The Provincial Grand Chapter of Durham held a special convocation on Friday 18th November at the Masonic Hall, Alexandra Road, Gateshead. For this meeting 12 companions from The Provincial Grand Chapter of Bristol including their Grand Superintendent EComp Alan Vaughan travelled to Durham where they were accommodated overnight at a local hotel.
Having set off at 6.30am they arrived in Gateshead at 1pm where they immediately proceeded to 'ransack' the Chapter Room which had been carefully set up in the Durham format, before practicing their ceremonial making a few adjustments to fit into the Gateshead building. All Lodges and Chapters in the Province of Bristol meet in one city centre Masonic Hall.
It was only earlier this year when Supreme Grand Chapter authorised the demonstration of the unique Bristol ceremony and this was the first time in over 200 years it was performed outside of the Province of Bristol. Much of the equipment including a series of coloured "veils" had been specially constructed by the Bristol Companions for the occasion. Durham's Past Deputy GSupt Derek Warneford was the lead Durham organiser of the occasion and he evidenced skills akin to ‘Blue Peter’ in constructing a pair of white pillars made from MDF, carpet inner rolls, 2 footballs and copious amounts of mastic and emulsion paint!
By 6pm when the Provincial Grand Chapter of Durham Officers of the year and Officers of Supreme Grand Chapter had processed to their places the main Lodge room at Gateshead was full for this ‘sell out’ occasion. After a short historic introduction by their Grand Superintendent the Bristol Demonstration Team entered and gave an excellent demonstration of ‘The Passing of the Veils and a Bristol Exaltation Ceremony’ with a Chapter of Industry No. 48 Companion, Ian Knighting acting as the candidate. This was a challenging role as the exaltee had questions to answer on the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason degrees as he passed through a series of veils towards the Chapter room and exaltation ceremony. It was a further challenge as Knighting is clearly an uncommon name in the South West and Ian answered questions without hesitation no matter what name he was given!
The 120+ Durham Companions present were then entertained by an extremely well delivered exaltation ceremony. They noticed significant differences between the Durham and Bristol ceremonies, perhaps the most significant was the absence of any lectures. In Bristol most of the information in our lectures is delivered within the main body of their exaltation ceremonial.
The Provincial Convocation was followed by a 4 course meal and in fitting with the convivial nature of the evening the toasts were announced by EComp Stephen White, ProvGDC of Bristol leaving our own ProvGDC EComp John Watts only to introduce the Grand Superintendent of Bristol when he responded to the visitors toast. During his response EComp Vaughan presented a set of Bristol Cufflinks to the Grand Superintendent, Provincial Principals, Director of Ceremonies and the representative candidate EComp Ian Knighting for their assistance in making the evening such a success.