As the newly announced ‘City designate’ of Southend expanded in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century the area surrounding the West Cliffs was rapidly developed to serve the increasing number of ‘City men’ and local residents and became known as Westcliff-on-Sea. The Lord Mayor of London attended the Consecration of the former Westcliff Lodge No 2903 in 1902 and nineteen years later, in the year that Prince Albert, later King George VI, was Exalted into the Royal Arch (RA), Westcliff Chapter was Consecrated.
The Chapter Centennial Celebratory Convocation was held on 3rd November 2021 at the home of the 23 RA Chapters which meet at Saxon Hall, the Southend Masonic Centre. The guests of honour included the Deputy Grand Superintendent (DepGS) Elliott Chevin who attended with many of the Provincial Executive including Assistants to the Provincial Grand Principals (APGPs) John Crudgington, Andrew McCleod, David Wilson and Bruce Mapson, and the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies (ProvGDC) Joe Shearer and Phil Lovelock the Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra (ProvGSE).
Mick Hughes had the special honour of being First Principal and was ably assisted by Steve Brown and John Palmer. Long serving, four times First Principal and former member of Westcliff Lodge, Alvyn Bysouth, delivered a concise and entertaining Centennial history in which he highlighted three Chapter legends:
- ‘Titch’ Boosey, the Complete ritualist and master of several other workings;
- Mick Weaver, who worked at the Gaslight and Coke Company but moonlighted as a boxer under the name ‘Micky Cutts’, leaving a substantial amount of money to the Chapter in his Will; and
- P.W.W.Bowen, the larger-than-life diligent Scribe E who had the pleasure of recommending what to do with the pugilist’s bequest.
Sir Thomas Courtney Theydon Warner, Bart, CB and MP, the Grand Superintendent, installed Elliot George Fletcher, a Past Provincial Grand Janitor, as the Primus First Principal on 23rd November 1921. A Bible presented to Westcliff Lodge on its Consecration in October 1902 by Elliot Fletcher, with his name engraved on it, had been restored by Michael Gravenor and was presented to the Chapter together with his application to re-join.
A Founder’s jewel, which Brian Catt the Scribe E had won the bidding for on eBay, was presented by him to further mark the occasion and has been appended to the First Principal’s Collar for all future Convocations. Brian explained “We have 33 members, three Honorary members, five brethren waiting for Exaltation plus our joining member. We try to have fun and recently have 10 plus at our Chapter of Instruction meetings. It's a great place to be, with lots of support from all directions.” He added “We are very lucky to have some excellent ritualists, who enjoy getting it right but having fun. As long as all members and guests go home with a smile on their face then I know it's been a successful meeting”.
Consecrated by a Baronet MP and with the Funeral Service for local Knighted MP, the late Sir David Amess Sir David Amess MP RIP (essexfreemasons.org.uk), at Westminster Cathedral on 23rd November, exactly the same date 100 years later, the Westcliff Chapter Centennial may be remembered as historical, symbolical and mystical.