Brief History of the Order

In the early days it was also known as the Priestly Order and was referred to within the ceremonies of The High Knights Templars in Ireland in 1755. The Order first saw the light of day in Scotland in 1800 in Kilmarnock and then extended to Glasgow and Edinburgh. In 1807, the Early Grand Conclave of Scotland issued a warrant to Joppa Encampment of Knights Templar in Sunderland with authority to work a number of degrees including Knight Templar Priest. In 1812 members at Newcastle upon Tyne petitioned the Grand Conclave of England for a Warrant. This was granted in the name of Royal Kent Encampment. Evidence exists of its being worked in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries in England, Scotland, Ireland, Corfu, France and probably the United States and Canada. The Order then became moribund in the 1890s, the last known working being in Lancashire.
Prior to 1894, The Order of Knight Templar Priest traced its origins back to the Anahilt Union Band in County Down, Ireland, in 1792. Over 60 Union Bands have been traced in Ireland with only a small number being under the Irish Early Grand Encampment and even fewer being banded with one or more Lodges. During this period there was no ruling body. On Good Friday, 23 March 1894, Henry Hotham, a Yorkshireman and prominent Mason, was apparently the last known Knight Templar Priest. Being the last Installed Master or High Priest, he admitted nine Knights into the Order (under the authority of one of the Original Rules of the Order).
The revived Tabernacle being conscious of the efforts of the Council of Allied Masonic Degrees in London to found a Grand Council of Rites agreed that, with its then 24 Appendant Degrees, to become the Royal Kent Tabernacle Time Immemorial. As a consequence, the first of the modern Tabernacles, Royal Kent T.I., was formed. After a short period of control by the Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees and, by mutual consent, it separated and became The Grand College.

The development of the Order was very slow at first but it soon began to take on its now extensive international form, with the first four New Zealand Tabernacles being between 1930 and 1944 and Australia joining in 1949.

Progress of the Order continued very slowly but steadily from 1951 for the next 10 years, but, in the early 1960s, under dynamic new leadership, the pace of expansion increased, and has continued to this day, with the number of Tabernacles now at 251, and on each continent of the World, including England, Scotland, Wales, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, South Africa, The Bahamas, Holland, Germany, Jamaica, Singapore, Malaysia, Brazil, Spain, Togo, Bolivia and Ivory Coast.

History of District No. 43

In late 1983, the then Grand Master of the Great Priory of Germany,  returned from a visit to the USA and informed several Knights of an Order and of the existence of Tabernacles of the Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests in that country. RE Kt. Garrett O’Sullivan† undertook through his masonic ties in London, to investigate further this Order, and also the possibility of eventually establishing the Order of Knight Templar Priests here in Germany.

It transpired that this Order was the fastest growing Order in England, and it was not long before Garrett O’Sullivan† became a member in 1984, of the Kingsway Tabernacle No 17 meeting in London.  John Woodhouse followed in April 1985 and a further seven Knights, Douglas Godfrey-Cass, Fred Jones, Keith Fenwick†, Rex Burns†, William Watson†, Malcolm Wright and Joe Monkhouse later that same year. Thus the Order had its first members residing in Germany, although Joe Monkhouse, who was a regular visitor, resided in Glasgow.

Seeking and obtaining the assistance of a close friend, who was also the Pro Grand Master of the GLMMM, MW Bro Leonard Colenso-Colenso Jones†, Kt. Pt Garrett O’Sullivan† was able to open discussions with the then legendary Grand High Priest M ILL Kt Pt Harry Becket-Raylor† about the possibility of forming the first Tabernacle in Germany. The Grand High Priest after some lengthy discussion, agreed in principle, but stated that any Tabernacle must become part of the London District, under the Grand Superintendent  and that V ILL Kt. Pt Arthur Craddock be the founding High Priest, V ILL Kt. Pt Brian Pepperell† as the founding VII P, with Kt. Pt Garrett O Sullivan† himself, becoming the founding VI P.  The members residing in Germany were joined by Kt. Pt Ken Payne† from Kingsway Tabernacle No 17, Kt. Pt Les Mace† from St Raphael Tabernacle No 40 and Kt. Pt Colin Spencer from Essex Tabernacle No 46.

The name Pilgrim was chosen, being the name of the German language Craft Lodge in London.  It was also the name of the first English language Preceptory under the Great Priory of Germany.

