George Fox was installed as first principal at the installation convocation of Lancaster Castle Chapter No 5952, having already occupied the first principal’s chair of Vale Chapter No 5256 in 2005. The ceremony was attended by the principal guest for the evening, Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Barry Jameson, who was delighted to have the support of his fellow Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Christopher (Chris) Butterfield, a member and past first principal of the chapter. Also accompanying Barry were grand officer Philip Gardner and acting Provincial grand officers Mike Jenkins and Stephen Jennings
On entering the chapter Barry was given an enthusiastic welcome by the installing first principal Peter Whaley, who also extended greetings to the other grand officers in attendance. Having thanked all of the members of Lancaster Castle Chapter for their help and support during his year in office, Peter duly invested George with the robe and collar of his office in a deft and sincere manner. Due to the unfortunate absence of the second principal elect, his chair was occupied for the purposes of installation by past first principal Norman Mitchell, whilst another past first principal Paul Thompson was called upon to install Richard Holdstock into the chair of the third principal. Two excellent robe addresses were given by relatively new members of the chapter; that to the first principal was by Joshua Sendall and that to the third principal by John Hayes.
Following the completion of the appointments and investments of chapter officers, Barry Jameson rose to give greetings on behalf of the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison, commenting that he was sure that Tony would have enjoyed the ceremony immensely and would have congratulated all who had taken part, especially those companions who had undertaken the robe addresses. Tony would have also taken the opportunity to communicate to all present his sincere wish that they continue to enjoy their Royal Arch Masonry. On completion of Barry’s address, George Fox rose to congratulate him on behalf of all the companions present on his appointment to the high rank of Second Provincial Grand Principal. After thanking everyone for their best wishes Barry was then presented with two cheques by Peter Whaley. One cheque was for £100 to the Lancaster Masonic Hall whilst the other cheque raised the total the chapter have given the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival over the last 12 months to £750, enabling them to be awarded vice patronage of the festival. Barry thanked Peter for both the cheques and for his leadership within the chapter during his tenure as first principal.
Following the presentation of the cheques the group charity steward Simon Hanson presented the three principals with a certificate acknowledging the chapter’s status as Vice Patron of the MCF 2021 Festival, an achievement to be really proud of.
At the festive board in the Rowley Court banqueting suite, Barry, in response to the toast to the grand officers, expressed his wish that his reply be associated with his fellow Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Chris Butterfield, who is a terrific ambassador for the group, the chapter and the Royal Arch as a whole. Barry also expressed his delight at having the pleasant company of Phil Gardner and the acting Provincial grand officers. Moving on, Barry proffered his personal best wishes to the newly installed principals and officers, wishing them all good health for the future. In his address that followed Barry apprised his audience of the current issues within Royal Arch Masonry that the Grand Superintendent wished to draw to the attention of companions. First, he wanted to encourage the companions to support the MCF 2021 Festival and thanked Simon Hanson, the group charity steward, for his work in raising funds for the charity. He continued by saying: “The Lancaster and District Group have a good record for charitable giving so please continue to donate and on behalf of all the eventual recipients, thank you for your support.”
The final two issues he made reference to were the ‘enhanced exaltation ceremony’ and the ‘talking heads’ initiative, both of which add colour, depth and clarity to the order. Both these strands have provided stimulus to the Royal Arch by helping the order to be seen as a completion of the Masonic journey, a genuine voyage of discovery. In conclusion Barry thanked the scribe Ezra for his considerable help in making it an enjoyable evening.
The toast to the three principals was proposed with sincerity and humour by Peter Whaley and in response to the toast to his health and that of his co-principals, George Fox paid tribute to all who had contributed to such a successful and enjoyable day, adding that he hoped to maintain and enhance the reputation of the chapter both in its hospitality and its ritual. He concluded by announcing that the total raised by the raffle that evening was the wonderful sum of £152.
Article and photographs by Paul Thompson.