In 1950, several good men, many in Ceres Lodge No 3501 decided it would be beneficial as Royal Arch Masons to have their own chapter. The chapter was given its charter on 1 January 1950 and has given over 72 years of outstanding service since the consecration, but the companions have decided to close and surrendered the charter in November 2022.
The final meeting was held in the Egyptian Room at Liverpool Masonic Hall, Hope Street and was opened at 6:00pm, by the first principal Bill Robb, ably assisted by second principal Rob Keir and acting as third principal Keith Gear. Apologies had been received from members Tom Croll and Tony Green. Welcomed to the meeting representing the Liverpool Group were the chairman Dave Johnson accompanied by the group Craft secretary Neil Francis and group publicity officer Geoff Cuthill.
On completion of standard chapter business, the members by closing had shown due diligence regarding the disposal of assets and possessions and their decision was ratified by a unanimous vote. Dave Johnson enquired if all fees had been paid along with all commitments being met, and was assured by the companions in the affirmative. Being no other business, the chapter was duly and solemnly closed for the last time by the first principal Bill Robb in a most dignified and solemn manner after what had been at times an emotional and difficult ceremony for the members to witness. The charter of the chapter was handed to Dave Johnson by the three Principals and Dave in response expressed the sentiments of the Grand Superintendent designate Mark Matthews to the companions, thanking them for the outstanding service of Ceres Chapter, not only locally but within the Province generally and of course to Supreme Grand Chapter
The valedictory address was delivered by Dave Johnson in a very personalised manner specific to the history and standing of the chapter. The closure of a Royal Arch Chapter and the surrender of its charter is always a very sad occasion and should also be a significant celebration of a chapter that has been in existence for 72 illustrious years. Ceres Chapter was founded and associated with Ceres Lodge whose warrant was granted in 1911. Founders of the lodge being associated with the Liverpool Corn Exchange and came from other lodges situated in the regions of Liverpool and Cheshire and appropriately took the name Ceres. She was ‘the Goddess of the Earth and her produce’, and was depicted on the crest of both lodge and chapter, being surrounded by ears of corn.
The three principals carrying their sceptres led the final procession from the Egyptian Room followed by the companions and visitors with Dave Johnson carrying the charter being the last to leave the room. A festive board followed, which whilst in many ways was a solemn affair, it was also celebratory in terms of the rich history of the chapter and what it had achieved. Group chairman Dave Johnson proposed the toast to the late Ceres Chapter saying: “Companions of Ceres Chapter, I thank you and your predecessors for your services to your country and our local communities. I also thank you for your services to Freemasonry in general and within the Province of West Lancashire and offer you my sincere personal thanks for your commitment, hard work and loyalty to the Liverpool Group here at Hope Street Masonic Hall.”
Many companions gathered in the room had also belonged to Ceres Lodge, so it is with some despondency that they witnessed the closure of the chapter, coming shortly after the closure of the lodge in January 2022. Many distinguished men have been proud to be associated with both Ceres Lodge and Ceres Chapter, producing people who went on to attain high honours within Freemasonry, as well as in the wider world.
Of this mention must be made of Alan Fletcher Ferris who was initiated into Ceres Lodge in January 1948. In the Craft he would become a highly successful Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies. He became an Assistant Provincial Grand Master in 1976 and ultimately the Provincial Grand Master in 1981, an office he held with great distinction until 1990 and in 1992, he was awarded the Order of Service to Masonry. Likewise in Royal Arch, where he came into Ceres Chapter at the beginning, becoming first principal in 1959 and following various Provincial honours he became Provincial Grand Superintendent in 1981.
In 1964 Paul Peter Paull becomes the first principal of Ceres Chapter and would go on to be Assistant to the Grand Superintendent and attain grand rank as Past Assistant Grand Sojourner. In total Ceres Chapter produced eight grand officers, the last of whom Kenneth Watson is now an honorary member. Ceres Chapter has had a rich and meaningful history, closure is a sad occasion, but it is also a celebration of 72 illustrious years of a fine and very distinguished chapter, and it is heartening to know all are continuing with Royal Arch Masonry in other chapters.