Supreme Order of the Royal Arch

A History of

The Howe Chapter No. 587

Formerly No. 857

1855          to       2005

‘Histories make men wise’

                    Francis Bacon

The First 50 years

The following is mainly a précis of a book compiled by E. Comp. Fredk. J. Penn, SE in 1912, covering the years 1855-1913.

The Chapter is indebted to the Howe Lodge No. 857 for bringing about it’s existence which was recommended by St. Peter’s Chapter No. 607 at a regular meeting at the Star and Garter Hotel, Wolverhampton in December 1854.

At a regular meeting of the Howe Lodge No. 857, held at The Masonic Rooms, Newhall St. Birmingham on 8th Jan. 1855 it was resolved that consent be given to a Royal Arch Chapter being attached thereto.

Accordingly, the Charter was granted on the 7th February 1855 facilitated by the Most Excellent Companion John Savage who later Consecrated the Chapter and Installed the Principals.

The Chapter was to meet on the second Wednesday in February, May, August and November. The annual subscription was 10s. 6p.

The first meeting of the Howe Chapter No. 857 was held at the Masonic Rooms, Newhall Street, Birmingham on Thursday the 10th May 1855.

The Chapter was Consecrated, the Principals Installed, and eight Brethren exalted into Royal Arch Masonry, by the Most Excellent Companion John Savage who was afterwards elected as an honorary member of the Chapter.

Companion Benjamin William Goode was first First Principal, Companion Isaac Hawker Bedford first Second Principal and Companion John Thomas Goode first Third Principal. All three were members of the Chapter of Fortitude which had been Consecrated in 1783..

There were 32 Companions present including the eight who had been Exalted and eleven visitors.

In the year 1855, there appears to have been only two other Chapters which met in Warwickshire: Fortitude Chapter No. 43 and Shakespeare Chapter.

The Howe Chapter derived its name from the Right Honourable Earl Howe, who had granted permission for the Howe Lodge to assume his name when the Lodge was Consecrated in 1851.

The Right Honourable Earl Howe was Provincial Grand Master for Warwickshire at the time.

When it was agreed that the Companions should dine after the Chapter meeting, it was the custom for the three Principals to pay the expenses, but from 1862 it was resolved that each Companion dining should pay 10 shillings.

In 1863 Bye Laws were framed and a copy given to each Candidate on his Exaltation together with a copy of the Royal Arch Regulations.

In 1863, on the revision of the register of Grand Lodge, the number of the Howe Lodge was altered from 857 to 587.

In 1866 the numerical strength of the Chapter was recorded maximum at 97 members.

In 1869 the Chapter started to meet at the new Masonic Hall at Temple Buildings, New Street, Birmingham.

The custom of presenting the retiring First Principal with a P.Z. Jewel appears to have originated in the Chapter in 1873.

The Provincial Grand Chapter honoured the Chapter with visits in 1873,1878, 1888,1899 and 1904

In 1904, E.Comp.T A Bayliss, feeling that the Charities of the Order should be well looked after, presented a novel Charity Box to the Chapter.

The Chapter attained its Golden Jubilee in 1905, and as a Compliment the Provincial Grand Chapter held their meeting under the Howe Chapter Banner.

May 4th 1905 (Golden Jubilee year)

The meeting was held at The Masonic Rooms, Newhall Street, Birmingham.

There were 30 companions present and 5 visitors.

E. Comp. J A Bayliss was installed as first Principal,

E. Comp A D Brooks was installed as second Principal,

and Comp M H Bowater was installed as third Principal

A proposal was made for Bro Robert Owen Hughes a Dentist of the Bedford Lodge No 925 and also Bro Thomas Foster Duggan a Solicitor also of Bedford Lodge No 925 as candidates for Exaltation.

The Chapter was closed but no time recorded.

May 6th 1915 (Diamond Jubilee, apparently not recognised.)

There were 33 companions and 3 visitors present.

