E Comp Peter Jordan SLGCR reports.

I first had the pleasure of visiting Royal Alfred Chapter No. 780 in 2003, experiencing a very warm ambience during the meeting and a very jovial Festive Board so I was delighted to receive an invitation from the chapter’s First Principal E Comp Wayne Hirst, PGStB to attend the Centenary meeting on 24th February 2020.

In the presence of 56 Companions the Convocation received a procession including former Deputy Metropolitan Grand Superintendent E Comp Chris Frankland, PGSN and former Assistant Metropolitan Grand Superintendent E Comp Ian Currans, PGSwdB together with four Metropolitan Grand Inspectors. The Principals then received Assistant Metropolitan Grand Superintendent E Comp The Reverend Timothy L’Estrange, PGSwdB and his escorting party.

Chapter Scribe E, E Comp Derek Muston, PGStB read the consecrating minutes of the Chapter on the 17th December 1919. E Comp Hirst presented a history of the Chapter which opened with the background of Royal Alfred Lodge No.1082 consecrated in 1844 and named after H.R.H. Prince Alfred, a privilege to be allowed to use the word ‘Royal’ in the Lodge title, unlikely to be granted today. The Lodge was renumbered in 1863 to Royal Alfred Lodge No.780, the Lodge crest being a well-known statue of King Alfred the Great. In 1926 the Chapter moved to the Star and Garter Hotel at Kew. In 1929 it was recorded the widow of E Comp Markham was awarded five guineas from the Chapter funds to assist her son to complete his schooling.

During the war years, the morning meetings were held at Freemasons Hall with lunchtime dining. In 1947 the Chapter changed its venue to the Greyhound Hotel, Richmond. In 1953, due to increased costs, the Chapter moved back to the Star and Garter Hotel, Kew. In 1997 the West London Masonic Centre became the Chapter’s home. In 2000 the Chapter merged with Think and Thank Chapter No. 4112 receiving 14 joining Companions. During its first 100 years, the Chapter has exalted 151 Companions into the Royal Arch. E Comp L’Estrange then read and presented the Chapter with a letter from the Metropolitan Grand Superintendent, E Comp Sir Michael Snyder, expressing his congratulations on the Chapter’s centenary.

Introduced by Metropolitan Grand Inspector E Comp Simon White PGSoj, the convocation then received an explanation of the two Holy Royal Arch Tracing Boards from a Metropolitan Stewards’ Demonstration Team which included: E Comps Howard Jones, Geoffrey Hough, Mick Scotchmer and Wayne Hirst. These were very informative and educational. At the conclusion, warm applause greeted the excellence of the presentation.

The Principals congratulated the Escorting Officer E Comp Robert Lakic, GStB on the excellent duty he had performed on very his last appointment as Deputy Metropolitan Grand Director of Ceremonies before his investiture as a Metropolitan Grand Inspector at the Metropolitan Grand Chapter Annual Meeting on 13th May.

At the Festive Board attendees were warned by E Comp L’Estrange that “Lent was soon to be upon us, so party hard tonight”. Adding to the previous history of the Chapter he explained the network of four ‘Royal’ Lodges founded by Brother Joseph Smith; a dedicated Freemason initiated into Albion Lodge No.9 and the first serving Master of Domatic Lodge No.177. He was devoted to the Royal family and Queen Victoria. Bro Joseph died before Royal Alfred Chapter was formed and consecrated. Had he not done so, he may have been the Primus First Principal. His loyalty to the Crown, to the Craft and the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch may inspire us still today.

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 40 April 2020 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.

Read more articles in the Arena Issue 40 here.