Investiture of New Grand Master Julian K Gunnell GCSR, GCSM
August 21st 2016
Many members went to stay at Rugeley the Saturday night before the event and as such had a very enjoyable impromptu Saturday night gathering arranged by David Haywood in a nearby hostelry. A careful eye was kept on Julian just to ensure he did not have a “wee dram” too much before his big day!
On a bright and sunny Sunday morning, members started to arrive at Hawkesyard Estate; one just knew how impressive it was as you drove into the estate – in front of you the large rambling Mansion, flanked on one side by a golf course and on top of the hill our destination, the Cathedral & Priory Church of St Thomas the Apostle.
On arrival coffee and tea was available as always and we were all able to make our way around this lovely Cathedral, with its magnificent stained glass windows, carvings and superb roof structure.
Julian was taken off for his vigil in a side Chapel and we all lined up for the procession. After being seated, the congregation was welcomed by Most Rev John Lycett Archbishop, with a little history of Hawkesyard, a place known to previous generations by a variety of names including Hawkeserd in Hondesacre, Armitage Park, Spode House and Hawkesyard Priory. The original hall, pulled down in 1665, was much closer to the River Trent, about half a mile to the west of Armitage Church. In 1760, when the estate was renamed ‘Armitage Park’ by Nathaniel Lister, he built a gothic style mansion on the sandstone hill above the site of the original hall. The building of the Priory and Church began almost immediately. Some say that this decision was inspired by a vision of the Virgin Mary appearing to someone in the grounds of the estate.
Then to business of the Installation of our New Grand Master. Everything went so smoothly thanks to our two Marshals, and soon Julian was brought in to be installed with due reverence by the Grand Master and Grand Prior. After rousing applause from the congregation, and greetings from members of Grand Council, Commanders of Conclaves, the Chaplaincy and a Member of the Order, Julian then called upon David Haywood to be installed as his Deputy Grand Master. We were all lined up for the photographs, got changed and wandered or drove down the hill to the mansion house.
On our arrival we were greeted by staff, shown the way to the bar (of course) and then to the room where we were to eat, with bright surroundings and large glass chandeliers. We sat down to a splendid lunch, following which Julian was called upon to make his maiden speech, which he did with humour.
Finally the Quaich was passed around with one of the finest Malt Whiskeys I have ever tasted! That done, it was time to leave and wind our way home.
A super weekend and one well worth repeating.
n.b Photographs of the occasion can be found in the Gallery section of the website.