Provincial Priory of Worcestershire

History

The origins of the Masonic order of the Temple is, like those of Freemasonry, are somewhat obscure. It is thought that it originated in France around 1740. From France it crossed the channel to this country.

The first Grand Master in this country was Thomas Dunckerley. He was installed on 24th June 1791 at the first conclave of the order held at the Unicorn Tavern in London.

Worcestershire’s first encampment, as preceptories were then known, was that of Richard de Vernon, (now Preceptory No 52).  The Encampment was consecrated on the 10th June 1857 at the Dudley Arms Hotel, Dudley. By all accounts it must have been a very lengthy meeting after the consecration, Henry Charles Vernon was then installed as the first Provincial Grand Commander of the Province of Worcestershire, he in turn installed the first Eminent Commander of the new encampment, Thomas James. The new Eminent Commander then conducted the Encampment business including installing seven new Knights, appointing and investing his officers. To finish the evening off V E Knight Vernon opened the first Provincial Conclave and appointed his deputy Albert Hudson Royds as well as his first Provincial Officers.

In 1861 a second encampment, that of St Amand, was consecrated at Worcester on 19th December.

For the next sixty years the two encampments or preceptories were the only ones in the province. Provincial Priory meetings eventually began to alternate between Dudley and Worcester. Provincial Priory meetings were held after the host  encampment had conducted its own business.

The fortunes of the Provincial Prior waxed and waned according to to the health and commitment of the Provincial Prior, the affairs of the Province often being carried out by its sub prior.

In 1906, on the death of Sir Frederick Godson the Grand Master made the decision to almagamate the Province with the Provincial Priory of Staffordshire and Warwickshire. As can be imagined this decision was a shock and definitely not popular! This amalgamation lasted until 1924 when after strong petitioning, Worcester regained its status as a Province in its own right and, as such, has remained so ever since.

V E Kt  R G H Goddard, Past 1st Great Constable, has written an excellent and detailed history of the first 150 years of Knights Templar in Worcestershire from which this very much potted history has been based. It is a fascinating document and it is highly recommended for further reading.

 

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