The formation of Hungerford Chapter dates back to 6th January 1964 when, at the Hungerford Lodge monthly General Purposes committee meeting, Ex Comp George Jessett suggested that a chapter be formed in the town. This suggestion was received with enthusiasm by the committee and a further meeting for interested companions was organised for later in the month.
The idea had, however, been in George’s mind for some time before that January. Some ten years earlier, he had been exalted into the Hope Chapter in Newbury and had, in due time, passed through the various chairs and become Scribe E of that Chapter. Hope Chapter was suffering from a shortage of members during the beginning of that period and was slowly building up again with a new membership of which a sizeable proportion came from the Hungerford area. George was also aware that there were more potential members of Chapter in the Hungerford Lodge who lived to the West of the town and who did not wish to travel as far as Newbury for their meetings. He felt that the Hope Lodge had by this time grown sufficiently to be able to operate with another Chapter relatively close by and thus the idea was born.
At the first meeting of the interested parties held on the 27th of January 1964, it was agreed that steps should be taken to form a new RA Chapter to be known as “The Manor of Hungerford Chapter” and a list of possible founder members was completed. It was also agreed to invite the Provincial Scribe E (Secretary), Ex Comp F A Wilson to a meeting with the founders to discuss the procedure to be followed in forming the new chapter.
This meeting was held in the Hungerford Town Hall on the 29th of April 1964 when 11 of the prospective founder members met the Provincial Scribe E. At this meeting it was agreed that the consecration of the chapter would be held on the first Thursday in April 1965 and subsequent convocations on the first Thursdays in September, December and February.
In the meantime, the Worshipful Master (WM) of Hungerford Lodge had, in February, in open lodge, informed the Brethren that a proposal had been made to form a chapter and he invited to them to give their support to the new masonic venture in the town.
At a regular meeting of the Hungerford Lodge in September 1964, W. Bro. George Jessett proposed that a Royal Arch Chapter be formed and a petition be submitted to the Supreme Grand Chapter, signed by the founders. The proposal was carried unanimously and was signed by the WM and his Wardens. Supreme Grand Chapter graciously agreed to the formation of the new chapter in Hungerford but preferred it to be known as The Hungerford RA Chapter no 4748. The charter was then issued by Supreme Grand Chapter in November 1964.
There were some further meetings of the Founders to clarify the arrangements for the consecration meeting on the 1st of April 1965 which would be held in the Newbury Masonic Hall because of the facilities available but that Hungerford Chapter Furniture would be used. The annual dues were agreed at 20 guineas and the Chapter Bylaws were produced. It was also agreed to adopt the same ritual as the Hope Chapter.
The first Regular Convocation of the Chapter met by dispensation on the 5th of August 1965 in the Town Hall, Hungerford at which the first exaltee, Bro Peter Norman – son of the MEZ of the chapter was proposed, balloted and exalted. Two more candidates for exaltation were proposed – W. Bro Frank Fisher a Past Master of Hungerford Lodge and Bro. Peter Ludlow who was at the time the SW of the Hungerford Lodge.
The Lodge then enjoyed many years of expansion until the early part of this century when it suffered the same malaise as much of Freemasonry and is only now beginning to recover again. Until this meeting all the regular convocations were held in the Town Hall at Hungerford. Sadly, like the Lodge, the Town and Manor can no longer accommodate the Chapter and it has been forced to look elsewhere and now holds its ceremonies in the Newbury Masonic Centre.
With thanks to Ex Comp David Jessett, PZ.