On Thursday 17th January 2019 United Service Chapter was honoured by a ceremonial visit from the ME Grand Superintendent in and over Nottinghamshire, supported by the acting officers of the Province.
The Most Excellent Grand Superintendent Richard Gutteridge and his team entered the Chapter in a formal procession and were welcomed wholeheartedly by the MEZ, who presented his sceptre to the MEGS, who happily accepted it and, along with his acting officers, opened the Chapter. The MEGS then gave an informative address on the history of United Service Chapter and the contribution of its past and present members to the Province.
The MEGS then handed the Chapter back into the care of the MEZ, who then conducted the business of the Chapter. A PowerPoint presentation on behalf of the Nottinghamshire Sojourners entitled, ‘The Royal Arch Tracing Boards’ was then delivered by Excellent Companion Tony Hopewell, who had taken a paper originally written by E. Companion Richard Cumberland in May 2015, and converted it to a PowerPoint format. The presentation included illustrated examples of the known versions of each board but E. Companion Tony acknowledged that there may well be others held within the Royal Arch community. Although there are some Tracing Board examples of great antiquity, the most common in use are two that the Duke of Sussex, the first Grand Master, commissioned John Harris (1791 – 1873), a Freemason and noted artist and engraver, to craft (in an attempt to standardise the use of tracing boards).
The very detailed presentation of a subject not previously demonstrated in this fashion within the Province of Nottinghamshire was very interesting and was enthusiastically received by all present.
The MEGS followed the presentation with a very interesting explanation of the search and restoration of the grave of John Harris. Apparently, the grave had been lost and only recently rediscovered after much research by W. Brother Forbes Cutler of the Surrey Province. To secure the site, Brother Forbes bought the grave and set about raising a fund to buy a fitting headstone for the unmarked grave. Our Grand Superintendent and our Provincial Grand Master travelled to Croydon on Tuesday 18th September 2018 for a Service of Memorial to John Harris and to witness the ‘Hallowing of the Grave and Headstone’. The Province of Surrey has undertaken the duty to maintain the grave for the benefit of future generations. This clearly demonstrated the great importance of the work carried out to preserve and bring to life our Royal Arch history.