In May 2019, ex-police officer David Pentleton, the Almoner of Alnwick Lodge No 1167, which meets at Alnwick Masonic Building, came across the grave of Henry George Percy, the 7th Duke of Northumberland and Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Northumberland between 1869 and 1886, in Lesbury Church Yard, whilst conducting research on behalf of Alnwick Lodge and the Province, and found that the graves of both Henry and his wife, Lady Edith Campbell, were overgrown and in a very poor state.
Henry was born in 1846 and was the son of Algernon Percy, the 6th Duke of Northumberland, and Louisa Drummond. He attended Christ Church College, Oxford University and was elected Member of Parliament for Northumberland North in 1868, serving until 1885. He was later called to the House of Lords in 1887 as Lord Lovaine, Baron of Alnwick, before becoming the 7th Duke of Northumberland, on the death of his father in 1899.
Amongst other things, he was invested as a Knight of the Order of the Garter in the same year; served as Aide-de-Camp to Queen Victoria in 1892, King Edward VII in 1901 and King George V. He was Justice of the Peace for Surrey and was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland, serving from 1904 until his death in 1918. He served as Lord High Steward at King George V's Coronation in 1911; as a member of the Senate of Durham University from 1909 to 1912, and as Chancellor of Durham University from 1913 to 1918; President of the Royal Institution in 1899; President of the Archaeological Institute from 1884 to 1892; Trustee of the British Museum in 1900 and as Honorary Colonel of the 3rd and 7th Battalions Northumberland Fusiliers and 1st Northumbrian Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. He became a Doctor of Laws; a Doctor of Civil Law and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1900. He maintained residences at 2 Grosvenor Place in London, Albury Park in Surrey, Syon House in Middlesex, Kielder Castle in North Tyne and Alnwick Castle here in Northumberland.
He was initiated into Freemasonry, as Lord Warkworth, in Apollo University Lodge No.357, in Oxford, on 12 February 1866, along with Prince Albert Edward the future King Edward VII. He was passed on 9 March and raised on 24 April the same year. He became a joining member of Westminster and Keystone Lodge, No.10, in London, in 1867, where he served as Worshipful Master in 1870. In 1886 he joined Alnwick Lodge No. 1167, where he served as Worshipful Master in 1870. He served as Provincial Grand Master from 1869 to 1886 and was appointed Senior Grand Warden by the United Grand Lodge of England in 1869. He sadly died on 14 May 1918.
Over the course of the following 6 to 9 months, from its discovery in May 2019, the Duke’s grave and that of his wife were completely renovated. The surrounding wall was rebuilt and, with the permission of the Church and funding from the Richard Henry Holmes Benevolent Fund, the Province organised and arranged for a stone plaque to be inserted into the surrounding wall in February 2020, just prior to the implementation of restrictions during the first lockdown.
Previous Dukes of Northumberland have been laid to rest at the Nothumberland Vault, St Mary's Chapel, Westminster Abbey in London, however Henry George Percy specifically requested to be buried in Northumberland. Interestingly, Lesbury Church Yard is roughly halfway between Alnwick Castle & Warkworth Castle, possibly reflecting his Duke of Northumberland and Lord Warkworth connections. Another interesting observation is that there is not a headstone; the grave is prominently displayed on the ground – some might say that he was buried ‘on the level’, a clear reference to his connection with Freemasonry.