Basil Woodward Obituary
May I firstly thank the family for the opportunity of giving this Eulogy and for being invited to speak about Basil’s love of Bristol Masonry and in particular The Camp of Baldwyn, his significant achievements and his lasting legacy.
We had all hoped it would be many years yet before we would be gathering to say a final farewell to our friend and esteemed leader, Sir Kt Basil Rex Woodward, Most Eminent Grand Superintendent of The Camp of Baldwyn for the past 24 ½ years.
Basil often referred to The Camp as being a family. He was revered by the Sir Kts of Baldwyn and was respected and admired by many Brethren nationally and internationally in several Degrees and Christian Orders. He was utterly devoted to ensuring that the time immemorial, high standards of The Camp and our unique ceremonies were maintained ‘pure and unsullied’ and would often encourage us to pay ‘attention to detail’.
He was initiated into Masonry almost 60 years ago in the St Stephen Lodge in the Province of Bristol. He quickly involved himself and rose rapidly through the offices in his Lodge, becoming Worshipful Master within a few years. He also attained the Chairs in the The Chapter of Charity Holy Royal Arch, in the Mark and Royal Ark Mariners and in other Orders, including the KTP, RCC and SMSA. His capability and commitment were widely recognised and he held Grand Rank in all the Orders he was a member of.
He was also a Director on the Board of Freemasons of Bristol Ltd for some 45 years. As a highly skilled architect, with excellent taste and a keen eye for detail, he held the responsibility for maintaining and beautifying our elegant building in Park Street, which had been totally rebuilt after suffering a direct hit during the the Second World War. He knew every inch of the building and took great pride in both its elegance and functionality. It is often said that Park Street is the most splendid Masonic building in the country outside of Freemasons Hall in Great Queen Street, London.
He would arrange for equipment to be made, always of the finest quality and function, both for The Camp and some of the other Orders meeting at Park Street. I gather he had the stained glass window in our Chapel made and donated this to the Province. He had a deep-seated need for everything to look at its best and work flawlessly. Basil served the Province of Bristol as Provincial Senior Grand Warden in 1988 and was promoted to Past Junior Grand Deacon of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1998.
His greatest love in Masonry was without doubt The Camp Of Baldwyn. He was Installed a Sir Kt in 1974 and advanced rapidly, holding multiple offices in all 5 of the Royal Orders of Knighthood, including being Grand Commander of the Nine Elected Masters, Knights Templar and Rose Croix. Remarkably, he was Provincial Marshal 2 years before becoming Eminent Commander and Preceptor of the Baldwyn KT and for quite a few years thereafter. His precision and attention to detail was impressive! He was appointed Deputy Grand Superintendent in 1990 and in May 1996 he was Installed as the Most Eminent Grand Superintendent of the Camp of Baldwyn, becoming the 21st leader of the Camp in our 240+ year history, serving as our Right Eminent Provincial Prior and Very Illustrious Inspector General 33* for over 24 years. In 2004 he was appointed and invested by the ME&SGM to the honour and dignity of Knight Commander of the Temple. It was my privilege and pleasure to serve as Basil’s Deputy for the past 12 years and I came to know him well.
A natural leader in his bearing and capabilities, and an extraordinary human being in so many ways, he was always an example to us. He was determined to protect our unique, time honoured, Baldwyn traditions. A keen observer, he took notice of everything and insisted that things were done right. He was demanding, intense, decisive and courageous. He was also inspiring, kind, supportive, encouraging and enormously caring. He would always ring any Sir Kts who were ill or unwell and made contact with the Grand Commanders after every ceremony. The care and support he showed for his Baldwyn family knew no bounds and he was in touch with several of us as usual in the weeks before he so suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.
Basil was incredibly generous with his time, talents and energy. His legacy is a lasting one, which will be valued and remembered forever by all who knew him. We miss our Baldwyn Patriarch and we will be sure to hold a suitable memorial service for Basil when we are able to meet again. His many friends will wish to pay their last respects. In normal times the Chapel here would have been overflowing with those wishing to remember with fondness and brotherly love the unique, kind and caring Gentleman, Bristol Mason and much loved Baldwyn Sir Kt Basil Rex Woodward who gave us all so much.
As a parting thought, Basil was an accomplished speaker and would regularly share his wisdom with us. I recall on a couple of occasions over the years, he observed: “It is only when the evening comes that you can appreciate how beautiful the day has been!” . . . . May He Rest In Peace and Rise In Glory!!
Eulogy given by Allan Rosengren, 21/01/2021