The final plans being made, Pilgrim Tabernacle No 120; was duly consecrated on the 2nd November 1985, by the Grand High Priest in the Central London Masonic Centre of Clerkenwell Green in London. A successful visit was made by the Grand High Priest to Germany in 1986, although it had already been established that due to the long terms of office of the Masters of the majority German Lodges, that any future membership would be severely restricted. In addition, unlike in the UK there were many other Orders actively seeking to attract the same small number of applicants.  It was however a milestone when Gary M Kollo† the Grand Master of the Great Priory of Germany, and himself a Past Craft Grand Master, was installed into our Order and Tabernacle No 120 by the then High Priest VE Kt. Pt John Woodhouse in October 1988.

Pilgrim Tabernacle No 120 continued with its steady growth until 22nd October 1988 when following a successful Petition, the second Tabernacle, Star Absalom Tabernacle No 139 was consecrated by the new Grand High Priest M ILL Kt. Pt John Owen Place† in the Masonic Rooms in Mönchengladbach Germany.   VE Kt. Pt Garrett O’Sullivan†, now a Past High Priest, was installed as the founding High Priest.

Since the political and masonic turmoil created by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990, both Tabernacles have since experienced a more than a healthy transitional period over many years.

With the connections established through other sovereign Orders in Germany, many of the Togolese Knights became very interested in the Order. Following a visit to constitute and erect another Order in Togo, the Grand Superintendent John Woodhouse discussed with the new Grand High Priest M ILL Kt. Pt Peter Donnison, the possibility of extending our Order to that Area, where the very Christian attitude adopted in the Christian Orders in that region, bode well for a successful Petition.

31 Knight Priests were installed into Pilgrim Tabernacle No 120 in Osnabrück Germany, on 20th May 2006, in a mammoth Ceremony lasting nearly four Hours.  The High Priest conducting this historic Ceremony was VE Kt. Pt Michael Wickens.

On 13th May 2007, in conjunction with the 25 years Celebrations of the Great Priory of Germany, Lux in Tenebris, Tabernacle No 233 was consecrated in Osnabrück Germany, but authorised to work in Lome Togo.  The first High Priest was VE Kt. Pt Pakkandame Raphael Sambiani, the Grand Master of the Great Priory of Togo.   The first Grand Point Ceremony in Togo being carried out by the Grand Superintendent John Woodhouse in Lome in July 2007.  

Regretfully in June 2007 ILL Kt. Pt Richard Attipoe†, whilst returning from an overseas trip as a Minister in the Government of Togo, was tragically killed in a helicopter crash. ILL Kt.Pt. Attipoe† had been instrumental in establishing the Christian Degrees in the Gulf of Guinea and despite his governmental duties, had continued in high office in these Orders up to his untimely demise.

It was therefore fitting that the second Tabernacle for the Gulf of Guinea was consecrated in Germany, on 7th March 2009, in Ratingen near Düsseldorf, should be named “Richard K Attipoe Tabernacle No 238” which would be based in the Ivory Coast and like Tabernacle No 233 would work in the French language.

Following the continuing success of the Tabernacles in the Gulf of Guinea, and the resumption of work by Tabernacle Richard Attipoe No 238, after the military curfew in the Ivory Coast was lifted, the Grand Superintendent accepted the invitation to make a further visit to both French Speaking Tabernacles. During the visit in 2013 the Grand Superintendent was also most cordially received by the Craft Grand Masters of both countries.

In the case of the Ivory Coast where the first ever visit to the country was being made, the MW Craft Grand Master, also a member of our Order ILL Kt. Pt Coltaire† PG III P had prepared a splendid program for the short visit.  The Grand Point was conducted by the Grand Superintendent for the first time in that country, with several aspects being conducted in the French language.  The Order is now well established in the country and its future seems well assured.

Returning to Togo the senior Tabernacle Lux in Tenebris No 233 provided its usual high standard of ritual and warm hospitality. The Grand Superintendent was also cordially received by the newly installed Craft Grand Master MW Bro Roggi Paas, who expressed the wish to renew his membership of the Order following his resignation from the now dissolved Grand College of France.  

