For this our first Jasper Tudor on the road installment, we the brethren of Jasper Tudor, ventured ‘across the bridge’ for a two site visit.
Worshipful Brothers Haydn Bishop and Andrew Murphy, and two others left the principality prompt at 0830hrs and our first stop was the ruins of Keynsham Abbey, just to the east of Bristol. For those unaware, Keynsham Abbey was the last resting place of Jasper Tudor. Albeit, we assumed Keynsham Abbey was going to be a shell of its former glorious self, it was safe to say that it had been desecrated beyond all recognition. Over time, residential properties have been developed on and around the Abbey grounds, but worse still, a by-pass had literally been laid across the Abbey footprint with only a few boundary and internal walls in situ. We took a few moments to reflect upon what at one stage must have been a glorious site to behold, and a truly fitting location that would have been demanded by the Tudor Family for a burial of one of their own.
With a truly limited area to survey, we headed off to our second and main destination of the day, the Downend Masonic Hall. Downend Masonic Hall, like many Masonic Halls, pays host to a number of Craft Lodges as well as other Orders within Freemasonry for the Province of Gloucestershire. On this occasion, we were visiting the Lodge of Seafarers No. 9589, where our great friend and former Jasper Tudor member Jonathan Bright, is a stalwart member and assists the steering of this masonic ship from the office of Junior Warden. We specifically attended this day, over any other in the calendar, as this was the Trafalgar themed meeting. Trafalgar themed evening is the afternoon where the Lodge of Seafarers acknowledges and pays tribute to the last battle of Lord Trafalgar on 21st October 1805.
What a day, the Lodge was tyled at 1200hrs prompt, and those members of the Lodge wore naval uniforms of differing areas of maritime work. The Royal Navy, Merchant Navy, Auxiliary Navy and Royal Marines were complemented by non-naval members who were in their usual dark suits, and looked as smart as smart as the military member to their sides. We were privileged to witness the Lodge conduct its usual proceedings with their individual tweak of maritime brilliance, from the rhythm of the opening ode, to the wearing of a Midshipman’s Dirk (sword) by the Inner Guard and the actual locking of the doorway every time there was a communication between the IG and Tyler. Midway through proceedings we were pleasantly surprised to hear a regular installment of a section named ‘Nautical History’. On this occasion, one of their brethren read a detailed description of, and historical recollections of ‘salted beef’. You may ask, how can stories of preserved meat be so interesting and amusing, but I will refrain from answering this so as not to ruin any future visits, but will inform you that this story, and others from their Nautical History range are worth the visit alone.
We were also privileged to witness two Brothers being passed to the Degree of Fellowcraft, and immediately afterward, our friend Brother Jonathan Bright gave a word perfect Explanation of the Working Tools.
We were also sad to hear of the loss of one of their number, we then heard a eulogy of the late Worshipful Brother Tony ‘Frank’ Howarth. Sorely missed by all who knew him.
It was then time for the dining element, which was looked forward too as much as the preceding ceremony. It started with a ‘tot of rum’ upon entering the dining room in true naval tradition. Dining was very fulfilling an plenty of it, and as well as the usual donations and raffle ticket purchasing, was a blank envelope for an extra raffle of a bottle of whisky, another stalwart extra at the Seafarers as well as the passing round of a RNLI Lifeboat shaped donations box for your change ‘for all lost and distressed sailors’.
After the toasts, and the National Anthem (not sung upstairs) we were treated to a loud rendition of The Visitors Song, and an equally loud Tyler’s Song to round of the wonderful visit.
A successful first ‘Jasper Tudor on the road’ visit doesn’t quite portray the enjoyment had by us all, and we have already started discussions for our return for next years Trafalgar Theme Night, and if it wasn’t obvious, I thoroughly recommend to you all to visit this wonderful Craft Lodge with a twist of naval nostalgia thrown in.
Finally, we would like to thank all the brethren of the Lodge of Seafarers for their welcome and hospitality, and especially their Worshipful Master who we have invited on behalf of our Worship Master to join us one night at our Lodge festivities.
Pictured above are the Master and Wardens of the Lodge of Seafarers, SW (left) Bro. Steve Case, WM WB Ken Willes, JW Jonathan Bright, flanked by W. Bro. Andrew Murphy and W. Bro. Haydn Bishop.
This article courtesy of a perambulating Jasper Tudor Brother