Reviving Reculvers Chapter: A Unique Whisky and Dining Chapter in East Kent

Picture of Richard Dixy, a visiting volunteer standing next to the MCF banner


Reculvers Chapter No 4123 was consecrated in 1926 and always met within the Westgate and now Margate centres. It was named after the Reculvers Tower and Roman Fort in Herne Bay. Reculvers Chapter had been in decline for some years, to the point where they were considering their options regarding the surrender of their Warrant.

Towards the end of 2023, EComp Ian White, Prov Grand Second Principal, spoke with Comp Steve Wyatt to see if anything could be done using his experiences as Membership Officer in the craft to help save Reculvers Chapter.

After giving this serious thought and conducting thorough research on the situation within Chapters across the Province and the Country, it was found that many were in similar situations—some struggling and some doing okay. Conversations with Brethren and Companions revealed a lack of interest in joining Chapter due to a perceived lack of value and a general feeling of apathy, Reculvers Chapter was certainly experiencing this.

The Plan

A light bulb moment occurred for Steve, while ordering a bottle of exceptional whisky. The idea of a Special Interest Chapter was born. Research showed no such Chapter existed in the Province, under Supreme Grand Chapter, nor under the Grand Lodges of Ireland or Scotland. This could well be the first of its kind, especially fitting since the idea’s proponent was a whisky enthusiast.

The idea was floated to Ian, who was keen on it. With support from close and trusted Brethren, interest grew. The next step was to find a sponsor, with the English Whisky Company in Norfolk being the obvious choice. They had a brand called Chapter, and Chapter No. 6 was the first bottle of English whisky the proponent ever drank. They also had a connection with Freemasonry, having produced the Tercentenary Whisky for Grand Lodge.

The Sales Manager at the English Whisky Company loved the idea and offered support. The idea was then presented to Ian and the remaining members of Reculvers, receiving widespread support despite one sceptical voice. With Ian White’s assistance, the proposal was taken to the Province.

Not everyone likes whisky

Support from Brethren and Companions was overwhelming. One Companion, who didn’t like whisky but loved food, suggested making it a Dining Chapter as well. It was discovered that Reculvers used to be a dining chapter, so the idea was revived. The Chapter’s Caterer was thrilled to showcase her skills, coming up with amazing menu options.

Peter Hazelwood, Trustee, officially signs the Gift Agreement alongside Dr Bashir Abu-Manneh, Head of the School of Classics, English and History at the University and Hilary Edridge, Lady Melville, Head of Philanthropy and Alumni Relations.

1st Assistant Sojourner Comp Steve Wyatt

The stage was set to roll out the new-look Reculvers Chapter 4123, the first Special Interest Whisky and Dining Chapter. An advert was placed in the Province, Brethren and members were canvassed, and a list of joining members, exaltees, and guests was compiled. The date was set for March 28, 2024. The sponsor provided two bottles of superb whisky, one of which had just won the World Whisky Award.

At that meeting, ballots were held for nine joining members, and three new members were exalted, including Ian’s son, Ross. Each Chapter member had the opportunity to purchase a special Snifter Glass engraved with the Chapter’s logo and their name. The meal and whisky were outstanding.

One guest suggested pairing a glass of wine with the main course, an idea that had been considered for the future. With support from Laithwaites, one of the foremost online wine suppliers in the country, the Chapter became a Whisky Appreciation, Dining, and Wine Chapter. This transformation had wide appeal, and Reculvers saw a significant upward trend in membership, with exaltations well into 2025 and regular joining members. The Chapter was gaining national recognition.

Peter Hazlewood officially signs the gift Agreement alongside Alan Noake MBE who is the Assistant County Commissioner for Global Projects for Kent.

Left to Right:PrDepGDC (Jeff Tiley), DepGS (John Baker), PrDepGDC (Gerry Stupple), ActingH (Adrian Corbridge), MEZ (John Newland), J (Pat King), PS (Ian White, 2ndPrGPrin), PrGMO (Dennis Fordham), PrGDC (Paul Pavitt), PrGMentor (Peter Bearman)

What about the Whisky and Dining?

The June meeting, attended by the Deputy Grand Superintendent, featured a double bottle blind tasting with an 11-year-old English whisky and a 10-year-old Speyside and an excellent meal: Deep Fried Camembert with Melon Fan followed by Moules Mariniere in white wine sauce, Pomme Frites & Fresh Chunky Bread accompanied by a 125ml Glass of an excellent Domaine Gadias La Grande Reserve du Moulin 2022, Warm Apple Tartan & Ice Cream, Selection of Cheeses and Biscuits & a Glass of Quality Port, Tea / Coffee & Mints – all for the fantastic price of £30.

The English whisky was the clear favourite. Companions who couldn’t drink at the meeting could take their tots home in small bottles provided for the purpose.

The next meeting in September will feature another two-bottle blind tasting, this time comparing English and Irish whiskies. The main course will be lamb, with a superb red wine provided by Laithwaites.

The future of Reculvers Chapter

The future is looking rosy for Reculvers Chapter with a number of Exaltees in the pipeline.

Reculvers Chapter welcomes Brethren looking to join the Royal Arch and those seeking something different, as well as Companions looking to join or rejoin. Guests are encouraged to join and enjoy the unique experience offered by Reculvers Chapter.


Image: Father & Son – Principal Sojourner EComp Ian White (2nd Prov G Principal), Exaltee (Ross White)

Read how Reculvers Chapter applied the principles of Archway to aid their revival.

We need your stories, so please let the comms team know of the the good work your Lodges and Chapters are doing throughout East Kent. Just drop us a line on news@ekprovince.co.uk