There was a big surprise for one member of an East Kent Lodge, when a very special visitor made an unexpected visit to present a long service certificate.
Members of Rochester Castle Lodge No.9260 had gathered at the Stanley Rooms in Chatham on February 3rd to celebrate Frank Holding’s 60 years in Freemasonry. So popular is Frank that the meeting had to be moved from the usual venue, in order to accommodate almost 70 brethren who had booked in for this very special occasion.
The Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Peter Williams, arrived as expected and was admitted into the lodge to deliver Frank’s award. However, a few moments later there was an unexpected knock at the door. A “Friend you will know” was announced.
To (almost) everyone’s surprise the unexpected guest was non other than Provincial Grand Master, Geoffrey Dearing. Lodge Secretary Roy Goodhew had discreetly arranged this special visitor and had managed to keep it a secret from everyone else in the lodge.
Retired farmer Frank was “dumbfounded and delighted” to receive such an honour and felt spurred on to lead the rest of the meeting. This included Passing Jake Rowan, during which Frank was ably assisted by Jake’s Father Ian.
“We were delighted to make this such a special evening for Frank.” said Roy. “He was our founding Master and has always been a driving force in the lodge. He is a fine ritualist and one of the kindest men you could hope to meet. As an example, rather than accepting a personal gift for his long service, he asked for a pair of commemorative wands to be purchased for the lodge to use.”
On presenting the certificate, Geoffrey Dearing gave a retrospective of Frank’s life and distinguished masonic career, including a look back at World events from 1955, the year he became a Freemason.
Following the meeting and a fine festive board, Frank went home happy and still somewhat pleasantly shocked by the events of the evening. One member remarked “It was a great night. We were all totally surprised when the PGM walked in, everyone’s jaws hit the floor!”
Canterbury evensong for Royal Arch
The choral evensong congregation at Canterbury Cathedral was enhanced by almost 500 companions, brethren, their families and friends coming together for the Province of East Kent’s Royal Arch biennial church service.
Led by Grand Superintendent Geoffrey Dearing, distinguished guests included Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton, Third Grand Principal David Williamson, the then Metropolitan Grand Master Russell Race and several neighbouring Provincial Grand Masters.
Guests were able to view the Ancestors exhibit, a series of life-size figures representing the Ancestors of Christ that date to the 12th and early 13th centuries. These beautiful examples of medieval stained glass had been temporarily removed from the Cathedral’s Great South Window while conservation work was carried out on its crumbling stonework. They were on display in the Chapter House, the East Window of which was a gift from the Freemasons of Kent.
East Kent goes the extra mile
After five years of dedicated fundraising, the Provincial Grand Lodge of East Kent celebrated the close of its 2014 Festival for The Freemasons’ Grand Charity
East Kent announced that more than £3.65 million had been raised, a total well above the Province’s target. ‘All the money for this appeal has been raised by the members of the Province and I was delighted to announce the culmination of their efforts at our celebratory dinner in Folkestone,’ said Provincial Grand Master Geoffrey Dearing. ‘I know that our donation will help to change the lives of thousands of people in need. I am so proud of all our members and their families for their generous support and the huge efforts they have made.’
More than five hundred Freemasons, their wives, partners and friends joined the celebration at Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone in June 2014, including Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence; President of the Grand Charity Richard Hone, QC; and the Grand Charity’s Chief Executive Laura Chapman. Speaking about the Festival, Richard said he was tremendously grateful to the Province and their families for their contributions. With grants totalling millions of pounds each year, the Grand Charity assists thousands of people in both the masonic and wider community. Without the support of Freemasons and their families, this would not be possible.
The nave of Canterbury Cathedral welcomed around 1,000 masons, their families and friends for a service to celebrate the bicentenary of Royal Arch Masonry
On Saturday 21 September, a unique event was held at Canterbury Cathedral that not only marked a special milestone in masonic history but also demonstrated a great affinity between Freemasonry and the cathedral’s stonemasons. Freemasonry has its roots in the lodges of medieval stonemasons and to this day supports the training of apprentice stonemasons at the cathedral.
