St Thomas of Acon - Province of Wessex

RWGP Provincial Address 2016

The Grand Preceptor’s Council of the Province of Wessex, held on  Saturday 18th June 2016, at the Masonic Hall, Nailsea.


Grand Preceptor’s Address 


It is now my pleasure to address you at this our fifth meeting of the Grand Preceptor’s Council since the Constitution four years ago, and to offer a warm welcome to you all, whether as a member of a Chapel in Wessex or as a visitor. This is now the third year we have held the Grand Preceptor’s Council during the month of June in Nailsea and by the number of Sir Knights here today it is proving to be a popular choice. Hopefully, we will be able to add a second row of chairs in the coming years.

Well, what another splendid year it has been. Not only have we seen a gradual increase in numbers but we have seen a coming together within the Province of the revised ritual.  I am extremely pleased with the way ceremonies are now being conducted, with everyone learning their ritual and in particular the scripture pieces in the closing. In fact one Installation of a Worthy Master was such a master class that I wish I could have bottled it to show the other Chapels. I congratulate and thank all those Sir Knights who have made the effort and lifted the standards within the Province.

On Saturday 19th December, last year, whilst attending the installation of Sir Trevor of Victoria as Right Worthy Grand Preceptor of Greater London, Sir Ian of Widcombe our Right Eminent Provincial Grand Prior was pleasantly surprised by the Right Worthy Grand Master, Sir Melvin of Wud Plumpton KH, who conferred on him the Grand Master’s Award. Then on Tuesday 10th May, this year, Sir Melvin visited the Province, with his Grand Team, and presented Sir Ian with his Grand Master’s Award Certificate, whilst at the Reginald Fitzjocelyn Chapel in Bath.  This indeed is a great honour for Sir Ian, who with very severe health problems, which restricted him from driving for twelve months, continued to carry out his duties for the Province and the Order in general, by attending all the meetings within and many outside the Province.  This award is solely the decision of the Grand Master and it is only the second time it has been used.  Congratulations, once again, Sir Ian.

In addition to the official duties within the Province, I and members of the Executive have been representing the Province at other Grand Preceptor’s Councils within the United Kingdom.  We have had a presence at Central Midlands, , East Anglia, East Midlands, Hampshire and Isle of Wight, Lancashire, South East Counties,  South Wales and the West Country where Sir Derek of Churston was installed as the new RWGrand Preceptor The only Provinces not visited during the year have been Cheshire and North Wales, Greater London and Yorkshire and NE Counties . We hope to rectify that this year.

There were a number of members of the Province at the Grand Council meeting on 29th December 2015 to see four of our Worthy Knights appointed to a Grand Rank.  They are:

Sir Terence of Dryslwyn the Provincial Assistant Grand Marshal was re-appointed as Deputy Grand Marshal

Sir Wayne of Waunarlwydd was re-appointed to Grand Warden of Regalia, having been appointed in Sept.

Sir Brian of Melksham, Provincial Grand Marshal, received Past Assistant Grand Marshal on his first appointment and,

Sir Stephen of Locking Stumps received Past Grand Herald, on his first appointment.

I am sure you will agree that these appointments and promotions can only reflect honour on the Province and I therefore offer my congratulations to those Sir Knights.

Once again, I have had wonderful support from the Right Eminent Provincial Grand Prior and the Executive and we would like to offer our congratulations to those honoured with a first appointment or re-appointment today.  These are well deserved for continuous hard work and commitment for the benefit of the Province and the Order, and are not awarded lightly. Due to the nature of the Order being small in number, and the early formation of the Province so soon after the consecration of the Chapels, it has been necessary to retain Provincial Officers over a two year period.  So, theoretically, we are into our third set of appointments and welcome a new team of Officers.  I hope you will enjoy your new positions and will fulfil your duties whenever possible.

Throughout the year we have had a steady influx of new Knights into the Province. However, we have also lost some of our members through ill health or financial difficulties and our numbers are still hovering below the one hundred mark. This has caused roughly half the Chapels to fall dangerously low in numbers to such an extent that we have had to have discussions as to the way forward.  I am pleased to say that these discussions have proved helpful and the situations in those Chapels are starting to improve. But, we must not be complacent, and every effort should continue to be made to encourage suitable Knights of the Temple to join this unique English Christian Order.

With regard to progression through the ranks in a Chapel there is no official order. Because of the uniqueness of the ritual anyone can be chosen Master on the day of Installation and then he will chose his officers. However, in relation to the position of Sentry, whose duty it is to prepare candidates, I feel that the system now being used by placing a junior member, or in some cases the last member, in this post is impractical and unfair.  I therefore suggest that the Chapels look to appointing a past Worthy Master as Sentry thereby giving experience and stability to that very important position.

Can I, once again, bring to your attention to the splendid work carried out by Sir Geoffrey of Esplavis in creating and looking after our Provincial Website, the address of which is  Websites are only as current and as good as the information put into them. It is your website for your use and I urge everyone to make full use of the service, for which you are paying. The latest items posted on the website are the Installations of four new Worthy Masters and the presentation to Sir Ian of Widcombe in Bath by the Grand Master.

Today, we had the dedication of our sixth Chapel banner, the Saint Martin of Tours Chapel No.114.  The banner pole and stand were made and provided by Sir Christopher of Kingskerwell PPrGBB, who has made all of the poles and stands for the Chapels and the Province, including the sword stand.  Unfortunately, Sir Christopher has been unwell for sometime and cannot be here today but I am informed that he is now back at work and on the road to better health.  I wish him a speedy recovery and to thank Sir Christopher for his craftsmanship and generosity in making and providing the equipment.

Before closing I wish to inform you of the forthcoming Provincial Charity Luncheon.  This is to be held here at Nailsea on Sunday 9th October at 12.30pm.  As you know we have held this Luncheon for our Ladies and friends for the past two years and in order to raise monies for the 2016 Canterbury Cathedral Festival. It proved to be very popular and a huge success, especially in relation to raising £1000 towards the Charity. So once again we are having the Luncheon. Please come along with your wives, partners, family and friends and make it a joyous occasion, whereby we can enjoy each other’s company and at the same time raise more money for our Charitable causes. Details will be sent out by the Chapel Secretaries in due course.

Finally, I must express my heartfelt thanks to the members of the Executive, particularly the Provincial Grand Secretary Sir Julian of Treverbyn, the Provincial  Grand Treasurer Sir Michael of Akrotiri and the Provincial Deputy Grand Secretary Sir Andrew of Milton for all their preparations in bringing about today’s Council Meeting - not to mention Sir Terence of Dryslwyn DepGMar who has stood down as Provincial Grand Marshal to allow others to progress. Sir Terence has been a tower of strength in assisting me to shape the Province into a cohesive order.  His knowledge of ritual and procedure in the Province is second to none and he has gone about his duty with a firm resolve and a smile on his lips.  His commitment to duty has been unswerving and I thank him for all his help. Special thanks also go to Sir Colin of Trealaw for his help with the Temple and Dining Seating Plans etc. and to the Knights of the Chapel of King Ina No.102 for kindly hosting our meeting today. This is very much appreciated. 

Thank you Sir Knights for your attendance here today and your kind attention.

God bless you all.