAGSoj, Second Provincial Grand Principal, EComp The Reverend David J Halford, PGStB, Third Provincial Grand Principal and EComp Martin P Roche, PGStB, Provincial Grand Scribe E.

Once the companions were assembled, the officers of Supreme Grand Chapter were admitted under the direction of EComp David Bristol, PGStB, Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies and his deputies, EComps Tony Kenny and Ian Paul. The Consecrating Officers then proceeded to open the Royal Arch Chapter, following which he addressed the assembled companions to stress the importance of the meeting and his delight at seeing so many Royal Arch masons present.

The Consecrating Scribe E read the petition, whereupon the Provincial Grand Registrar EComp John Porter read the Charter. EComp Rev Halford then delivered an oration specially prepared for the meeting. This was delivered with emotion and sincerity.
The Consecration element of the meeting saw the Consecrating Officer with H and J carrying the elements of consecration perambulating the Chapter three times, the fourth perambulation by the Consecrating Officer alone. On each perambulation the Consecrating Officer spread corn, wine and oil respectively. The Chapter petitioners formed around the Chapter facing outwards whilst the Consecrating Officer Dedicated the Chapter. He followed the Dedication by sprinkling salt – the symbol of hospitality and friendship. Once the companions were directed to face the East, the Consecrating Officer Constituted the Chapter.

Once the Chapter was Consecrated the Consecrating Officers retired under the direction of EComp Bristol and his Deputies, and the Installation of the Three Principals of the new Chapter began. The Installation was worked by EComp Rose with the important duties of the Chapter being explained by EComp Colin Whitaker the Provincial Grand Scribe N. Following the Installation of EComp Derek N Thornhill, JP, PAGSoj as First Principal, EComp Paul Aspinall, PGStB, APGP, as Second Principal and EComp John R Farrington, PGStB, as Third Principal the Installing Officers retired and the Investiture of Chapter Officers commenced.

The address to the Principals was delivered by EComp Edward W Barlow, PGStB, APGP.
The address to the Officers was delivered by EComp Leonard Hayes, PGStB, APGP.
The address to the Companions was delivered by EComp David Basger, PGStB, APGP.
All three were delivered in a most excellent manner.

The Provincial Deputation and the Officers of Supreme Grand Chapter retired and the newly formed Verity Chapter of Installed First Principals No 3949 held it’s first regular meeting before the companions retired to the Festive Board.

The Festive Board was a happy and joyous occasion with excellent companionship and great fayre. The responses to the toasts were delivered with great humour and sensitivity. The ME Grand Superintendent was on super form and his response had the companions rolling with laughter. EComp Aspinall, in toasting him paid an emotional tribute, and expressed his gratitude for the support he had given him during his tenure as an APGP, a position from which he will retire in March 2017.  The response to the toast to the Three Principals was given by EComp Derek N Thornhill. The pride in being the First Principal was evident as he stood to respond. He paid tribute to the Chapter Founders and explained that this was the culmination of a year’s hard work and he went on to explain that the Chapter was born out of a single comment at a Lodge festive board. He concluded by thanking all involved in making the day happen.

The companions departed after attending a wonderful and rare ceremony, enjoying great company at the festive board and witnessing some excellent and sincere responses to the toasts. With the Masonic Pedigree of the Three Principals and the number of Founders, this will be a very successful Royal Arch Chapter within the Province of East Lancashire.