At Woodgrange Drive Masonic Centre on Wednesday the 5th May 1982, after the Shoeburyness Chapter No. 6665 had finished its meeting and festive board, a number of Companions had retired to the bar, where they met fellow Masons from Albert Lucking Lodge No. 2717 who had just finished their Lodge of Instruction.
Both parties were well known to each other as Members of Shoeburyness and Albert Lucking Lodges had been inter-visiting over the years.
A young Master
During the course of conversation Robert Mount enquired why is it that the Albert Lucking Lodge being one of the oldest Lodges in the Province of Essex, has not got its own Chapter?
The then current ‘Young’ Master John Jones, along with other members of the Lodge who were there could give no definitive answer, so John was elected by those present to write to the Provincial Office to enquire how and what was required to form a Royal Arch Chapter to be affiliated to their Lodge.
A young Master
John’s secretarial skills were sadly lacking and so his wife Janet who was a competent typist offered to help and between them they compiled a letter to the Provincial Grand Secretary, at the time Laurie K. Corbett.
He duly replied, that a resolution must be passed in open lodge supporting the formation of new Chapter to be attached to the Lodge; and stated that a sponsoring Chapter would also be needed, together with a minimum of 13 Companions to fill the various Offices, and a Venue to meet.
At the Albert Lucking Lodge Meeting on the 15th October 1983, W. Bro. Bob Green proposed and W. Bro. Arthur Noble seconded that the Lodge support the formation of a Chapter to be attached to the lodge, which was duly passed.
Shoeburyness Chapter immediately offered to act as sponsor, and between the Companions in Shoeburyness Chapter and those in Albert Lucking Lodge, enough eager people were found to fill all the relevant positions.
W. Bro. John Jones then asked E. Comp. Fred Steed to take up the mantle of secretary and act on behalf of the Petitioners and assist in the formation of the new Chapter.
After several meetings at the Provincial Office at Gants Hill - nearly three years of correspondence - a restructuring of the intended founders and their roles - and two Provincial Grand Secretaries later, the consecration date was finally announced as the 4th February 1985 provided that we agreed to meet at Rochford Masonic Hall.
Rochford Masonic Hall
During that time E. Comp. Bob Green who going to be the first MEZ of the Chapter sadly passed away, and as a tribute to his memory it was felt fitting that his name remain on the Warrant as Founding First Principal of the Chapter.
After taking advice from the Province, E. Comp. Edward (Ted) Weight, who tyled for quite a few lodges and was a Janitor for many Chapters that met at Woodgrange Drive, was put forward as a person who was interested in becoming a founder of the Chapter and he took over the role of First Principal Elect.
Comp. Norman Aereoff who was going to be the founding Treasurer withdrew from the number of petitioners also, and his position was filled by an eager young mason Comp. Robert Mount, and so the stage was finally set and…
As mentioned earlier in this story the Chapter was to be consecrated and meet at Rochford Masonic Hall although behind the scenes the petitioners were striving for the consecration to take place at the current home of the Lodge namely Freemasons Hall, Woodgrange Drive. Reluctantly, the Grand Superintendent did not agree and insisted on Rochford where during Monday, 4th February 1985 the consecration took place.
The Ritual originally chosen was Complete Working, mainly because the Director of Ceremonies, E. Comp. Ernie Houghton was a keen ritualist, who reckoned that it was the only one that made sense; the only problem being was that no one else knew it, and so embarked a very steep learning curve at the Chapter of Improvement!
Regrettably after E. Comp. Houghton’s death in January 1987, the Chapter reverted to Aldersgate Ritual as the majority of the members were using it in their mother Chapters.
The Chapter therefore began its three meetings each year at the Rochford Masonic Hall for the first couple of years anyway -This was not the end of the story as the now ‘members’ of the Chapter decided to move to Woodgrange Drive and where during Monday 2nd February 1987 the first meeting at Woodgrange Drive took place.
This Action incurred great displeasure with the then Grand Superintendent and Provincial Executive, and the Chapter was told it would have to suffer the consequences of its action. This took the form of many years of isolation being denied any official visits from the Province. The Chapter however continued to grow from strength to strength becoming a very active and respected unit and in time was re-established with regular visits by the Province.
Following the closure and sale of Freemasons Hall, Woodgrange Drive in 2006 the Chapter moved to the new Masonic Venue at Saxon Hall, Aviation Way, Southend where we continue to meet today.