Consecration of E L J Smith Conclave No. 613

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On Wednesday 29th October 2014 the E L J Smith Conclave No. 613 was Consecrated at Surbiton Masonic Hall by R Wy Bro Lawrence J Young, Provincial Grand Supreme Ruler, assisted by Officers of Grand and Provincial Grand Conclave.

Early in the morning the Consecrating Officers and Petitioners arrived for the rehearsal under the guidance of R Wy Bro Ian Currans the Director of Ceremonies. By 1045 the Brethren were all assembled in the Temple and the Consecrating Officer, accompanied by his Assisting Officers entered in procession, took the Chair, appointed his Officers and opened a Conclave of the Order.

After singing the Opening Hymn the Consecrating Officer was saluted. R Wy Bro Lawrence Young the addressed the Brethren on the object of the meeting and called upon the Chaplain to give the Opening Prayer. The Petitioners were arranged in order in the West and the Warrant was read, the Petitioners signified their approval of the Supreme Ruler and Officers named in the Warrant and the Consecrating Officer then proceeded to Constitute the Conclave.

The Grand Chaplain, R Wy Bro Bryan Page, then gave an Oration on the nature and principals of the Order:

"Today is a notable day in the history of our Province. Our Provincial Grand Supreme Ruler has had the wish to form a Conclave in the Province for Supreme Rulers and Past Supreme Rulers. A Conclave where they can meet and widen the friendships which they enjoy in the Order. Friendship and being aware of the welfare of others is of course an important principle of this Order, as evidenced by the work of the Visiting Deacons when conscientiously undertaken.

Our ritual develops this theme by drawing to our attention to the friendship and loyalty between David and Jonathan despite the tensions placed upon them. It is also proposed to demonstrate an old ceremony to commemorate Brethren who have passed to the Grand Conclave Above. Which brings me to the name of this new Conclave. I imagine that almost all those present will have met Ted Smith and have their own memories of him. Nevertheless I think it appropriate, despite the fact that many of you will have heard, or even given, tributes to him, that something is said here.

Ted was born on 17th October 1925 and passed to the Grand Conclave Above on 12th May 2014. Apparently he claimed to have been born within hearing of Bow Bells and therefore to be a Cockney. He was living in Dagenham in the early 1940’s, witnessing Battle of Britain dogfights and dodging shrapnel while doing a newspaper round. His family moved to Ilford after being bombed out, so it was there he became a library assistant and also a member of the Home Guard.

1943 saw him volunteer for service. He entered the Royal Navy and became a member of the Fleet Air Arm, training as a pilot and being commissioned in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (RNVR). However, the war ended without him seeing action and he was assigned to training the next generation of aircrew and air traffic controllers.

On leaving the service he resumed his career in librarianship and in 1951 achieved Fellowship of what was then known as the Library Association. He held appointments in various London boroughs and finally retired as Deputy Borough Librarian at Ealing in 1985.

1950 saw him marry Evelyn, a union which produced a daughter and two sons. Ted also became a lecturer in librarianship, preparing entrants to the profession for examinations, and also served as a Senior Examiner. Turning to Freemasonry, he was initiated in 1952 and subsequently entered most of the Orders. He turned his teaching experience to acting a Preceptor as well as serving as Secretary and Director of Ceremonies. His abilities were recognised and over the years he held a number of senior appointments.

In this Order he was Provincial Grand Supreme Ruler of the old South Eastern Counties Province. In the Red Cross of Constantine he was G C C and first Intendant General of Surrey. A favourite was the Royal Order of Scotland where he was Provincial Grand Master from 1987 to 2002.

In the Royal and Select Masters he served as Grand Principal Conductor of the Work. In the Operatives he attained the position of 2nd Grand Master Mason and held the rarely awarded Grand Master Masons Order of Service to Operative Masonry and in most Orders was a Grand Officer or the equivalent.

Outside Freemasonry, in 1993 he became a Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman of the Blacksmiths Company. It is all a record on which, as he neared the end of his life, he could look back with satisfaction.

But what of the man himself? Those who knew him both at work and in Freemasonry speak of a good friend and mentor. He would, when asked, offer advice and that advice would be considered and sound – although the recipient might not like it. He was very much a family man, proud of his children and their achievements and their families.

Gardening was a great interest. He and Evelyn worked hard on a large garden and he derived much interest and pleasure from it. Friends, once made, appeared to be so until the end.

Some have suggested that they saw a harder side to his character and certainly he did not shrink from problems or difficult decisions. He was a superb ritualist and expected others to make the effort. That, I think, was the important thing – if someone tried then he would help. Nevertheless, mistakes in Lodge might be greeted with a sharp intake of breath audible throughout the room.

Ted was a distinguished and unforgettable character, and now he is to be commemorated by the naming of this new Conclave after him. May the Almighty Friend of All Friends bless it with a long and distinguished life, and may Ted rest in peace in His nearer presence."

This was followed by an Anthem and the first part of the Dedication Prayer. The Ezel was uncovered and the Consecrating Officer, Councillor, and Guide carried the elements of Consecration three times around the Conclave. The Consecrating Officer then Dedicated the Conclave, an Anthem was sung and the second part of the Dedication Prayer was read.

The Consecrating Officer invited R Wy Bro Terry Cook to be the Installing Officer. The Supreme Ruler Designate, R Wy Bro Lionel Mee, PGG, DepProvGSR, was presented and installed by the Supreme Ruler Designate. The Supreme Ruler was then saluted, proclaimed and entrusted with the warrant following which he appointed and invested the 24 First Officers of the Conclave.

The Conclave By-Laws were approved and the Consecrating Officer and his Assisting Officers were elected Honorary Members, following which they retired in procession leaving the Conclave to continue with their regular business. After photographs, and drinks in the bar, the Brethren of the E L J Smith Conclave and their guests dine together in the Elizabethan Suite honouring Loyal and Masonic Toasts.

Article by Chris Eley and photographs by Bob Tuthill and Chris Eley
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