Masonic Province of Hertfordshire
Tercentenary - History Project
The Masonic Order of the Pilgrim Preceptors
The Masonic Order of Pilgrim Preceptors
A Little History:
The Pilgrim Preceptors was formulated by three members of the acting profession who found themselves on a "wet weekend" in Manchester after their play had "folded" in the late 1870's. All three were members of the Craft and the Royal Arch and during their visits to the North they had visited many Masonic Halls and had access to some masonic libraries, particularly one in Formby Lancashire. It is thought that to occupy themselves they agreed to use their researches to put together an order called the Pilgrim Preceptors. They accordingly produced a manuscript which was later polished and typed.
This was a private enterprise and they made no attempt to get others to join or to see the ceremony performed. One of the actors was named LeFre who in his very old age found that his Craft lodge would be celebrating its centenary on his own 100th birthday. The members then elected him master for that year but sadly he passed away just three weeks prior to his installation.
The order was never formally agreed nor any ceremony performed and the original manuscript was handed to the son of one of the three actors Eric LeFre. Sadly Eric did little to further the order but after much pestering by John Edward Nowell Walker he gave him the manuscript and all rights to the order for the princely sum of half a penny in 1970. Within a year Eric had also died and John Walker then "initiated" by Obligation five Companions after a meeting of the August Order of Light held in South London. These members were Captain Michael Penrose, Andrew Stephenson, George Duke, John Jary and Howard Stokes. A photocopy of the manuscript was made and a floor plan and purple ribbons was laid out - but without much success.
The main problem was that the original manuscript had many omissions and dots - where passwords and meanings were to be substituted. Whilst the originators had produced a key to the manuscript it was not of great help and frustrated the six members., indeed when they could decipher some of the words it was found that many were already in use in other masonic rituals. At this time John Walker was heavily involved in the reconstruction of the Order of St Thomas of Acon and he therefore appointed Howard Stokes as Grand Master of the Pilgrim Preceptors. However due to ill health he made no attempt to work the order.
By 1984 the Temple of the Order of Light was well established and had 23 members. At one of their "Festive Boards" in 1984 Brian Slater a special effects expert with London Weekend television suggested that they use some of these in their ceremonies, however the talk moved on and it resolved itself into a request to Howard Stokes to revive the Order of the Pilgrim Preceptors where some of the ideas could perhaps be used. Accordingly reworked ceremonies for the Pilgrim Preceptors were set out and largely worked to this day.
The individual Conclaves do not have a banner, but the Grand Conclave does and is shown above and is used at consecrations and also at the meetings of Grand Conclave.
There are now 22 Conclaves, including one in the USA which has a peripatetic warrant. The original Conclave is now known as St Andrew Conclave. The latest Conclaves to be consecrated are Rex Britannicus meeting at Leicester and Litus Saxonicum in East Sussex.