SPOT LIGHT ON ROMAN WAY CHAPTER

The first Buckinghamshire Royal Arch Chapter to be in the ‘SPOTLIGHT’ on our website was the most senior in the Province, Bowen Chapter No. 948. So it is perhaps fitting that the second to receive this honour should be at the other end of the spectrum, the most recent addition – Roman Way Chapter No. 9533.

During the 1990’s the population of the new town of Milton Keynes was increasing quite rapidly. This brought about a need for additional lodges in the area to accommodate the influx of Masons from other Provinces and the number of initiates generated by the growth.

One of this “influx” was E.Comp Bob Power, a Middlesex Royal Arch Mason who moved to the area in 1992. He became Founding DC of Roman Way Lodge No. 9533 in 1994 and Primus Master of Grand Union Lodge No. 9641 in 1997. Due to his love of, and dedication to Freemasonry, and in particular the Royal Arch, he was soon promoting the establishment of a new Chapter to accommodate the members of these two lodges along with Secklow Hundred Lodge No. 9569 which had also been founded in 1994.

After much persuasion the then Provincial Grand Master and ME Grand Superintendent, E.Comp Eric Deung finally gave his permission for a Chapter to be formed. E.Comp Bob soon ‘got the bit between his teeth’ and established a committee consisting of himself as MEZ designate, E.Comp Ron Everett, Primus Master of Longueville Chapter No. 9322 (unfortunately the Primus Master of Secklow Hundred Lodge declined the invitation), as H designate, E.Comp Gerry Runacres, Primus Master of Roman Way Lodge as J designate, Comp Roger Perry, founding Secretary of Roman Way Lodge, as Scribe E, E.Comp Tony Cersell, founding Secretary of Grand Union Lodge, as Scribe N and E.Comp Pat Langston, founding Secretary of Secklow Hundred Lodge, as Treasurer, together with twenty-two other prospective founders. It should be noted that at the behest of the ME Grand Superintendent at least 50% of these twenty-eight founders were not Buckinghamshire RA Masons.

Although it was necessary for the intended new Chapter to be sponsored by and attached to a specific lodge it was hoped that a name could be found which would unite the three lodges from which it had sprung and from where was hoped additional members could be recruited. The name suggested was the Eric Deung Chapter, as R.W.Bro Eric J. Deung was Provincial Grand Master when he consecrated all three lodges. Unfortunately, Supreme Grand Chapter would not allow any deviation from the name of the sponsoring Lodge. As the senior of these three lodges it was decided that Roman Way Lodge No. 9533 should be the sponsor.

Roman Way Chapter No. 9533 was consecrated at the Masonic Hall, Queensway, Bletchley, Milton Keynes on Saturday 23rd January 1999 by the ME Grand Superintendent, E.Comp Dr Eric W. Hall – the only RA Chapter consecrated by E.Comp Dr Eric during his short tenure as Grand Superintendent.

During the seventeen and a half years of its existence there have been two convocations of Roman Way Chapter deserving special mention. The first was on 12th March 2005 when, by dispensation from the ME Grand Superintendent, the founding Scribe E, E.Comp Roger Perry was installed in all three Principal’s Chairs in one day, becoming MEZ for the year. This honour had only been bestowed on one other Companion in Buckinghamshire; E.Comp H. Urban Hook, the founding Scribe E of Marlow Chapter No. 2752 in April 1955. He was appointed PPGSN the following year.

Incidentally, on 10th October this year this honour was conferred on E.Comp Bobby Cole, Scribe E of Old Paludians Chapter No. 7181.

The second convocation deserving mention was that of 12th March 2016 when the ME Grand Superintendent, John Keeble, accompanied by his Executive and Officers of the year, not only attended the installation of E.Comp Jim Campbell as MEZ, but also hosted an exchange visit from the Royal Arch Province of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. E.Comp John Keeble and his team were pleased to welcome E.Comp Graham King, Grand Superintendent, who was accompanied by his Executive and Officers of the year, and later enjoyed an excellent festive board, attended by approximately ninety companions, at the Bell Hotel.

Since its consecration in January 1999 Roman Way Chapter has gone from strength to strength with an exceptionally high standard of  ritual, thanks to guidance of E.Comp John Power at the regular Chapters of Improvement. Festive Boards are second to none, thanks to Comp Phillip Menday at the Bell Hotel. But most importantly a special feeling of camaraderie and companionship shared by us all who are members of our beautiful Order and this wonderful Chapter. Long may it continue! There have been thirty-nine Exaltees (2.3 per year), twenty-five Joining Members (1.4 per year) and two Re-joining Members;  a grand total of sixty-six new entrants at an average of 3.77 each year. A mighty good record for any Chapter, during a time when membership of the Royal Arch generally has been on the decline, I am sure you will agree.

The Chapter membership, even when you take into account deaths and resignations, has more than doubled since it was consecrated with twenty eight Founders, becoming fifty-eight when Bro Wayne Hancock of Grand Union Lodge No. 9641 is exalted on 11th November 2017.

Roman Way Chapter No. 9533 meets at 11.00am on the Second Saturdays’ in March, June and November and is Aldersgate workings.

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