Devonshire Provincial Mark Lodge

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Part 2



At the 1943 Provincial Lodge meeting W. Bro. James Henry Knight, Grand Junior Deacon (Unity Mark Lodge No.733) was admitted, obligated and installed as the new Deputy Provincial Grand Master.

Before the meeting closed Major Strode, who was now 83, announced that in the course of' the next few days he would tender to the Grand Master his resignation from the office of Provincial Grand Master, to which he was installed in 1904.

It was reported that two nominations for the office of' Provincial Grand Master had been received, V.W. Bro. Colonel C. B. Spencer, OBE. T D. Past Grand Overseer, Provincial Grand Secretary, and W. Bro. Vice Admiral L.W. Braithwaite, CMG, Grand Sword Bearer, Past Provincial Grand Warden.

Arrangements for a especial meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge were made on the 13th January, 1944,.by the members of St. George No.15 and Athelstan No. 953 Lodges. The meeting was held at the Washington Singer Hall, University College of the South West in Exeter and R.W.Bro. Cannon Frederick Halsey the Deputy Grand Master installed V.W. Brother Colonel Charles Beechy Spencer as Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire with the apron worn by his predecessor R.W.Bro. Major Strode. Before the meeting closed a collection was taken in aid of the 'Prisoners of War Fund for the Devonshire Regiment'. R.W. Bro. Spencer first saw the light of Masonry in 1915, during the First World War. He was installed Provincial Grand Master during the Second World War. In his first six years as ruler he visited each of the 37 Lodges in the Province at least once He then set himself the target of' installing one Master in each Lodge.

In 1946 V.W. Bro. Brigadier R. Rossall Sandford, C.B.E, M.C., T.D., Grand Senior Overseer, succeeded Brother Knight as the Deputy Provincial Grand Master. A doctor, Brigadier Sandford came to Devon from the Isaac Newton University Lodge No. 112, Cambridge. W. Bro. H.J.W. Ruse, PGD (Caput Anguli Lodge No. 793) as Provincial Grand Secretary, had as his assistant W. Bro. Lieutenant Commander C.J.R. Souhamy, PPrGW, who became Provincial Grand Secretary in 1950 when. W. Bro. Ruse resigned owing to the illness of' his wife.

On the 30th November, 1966, R.W. Bro. Charles Beechey Spencer retired as Provincial Grand Master, a position he had held with distinction for 23 years. During this period he presided over the consecration nine new Lodges which were; St John's 1029 (1945), Ashburton 1038 (1945), Manadon 1076 (1947), Plympton Erie 1100 (1948), St Simon 1116 (1948), Lodge of the West Gate 1180 (1954), True Love and Unity 1159 (1952), Benevolence 1264 (1962) and Lewis 1284 (1964). He was only the fifth Provincial Grand Master in 109 years, and it was ill health which forced him to retire. On the 8th June of the following year R.W. Brother Spencer passed from this earthly abode to receive a White Stone.

V.W. Bro. C.J.R. Souhamy, who for so long had worked so closely with R.W. Brother Spencer, said: He served Mark Masonry well, particularly the Province of Devonshire and had endeared himself in the hearts and affections of all the brethren with whom he came into contact. We shall miss the wise counsel end Lie greatly mourn his passing."

The rays of a singularly strong sun played on the modern stained glass windows of Plymouth Guildhall on Wednesday, the 6th February, 1967, as though foretelling the pattern of the years which lay ahead.

The large hall, built not so many years before following the intensive bombing of the City, was filled to capacity for the installation, of W. Bro. Colonel Frederick Wynford Dewhurst, Past Grand Sword Bearer, as the Provincial Grand Master for Devonshire.

The Most Worshipful Grand Master, Lord Harris, M.C., V.L. travelled from London to perform the ceremony. He was assisted by R.W. Bra. Colonel E. Perry Morgan, Provincial Grand Master for Cornwall, as the Grand Senior Warden; R.W. Bro. Lt.Col. J.W. Chitty, MBE, Past GW, Grand Secretary, as the Grand Junior Warden; Bro. the Rev. A.J.C. Beddow, M.A., Provincial Grand Chaplain, as the Grand Chaplain; R.W. Bra. H.D. Still, Past GW as the Grand Director of Ceremonies; W.Bro. R.G. Read, OBE, as the Deputy Grand .Director of Ceremonies; W.Bro. W.C. Holrnan, AGSwdB, as the Grand Sword Bearer; W. Bro. Lieut. Com. J.J. Cliffe, MBE, R.N. PGD, as the Grand Standard Bearer; W. Bro. H. Aston, PG Inspr0 Wks, as the Grand Organist; W. Bro. C.O. Holland, G. Stwd, as the Grand Inner Guard.

With such experienced officers, the ceremony could not fail to be impressive and dignified and remain a last memory with all those privileged to be present.

R.W.Bro. Dr. Charles Wroth, who had been promoted to the high rank of Past Grand Warden, was re-appointed Deputy Grand Master for Devonshire. Among those present was the R.W. Bro. Colonel Charles Beechey Spencer. It was his last public appearance before his death.

To be continued

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