Here follows a brief introduction into the history of the Provincial Grand Stewards Chapter of Warwickshire extracted from a very detailed and accurate account of how it came into existence, and it’s life to date in a booklet authored by E. Comp Richard Barker marking the 25th anniversary of its Grand Charter being received. The story commences with a history of how the Grand Stewards Lodge, and then the Grand Stewards Chapter were both formed almost 300 years ago.
Grand Stewards Lodge
The Four Lodges meeting in London in 1716 resolved to hold an Annual Assembly and Feast; the first took place on 24th June 1717 at the Goose and Gridiron Ale House, in St Paul’s Churchyard, and this Assembly saw the Installation of Bro Anthony Sayer as the Grand Master.
In the first four years the Grand Wardens were charged with arranging the annual feast, but in 1721 Stewards were appointed to share the burden. Their appointment was required because of the increase in numbers attending; the Duke of Montague was the first noble Grand Master. The first known Steward was Bro Josias Villeneau, who was a French immigrant in about 1685. The appointment of Stewards was regularised in 1728, when Twelve Grand Stewards “volunteered” to act; they personally nominated their successors.
In 1735 it was resolved to print the names of all acting Stewards, and future Grand Officers were to be selected only from that list. The Office of Steward has always been important!
After the Union of the Grand Lodges, the nominations were made by the Lodges, not the individuals. When the date of the Annual meeting was moved from June to the Wednesday following St George’s day (the day still used) the number was increased to 18, and eventually to 19. This is the number still appointed today. The Grand Stewards’ Lodge was consecrated in 1735 and assumed a lodge dating from 1733 number 117; it changed its number regularly, as all lodges did when older lodges ceased, through numbers 115, 70, 60 and 47. In 1792 it was placed at the head of the List of Lodges, and is the only lodge without number. It has a little over 400 members.
The Crimson apron is understood to have followed the usage in the Order of the Bath, revived by King George 1 in 1725. The Blue colour copied the Order of the Garter.
Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge No. 9253
The Provincial Grand Lodge of Warwickshire had been appointing Stewards each year, providing support at the Annual Meeting, and at the Annual Church Service. As at Grand Lodge, it was considered that a Stewards’ Lodge would bind new and past Provincial Stewards together, and provide the support required. On 18th November 1987 the Stewards’ Lodge was consecrated, with W Bro Clifford Hadley, an Assistant Provincial Grand Master, the founding Master. It was consecrated, in the presence of 295 brethren, by the Provincial Grand Master, with the full Provincial Team present.
The Summons of the Lodge Consecration Meeting
Provincial Grand Stewards Chapter No. 9253
To support the Provincial Grand Chapter of Warwickshire, in similar manner to the Lodge in the Craft, it was resolved that a Chapter be formed. A letter drawn up by E Comp Derrick Hobson in June 1991 invited all the members of the Lodge to comment.
There were Twenty-Six Founding members of the Chapter, who are listed in Appendix E. Thirty-one originally indicated an interest, but four later declined, and E Comp Richard V Wallis was not eligible, being the Consecrating Officer!
There were three meetings of the Founders held between the first letter and the Consecration meeting, determining the annual subscription, that the most recent joiner should be appointed Janitor, and the next most recent joiners should be Stewards.
The consecration of the Chapter was undertaken by the Grand Superintendent, E Comp Richard V Wallis, with E Comp Peter Waring being the Provincial Grand DC.
MEGS E. Comp Richard V Wallis
The Summons for the Consecration Meeting
The Installation of the Founding First Principal was carried out by E Comp Richard V Ilott, the Deputy Grand Superintendent.
The Grand Superintendent was assisted by E Comp W Stephen Ellson, acting as Second Provincial Grand
Principal, and E Comp Rev Edwin J A Clarke, Third Grand Principal. The Second Provincial Grand Principal E Comp Malcolm R S Thomas had only that month been appointed, having previously as Provincial Scribe E. E Comp Thomas was a Founder of the Chapter.
At the consecration meeting, four candidates were proposed, all of whom joined at the subsequent meeting in December.
The Chapter Warrant
To discover more about this excellent and distinguished Chapter then just click this link to view the whole of Richards researches and find out for yourself the wealth of information which he’s been able to bring back to life, albeit in documentary form.