Swan of Avon Chapter, No. 2133 is now over 101 years old, having reached its 100th Birthday on 13th June 2019. Postponed because of the COVID-19 Pandemic the good news is that our Chapter still looks forward to a famous 100th Birthday Celebration.
Based at the Masonic Hall in Great William Street Stratford upon Avon, Swan of Avon Chapter was originally Consecrated in the Ballroom at the Town Hall in Stratford under Gainsborough’s portrait of Garrick with M.E. Grand Superintendent Rev. Canon C W Barnard, Second Grand Principal E Comp B Hunn and Third Grand Principal E Comp D J Fowler Presiding.
Swan of Avon Chapter meets on the third Tuesday of January, March, September and November with officers meeting followed by rehearsal on the Wednesday of the preceding week.
As to be expected in such an old established Chapter, among the current membership of 34 are companions of considerable experience both in Craft and in Royal Arch. Indeed, one current Member is a Past M.E.G.Sup.
Happily, current Chapter membership also includes many relative newcomers to the Holy Royal Arch.
The atmosphere during our ceremonies and at the festive board is greatly enhanced by our Swan of Avon Organist who has been famous in Craft for 10 years as the Warwickshire Provincial Grand Organist.
Swan of Avon is a very lively and successful Chapter which was originally sponsored mainly by members of Swan of Avon Craft Lodge 2133 (centenary 1986). The successes of David Garrick Lodge 4243 in Stratford upon Avon and De Montford Lodge 5155 in Henley-in-Arden have certainly been of benefit to our Chapter but we are nevertheless a broadly based Chapter crediting 8 different Craft Lodges for the initiation of our current membership who live not only in Stratford upon Avon but also in many other places including Henley in Arden, Solihull and Sutton Coldfield,
Swan of Avon Chapter is proud of and very much encourages its high standard of ritual and is currently blessed with talented and enthusiastic companions. However, as is well known, inclination, desire and indeed ability to excel at ritual varies enormously.
Progress is as far as possible very much open to individual choice. A recent “exaltee”, having served in the various offices as required, progressed to be installed as “M.E. First Principal” of our Chapter in less than 5 years.
Other candidates, for whatever reason, have preferred the back benches, either for a time or permanently. That has been their choice.
Swan of Avon is an active Chapter having “Exalted” 7 new members over the 5 years prior to “COVID-19” during which period all “First Principals” have been elected to that office for the first time.
And during that same period Swan of Avon Chapter companions have been honoured with a total of 12 Provincial Grand Chapter appointments or promotions, including a recent appointment as an “Acting Provincial Grand Steward”.
A recent highlight was in January 2016 when Swan of Avon Chapter was greatly honoured to host on behalf of the Provincial Grand Chapter of Warwickshire a Provincial Visit from the neighbouring Province of Oxfordshire. On that memorable occasion Swan of Avon Chapter successfully entertained no less than 33 Provincial officers.
Swan of Avon’s comfortable home at Great William Street is widely praised for its Catering. And the fact that the Chapter manages and stocks its own bar at this venue helps to keep costs down while contributing to a very sociable festive board.
Past Social events have included Sunday Lunch gatherings at a restaurant before the February Chapter Provincial Church Service and in 2019 a First Principal “at home” garden social.
Arriving at Royal Arch after over 30 years of “craft-only” Masonry one relatively recent “exaltee” said that, although lacking none of the great Tradition and solemnity of craft, the atmospheric differences in Royal Arch, both in Ceremonial Conduct and at the Festive festive board are notable.
Joyful is the word he used to describe the atmosphere particularly at our Festive board. Formal Toasting is done with great enthusiasm occasionally even to the point of general amusement. But our Swan of Avon Chapter is very serious about the serious bits and very proud of how we work.
Another word which is often used to describe how Swan of Avon Chapter affairs are conducted, particularly at our festive board, is efficient. It is a rare occasion when the final farewell is later than planned.
Anyone wishing to enquire further about joining this chapter should in the first instance contact the Provincial Grand Scribe E David Graham or his assistant E Comp Paul Reagan via the website www.warwickshirepgl.org.uk or www.royal-arch.org.uk