Abbots Hall Chapter No. 6205 is back in business. It was Consecrated in December 1948, the year when the cheese ration was cut but the milk ration was increased from 2½ to 3½ pints per week. Hugh Gaitskell, the Fuel Minister, rationed motorists to 90 miles per month and a dock workers strike caused the meat ration to be decreased to 6d (2½ new pence) a week for both fresh and tinned meat. The Government declared a state of emergency deploying the Army to control and operate the docks and the National Health Service was born
Moving on 73 years, an Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals, David Wilson, was delighted to be at Upminster Masonic Hall on Tuesday 16th November 2021 when 27 Companions of Abbots Hall Chapter held their first Convocation in almost two years. Whilst the Agenda was mainly administration based the unspoken item was to get back together, honour their late departed Companions and enjoy meeting once again followed by a sumptuous Chapter Banquet to put back on some of the pounds lost during lockdown.
David Wilson said 'The meeting typified what our Fraternity is about. Coming together as friends, enjoying each other’s company, renewing friendships, giving to good causes and parting with smiles and handshakes'.
A ballot proved in favour of two joining members including Bob Baldwin, a Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies, who was immediately appointed Director of Ceremonies. A Supreme Grand Chapter Certificate was presented by David to the Chapter’s newest Exaltee who had been waiting two years to receive it. He will find plenty of inspiration from his fellow Companions including John Helliar, a Past Assistant Grand Sojourner, A New Chapter For An Essex Mason (essexroyalarch.org.uk) and Assistants to the Provincial Grand Principals John Crudgington and Bruce Mapson.
In addition to everyone enjoying themselves there is a profound focus on Charity among the Companions having raised £6,933 for the Essex 2022 Festival for which David Wilson was delighted to present a Platinum Certificate to the Chapter and commented 'This is an outstanding achievement as the Chapter has continued to support the Festival as well as local Charities and the Companions are donating through their Lodges as well'.
Abbots Hall Chapter is fortunate in having an exemplary Charity Steward who leads from the front. Frank Sharp, also a Past Assistant Grand Sojourner, helped set up the Yvonne Jean Stewart Charitable Trust (YJS) which has raised in the region of £500,000 to help the British Lung Foundation, the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity and the Saint Francis Hospice. Although these days Frank is no longer involved with the YJS, he raises around £10,000 each year, thanks to the generosity of mainly Essex Brethren, selling unwanted Masonic items online for the Saint Francis and Farleigh Hospices.
Frank Sharp thoroughly enjoys the whole Royal Arch ceremony. He explained: 'Its colour, its story line, the interaction between the First Principal and the Principal Sojourner and the fact that the three Principals work together as a team is what makes it to me the highlight of pure ancient Freemasonry'. Frank summed up by saying that he could not be as succinct as Laurence Dermott, the Grand Secretary of the Antient’s Grand Lodge, who described the Royal Arch in the 1750s as the 'Root, heart and marrow of Masonry'.