Seer Green Chapter began as a project for Excellent Companion William (Bill) Nugent – now an honorary member and present today.
It was through his drive, enthusiasm and sheer persistence during 1995 that the Chapter got off the ground, finally culminating in the Consecration taking place at Slough, although it was always the plan the home of the Chapter would be at the Beaconsfield Masonic Centre with regular convocations taking place during the mornings of the 3rd Saturday in May, the 2nd Saturday in September being the Installation and the 4th Saturday in November.
Excellent Companion Bill supported to some extent by others had managed to cajole together a total of 28 Founding Members many of whom were experienced Royal Arch Masons as well others who were reasonably new to the fraternity, but all wished to support the formation of the new Chapter.
The ceremony of consecration was conducted at the Slough Masonic Centre on the 1st June 1996 by the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent Eric Deung assisted by E Companion P H Erlen PGStdB, Provincial Grand Haggi and E Companion Don G Varney PG StdB Provincial Grand Joshua. During the oration given by E Comp Don Varney, he said,
“It is usual to make some reference to the name or title of the new chapter and I would like to leave you with these thoughts: Seer Green – the seers were the wise men of old. Men who were given to visions and dreams. We know of Samuel and the call he received, when Samuel ministered unto the Lord: The wise men who followed a star – a light – yes let there be light. and I see Excellent Companion Bill Nugent has followed this theme in the composition of the crest of the chapter – a seer standing by the alter of incense, hand shielding his eyes and looking into the distance, seeking, searching for what – the truth?”
Excellent Companion Gordon Drew was installed as the First Zerubbabel of the Chapter, with Excellent Companions Len J Darville as H and Alan Lines as J. All but four of the founders, who had all sent their apologies were present. The Consecrating officers were all elected Honorary Members. During the risings it was announced there were 6 proposals for Exaltation – all members of Seer Green Lodge and 2 possible joining members.
2 Alms bags made by Joanne Nugent wife of E. Companion Bill were immediately put to good use – collecting the sum of £180
Afterwards a total of 82 sat down to a 5-course meal of Fruits of the Forest, Coronation Chicken, Cold Poached Salmon, Fresh Strawberries, a cheese board followed coffee and mints.
The First Regular Convocation of the Chapter took place on the morning of Saturday 14th September 1996 when Brother Kevin Beeches, a member of Seer Green Lodge became the first exaltee within the Chapter. A Notice of motion was given that EC Sir Ralph Verney and His Honour Sir Lawrence Verney be additionally elected as Honorary Members. In the risings it was announced that a copy of the consecration programme, menu card and an edition of the Conchord Magazine, which had featured the events of the 1st June, had been forwarded to the Library and Museum of Grand Lodge who had acknowledged safe receipt. Commemorative Consecration Firing glasses and photographs were distributed
In concluding the 3rd Rising of the November 1996 Convocation the Scribe E asked that thanks be given to E Companion Dennis Holtom for kindly presenting a leather embossed case to hold the charter of the chapter and to the wife of Companion Geoffrey Bond for a handmade alter cloth.
The Chapter continued to flourish with ballots being taken on the 17th May 1997 for two further exaltee’s who were members of Seer Green Lodge but this was somewhat diminished by the resignation, for personal reasons, of a founding member.
The coming months saw E Comp Dennis Holtom construct, paint and hand to the Chapter a fine Catanarian Arch plus a case in which to keep it – seen here today and Comp Geoffrey Bond a very old Bible for use during our ceremonies.
During the 9th Regular Convocation of the Chapter held on the 15th May 1999 the death was announced of E Companion Gordon Drew the Founding 1st Principal of the Chapter. It was he who had previously presented 3 engraved pewter wine goblets for the use of the 3 Principals. There was also the recent death of E Companion Des McCarthy who had been the assisting Janitor at the Consecration meeting and a subsequent Honorary Member.