E. Comp. F H Penn was installed as first Principal,

E. Comp. E Larkham installed as second Principal, and

Comp. J Bowater being on active service his installation into third Principal was deferred.

Bro M Myatt of Swan of Avon Lodge No 2133 was proposed as a candidate for Exaltation.

The Chapter was closed but no time recorded.

Special mention is also made of E. Comp. George Beech who was Exalted into Howe Chapter in 1862, became First Principal in 1872, and was Installed as Grand Superintendent of Warwickshire in 1906. He was Installed Provincial Grand Master of Warwickshire in 1913.

Special mention is also made of E. Comp. W. H. Bowater, P.Z. of the Chapter, who was elected Lord Mayor of Birmingham 1909-1911.

A Chapter of Improvement was formed in the Province around 1912 and a complete revision of the old Ritual was approved by the Grand Superintendents of

Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcester. This became the ritual, which the Howe Chapter used.

Up to 1912, nearly seventy Brethren of the Howe Lodge and a little over eighty from the Bedford Lodge had been Exalted into the Howe Chapter.

During the first 57 years there were 365 Exalted, 32 Joining and 11 Founders. Total 408.

In 1913 there were 58 Subscribing Members and one Honorary Member.

The Second 50 years to 1954

  1. In November 1979 it was reported that the original Warrant had been lost about 1927 during the move from the New Street Temple.

The history of this second period will, it is assumed, have been reported in a Centenary Brochure. No copy of this brochure has been found to date.

1929    A Charter of Confirmation that Howe Chapter had been established was issued by The Grand and Royal Chapter on 1st May 1929 as the original Charter dated 6th February 1855 had been lost. It is this Charter of Confirmation that is displayed during Convocations of the Howe Chapter.

          A photograph of the original Charter is contained in the History of the Howe Chapter issued in 1913.

Centenary Meeting – Saturday 11June 1955

This meeting was held at Francis Road, Edgbaston and consisted of

 the Installation of the Principals,  followed after calling off by the Centenary celebration and a banquet.

50 Jewels were purchased at a cost of £2-7s-6p each.

148 Companions were present including 23 Grand Chapter and Provincial Grand Chapter guests. The Lord Bishop of Birmingham was invited.

A Centenary Brochure was prepared.

The Third 50 years – 1955-2005.

1956   The practice of empowering the three principals to appoint officers for the ensuing year commenced.

1961    It was resolved that the Midlands Workings as revised in 1939 and the permitted variations thereto be adopted with the exception that the P.S. and the sharing of the word as from the Old Midlands Workings are to be retained during the obligation.

  1. The last Convocation of the Howe Chapter No. 587 held at the Edgbaston    Assembly Rooms, Francis Road prior to their demolition, took place Thursday 3rd June 1971 when E.Comp. H.J.Tonks was Installed ‘’M.E.Z


In March 1980 it was reported that a Square and Compasses engraved with the name of Howe Chapter had been returned by D.A.Light Masonic Supplies who had found them in a box of Jewels purchased.

125 years Celebration.   1855-1980  

The agenda of the Convocation held by Dispensation on Saturday, 10th. May 1980 at the Warwickshire Masonic Temple, Clarendon Road, Birmingham,

 included the Installation of the Principles followed after an interval by the Celebration of 125years.

There were 29 Companions of the Chapter present, together with 36 visitors including:

E.Comp.W.R.Heatley, The Most Excellent Grand Superintendent                             E.Comp.A.E.McNamara, P.A.G.Soj. Deputy Grand Superintendent,

E.Comp. S.A.Lates, P.A.G.Soj. 2nd Provincial Grand Principal.

E.Comp. J.J.Rudell, P.G.Std.B. 3rd Provincial Grand Principal.

E.Comp. E.N.Hands, P.G.Std.B. Provincial Grand Scribe E,

E.Comp. W.S.Ellson, P.G.Std.B. Provincial Grand .D.C.

E.Comp. R.F.Burton, Deputy Provincial Grand .D.C.

