There was no need to worry about the cold temperature outside, for in the packed Egyptian Suite at Liverpool Masonic Hall, the companions of Everton Chapter No 823 gave an extremely warm reception to all the guests at their annual installation ceremony. This venerable chapter conducts a ceremony laid down many years ago, as befits its beginnings in 1868 and its evolvement out of St John of Jerusalem Chapter No 203 previously.
The chapter was opened by the first principal Bill Wenton, ably assisted by his two fellow principals Bernard Ashley and Tom McLaughlin. Once the initial business was concluded, the director of ceremonies Roy Cowley retired and returned to announce that the Woolton Group Chairman Andrew Whittle, was this evening the special representative of the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison and seeks admission.
Andrew entered in a large colourful procession, accompanied by Tim Burgess representing the Liverpool Group of chapter’s, numerous grand officers and current Provincial grand officers. Andrew was warmly received by the three principals on behalf of the chapter, then escorted to his seat.
For the purpose of the installation ceremony, Dave Johnson was invited to temporarily occupy the second principal’s chair and George Crawley that of the third principal, while Colin Svenson took guard at the room entrance. John Roberts and Roy Ashley presented the incoming principals; Bernard Ashley as first principal, Tom McLaughlin as second principal and Jorge Perez as third principal. Bernard was obligated by Hugh O’Neil, Tom by Bernard Ashley and Jorge by Tom McLaughlin.
All three were installed according to the ancient workings still used in Everton Chapter and resplendent throughout, sitting on the pedestal of Nehemiah, was the famous Everton bowler hat formerly worn by the chapter patriarch Albert Watson Ley, who still towers above in the history of the chapter. Bernard was presented with the charter of the chapter, Bible, minute book, by-laws and the regulations of Supreme Grand Chapter by Derek Gaskell.
Andrew Whittle rose to convey the congratulations and best wishes of Tony Harrison to those attaining the principal chairs of this fine chapter, albeit the second time around for Bernard, stating that he had witnessed a fine ceremony and everyone was to be congratulated on their outstanding ritual. Andrew concluded his address by stating that it was Tony’s wish that all present should enjoy their Royal Arch Masonry. Bernard thanked Andrew for his kind words and presented him with two cheques; Liverpool Masonic Hall Building Fund £100 and MCF 2021 Festival £300, to which Andrew expressed his thanks.
On conclusion of the ceremony, the companions retired to the banqueting suite for the festive board. This consisted of homemade cod fishcake with salad, followed by a traditional roast beef dinner. For dessert, an ‘Eton mess’ was served, then cheese and biscuits with the coffee and tea. A good selection of accompanying liquid refreshment was served throughout. Andrew once again congratulated the chapter on the very high standard of the earlier ceremony, which can only be achieved through hard work and dedication. Andrew also took the opportunity to congratulate David Brighouse, who will be appointed as Past Provincial Assistant Grand Scribe Ezra at Provincial Grand Chapter. This was greeted with hearty applause.
At the toast to the three principals, those present had the added delight of hearing an exuberant rendition of the scarcely performed ‘Cyrus song’, many for the first time. The outstanding vocalist was Roy Ashley, twin brother to Bernard, with the companions heartily joining in at the chorus, a memorable moment indeed. Throughout the evening, the three principals had the use of the silver goblets presented in 1993 on the 125th anniversary of Everton Chapter.
Also, during the festive board, the chapter mascot ‘Bully’ made his way along the tables, gratefully collecting loose change from the generous individuals assembled. This collection is used by the chapter for any small incidentals that come along throughout the year. The proceedings of the evening were eventually brought to an end with the ‘toast of the janitor’, again done in unique style by John Hibbert.