The gatherings of this delightful Christian Order take place in a Tabernacle, where the ceremony of admitting a Knight Templar Priest is worked. The Order consists of 32 degrees, but only one is worked, the remaining 31 degrees are conferred in name only in a short but impressive part of the ceremony.
During the ceremony the candidate is conducted around seven Pillars formed in a triangle. Readings are given from the Old and New Testaments,
and each Pillar has a word referring to the Lamb of God who opened the seven seals (Revelation Chapters 6-8), revealing the Seven Spirits of God.
As in other Orders, advancement is through the various Offices of a Tabernacle to reach the Chair of High Priest. Grand College rank may be conferred two years after the completion of a year as High Priest. Officers of Grand College are appointed or promoted to Active or Past Ranks at the Annual Assembly of Grand College held in June.
There are no intermediate District (Provincial) ranks, other than Grand Superintendent and High Prelate, and the Officers appointed by him - District Recorder, District Treasurer and District Director of Ceremonies.
To be considered for membership of this deeply significant order you must be:
- A subscribing Master Mason of three years standing
- A subscribing Royal Arch Mason
- A subscribing Knight Templar
- And profess the Trinitarian Christian Faith
The Symbol of the Order is an Equilateral Triangle on which are inscribed certain important letters alluding to the secrets of the Order.
The admission of aspirants into the Order of Holy Wisdom takes place in a Congregation formed within the District for that purpose.
HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
The full title of this Order is:
The Holy Royal Arch of Knight Templar Priests and Order of Holy Wisdom
It is an exclusive Christian Order
- "Be true to the Order and more especially, be true to yourself"
The Order of Knights Templar Priests goes back to the late 1700s as records exist in Ireland under the Irish Early Grand Encampment, of Knight Templars and various Craft Lodges, who got together to confer this degree.
From 1812 there was in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a Council of Knights Grand Cross of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, which included Knight Templar
Priest among its Degrees. This appears to have been operating, although gradually declining and almost becoming moribund until in 1884, there was only one known member left. He was Henry Hotham, and under the authority of one of the original Rules of the Order admitted nine Knights into the Order, thus saving it from extinction.
The revived body conscious that there was still no ruling body, adhered to the Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees (formed in London in
1880), which gave a welcome to all unattached degrees. Thus was formed the Royal Kent Tabernacle, "Time Immemorial".
From 1895 the Order prospered and in 1924 the present ruling body, Grand College was formed in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It subsequently moved to York, where it remains today as the headquarters of the Order. From small beginnings the Order is now world wide with over two hundred and fifty Tabernacles in the UK, Europe and, as far afield as the Far East, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, Brazil and Bolivia. The Order is divided into Districts, each under the control of a Grand Superintendent appointed by the Grand High Priest.
In 2014 the Order of Holy Wisdom was resurrected as a separate but associated Order. The Order had fallen into disuse due to the complexity of the ritual and the regalia. An abbreviated ceremony is now being worked retaining the precepts and characterisation of the original.
RE Kt.P Barry Searle GSupt KCPO
Ill.Kt.P Neil Evans CHW PGVP
V.Ill.Kt.P Gavin O'Sullivan CHW PGVIIP
V.Ill Kt.P Eric Mitchell CHW PGVIIP DR
V. Em. Kt.P Philip Hoy
V. Ill. Kt.P Colin Thurston
Grand Superintendent and High Prelate designate
As you know our Grand Superintendent and High Prelate Barry Searle announced earlier this summer that after almost 12 years of both loyal and dedicated service to Hertfordshire District 37 he was standing down from office at the end of this year.
We are very pleased and humbled to advise you that the Most Illustrious Grand High Priest Christopher Gavin Maiden has offered Ill.Kt.Pt. John Roberts PGIIP, DR the appointment of Grand Superintendent and High Prelate for Hertfordshire District 37 to succeed Barry, and will be installed early next year at a date to be confirmed. Ill.Kt.Pt. John Roberts said "This is a great honour for me and I look forward to serving you all to the best of my ability".
The meeting of the John Owen Place Tabernacle was held at Halsey Hall, Watford on Thursday 27th April. Following the meeting, the Tabernacle hosted the District Meeting of the Order of Holy wisdom and the Grand Superintendent was pleased to welcome our 3 newest members. The decision to have a separate Order of Holy Wisdom only happened last year but it does make for a very interesting ceremony.
