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Then and Now – Some ‘Reminiscences’ Rediscovered



It is one of the wishes of Paul Tarrant, the Provincial Grand Master and Most Excellent Grand Superintendent of Essex, that a good number of Craft Lodge Secretaries and Royal Arch Scribes cherish and preserve their Lodge and Chapter histories.  So far, Essex has been fortunate in this respect with two superb books, ‘The Master’s Chair’ in 2005 and ‘The Master’s Chair - A Royal Arch Companion Volume’ in 2017.

Tony Terry, the Scribe of the oldest Chapter in Essex, Patriotic No. 51, has been researching to update his Chapter’s history. During his endeavours, Tony examined more closely the contents of Patriotic Chapter’s black box, which had been stored in their bank’s strong room for many years and then kept by a former Scribe. When Tony first opened the box, he discovered Minute books and other documents and an old tape cassette on which were written the words:

Dr. A.G. Duncan Grand Supt O.S.M. 6.2.73



The late Most Excellent Archibald Glen Duncan, MD OSM, was the ninth Grand Superintendent of Essex. Shortly before he passed to Grand Chapter above on 25th March 1973, he gave a 44-minute presentation to Patriotic Chapter, with his permission to be tape-recorded. Entitled Then and Now – Some ‘Reminiscences’, Archibald Duncan shared memories about his predecessor from 1935 to1957, Dr Frank Douglas Turner CBE MB OSM, and talked about earlier times in the Royal Arch as far back as the Victorian era.

On the reverse side of the tape cassette is a second recording, which is being transcribed, edited and proofread for release as part of an updated history of Patriotic Chapter. Presented the same evening by Excellent Companion Keith Buck, who later wrote the History of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Essex 1776 – 1976, followed on with a short 15-minute talk on Patriotic Chapter’s history based on its Minutes of the previous 100 years. It gives a fascinating account of how ritual, and ceremonies developed as well as emphasising the value and importance of Scribes and Lodge Secretaries in conserving Masonic history in Essex for future generations.  

With the help of Tony Terry’s son, Adam, both tape recordings have been digitised as much as possible to remove background noise, although listeners may hear a metallic sound during Dr Duncan’s talk, caused by the tassels on his apron rubbing against a gas heater, as it was a very cold evening.

Both are a marvel to listen to. Listeners are transported over 51 years back in time and can feel as though they are in the same room with an eminent Companion talking about key historical developments in Essex Royal Arch history. They discover how surprisingly different some aspects of the Royal Arch were in Victorian times as they hear firsthand from Dr Duncan about the forward-thinking of a Past Essex Grand Superintendent and both their interactions with Supreme Grand Chapter. 

Elliott Chevin, the Deputy Grand Superintendent for Essex, said,

“This is a terrific piece of work which was a true delight to listen to.”

Paul Tarrant affirmed and added,

“Both Dr Turner and Dr Duncan contributed significantly in bringing about changes to make Royal Arch Masonry in Essex more enjoyable without losing any of its integrity. It is a magnificent privilege for me to be their successor, as the 15th Grand Superintendent, and in the spirit of their leadership, to be able to continue the good work as the Province of Essex moves forward together on One Journey One Organisation.”

Then and Now – Some ‘Reminiscences’ by Dr A G Duncan MD OSM

Listen to the MP3 audio file here.

Read the Transcript PDF here.

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