During the third Risings of the Convocation held on the 27th November 1999 Companion Robert Jones was handed the sum of £100 which had been pledged to him by the members to celebrate a sponsored walk he and some friends had undertaken for the ‘Whizz Kids Himalayan Challenge’ which involved a climb of some 10,000 feet in 6 days. He had by that time raised a total of £3285 including £485 from Masonic Lodges plus the amount he had received that day. In total the 3 groups he was associated with had raised in excess of £600,000
The 13th Regular Convocation of the Chapter was held on the 9th September 2000 following the granting and reading of a dispensation as he was already the First Principal of Thames Schools Chapter, E Companion Michael Stephens was installed as First Principal. The Most Excellent Grand Superintendent Dr Eric Hall presented Companion Stuart Shields with his Supreme Grand Chapter Certificate. At this time the membership of the Chapter were 33 members plus 11 Honorary members with a steady flow of exaltee’s awaiting admittance
The summons of the 15th Regular Convocation – the 19th May 2001, announced the deaths of Lord Farnham, Past Pro Grand Principal and E Comp Leslie Longbotham, Past Grand Supt of Buckinghamshire, Founding IPZ of the Chapter. During the following convocation of September 2001, the death was announced of Sir Ralph Verney, Past Grand Supt, an Honorary member of the Chapter. E Comp Gordon Barratt had made a presentation of 3 Sojourners Banners with EC Alan Lines presenting suitable stands for them. Thanks, had gone to Ann Pendsé who had kindly laundered a number of surplices with E Comp Russell fervently denying he had been tasked with ironing them. Yet again there was notice of 2 further applications for exaltation. Members of the Chapter in collaboration with the lodge had participated in the Princess Marina Garden Fete raising £141 with the ‘Spin a bottle’
At the convocation held on the 14th September 2002 EC Bill Nugent, having served as the Scribe Ezra since the consecration of the Chapter, undertook the office of MEZ. EC Leslie Harrold is recorded in the minutes of that day as saying he was very disappointed at the low number of members present, despite the fact there were 27 recorded in the attendance register as against 29 in the previous year. The general purposes committee were to discuss the situation. Membership at this time is recorded as 30 (22 Founders, 8 Exaltees)
The minutes of the convocation held on the 11th September 2004 record there was discussion and disappointment of the poor state of the regalia provided by the centre, in that it was dirty or in desperate need of repair. As a result, E Comp Townsend agreed that he would at his own expense have the fraying edges of the carpet rebound, whilst others agreed to form a working party to improve the other artefacts.
The 20th May 2006 convocation found E C Alan Lines relating that it had been necessary for his grand-daughter to visit a hospital near to her home where she had been presented with a Masonic Teddy Bear which had greatly assisted her at such a stressful period. He had been in consultation with the Provincial office proposing to start a similar scheme within Buckinghamshire, initially at the Stoke Manderville Hospital. An initial donation of £150 was approved by the members to get the scheme up and running which EC Alan confirmed at the next convocation. Over the following years further hospitals within Buckinghamshire agreed to take delivery and distribute the Teddy Bears to children who found themselves in hospital. Two of my granddaughters have recently received theirs! The concept of ‘Teddies for Loving Care” arose when a child of a Freemason was admitted suddenly to the Southend on Sea Accident & Emergency Hospital Unit in 2001. Recently the 2 Millionth ‘teddy bear’ has been delivered for distribution.
During later convocations there were further concerns that attendance by members was getting lower and that perhaps meeting on a Saturday was the cause, despite the fact this was considered one of the strong points when moving the concept of the Chapter forward. The May 2008 convocation saw a total of 13 members being present. In efforts to amend the situation of falling attendance, identified by some as possibly because of having lunch, as it spoilt the entire day for families, it was agreed to make changes so that 2 out of the 3 convocations commenced with an English breakfast, allowing an earlier departure time. But this still did not totally amend the situation because although membership stood at 15, actual attendance continued to be 6 or 7 companions, showing the inability to fulfill all offices or having to call upon visitors to assist. Additionally, over this period a number of the members had moved away from the locality and were now residing considerable distances away – as much as a 300-mile round trip.
Membership in September 2012 was 19, September 2014 was 20
September 2016 was 15 and September 2018 – 11
Donations to good causes, continued despite the diminishing membership. These included £250 in to the 2013 Bicentenary Appeal on behalf of the Royal College of Surgeons and another £250 to the Rock Ride 2 Appeal. Others included “Swan Rescue” a charity based in Windsor, Buckinghamshire – now Thames Valley Air Ambulance, Prebendal Close, RNLI, Help for Heroes, Age Concern and British Legion and to the Beaconsfield Masonic Centre during the refurbishment of the temple, by purchasing some of the chairs we are now sitting on.
It is the intention of the members that once the chapter is fully wound up all of its remaining assets amounting to approx. £6000 will be distributed to charity.
Finally, having exhausted all avenues over many years with still no prospect of attracting any exaltee or indeed joining members and the continuance of long-established members failure to attend or contribute, a decision was made to surrender the charter of the Chapter.
Having previously given a notice of motion to the propositions, the ballot was finally conducted on the 14th September 2019 when 6 attending members voted in favour with no dissent.
Compiled: James May – Scribe E
Dated: November 2019.