Northumberland Freemasons today help celebrate the centenary of King Edward VII Royal Arch Chapter.
King Edward VII Royal Arch Chapter No 2892, which meets at the Newbiggin by the Sea Masonic Hall, was consecrated on 25 March 1920, a few months after Ashington Royal Arch Chapter No.2868 was consecrated on 25 November 1919.
It is understood that Ashington Chapter was the principle sponsor of the new Chapter, and also, as all Royal Arch Chapters have to be ‘attached’ to a Craft Lodge, it also bears the number of King Edward VII Lodge No. 2892, which was one of the first Lodges to take the name of the new King shortly after his accession to the throne in 1901.
There were 18 founding members of the new Lodge, amongst the foremost of them was Ex. Companion Charles W Hodgson, who at that time was Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Craft Province of Northumberland, and later Deputy Provincial Grand Master. The first three Principals of the Chapter were Ex. Companion Hodgson, Ex. Comp James Anderson and Ex. Comp. David Moyles.
The Consecration Ceremony was held at the Masonic Hall, Seaton Delaval, presumably by the Provincial Grand Superintendent, Colonel Charles Warren Napier Clavering, but there is no information concerning the event to hand. In any case, the Colonel’s visits to the North East were becoming more infrequent as, due to financial pressures, the cost of running his house and lands at Axwell Park were becoming an increasing pressure on him, to the extent, that he was relocating to Staplegrove, near Taunton, but until his death in 1931, he carried on as Provincial Grand Master and Provincial Grand Superintendent for the Province.
In its early years, King Edward VII Chapter may have met, as did the Craft Lodge, at a variety of locations within the small fishing township of Newbiggin- by the Sea. The Old Ship Inn was one of those locations, followed by Crosby’s Buildings, and then, in 1929, Homelyn House became available and was to be a permanent meeting place for the Chapter, and several other Masonic Orders.
Homelyn House, at one time a private residence belonging to the White Family, by the 1920s had fallen vacant, and was for a time, the headquarters of the Newbiggin Lodge of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, which had ceased to meet by 1926.
The new Chapter soon grew from strength to strength, and the first visitation by Provincial Grand Chapter took place on 17 August 1920, a sure sign that the Province had confidence in the viability of the Chapter. Indeed ,a few years later, on 14 October 1926, Provincial Grand Chapter was held under the banner of King Edward VII Chapter, and the Chapter was to host the Provincial Grand Chapter again in 1946, 1950, and 1966, and on other occasions.
Since its foundation in 1920, the Chapter has seen a century of service and dedication to the Province, and although numbers are small, the spirit of Royal Arch Masonry still endures in Newbiggin by the Sea.
Many thanks go to E.Comp Ian Brown for the submission of this article.
Congratulations from everyone at Northumberland Freemasons to the Companions of King Edward VII Royal Arch Chapter on reaching their centenary milestone.
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