As with many chapters, there is often an association with a lodge from whom the chapter takes its name and number, and conceivably was founded by members of that lodge. In this case, De Grey and Ripon Chapter No 1356, shares the same number as another lodge of the Mersey Valley Group, Toxteth Lodge No 1356 but not the same name.
George Frederick Samuel Robinson, first Marquess of Ripon, is an interesting character worthy of further study and has the distinction of having been born in 10 Downing Street, London, to then Prime Minister, Frederick John Robinson, Lord Goderich in 1827. Lord Goderich, who until recent times was remembered for his very short tenure as Prime Minister serving only 144 days in office.
George, on his father’s death, became the second Earl of Ripon in 1859, and then succeeding his uncle the Earl De Grey, a little later in the same year, became known as the Earl De Grey and Ripon. George served many high offices of state including Viceroy of India, and First Lord of the Admiralty. From a Masonic viewpoint, he was Provincial Grand Master of West Riding, Deputy Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England from 1861 to 1869, becoming Grand Master in 1870.
Toxteth Lodge was consecrated in 1871 as De Grey and Ripon Lodge No 1356. The resignation of the Grand Master in 1874 following his conversion to Catholicism, appears to have had some effect on the lodge and in 1882 changed its name to Toxteth Lodge. The chapter which was consecrated in 1876 appears to have decided to continue with its original name and remains to this day proud to bear the name of De Grey and Ripon Chapter.
The present home of the chapter is Woolton Golf Club, Liverpool, and the three principals Stephen White, Graham Fairley and Keith Lindsay welcomed guests and companions to the chapter room and opened the chapter in fine form in a demonstration of the excellent ritual that was to follow.
Director of ceremonies, Steven Williams, retired for a short period and on entering the chapter announced that the principal guest, Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals John Murphy, stood without. First principal Stephen announced that the chapter would be honoured to receive him, and all stood as a procession consisting of acting Provincial Grand Steward Paul Brunskill, acting Provincial Standard Bearer Mark Mellor, Mersey Valley Group Vice Chairman John Gibbon and Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals John Murphy, entered the chapter and was formally welcomed by Stephen.
Assistant director of ceremonies David Spear collected Albert Hogg and presented him as third principal elect to third principal, Keith Lindsay. Albert as a past third principal, confirmed his obligation and the scripture reading for a third principal was given by John Murphy.
First principal Stephen, then requested Mike Fox to occupy the chair of the third principal for an interim period. David Spear then collected Keith Lindsay and presented him to second principal Graham Fairley. Keith recited his obligation perfectly and having been duly obligated, the scripture reading of a second principal was given by Mark Mellor.
First principal Stephen requested John Gibbon to occupy the chair of a second principal for an interim period, with David Spear collecting Graham Fairley who this time was presented to director of ceremonies, Steven Williams, as first principal elect. Graham following suit with the other principals also recited his obligation perfectly and having been duly obligated, the scripture reading to a first principal was given by Paul Brunskill.
A conclave of installed first principals was declared and Graham was installed as first principal in excellent form. Swiftly followed by a conclave of second principals, it was the turn of Keith Lindsay to be installed as second principal, which was performed perfectly by Graham. Finally, Albert Hogg was installed as third principal assisted by Keith Lindsay.
Graham invested Stephen as the immediate past principal, who in turn delivered the scarlet robe address, it was then Graham’s turn to perform the purple robe address to second principal Keith. Peter Dodd then rose and gave the address to the three principals, which was followed by third principal Albert Hogg, who gave the address to the officers. The standard of ritual delivery was second to none, by all who took part.
The installation being complete, principal guest John Murphy gave the congratulations of the Grand Superintendent Mark Matthews to the three principals, immediate past principal, director of ceremonies, Steven, and assistant David for their fine work in an impressive installation ceremony thanking all of the companions who had taken part.
As he retired, first principal asked John to accept on behalf of the chapter a cheque to honour the charities. John thanked the chapter for their very generous donation of £200 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity.
The chapter business being concluded and closed, the companions and guests retired to the dining room at Woolton Golf Club for the festive board and to continue the celebrations of the new principals. Amongst the many toasts, John Murphy in response to the toast to grand officers, brought his own personal thanks to the three principals and wished them all a very successful year, thanking acting companions Mark Mellor and Paul Brunskill for accompanying him to the chapter in support.
In response to the toast to the health of the guests, Ian Mair of Dundas Royal Arch Chapter No 497, Grangemouth, Scotland, brought congratulations from the companions ‘north’ of the border, and on behalf of all the guests, commented on what a fantastic ceremony had been enjoyed by all, and extended an invitation for the principals and companions who would be welcome at Dundas Royal Arch Chapter any time.
With a busy year ahead for De Grey and Ripon Chapter, the continuation of the chapter history appears assured, and the three principals look forward to playing a part in that journey.
Story by Mike Fox.