Contact details to book the team are at the bottom of this article – if this is your first visit, please read on to learn more about the team and the background leading up to its successful demonstrations.
The Demonstration Team with Grand Master in Winchester Guildhall
When Thomas Dunckerley took control of the Knights Templar Rite in 1791 he did not interfere with the forms of ritual worked by the individual Encampments. However by the 1850’s it was considered desirable to introduce some measure of uniformity. Today with a few well known exceptions, all Preceptories under the “English jurisdiction” use the ritual book authorised by Great Priory to install candidates into the Order.
All Masons are encouraged to make a daily advancement in their Masonic knowledge, and the Triennial Conference held in Winchester in September gave the opportunity for 24 thespian knights of all ranks from the Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight to demonstrate, in costume, one of the many and varied ceremonies being worked in Dunckerley’s day. This had been produced and directed by the Provincial Prior, who played the part of its author, Richard Carlile.
These knights not only made a daily advancement in the history of our Order but also learned to tie a proper bow tie – de rigueur for Brethren in those days. Come the day though, the wardrobe mistress (who just happened to be the Provincial Prior’s wife, Sonia Gulliver) found herself not only ironing mantles, sashes and ensuring the team looked tidy, but was confronted by 24 helpless looking “boys” lined up ties in hand wishing to be dressed. “Matron” duly obliged!
When published Richard Carlile’s expose of the Templar ceremony was widely accepted as an accurate reflection of practices of the day, and therefore seemed most appropriate for the occasion in Winchester. Although Carlile’s work showed an in depth knowledge of the wording of the ceremony he gave very little insight into the floor work; and so much time was spent creating a rubric for the ritual in line with modern practice.
By September 2008 the team were able to read through the script as any normal Masonic Ceremony or play, and proved the project viable. After minor corrections and adjustments rehearsals on a monthly basis began, and the making of costumes and Encampment furniture began in earnest.
Carlile’s introduction and commentary to his “Manual of Freemasonry” was used to create a prologue which explained his reasons for writing the expose, and records his change of attitude towards Freemasonry when in a later edition of his manual he wrote “I do however regret the remarks I made in my Republican edition of the expose which must have given so much offence…………I have by research, arrived at quite another general view of Masonry to that which I took on first exposing it in 1825”. He concludes that “Man is a creature to be improved by cultivation; that knowledge of things is the source of improvement; and that time is the material to be properly used to that end.”
The format of the opening and closing ceremonies are very “Craft orientated” referring to the situations and duties of the various officers. The passages of scripture will be
very familiar to those who have had the “Appendant Orders” of the Red Cross of Constantine, conferred upon them.
While the installation ceremony uses several phrases known to us from our modern day ceremony, the signs and many of the “words” will be new to you, although those who are acquainted with the Baldwin Rite will note some similarities. The motto around the star is also explained and the ceremony concludes with an oration in a very similar format to the Charge after Initiation. This ceremony existed long before the introduction of the separate Malta Degree and some of the B. L. D. R. and A. elements, now associated with that ceremony are included, and both Knighthoods are conferred during the accolade.
The officers of the Encampment are:- Grand Commander; Past Grand Commander; First Captain; Second Captain; Grand Prelate; Grand Herald; Master of the Ceremonies; Deputy Master of the Ceremonies; Grand Registrar; Grand Orator; Sentinel; Trumpeter; Guard.
The production was so well received by the 300 plus knights from across the world who had gathered in the Winchester Guildhall that the Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight have created a “Demonstration Team” to deliver the ceremony in other Provinces under the Great Priory of England and Wales in support of the Grand Master’s “Anabta” appeal for funds to provide specific pieces of medical equipment for the St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital and its facilities in Palestine.
The team spent many happy hours, days, weeks, months…preparing for the inaugural demonstration!
For more information, please click here to contact us.
Our very grateful thanks are extended to our demonstration photographer – Dru Furneaux