Icknield Chapter was consecrated on Wednesday 26th May 1926 at the Icknield Halls, Eastcheap, Letchworth Garden City by the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent, Comp Charles Edward Keyser.
Icknield Lodge was the sponsoring Lodge for the new Chapter but the initial petition to form a new Chapter was rejected by Supreme Grand Chapter on 9th October 1925, as the Lodge had only been consecrated on 18th February 1925 and it was considered a premature application. At that time, the only alternative for North Hertfordshire Craft Masons to join the Royal Arch was to be exalted into Cecil Chapter No449, but as this Chapter had a steady stream of applications for exaltation from other Lodges, Brethren from Icknield, Dacre & Royston Lodges’ had little opportunity to become Companions without a long delay to their progression. With these circumstances in mind, the Provincial Grand Scribe E, E Comp Rev Dr O C Cockrem again petitioned Supreme Grand Chapter and the new petition was granted on 3rd February 1926.
At the Convocation immediately following the Consecration Convocation, only 9 Companions were present but the membership increased quickly with the Chapter undertaking 3 exaltations at each subsequent meeting.
After the Second World War, membership of the Chapter had fallen to 34 but it steadily increased over the years and by 1976, its 50th anniversary year, it had increased to 58 Companions. The move to the Cloisters Masonic Centre at Letchworth came in September 1955 and E Comp T B Baintridge was chiefly responsible for the move.
A number of family connections existed and still exist within the Chapter and present members, Comps Tony Nott, exalted 11th April 1973 and Clive Nott, exalted 12th December 1973 were present at the 50th Anniversary Convocation to witness their Father being installed as the Third Principal of the Chapter. Also present at that celebration were E Comp Anthony Matthews, exalted 8th December 1965 and now an Honorary member of the Chapter, who was installed as the Second Principal of the Chapter and Comp Donald Beets, exalted 14th April 1971, who was invested as the First Assistant Sojourner.
The author of this memoir, E Comp David Bratley, exalted 11th December 1985, well remembers the Symbolical Lecture being presented by one of the outstanding ritualists within the Chapter, E Comp Doug Nicholls and the Exclamation by E Comp Keith Townsend was well remembered by many Companions, including his Father E Comp Vic Townsend, as he forgot the “Scroll”!
In recent years, the membership had seriously diminished, as had the enthusiasm to recruit and deliver new exaltees to the Chapter and therefore after much discussion and consultation, it was decided to close the Chapter and surrender its’ Charter in its’ 96th year.
Wednesday 30th June 2021
Last Regular and Closing Convocation
On Wednesday 30th June 2021, the Deputy Grand Superintendent, E Comp David Hampton accompanied by the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, E Comp James Angus, joined the Companions of the Chapter and Guests to celebrate its’ last regular and final convocation. Owing to the ongoing pandemic restrictions, no Chapter ‘ regalia & ornaments could be worn or used during the ceremony and social distancing was maintained throughout the occasion.
The Deputy Grand Superintendent accepted from the First Principal of the Chapter, E Comp Rodney Cole, the Chair and symbolically the Sceptre. The Deputy Grand Superintendent then gave an address as to the purpose of the Convocation.
After the address, the Deputy Grand Superintendent presided over the business of the Chapter before inviting E Comp David Bratley, to deliver a short history of the Chapter (refer to the editorial above).
After a prayer read by E Comp Mark Adams, Third Principal of the Chapter, the meeting was concluded with the “Surrender of the Charter”. The Deputy Grand Superintendent thanked the Companions of the Chapter, past & present, for the valuable contribution they had made to the maintenance and advancement of Royal Arch Masonry in general and the Province of Hertfordshire and Icknield Chapter Nº 4670 in particular. The Deputy Grand Superintendent thanked the members of the Chapter for all their hard work and dedication and that he looked forward to their continuing their membership in other Chapters, within the Province of Happy Hertfordshire.
In all, 16 Companions were in attendance and enjoyed a sad but joyous occasion, celebrating 95 years of Royal Arch Masonry in Icknield Chapter, that had had many successful and vibrant convocations over many years enjoyed by many present & past Companions.
Again, with reference to the Government & Supreme Grand Chapter Covid-19 restrictions, a fish & chip supper was enjoyed in the bar following the meeting, and that too was enjoyed by all. By way of this editorial, the Deputy Grand Superintendent, E Comp David Hampton would like to acknowledge and thank E Comp’s Graham Draper, Don Dodkin and David Bratley for their valuable assistance and to the Provincial Grand Scribe E, E Comp David Broomer, for his wise words and council in the period leading up to the convocation.