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The Northumberland Sub-Prior's

Jewel of Office

The jewel of office worn by the Sub-Prior of Northumberland is unusual for its design, history and antiquity.

Notice first that the Emblem of Office is, in fact, that of a Provincial Prior, with a sword and Prior's baton in saltire behind the shield. The shield is halved with the left side depicting a red Templar Cross, with a white Cross of Malta superimposed, overlying which is a roundel bearing an engraving of a lamb holding a pennant - an "Agnus Dei". On the right is the coat of arms of the County of Durham: a blue background on which is a cross and four lions rampant.

The script around the perimeter reads "Northumberland, Durham & Berwick on Tweed".

The jewel is suspended from a device in the shape of a mitre beneath which is a sword and crozier in saltire. The whole is suspended from ribbon of the Temple, measuring 1 3/4 inches wide, embellished with a gold interwoven braid.

It is likely that the jewel is fashioned from silver (the reverse of the jewel has the word "silver" stamped into it) but unfortunately there are no hallmarks that could allow the identification of the place and year of manufacture.

The first Templar Encampment to be Warranted in the area was the "Joppa Encampment", in Sunderland, on 21st February 1811. A year later, Knights in the Newcastle area petitioned for the creation of another Encampment, resulting in the Warranting of the Royal Kent Encampment on 16th April 1812 in Newcastle.

The Grand Conclave, constituted in 1791, became dormant in about 1819 as a consequence of the lack of interest of its then Grand Master, the Duke of Sussex. During this period, the Joppa Encampment, for an unknown reason, also went into decline and was essentially non-existent by the time of Grand Conclave's re-awakening in 1846. Having documentary evidence of its earlier existence, Grand Conclave kept the Joppa Encampment on its Roll until it was finally struck off in 1865.

Thus, for the majority of the first half of the nineteenth century, the Royal Kent Encampment was, effectively, the principal Templar unit in the area.

When the Province was officially constituted, in 1850, it became the "Province of Northumberland and Berwick-on-Tweed" and remained so until 26th April 1872, when the Mount Grace Encampment No 118 was warranted to meet in Stockton-on-Tees. The Province then became the "Province of Northumberland, Durham and Berwick-on-Tweed".

The Minutes of the Annual Provincial meeting on 2nd May 1889 in Stockton-on-Tees (at which nineteen Knights attended and fourteen were appointed to Provincial Office!) show the resolution to purchase eight collars and jewels for Provincial Officers from Messrs Caney (a prominent jeweller in London at the time) at a cost of £14.17s.6d for use during the next Annual meeting. That meeting occurred on 28th February 1890, when seventeen Knights attended!

Whilst it is tempting to assume that one of those jewels might have been the current Sub-Prior's jewel, presumably commissioned for the use by the then Provincial Prior, there is no definitive proof.

It is also tempting to ponder how the jewel came to be in the possession of the Northumberland Province for use by its Sub-Prior.

It is possible that, when the Province was divided into the separate Provinces of Northumberland and of Durham in 1975, the new Provincial Priors decided to purchase brand new jewels specific to their Provinces and the old Prior's jewel was passed to the Northumberland Sub-Prior ... but that is only supposition.