St Thomas Becket / St William AGM

At the previous meeting and at the Grand meeting in Peterborough as well as by email correspondence members of the St William of Rochester Conclave had decided that it would be sensible to place the Conclave into abeyance and transfer into St Thomas Becket – Martyr. Following a brief discussion at which the Kent members present had voiced their agreement with this view and following a proposal from Penny Bell-Wright seconded by Peter Robins, the members of St Thomas Becket – Martyr voted unanimously to accept the Kent members. A general discussed then ensued and it was agreed that all members should be encouraged to attend and that those who did not generally respond should be telephoned.

It was agreed that a Conclave meeting would be held in Kent, probably at Dartford, on a date to be decided. It was also agreed that a Dinner would be held on the Friday before the 29th September each Year, three courses excluding drinks. To encourage members to become more active, 3 or 4 activities per year would also be arranged. The following initial suggestions were put forward, a tour of Windsor Castle, to be arranged with Leslie Grout, renowned expert, a trip on the London Eye and a trip down the River to Greenwich, possibly with a meal in the O2.

Installation of new Grand Master


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.

Lawrence Day

n.b Photographs of the occasion can be found in the Gallery section of the website.

Grand Master to retire

In his article for this year’s Newsletter, the Grand Master, M.E. The Chevalier Howard Doe, announced his intention to retire as Grand Master in 2016.

A special Ceremony has been arranged to install the new Grand Master, although his name will not be announced until the Annual Meeting in May 2016.

The Installation service will take place at Rugeley, Staffordshire, on Sunday 21st August 2016, and promises to be a unique event in the history of the Order. Details have been sent to all members of the Order, and it is hoped that most members will be able to attend.

For further information please contact the Grand Chancellor.

Joint Meeting of St William of Rochester and London Conclaves

A meeting was held on the 8th August 2015 at the Civil Service Club, London, for an Investiture service and for the re-dedication of the Conclave of St Thomas Becket – Martyr.  Although the ‘home’ of the conclave is   St. Mary’s church, Putney High Street (Next to the river Thames by the stone Bridge), London SW15 1SN, this was unavailable on the day.

The Grand Conclave was opened in the customary manner, led by the Grand Master, Grand Prior and Grand Chancellor.

Members in attendance were ; Howard Doe, Grand Master, Barry Uttley, Grand Chancellor, David Haywood, Grand Chancellor Designate, Rt Rev’d Geoffrey Robinson, Grand Prior, Steven Turner, Norman Offield, Elizabeth Murray, Mike Boxall, Simon McIlwaine, Lawrence and Penny Bell-Wright and Ian Tough.

At this time there was one Postulant –  Andrew Charalambous, who was invested as a Knight of the Order.

The Grand Master re-dedicated the St Thomas Beckett – Martyr Conclave, with Norman Offield being appointed as the first Commander. The Conclave was closed in traditional form, and those present retired for a banquet in the bar, where some suitable toasts were proposed and speeches given.

Norman Offield will give notice of the next meeting of the Conclave in Putney, after speaking to the Rector in charge of St.Mary’s church.

Photos from the event can be found in the Gallery.