Annual Assembly of Grand College 2017
The Annual Assembly of Grand College was held at Jurys Inn Hinckley Island on Saturday, 27th May, this has now become the established venue for our annual event and provides excellent facilities. The meeting was very well attended by some 350 members, including distinguished guests and many overseas visitors, the District of Hertfordshire was also well represented.
The Grand High Priest, Christopher Gavin Maiden reappointed Ian Duff as Deputy Grand High Priest and Grand High Prelate and Ian Smith as Assistant Grand High Priest. He then went on to appoint and invest as Assistant Grand High Priest, Peter Charles Astfalck following the retirement of Dr Donald Woodgate. The GHP presented Certificates of Merit to five KtPts including our own District Recorder, Eric Mitchell who will now have the title of R Em Kt Pt. A large number of Kt Pts were appointed and promoted including from Hertfordshire, as Active GVIP, John Wickes and the following promotions to Past ranks: Terry Deakin, PGVIIP, John Kempton, PGVIIP, Martin Grey, PGVIP, Graham Holmes, PGIVP and George Laverick, PGIIIP; first appointments were Philip Hoy, PGIIP, John D Roberts, PGSB and John Roberts, PGBB. The Grand Superintendent, Barry Searle was please that many of the recipients had been able to attend and welcomed them and other Kt Pts at the lunch following Annual Assembly.
The Pillar Fund now stands at some £215,000 and a sub-committee is actively seeking premises for a permanent home for our Order. Three GSupts were presented with Green Collarettes and one with a Sky Blue Collarette in recognition of the contribution to the fund from their Districts. In his address the GHP thanked members for their support of the Pillar Fund and urged them to continue their efforts. He also emphasised the global nature of our Order, with new Tabernacles to be consecrated in the West Indies and South America, following on from new Tabernacles in France, Spain and Greece.
In a departure from standard practice R Em Kt Pt Barry Searle presented a Companion of Holy Wisdom Certificate to V Ill Kt Pt Colin Thurston during lunch in recognition of his service to the Order. As a personal gesture he also presented a CHW lozenge to Colin in gratitude for his loyal support over many years.
Annual District Meeting 2017
The meeting of the John Owen Place Tabernacle, No 200 was held at Cheshunt on Thursday, 26th October and was attended by some 30 members and guests. The meeting hosted the District Meeting and was attended by the Grand Superintendent and High Prelate, R Em Kt Pt Barry Searle and District Officers. It was announced that R Em Kt Pt Eric Mitchell was retiring as District Recorder and would be replaced by Ill Kt Pt John Roberts. The Grand Superintendent thanked Eric for the work he had done for the District and the support he had given him over the last 9 years.
In his final report the District Recorder highlighted the decline in numbers with a net loss of 4 over the year. This point was emphasised by the Grand Superintendent in his address and he said that recruitment continued to be his biggest concern and that he would be launching a new initiative to promote the Order. He wanted more people to have the opportunity to benefit from and enjoy the depth and meaning of our wonderful ritual.
The Grand Superintendent was pleased to be able to announce that the James William Turner Tabernacle, No 222 had achieved the first level of contribution to the Pillar Fund and the High Priest of the Tabernacle would be entitled wear a green collarette. It was his hope that their efforts would encourage the other Tabernacles in the District do the same, the qualification being donations totalling the equivalent of £70 per member.
The Grand Superintendent then delivered his report as follows:
Grand Superintendent’s Report
Knight Priests we have reached that point on the summons where is says that I will address you. I know that you have all been waiting for this moment, so that we can get it over and move on to the highlight of the day, the demonstration of the degree of Most Excellent Master. I will try to be brief but there are a couple of important points I want to make.
But before doing so I must touch on my Executive Team, who as always provide invaluable support and without them I could not do my job. In a break with tradition I earlier reappointed members of the team and appointed a new District Recorder, Ill Kt Pt John Roberts. I have known and worked with John for many years and know him to be an excellent administrator and look forward to working with him in his new role. I must pay tribute to R Em Kt Pt Eric Mitchell, who has been my District Recorder from the start and has been the backbone of the District, despite many other important roles he has always been there to offer support and advice. I was delighted when this dedicated service to our Order was recognised by the Grand High Priest in awarding him the Certificate of Merit, and with it the rank of R Em Kt Pt. Eric, I can’t thank you enough for all you have done for me and I know that our friendship will continue in this and many other Orders.
