Chapter History

A review of the first 50 years

The seeds of this Chapter were sown at a meeting held on 5th May 1949 at the Camden Hotel, Pembury, where the Stanley Wykeham Lodge Secretary was a resident. The Chairman was W.Bro. A.J. Harland, the instigator of the formation of the Paddock Wood Lodge in 1921, as well as being a Founder of the Stanley Wykeham Lodge in 1948. He Chaired this meeting in his capacity as a Past Z of the Knole and Pilgrims Chapters, with the Rank of Past Provincial Grand Sojourner in the Province of Kent.

This meeting was arranged on behalf of the seven original Founders of the Stanley Wykeham Lodge and was attended by Founders and members of the Lodge who were also Companions of other Chapters. The Business of the Special Meeting was “To consider the formation of a Royal Arch Chapter”.

It is recorded that a most enthusiastic meeting was held, and it was announced that at least 23 of the 31 Chapter Members had expressed a desire to become Founders, and that several of the Mother Lodge members wished to join them.

Thus, pursuant to a Notice of Motion, a proposition was made and unanimously approved at the Regular Lodge meeting on 7th June 1949, requesting that a petition be presented to the Provincial Grand Chapter for a Charter of Constitution empowering the formation of a Royal Arch Chapter to be attached to the Lodge, and with the same name.

All the Royal Arch Companions from the two Lodges at Paddock Wood had to attend Chapters at Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Wrotham or further away to practice Royal Arch Masonry, and with 170 Craft members in total, future candidates seemed assured.

All the Chapters in the area had applauded the project and offered assistance and sent good wishes for a successful outcome. It was proposed that all the suggested first officers would be members of the Stanley Wykeham Lodge.

The petition form was completed and signed by 25 companions (22 from Stanley Wykeham Lodge) and forwarded via the Province to the Supreme Grand Chapter on 7th July 1949.

Sadly, despite a plea for consideration, one of the petitioners was not allowed to stand as a Founder as he had only been a Master Mason for 15 months, and not the required 3 years. However, a member of the Crane Lodge, Major P.E. Robathan, who was a Past Z, called at the Grand Scribe’s Office in London, paid his Founder’s fee of 2/6d, signed the petition, and the number of Founders remained at 25.

The Petition was signed by the Worshipful Master and Wardens of the Stanley Wykeham Lodge, and by the 2nd Provincial Grand Principal.

The Petition was granted on 27th July 1949, and the Charter from Supreme Grand Chapter bears the same date.

A letter from the Provincial Grand Scribe E states, “That the Most Excellent The Grand Superintendent has appointed Tuesday 6th December 1949, for the Consecration of the Stanley Wykeham Chapter No.6599 at the Masonic Hall, Paddock Wood at 3p.m. The Ceremony will be preceded by a Luncheon at 12.45p.m. Tickets 17/6d each”.

At the Consecration The Grand Superintendent The Right Hon. The Lord Cornwallis, K.B.E. MC. P.G.Sc.N. presided, assisted by The Second Provincial Grand Principal Wg. Cdr. Bertram Wilfred Noble, O.B.E., P.A.G.Soj. and The Third Provincial Grand Principal Arthur Atkinson, P.A.G.Soj.

111 Companions signed the Attendance Register, of whom 71 were Past Principals.

It was almost unprecedented for a Lodge to have a Chapter attached to it after so short an interval since the consecration of the Lodge, and the Grand Superintendent had said the Chapter had been allowed on account of his confidence in the Past Z’s and Past Masters who had signed the Petition.

There have been 43 First Principals, of whom 8 have served in that Office for a second time, as for various reasons some members only reached the Second or Third Principals Chairs. So far in this Chapter there have been 8 Scribes E’s, 8 Treasurers, and 9 Directors of Ceremonies, many serving in the same capacity in their Craft Lodges and in other Degrees. The majority of the 138 Exaltees have come from the 3 Craft Lodges at Paddock Wood, but many are from other Lodges in Tunbridge Wells, London, and elsewhere.

The name of the Lodge and the Chapter were allowed to be used by the 2nd Lord Cornwallis, who officiated at both Consecrations. “STANLEY” and “WYKEHAM” are the forenames of the 1st Baron Cornwallis of Linton, which is near Maidstone.

The Chapter Crest is similar to the Lodge, incorporating the Cornwallis Family Coat of Arms with the motto VIRTUE VINCIT INVIDIAN meaning Virtue Overcomes Envy.

Many of the Founders gave valuable service to this Chapter in particular, and to Royal Arch Masonry in general.