Once again, several aspects of the Grand Point Ceremony in the French language were introduced. Due to the pressures of business as Electoral Chairman of the country, and also Grand Master of the Great Priory of Togo ILL Kt. Pt Sambiani CHW PGV P, relinquished the duties of Deputy District Recorder, and assumed a more supervisory role, with VE Kt. Pt Atayi taking over as Deputy District Recorder. The subject of extending the Order into neighbouring Ghana was discussed, and the possibility of admitting suitably qualified Candidates into the Tabernacle in Togo agreed, although every care was to be taken to ensure brethren within the Irish Craft District, do not contravene any agreements with regard to our Order in Ireland.

The continuing problems caused through the interference from outside of our Order, that had previously negatively affected the morale and attendance at the KTP Tabernacles No 120 and No 139, has eased considerably and both are now are well on the way back to a stability, that they had not enjoyed for many years. Both Tabernacles now have steady membership and during 2015 the newly incorporated Degree of the Order of Holy Wisdom was performed for the first time in Germany under the auspices of Tabernacle No 120 and despite the initial concern was well conducted and four Kt. Pts were admitted into the Order, The 4th Pillar being proudly represented by V ILL Kt. Pt O’Sullivan† KHW PG VII P then in his ninetieth year. Regretfully Kt. Pt Garrett O’Sullivan† was to pass away early in 2016 after a long illness.

The progress being made, especially in the Ivory Coast, where the activities of Tabernacle No 238, due to previous a national military night curfew, had been more or less inoperative. VE Kt. Pt Kouame and others are working hard to further develop the activities in the Ivory Coast, but first obtaining the Royal Arch Chapter membership of potential members, is proving difficult due to the locations of RA Chapters. The Order in Togo is now well established and Tabernacle No 233 is making very good progress. The Grand Superintendent had been invited to visit both Tabernacles in 2015 but due to electoral campaigning in the Ivory Coast this visit was postponed until early in 2016.

The delayed visit to the West African Tabernacles finally took place in May 2016 during which the finalisation of all the Rituals in the French language, including that of the OHW and revised Installation were completed, and put into practical use. The Installation Ceremonies were performed and both Tabernacles successfully conferred the degree of OHW within their respective Tabernacles. Several days were needed, with not only masonic and university French language scholars, but also religious scholars, all members of our Order to be able to publish a high standard translation of the important rituals, all of which have since been formally accepted by Grand College.

During the visit the Grand Superintendent met several former members of the now defunct Grand College of France, based in Benin, the neighbouring country to Togo.  Concerns were expressed over their status and the possibility of admission through normal balloting procedures into our Order. Subsequent consultations with Grand College resulted in a positive conclusion, and steps were then in hand to accept successful petitions within the next few months.   Some delay was initially experienced when the new District of KTP in France was established, and these former Kt. Pts wished to ensure that they would still be able to be admitted into Tabernacles within the District for Germany which included the Tabernacles in West Africa.

This matter having again been clarified, it is expected that a large number of Petitions will be received by the Tabernacle.  This visit was of particular significance as it enabled the Grand Superintendent to accept several personal invitations to the homes of our members and also attend with some, the overcrowded local church service, at which seats, within the congregation, had been reserved for the group. The memorable Service reflected and confirmed the overall importance of our Christian faith in West Africa.

The work being undertaken by V ILL Kt. Pt Sambiani PG VI P and ILL Kt. Pt Atayi PG IV P as the co-ordinating team, within our District, for our West African Tabernacles, has been tireless and coupled with active Kt. Pts in both Tabernacles has shown much progress over the years.  Once the admission of the Petitioners from Benin has been completed, the Deputy District Director of Ceremonies, based in Benin together with other experienced members of our Order will commence steps in petitioning for a third Tabernacle in West Africa to be based in Benin which already has a strong and recognised Grand Lodge, Royal Arch Chapters and several Preceptories currently under the newly constituted regular & recognised GP of Benin.

The Degree of OHW, since its introduction in 2014, is now well established and the French translation serving our West African Tabernacles, well received.   Despite the developments in recent years, interest in our order had continued to increase, enabling progress to be made with a view to expanding our Order, both here in Germany and also in West Africa.   

Donations to the Grand College Pillar Fund are now gathering momentum, especially within Tabernacles in Germany. Tabernacle 120 being recently awarded the coveted Grey Collarette.  The OHW Ceremonies continue to be performed in Germany, and the West African Tabernacles are preparing these Ceremonies as required.  Regretfully in the latter part of 2018 and early in 2019, local masonic disputes in Togo, did cause some disruption within our Order in Togo, but the Order continued to expand in the Ivory Coast.

