Provincial Visit to the Province of Bristol

On 28th March 2024 an entourage of Hertfordshire Companions, accompanied the Deputy Grand Superintendent E.Comp. David Hampton and the 2nd Provincial Grand Principal E.Comp. Robert Asser to St. Augustine Royal Arch Chapter No. 3108 meeting at Freemasons’ Hall, Park Street, in the Province of Bristol, to witness a Ceremony of Exaltation including the Ceremony of the Veils. On arrival they were met with a very warm welcome and given a guided tour of the Grade II* listed building which has been the permanent home for Bristol Freemasonry since 1871. The building is impressive and is the meeting place for every Lodge and Chapter in the Province.

Following the tour the Companions took their place in the Temple and were welcomed by the Principals of the Chapter and warmly greeted by the 2nd and 3rd Provincial Grand Principals of the Province of Bristol who were in attendance. We all then witnessed a ceremony quite unlike any other that most had ever seen before. Almost everything was different, including the ballot for the Candidate, and yet the familiarity of the Royal Arch story was unfolded in an impressive and dramatic ceremony performed by the Principals, Scribes and Sojourners of the Chapter with great aplomb.

Before the candidate could be exalted, he had to pass through the ‘much anticipated’ ceremony of the veils to which our travelling Companions were given ‘ringside’ seats. Having thoroughly enjoyed this part of the proceedings, a mild panic set in when they were informed that they had to pass through the veils themselves, giving the requisite proofs before they could be re-admitted to the Chapter room. There was no exception given to rank and so our Deputy Grand Superintendent and 2nd Provincial Grand Principal had to prove themselves too. Fortunately, all seemed to have been paying due attention and gained re-admission to the Chapter. 

The Candidate was then exalted according to Bristol tradition in an enthralling and thought-provoking ceremony to the enjoyment and satisfaction of all present.

Following the meeting our Companions enjoyed a very convivial festive board, or as it is known in Bristol, “the after meeting”, together with the Chapter members and other guests. To their surprise and delight our Deputy Grand Supt. and 2nd Provincial Grand Principal were accorded the privilege of a seat at the top table where they enjoyed the company of the 2nd & 3rd Provincial Grand Principals of the Province.

The Deputy Grand Supt. responded to the toast to the visitors on behalf of all the guests, but especially those Hertfordshire Companions who had travelled with him, during which he congratulated the Chapter on the excellence of the meeting and congratulated the newly exalted Companion on behalf of the Province of Hertfordshire. In a token of appreciation and thanks to the Chapter for such an enjoyable meeting he presented a cheque to the Chapter MEZ of £150 for the charity of their choice which was gratefully received and will no doubt be faithfully applied.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable day, and thanks must go to E.Comp. Tim Huckle who organised the visit on behalf of the Province of Hertfordshire.