I also need to tell you what I have been doing. My primary role as Grand Superintendent is to watch over the Tabernacles in the District. I am pleased to say that I have visited each one at least once and conducted the Grand Point and presented Grand College and OHW certificates. As always I am grateful for the warm welcome and reception I have received. I also attended the Annual Assembly in June when Kt Pts from the District where appointed or promoted to Grand rank, I was pleased that many were able to be present to receive them in person. I am grateful to all the Kt Pts who attended to give me some support and joined me at the festive board, where, as always I enjoyed their company. We are at that time of year when I need to make my recommendations to Grand College for appointments and promotions so I hope that all Recorders have the forms to submit to the District Recorder. I have also attended various Provincial Meetings and must thank the Provincial Grand Master, Grand Superintendent, Grand Master of the Mark Degree and the Provincial Prior for their recognition of our Order and for welcoming me to their meetings.
I said at the outset that there were a couple of important points I wanted to make, they are – recruitment and the Pillar Fund. Recruitment continues to be my biggest concern, due to our ageing membership without new blood our Tabernacles struggle to remain viable. We have explored various ways forward with mixed success. I want to re-launch a major campaign in our main recruiting ground, our Preceptories. This is will not be a hard sell forcing admission forms into unwilling hands, I know too many excellent recruiting sergeants who have a very poor record with retention. We must convince people that they want to join and benefit from our wonderful Order. Our USP is our Ritual, when it is done well it is a joy to hear and the more attention we pay to what is being said the more we understand. I want us to enjoy our Tabernacle meetings and be there because we want to be, not out of a sense of duty. If we can convey that enthusiasm to others recruitment should be easy and to that end the Provincial Prior has agreed that we can visit Preceptories to give a brief explanation of The Order and even demonstrate our regalia.
I have raised the subject of the Pillar Fund at all my visits and expressed my wish that every Tabernacle in the District will achieve green collarette status, for those of you who do not know that means that the Tabernacle must donate the equivalent of £70 per member. In my first draft of this address I expressed my disappointment that no Tabernacle in Hertfordshire was even halfway to meeting the target I have set, that is no longer the case and I am delighted to be able to announce that the James William Turner Tabernacle, No 222 has reached that target and in due course the High Priest will receive a Green Collarette on behalf of the Tabernacle. I hope that their example will encourage other Tabernacles to similar heights. Just to remind you of the purpose of the fund, it is to provide a suitable headquarters befitting a global organisation, that has expanded from 20 Tabernacles in the early 1950s to 292 at the last count, from Australia to Africa and South America to Europe, and the Grand Recorder and his staff currently work from a cramped shed on an industrial estate on the outskirts of York.
I just want to finish by reminding you again of how special our Meetings can be. It is often said that Masonry is to be enjoyed not endured, let us all enjoy each other’s company and the beauty of our ritual and if we can have some fun on the way, so much the better. Kt Pts I thank you for your attention and with your continued assistance will serve this District and the Order we all love to the best of my ability. I will now return you to the HP of this Tabernacle for the remainder of the meeting and God bless you all.
At the close of the meeting R Em Kt Pt Les Butler and his team presented an Exemplification of the Appendant Degree “Most Excellent Master”. This was carried out in a superb fashion and was much appreciated by all present. The Grand Superintendent thanked and congratulated Les Butler and the members of the team: David Sodey, Richard Brown, Malcolm McCaw, Bob Chilvers, Dean Moore, John Roberts and Melvyn Pateman with Neil Evans acting as the candidate.
The next meeting of the Tabernacle will be held at Watford on 26th April, 2018 when qualified aspirants will be admitted to The Order of Holy Wisdom.
Click here for a list of our District Tabernacles
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Hertfordshire Tabernacle No 107
The Masonic Hall,
3rd Friday October,
1st Friday May(I)
Halsey Tabernacle No 177
Halsey Masonic Hall,
Walnut Tree House,
3rd Monday December (I),
1st Wednesday July
Crux Roisia Tabernacle No 192
Royston Masonic Hall,
2nd Wednesday September (I),
3rd Monday February,
3rd Tuesday April
John Owen Place Tabernacle No 200
Halsey Masonic Hall,
Walnut Tree House,
Halsey Masonic Hall,
4th Thursday April(I), (Watford),
4th Thursday October (Cheshunt)
Installed High Priests Tabernacle
Southgate Tabernacle No 216
Southgate Masonic Centre,
88 High Street, Southgate,
2nd Tuesday January,
4th Tuesday June (I)
James William Turner Tabernacle No 222
Halsey Masonic Hall,
2nd Saturday October(I)
4th Saturday March
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Grand Superintendents Address
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Knight Priests my address today is tinged with sadness. Last week we lost two committed Masons, members of this Tabernacle and stalwarts of our Order. But more importantly they were dear friends and I will miss them and the support and encouragement they gave me. And only yesterday we learnt of the death of another Kt Pt of the District, George Ferris.
