Banners upstairs banter downstairs

North Meols Chapter No 5828 had over 30 companions present, five of whom were visitors, to see the explanation of the Royal Arch banners and ensigns.

The chapter banners.

The chapter banners.

After the initial business had been completed, which included the declaration of the three principals for the ensuing year, there was a presentation covering the devices on the banners and ensigns of the 12 tribes of Israel given by the companions of the chapter.

North Meols Chapter first principal John Pinchon led the proceeding by explaining the four principal banners and the tribes that marched under them, and then in turn the 12 ensigns or smaller banners were explained with Bill Stupples, giving the explanation of the banner of the chief tribe of Judah which was borne by Prince Nahshon, Richard Alty covered the tribe of Prince Nethaneel whose people worked the land under the banner of Issachar.

David Weatherby then gave the explanation of Prince Eliab’s banner of Zebulum and his people who lived at the coast. Paul Hardman gave explanations of both the banner of Reuben which was Prince Elizur’s and Prince Shelumiel’s banner of Simeon and Levi. Continuing John Karran gave the explanation of the banner of Gadwhich which was under the charge of Prince Eliasaph.

Martin Bos (left) receiving his certificate from Alan Byers.

Martin Bos (left) receiving his certificate from Alan Byers.

Peter Wall then followed with the description of Prince Elishama’s banner which is Ephraim. David Culshaw explained how Prince Gamaliel led his tribe under the banner of Manasseh, and Robert Thornton-Davidson gave the description of Prince Abidan’s warlike and cruel tribe which battled against all the other tribes under the banner of Benjamin.

Graham Wooldridge then gave explanations of both Dan and Ashler. Dan being the largest tribe next to Judah lead by Prince Ahiezer and Prince Pagiel’s tribe of Ashler, who were promised a tract in the Holy Land, and finally David Weatherby again with his explanation of Prince Ahire’s tribe of Naphtali which from the four sons he brought with him into Egypt led to the creation of over 50,000 decedents.

This was the first time most of the companions had seen the banner ceremony and it was received very well by the brethren assembled.

The banner team.

The banner team.

The next business was in the hands of Chris Hamilton as he gave a talk entitled ‘The seed of Babylon – the life and times of Zerubbable’. Chris originally gave this talk at the Provincial Stewards Chapter a few years ago but mentioned that to follow the banner ceremony added a certain edge as it highlighted the different factions within the tribes of Israel and the issues that Zerubbabel must have encountered in trying to pull his people together during his reign.

Chris’s talk was very detailed and enjoyable and touched on part of the history of the Royal Arch and our ceremonies. At the end of the talk the companions were left with a question that to this day is unanswered – whatever happened to him, how or why he disappeared from the records of history? There are many theories regarding this, however the one thing that is known is that no one has sat in the seat of David since him.

Geoff Jackson (left) and Mark Matthews.

Geoff Jackson (left) and Mark Matthews.

Chris’s talk was very well received and he confirmed that he would do some more research on the histories of the tribes and prepare a further talk for the future.

The next business was the presentation of a Supreme Grand Chapter Certificate to the youngest RA Mason in the chapter, Martin Bos, and the duty on this occasion was offered to a distinguished visitor Alan Byers who was delighted to undertake this honour and readily accepted.

The business of the chapter being completed the companions retired to the bar area where brethren and non-companions, all of whom had been invited to the festive board to experience the companionship of North Meols Chapter.

The guests were treated to a fantastic evening of banter and a banquet which included expertly carved honey glazed ham, curtesy of Geoff Jackson and Mark Matthews, and as is standard practice in North Meols Chapter given free top ups of ale by the stewards Bill Stupples and Keith Blackburn. All in all a very enjoyable evening.

Companions enjoying the festive board.

Companions enjoying the festive board.