Freemasons on Parade from the Old State House
Our former colleagues who served in Eastern Division, St. George’s, will no doubt remember all the pomp and ceremony accompanying the historic annual Peppercorn Ceremony held in the  Olde Towne when the Masonic Lodge pays the annual  rental of one peppercorn for use of the Old State House for their meetings. This year’s Peppercorn Ceremony took place in the Olde Towne on 8th May 2024.
John Dale (L) announces arrival of dignatories flanked by COP Darrin Simons,
Accountant General Ms. Deon Morrison-Shaker, and Inspector Charlene Thompson 

Our good friend, retired Inspector John Dale, is an active participant at the ceremony.  In recent years John is the official commentator who takes to the microphone to greet all those gathered for the event.  John announces the attendance of the St. George’s Towne Crier and the Bishop of Bermuda, and he keeps the crowd informed about what is happening during the proceedings.  John also provides a history of St. George’s along with the Sea Venture/Lyme Regis/Jamestown connections.  He explains the history of the Peppercorn Ceremony and the history of the Royal Bermuda Regiment, then as each dignatory arrives,  the Towne Crier formally introduces them, and John provides a spiel about each person, from the Commissioner of Police, the Commander of the Royal Bermuda Regiment, the Freemasons, the Premier, Corporation Members, the Wor. Mayor of St. George’s, and finally Her Excellency the Governor, at which point the ceremony gets underway. 

Retired Inspector Gladwin  “Doc” Hall 
and his wife Lillian, with Betty Dale,
President of Bermuda Gardening Club
Wor. Mayor Quinell Francis chatting with
“Doc” and Lillian Hall at official reception


John was in attendance at the official reception in the Somers Gardens immediately following the ceremony at which time he   spotted former Inspector Gladwin “Doc” Hall and his wife Lillian chatting with Mayor Quinell Francis and he kindly provided us with the attached photo of Doc and Lillian, together with John’s wife Betty, who is President of the Bermuda Garden Club. 

John has pointed out a police-related link he has with both ‘Doc’ Hall and the Late Johnny Williams (Davie Kerr will no doubt already be aware of it!)  as ‘Doc’, Johnny and John, were all issued with the same shoulder number 34 when serving in the Police Service.

All in the Family
(l-r) Dudley and Marlene Swan, Hilton and Brenda Wingood, 
and Gladwin “Doc” and Lillian Hall

It’s great to see that Doc and Lillian are still getting out and about.  ‘Doc’ is our oldest and longest serving retired police officer having joined the BPS on 1st October 1950 almost 75 years ago, and he and retired Chief Inspector Hilton “Jellybean” Wingood, and the Late retired Inspector Dudley Swan all had something in common in that all three are were related by marriage.  Hilton had two sisters, Lillian and Marlene, who both married police officers, with Lillian marrying ‘Doc’ and Marlene marrying Dudley.  The three men collectively served in the BPS for 90 years. CLICK HERE for Hilton's lifestory in our Then and Now column.        

 It's noteworthy that several past and present members of the BPS are still closely connected with the Peppercorn Ceremony and with the Masonic Lodges, including our good friend, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Martin Weekes, seen above leading the Freemasons in his capacity as Right Worshipful Grand Superintendent of the Scottish Lodges in Bermuda, and also our good friend and fellow ExPo Committee member, retired Inspector John Skinner.

The Royal Gazette published an excellent article about this year’s Peppercorn Ceremony on 9th May  which reports the following:-

The annual Peppercorn Ceremony brought pomp and circumstance back to King’s Square yesterday with officials and dignitaries joined by a crowd of spectators.

During the event, the Masonic Brothers from the St George’s Lodge pay the annual rent of one whole peppercorn to the Governor to use the Old State House for their meetings.

The St George’s brothers were joined by Freemasons from lodges in Canada and the Bahamas.

Quinell Francis, the Mayor of St George, noted the rich history of the town and its people and highlighted recent events such as the St George’s Seafood Festival and last year’s Cup Match.

She told attendees that this year the corporation would partner with the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce to increase the visitor experience in the town by introducing “lively cruise ship activations and entertainment”.

“This initiative will not only attract more visitors to our shores, but will also create lasting memories and experiences that will have them become repeat visitors to Bermuda and the Town of St George,” she said.

Rena Lalgie, the Governor, congratulated the town on the developments over the past year and highlighted the history of St George including the Old State House which stands at the heart of the ceremony.

“Bermuda is fortunate to have such a rich and visible history which we can learn from and enjoy,” she said.

“With thanks in part to many people here today, I have observed a concerted effort to improve the extent to which that history is shared with those who travel from near and far.”

She said the 1816 agreement between the Government and the Freemasons had ensured an important historic site has been preserved for more than 200 years.

Ms Lalgie said that while the meeting of the Governor’s Counsel in the Old State House would be brief, real and important issues would be discussed as they have for centuries.

CLICK HERE for the rest of the Royal Gazette article.