During 2019 masonic disruption continued in Togo and it was only possible to hold one full meeting in Togo,  the outstanding fees, together with a new plan for meetings made and in 2020, will be held as normal.

In Germany the petition for the long awaited new Tabernacle in Berlin, had again stalled, and the Grand Superintendent decided to intervene, and with the assistance of ILL Kt Pt MacKinnon, and ILL Kt Pt MacKenzie the Petitioners, were asked to submit their Petition, by mid January 2020 or temporarily abandon the project.

Towards the end of 2019, with the projected District in West Africa, now, due to the unforseen developments within masonry in Togo, and the ongoing delay with the proposed “Parzival Tabernacle” in Berlin, not yet at the stage of completion, the Grand Superintendent R ILL Kt Pt Woodhouse GHP Awd, reluctantly decided, that he should now retire from office, at a time to be designated by the Grand High Priest during 2020.  

 In February 2020, after much deliberation the Petition to consecrate a Tabernacle in Berlin to be named „Parzival“ was duly submitted to the Grand Superintendent, for his approval, and after confirming that both future membership could be assured, and that financially, it had funds to meet any obligations, he forwarded his firm recommendation to Grand College for consideration, and hopefully final approval, by the Grand High Priest. This approval was thankfully granted, but both of the proposed dates for the Consecration, proved to be unsuitable, as all Grand College overseas visits, up to late 2020, had been planned, and this meant that, either very late in 2020, or more probably early in 2021, would be the earliest dates for a Consecration.

In March 2020 a successor as Grand Superintendent for District 43, was formally announced by the Grand High Priest and would be ILL Kt Pt John MacKinnon CHW PG V P.    He was to be installed during the Annual Assembly of Grand College in Hinckley in the UK on 12th June 2020.   As is now known, matters above the powers of any masonic Order intravened and the global Corona Virus COVID 19, made its devastating path throughout the world, with Europe and the UK being seriously affected.  After careful informed deliberation, and in keeping with most Orders, future meetings were temporarily suspended.

Throughout Europe the deadly effects of Corona Virus 19 had in a few short days escalated, so that most countries in Europe, if not the world, were, as the death and affected numbers rose, suddenly subjected, to hitherto unparalleled severe restrictions on travel, work, and daily shopping etc. In many cases whole populations of millions of people, were placed in an immediate and virtually complete, lockdown.

Late in March 2020, and in order that District 43 be well prepared for a new start, the Grand High Priest decided, that although the installation of the designated Grand Superintendent, could not in the circumstances take place, he would be appointed and promulgated, and take over the duties on 12th June 2020, and be ceremonially installed at a later date.

Both the Grand Superintendent R ILL Kt Pt Woodhouse GHP Awd and ILL Kt Pt MacKinnon CHW PG V P, Grand Superintendent designate, were mutually tasked to complete the necessary handover, and promulgate the succession on the 12th June 2020, which by the current travel and health restrictions was .no easy matter.

The induction and promulgation of the new Grand Superintendent, took place under the strict social distancing (only four in attendance) in Herford on 12th June 2020.  The Baton of the retiring Grand Superintendent was handed over informally, yet symbolically, by R ILL Kt. Pt John Woodhouse GHP Awd, to the newly appointed Grand Superintendent RE Kt. Pt John MacKinnon.  He formally assumed these duties and appointed ILL Kt. Pt Roddy MacKenzie CHW PG IV P as the new District Recorder, to succeed the retiring RE Kt. Pt Austin Holtum CM KHW PG VII P.   The new Grand Superintendent announced that he had re-appointed V ILL Kt. Pt  Joseph Maison KHW PG VII P as District DC, with ILL Kt. Pt San Bachir P G II P as DDC for Germany, and ILL Kt. Pt Aristote Hans-Moevi PG IV P as DDC for West Africa. 

VE Kt. Pt Stephen Barr would be the new District Treasurer. Further appointments would be made as soon as meetings were permitted to continue.  So, a new team under the leadership of RE Kt Pt MacKinnon had now taken office and we looked forward to future developments with interest

The history will continue to be updated each year as a part of the District Recorders tasks.