On 31st January Companions from both Counties made their way to Wellington for the Chapter's Annual trip over the border. There was very good visiting support from both Provinces which resulted in over 70 dining. The published agenda showed that an Exaltation would be performed but on arrival it was found that the candidate was unable to attend. However, word passed around that a stand in to allow the Officers to show off their well rehearsed ceremony, following the adoption of a new ritual book that had been produced, had been found. His identity was being kept a closely guarded secret.
At the appointed hour the Chapter was duly opened and the early business soon attended to. During this the Almoner gave a short exposition on how much support the Chapter had received, since its inception, from the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent of Somerset who by the time of the Chapter's next foray into Somerset will have stepped down from that Office. He closed his comments with the presentation of a small gift. E Comp John Bennett responded saying what a terrific Chapter it had developed into and how he would continue to support it and attend as many meetings as possible. When item 5 was reached the MEZ announced that the candidate to be Exalted would be known upon entry as Bro Simon William Rowe.
The Sojourners steadily led the Candidate through the ceremonial. Most of those attending were listening for Devon & Somerset variations in their newly adopted ritual but found little of note until the phrase
“Three Master Masons from the Barbican”.
Speculation abounded both then and later as to whether this was the Barbican in Plymouth, in Torbay or even the Theatre in Central London. No doubt this will be one of those imponderables whose origin is lost in the mists of time.
The ceremony was duly completed and the new Companion brought to the Principals. He is also shown with the Chapter Sojourners.
When everyone had regained their proper places and settled the rest of the evenings business was completed. Pictures were also taken of the Principals with the Grand Superintendents.
One of these faces was becoming awfully familiar.
The Executive Members and Grand Officers retired after the Second rising leaving Chapter Officers to complete the evening's business. It was not long before the Company reassembled in the dining room/bar for the evenings meal. In usual Devon and Somerset Farmers style an excellent meal was served with, I believe, Cotterell Clotted Cream available for the dessert.
During the Toasts the Grand Superintendent gave an unusually concise reply to his personal toast yet the “new Exaltee” gave an eloquent, verbose reply to his. It certainly had been another memorable evening with a very distinguished new Exaltee joining this thriving Chapter.
Arthur W Rowe PAGDC