The Chapter was Consecrated, 9th December 1895, by His Honour F.A. Philbrick Q.C. (too many high masonic and other honours to mention here) in The Phoenix Hotel Rainham. Among the founders, the licensed vituallers profession was very well represented; this happy trait developed further with exaltees and joining-members during the early years. Chapter meetings continued to be held in hotels and COIs were in public houses until the move in 1947 to Chingford Masonic Centre.
Interestingly in July 1896, the Chapter was granted a dispensation to hold a ‘Masonic Service’ in ‘Masonic Clothing’ at Rainham Church in support of its Restoration Fund. From the conclusion of WWI to 1922, there were forty-six Exaltees! Thereafter, most years required dual exaltations until the 1970s. (Perhaps post-contagion, we should be looking for increased numbers.)
In Victorian Chapter’s first hundred years, 325 joined or were Exalted from 105 different chapters and lodges; this included 67 from the namesake Mother Lodge.
Exaltee Dave Weightman joined Freemasonry in 2010. His para-medic colleagues included Freemasons; he had noted their gentlemanliness, purposefulness and integrity. This created a respectful intrigue and thus welcomed an invitation, from a colleague, to join. At his Initiation into Sancto Claro Lodge No. 9486, he was delighted to see colleagues in attendance.
Now, Dave is unable to imagine not being a mason it offers him:- friendship, a sense of family, belonging and community – “magical”. He chose to concentrate on progress to the Chair and now, successfully achieved, has become a Royal Arch Companion; this fourth step he sees as a natural, logical, progression to enhance the benefits of Freemasonry and the contribution he can make to it.
A book could be written about Dave’s nigh thirty years as a paramedic, instructor, air-crew and the awards received: this vital life-saving work is greatly valued by the community and the Air Ambulance has received the enduring support of Essex masons. However, both the highs and lows of this profession are, enduring traumatic – it’s not a case of just logging-out in the evening. Whilst this work attracts caring interest and appreciation, it must be appreciated that their ‘days at the office’ are often, something about which they would rather not speak.
Pictured above: ‘Freedom Day’ Exaltation, 19th July 2021, the first meeting for 18 months with thirty-five members and visitors in attendance. (Image L-R, Frank Lawrence H.; Mike Fox Z, Dave Weightman Exaltee; and Alan Jory J.)