Vale of Jehoshaphat Chapter No 291

Meets at – The Masonic Hall, Burnham-on-Sea, TA8 1NX. Fourth Friday of February-April September at 18.30 installation is in November at 18.00.

Consecrated 1847 at Highbridge Meets at the Masonic Hall, Burnham-on-Sea. The Charter of the present Vale of Jehoshaphat Chapter is dated the 3rd November 1847 but the first Convocation was not held until 14th November 1848 when E Comp S.E. Taylor of Beaufort Chapter, in the Province of Bristol acted as Zerubbabel, E Comp Dr Pope acted as Haggai and E Comp Buncombe acted as Joshua. On that evening several Brethren of the Rural Philanthropic Lodge No.367 were balloted, elected and exalted.

The Chapter takes its name from the Valley of Jehoshaphat to the East of Jerusalem The valley holds a place in Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths as the scene for the Last Judgment. It was first mentioned with regard to Freemasonry in 1723 in an exposure called “A Mason’s Examination” and again in 1730 in “Masonry Dissected”.   The first entry in the first minute book of the Vale of Jehoshaphat Chapter No 89 reads as follows:

“Rules Orders and Regulations made and observed by the members of the Vale of Jehosaphat Chapter of Royal Arch Masons no. 89 established at Highbridge Inn in the parish of Huntsville.” 14 Rules follow with 29 signatures.

Strong links with the Rural Philanthropic Lodge are clear by many common founders, including John Jennings the Founding W. Master. The first meeting was held on February 24th 1793, with John Jennings Z, Richard Locke H, Wm Counsel J. Also named as a “Visiting Counsellor” was Charles Mines, who three weeks earlier was at the first meeting of Rural Philanthropic Lodge as Provincial Grand Secretary.

Attendance at meetings was rather infrequent until the final entry on 29th November 1833 after a lapse from February 1821. The Chapter would appear to have been in abeyance until 14th November 1848. Attendance was again infrequent until 1871 and it is noted that the centenary was not celebrated until 28th September 1973.

The Minutes for 1876 record the receipt of a letter from Royal Sussex Chapter asking for support in the formation of a Provincial Grand Chapter. This proposition was agreed and in 1880 the Somerset Provincial Grand Chapter was consecrated in Taunton with E Comp Col. A.W. Adair as Grand Superintendent. In 2015 at a special Convocation of Provincial Grand Chapter of Somerset held at the Webbington Hotel & Spa at Loxton, the Chapter was presented by the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent, E Comp D John Bennett a commemorative Banner acknowledging the part that Vale of Jehoshaphat Chapter had played in the formation and consecration of the Province

Vale of Jehoshaphat Founders Banner

Vale of Jehoshaphat Chapters has many items that are on display in the Officers Robing Room; amongst these are the old Chapter Banner illustrated earlier and the original Honours Board that was discovered in the Boiler Room. The banner pictured is a copy of the original, which still exists in a very frail condition. It was  hand embroidered by Mrs Gill Ferm, wife of E.Comp Reg Ferm PAGSoj.  The new banner was dedicated on 1st September 1990.

Also on display in the Cabinet are the original Chapter Principals Crowns. These are not used these days only Vale of Jehoshaphat Chapter and Dungarvan Chapter at Frome still have their original Crowns.

To find out more about The Vale of Jehoshaphat Chapter email 📧 Scribe – E – John Kidd

Back to top button