Jasper Tudor on the Road 1/15
This is my first installment of our travels around this and other Provinces with either the Craft or Royal Arch Chapter in mind.
This weekend, it was the turn of the Royal Air Force Lodge, or to give it its warranted title Innsworth Lodge No. 8751 in the Province of Gloucestershire. Why this Lodge? Well I did contact the Royal Air Force Lodge who meet at the Freemasons Hall in London, only to have contact back informing me that this and the attached Royal Arch Chapter are for Commissioned Officers only, me I’m ‘just’ a Gunner. However they were kind enough to inform the Armed Forces Lodge Secretary of my enquiry, and about the Innsworth Lodge, so dates of meetings ensued.
Saturday 24th January 2015, W. Bro R Thompson, W. Bro T Rising, W. Bro M. and myself headed to Gloucester. Upon arrival, you are immediately struck by the age of the building. It is one of Gloucester’s historic buildings, which now finds itself nestled in between bigger, and less attractive structures like most towns and cities with aspirations of modern urban greatness. We left at 3pm, in order to arrive relaxed ready for Tyling at 4:30pm. A change into our regalia, was the first new experience I had here, they had separate signed rooms for masons to change into their regalia, they were, non-master masons, Master Masons, Past WMs, Prov’ Officers and Grand Officers, which was all the more special as the building was small, almost warren-like.
Dressed and eager to introduce ourselves, not only as visitors from Wales, we had an active Prov’ Officer with us in W. Bro Roger, so he needed the appropriate observations paid to him. Luckily for us, W. Bro Martin was actually a member of this Lodge so he kindly did the honours for all of us. I had the honour to meet another RAF Regiment (Rtd) member who had ‘been out’ for 65 years, which makes my mere 19 years seem insignificant, but what a gent.
With Lodge now Tyled, the business began. From beginning to end the ritual that occurred was sublime, and delivered in a very relaxed and humorous way, which was ‘different’ but pleasing on the eyes and ears. We were honoured to witness a 3rd Degree Ceremony delivered to a Lewis, whose Father, a Grand Officer W. Bro Peter Brindle PGSB Raised him, and was presented with his Grandfathers MM Apron to conclude this great family occasion.
Throughout this ceremony and the normal Lodge business, you cannot ignore the Temple and its apparent age. The whole room was lined with black timber cladding, it had a huge vaulted ceiling supported throughout with Tudor style timber beams also painted in black, and that which was not black was white wash, truly giving you the feeling of being present in a medieval banquet or council chamber to the King. During the period of darkness during the ceremony, it was truly dark, pitch black, a cold draft ebbed from the vaulted ceiling and the natural gaps of this old building. Instead of the modern lights at the WM and his S and J Wardens, they had real candles throughout, and that burning wax smell added even more romance and historic sentiment to the proceedings.
After the 3rd Degree Ceremony and the rest of the Lodge meeting agenda was complete, the Lodge was closed in order to admit non-masons into the Temple.
On this occasion, their 200th Regular Meeting, they held a ‘Gentlemen’s Evening’, where they welcomed friends and the masonically curious to join the brethren who were still in full regalia for a presentation by W. Bro Peter Brindle PGSB on ‘what is Freemasonry?’ Hi s presentation educated the gentlemen on such areas as Temple furniture, symbols within a Lodge, the history of its evolvement from the stonemasons of ancient times to todays free and accepted masons aswell as the creation of the United Grand Lodge of England. He completed his presentation to the gentlemen and masons alike with an overview of all the Masonic Aprons including those of side degrees and others he could beg, steal or borrow for the presentation, and we were treated to a Scottish Order apron and a magnificently decorated Chinese Master Masons Apron.
The presentation and Lodge coming to a close, we retired to the after proceedings that again didn’t disappoint. There were the usual celebrations, toasts and raffles, albeit they had different methods. After dining had finished it was pleasant to sing the National Anthem alongside our non-masonic diners who thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
I can say, and I know I speak to the three other Monmouthshire Masons who attended that this was a thoroughly enjoyable ‘long’ day, with great ritual and great professionalism matched by great humour and a sense of welcoming. We will be going back and I encourage others to join us.
In the short term, we were so impressed by their Craft Lodge, that we are this year going to return to their Royal Arch Chapter. If you are interested in joining us on this next occasion, or wish to join us on our other travels please contact the Jasper Tudor Charity Steward on firstname.lastname@example.org or keep an eye out on Twitter, on our Jasper Tudor account or the account of the Province of Monmouthshire
‘ A perambulating Brother’