The occasion was a combined celebration for the Provinces of East Kent, West Kent, Sussex and Surrey, each led by their respective Grand Superintendents, Geoffrey Dearing, Jonathan Winpenny, Kenneth Thomas and Eric Stuart-Bamford. The significance of the event was acknowledged by the presence of the Second and Third Grand Principals, George Francis and David Williamson, respectively. Russell Race, the Metropolitan Grand Superintendent, and David Boswell, the Grand Superintendent of Suffolk, were also in attendance, as was the Sheriff of Canterbury, Cllr Ann Taylor, who represented the city and people of Canterbury.
The Archdeacon of Canterbury, the Venerable Sheila Watson, conducted the service, with the grand setting and the superb King’s School Crypt Choir adding to the memorable ambience. The Archdeacon referred to the long connection between the cathedral and Freemasons, in particular the gifts of the Chapter House east window and the Coronation window. She paid tribute to the masonic principles of unity, fellowship and service to the community, and spoke of ‘service beyond ourselves’, a virtue embraced by the Church and Freemasonry alike.
Kent reopening for Library and Museum
The Kent Masonic Library and Museum Trust has been reopened by Geoffrey Dearing, Provincial Grand Master for East Kent, after an extensive 18-month redevelopment
Located in the heart of Canterbury, in St Peter’s Place, just a ﬁve-minute stroll from the 11th-century cathedral, the museum was originally opened in 1933, and has probably the ﬁnest collection of masonic material in the UK outside London.
As well as masonic paintings, glassware and porcelain, the displays include unique 19th-century stained-glass windows that originally adorned the old Freemasons’ Hall in London. The solid oak entrance doors came from St Mary’s College, part of the Jesuit Monastery in Hales Place, Canterbury, which was demolished at the same time as the museum was being designed by its architect, Brother FG Haywood of Market Square, Dover.
The ﬁrst change evident to visitors is a striking new entrance in St Peter’s Place that catches the eye of the thousands of passers-by. The building is open daily from 10am to 4pm and is wheelchair accessible. Entry is free of charge, with donations welcome.
Geoffrey Dearing has been installed as both Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent of the Royal Arch in the Province of East Kent by Jonathan Spence, Deputy Grand Master and Past Second Grand Principal.
The two ceremonies took place at the Winter Gardens theatre and functions building in Margate. Jonathan Spence reminded the companions and brethren that East Kent is his home Province, being a member of Pentangle Chapter and Sir Joseph Williamson Lodge, both meeting at Rochester.
The calling notices for the Investiture meeting on Thursday 20th October were termed 'Special' and how right that proved to be. Many attending would be used to the pomp and ceremony of the annual Provincial Craft and Royal Arch Festivals, but few would have experienced the spectacle served up in the Winter Gardens at Margate that day under the ecellent direction of RWBro Jonathan Spence, Deputy Grand Master, and the careful control of VWBro Oliver Lodge, Grand Director of Ceremonies, and his team. Such a treat has not been served up since 2004 when Michael Robin Bailey was invested, and another is unlikely to be witnessed this decade.
The comment 'that's another one done' was pronounced by one of the distinguished guests on retiring to the East Room after the morning ceremony. He hadn't appreciated that he was passing a secondary staircase which was open to the Kings Hall and his remark was clearly audible to all those assembled within, to their combined amusement. It wasn't just 'another one done' as far as the members of the Province were concerned, it was their Geoffrey Gordon Dearing who had just been invested as Grand Superintendent in and over the Province of East Kent that morning and later after the lunch interval, Provincial Grand Master of East Kent.
The day was very much a Kent affair, as Jonathan Spence reminded the companions and brethren that East Kent is his home Province, he being a member of Pentangle Chapter No. 1174 and Sir Joseph Williamson Lodge No. 4605, both meeting at Gundolph Square, Rochester.
In his addresses Geoffrey Dearing gave tribute to those who had worked to make the day such a success. He acknowledged that he was not yet well known in every Centre in the Province and intended to put that right, but not all at once, so requested all to exercise patience. He remarked that he would never have believed how rapidly one could advance in Freemasonry in just six months!