Æþelbald Court No 62 Consecration Address

ORATION : The Court of Æþelbald No. 62, 23rd January 2010 by W. & Em. Bro. George E. R. Gardner, Provincial Eminent Grand Prior of Wessex.

Provincial Grand Master, Most Worshipful Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brethren, Grand Officers and very dear Brethren all, as we are gathered here together today in this fine Masonic Hall I do wonder exactly how many of you realised as you approached the town of Keynsham, what an historical and significant place you were about to enter? It would be virtually impossible for any one of you who do not know it to realise just how this place has grown in size to a town that is now approaching18,000 inhabitants, an increase of nearly 400% since the end of the Second World War when there were merely around 5,000 people living here.

That increase has been the result of Keynsham becoming a dormitory area for nearby Bristol, an event that has caused the complete alteration of the original picturesque Shopping Centre comprised of individual shops to new streets of chrome, plate glass, concrete and reconstituted stone and brightly painted shop fronts of Supermarkets and Chain Stores. No matter how or where you look, there is so little evidence of a village that has such a distinguished and interesting past. It is an historic past that goes back well beyond the Roman occupation of this fair land of ours, back to the ancient times of cave dwellers and of vast forest teaming with wildlife. Many Monarchs of medieval times came here to hunt in the forested places that abounded in this district, a place that is situated at the confluence of the Chew and Avon rivers, a land of rich pastures, verdant woodlands and limestone outcrops.

There has been much evidence of prehistoric man, of the Romans and the beautiful dwellings that they constructed during the years they were here, also the Saxon Minster plus numerous artefacts of all long lost eras that have been uncovered, and discovered, around here during the last century.

The main reason why lamenting all of this is because as you well know, today we are here to consecrate a Court in our Order that is named after one of our ancient Kings of Wessex, King Æþelbald, that noble and brave King who ruled over this part of England. His reign was an extremely long time before J. S Fry and his sons had ever thought or envisaged about building a cocoa and chocolate factory here, long before there were any of the industries of weavers, wheelwrights, spinning, soap making, paint, cement, dyes and ochre toiling away in large and small buildings and in the diverse cottage type of industries.

All of that industrial effort took place here for many subsequent centuries, that is until the late 1930s and before the change of size and status of Keynsham to what it is has become at this present moment in time. Yes, Keynsham, that pretty village, nestling as it did in so many folds of little towns and villages that were built of warm and mellow Bath Stone, that stone dating back to the Jurassic and Limestone strata of 500 million years ago, has now gone for ever.

It is really quite easy to visualise the Roman Centurions marching along with their 100 men on the nearby Fosse Way, that great Roman road stretching for 293 miles from the Wash in Norfolk to Exeter in Devon, with several other Roman roads intersecting it around here. And now you my very dear Brethren, Founders of this new Court of Æþelbald, will be required to march out well beyond your local area, telling other Masons about our delightful Order, informing them of the precepts that bind us so solidly together, encouraging by Invitation those whom we would welcome into our ranks. Then, in the due course of time, either later this year or early in 2011, decide about founding yet another Court to enlarge our thriving Order, thus giving many other Masons similar joy as you will experience yourselves, by your being a member of this Court. Like the joy many of us are enjoying and experiencing in those other Courts that are springing up here and in many other countries.

From what I have briefly narrated to you now, you will have learned, that both our own Provincial Grand Master, our well-beloved Grand Master and also I want you, the fine body of sturdy, farsighted Founders of this new Court of Æþelbald, as you so undoubtedly are, to spread the word about our Order; and invite only suitable Brethren to join our Courts. You will have definitely also realised what we expect from each and everyone of you, not only now, but in the immediate future, plus all down through those long but happy years that are still to be, as you carry the Æþelbald and Æthelstan name and their aspirations with you. That is all of you because you have this day become one of our own valiant warriors within this wonderfully fulfilling and vibrant Order.

We are already aware of, and do know of many, just like you who would wish to follow your example, so go forth and begin to tread steadily onwards and ever upwards in the footsteps of those countless Roman Legionnaires and others, those valiant men of old who helped to make England what it is now, and what you, my very dear Brethren, will certainly make of it during the future that is still to be. May He who rules over us from that great Court in the Heavens above keep us free from all harm, may He who blesses us, He who nurtures us, keeps you well until time with all of us, of down here below, shall be no more.

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