E.Comp. D.J.Rawlins was installed ‘’Z’’

E.Comp. D.C.Webber was installed ‘’H’’

Comp. K.F.Gerrie was installed ‘’J’’

After a 10 minute interval the 125 yeas celebration continued.

The Most Excellent Grand Superintendent gave an address on the purpose of the meeting,

The 2nd Principal offered up a prayer of thanksgiving on behalf of the Chapter.

Extracts from the Minutes of the 1st Meeting of the Chapter were read.

Extracts from the Minutes of the Meeting of the Chapter held 100 years ago in 1880 were read.

Extracts from the Minutes of the Centenary Meeting of the Chapter were read.

The original Warrant was read.

The Centenary Warrant was read by E.Comp.S.A.Lates, P.A.G.Soj. 2nd Provincial Grand Principal.

E.Comp.K.F.Gerrie,‘’J’’ gave a short history of the Chapter.

An Illuminated Script was presented to the M.E. Grand Superintendent on his election as an Honorary Member of the Howe Chapter by the M.E.Z. E.Comp D.J.F.Rawlins.

The hymn ‘’O God Our Help in ages Past’’ was sung and alms collected in aid of Masonic Charities.

The Chapter was closed.

The M.E. Grand Superintendent gave the Patriarchal Benediction.

The first verse of the National Anthem was sung.

The duration of the Convocation was 3 ¾ hours.

Subsequent to the Meeting a Porcelain Commemorative Beaker was gifted to the Provincial Museum.

125 year Anniversary Summons





1983    In April the temperature of the Chapter room was recorded as                                 56 deg F (13 deg. C) !

In May, E.Comp. K.J.P.Bowyer presented a suitably inscribed Masonic Concordance 1983 Bible and E.Comp. K.F.Gerrie an Oxford New Hoparell Bible to the Chapter.


In February E.Comp. P. Mervyn Gorton was elected an Honorary Member and presented with a frame scroll recording 50 years in Masonry and 35 years in Howe Chapter.


In April E.Comp.J.K.P.Bower presented an additional VOSL, set of  Square and Compass and three Gavels to the Chapter.

The Convocation was informed that the M.E.Z. Collar of Office had been presented to the Chapter in 1852 by the Reverend Izaak Bedford after whom Bedford Lodge No.915 is named. This date precedes the Consecration of Howe Chapter!

1987    E.Comp. H.J.Tonks presented to the Chapter new DC and ADC Collars and Jewels.

Minute book 5/6/69-1990 covered 21 years.

1995    E.Comp. Stanley A Lates, P.Prov.G.Supt. became an Honorary Member of Howe Chapter.

  • A revision to the Warwickshire Exaltation Ritual following the approval of Supreme Grand Chapter, was introduced, recognising that Exaltation was a separate and complete degree, deleting reference to the concept of completion of the third degree. The references to dates in the Historical lecture were also deleted.

During the last 50 years we have in excess of 8 new Joining Members and 78 new Exalted Members, including 37 from Bedford Lodge.

 During the last five years we have re-established the link with Howe Lodge mainly due to the efforts of E.Comp.Richard Barker P.Prov.G.Soj., Prov.AG.S.E..

150 Year Celebrations.

A full Provincial team join Howe Chapter in a Special Meeting at Stirling Road on Tuesday 17th May 2005 for this Celebration, which includes the presentation of a script to the Grand Superintendent to mark his acceptance of Honorary Membership of Howe Chapter.

We Commemorate the First Meeting of the Howe Chapter of Royal Arch Masons No. 857, held at the Masonic Rooms, Newhall Street, Birmingham on 10th May 1855.

At 12.00 noon Most Excellent Companion John Savage consecrated the Chapter, and at 3.00pm the Principals were Installed, the Officers Invested and eight Brethren Exalted into Royal Arch Masonry.

John Savage was elected an Honorary Member of the Howe Chapter at the Consecration.

We are grateful to the ten Founders for their foresight in founding the Howe Chapter, which has given much pleasure to so many Companions over the 150 years.