Their passing should give us cause to reflect on the transient nature of our existence and to make the most of our time. My 98 year old mother frequently urges me to "do what you can while you can". I think that we should seize the day and bring this spirit to our Freemasonry. We have the privilege of belonging to a wonderful Order and I urge you to embrace and enjoy the depth of meaning to be found in our ritual. Spend some time thinking about the words that you use in the ritual rather than just saying them. Our ritual must not be a chore to be endured, we can and should make it enjoyable as well as learning from it. I want you to enjoy and share it, as with all things you only get out what you put in, giving of your best can make our ceremonies very special, not just for the candidates but for ourselves. We can all take pleasure from a ceremony well performed but there is nothing worse than being unprepared and stumbling through the ritual. That is when the fun goes out of masonry and we question why we are doing it.
I must now introduce my Executive Team without whose help and assistance my job would be much more difficult. V Ill Kt Pt Eric Mitchell, my District Recorder continues to be the backbone of the team but can only function effectively if Tabernacle Recorders respond to his requests on time. The District Treasurer, V Ill Kt Pt Gavin O'Sullivan continues to have responsibility for promoting the Pillar Fund in the District. There are numerous calls on our charity but I do ask for your support of the Pillar Fund, the District is doing reasonably well, but with contributions from only 17 members we could do a lot better. Ill Kt Pt Neil Evans has now completed a year as DDC and I am very grateful for his support in my visits to Tabernacles. To provide some cover for Neil I have appointed V Ill Kt Pt Colin Thurston as Deputy DDC and his experience has proved invaluable.
The KTP page of the Hertfordshire Masons beyond the Craft website has been update and I hope that this will provide a first port of call for all that is happening in the District. I have asked Recorders to ensure that details are included on the summons. To ensure that it is up to date and relevant I have appointed V Em Kt Pt Philip Hoy as Deputy DR with responsibility for promotion and information. The website will only be of value if you tell him what is going on in your Tabernacles.
At some part of this address I need to tell you what I have been doing. My primary role as Grand Superintendent is to watch over the Tabernacles in the District. I am pleased to say that I have visited each one at least once and conducted the Grand Point and have presented Grand College and OHW certificates. As always I am grateful for the warm welcome and reception I have received.
At the meeting of this Tabernacle in February we conducted the Order of Holy Wisdom which has given a new dimension to our Order. This will be repeated next year for all eligible KT PTs.
I also attended the Annual Assembly in June when Kt Pts from the District where appointed or promoted to Grand rank, I was pleased that many were able to be present to receive them in person. I am grateful to all the Kt Pts who attended to give me some support and joined me at the festive board, where as always I enjoyed their company. We are at that time of year when I need to make my recommendations to Grand College so I hope that all Recorders have the forms to submit to the District Recorder.
We also held an extremely successful Sunday Lunch at Great Hadham Golf Club attended by 67 people including members of the Fleet House Light Blues Club which hopefully will bring our Order to a wider audience; details and some photos are on the website.
At the end of August I sent out an open letter to all members in the District setting out my thoughts and hopes for the District, in particular on those perennial topics attendance and ritual. I have asked Tabernacle Recorders to include each other in circulating the summons with an open invitation to HPs and all members to attend their meeting. I hope that by encouraging cross visiting overall attendance will improve but the big challenge is new members. The recruitment pool is our Preceptories and I want to encourage the idea that KTP is a natural progression from Knights Templar.
I touched on the depth and symbolism of our ritual in my opening remarks and it featured in my letter to you. You know my views on the ritual but having started on a sombre note and I want to end in a lighter vein. We learn in the Grand Point that we will have sorrow but that that sorrow will be turned to joy. Let us make our meetings joyous occasions that we all want to attend and introduce others to our special Order. For my part I will continue, with your help, to serve this District and the Order we all love to the best of my ability, and make sure we have some fun!
Kt Pts I thank you for your attention and now return you to the HP of this Tabernacle for the remainder of the meeting and God bless you all.
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