Celebrating 300 years

The Kent Museum of Freemasonry has retained its TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for a further year

The museum in St Peter's Place boasts a rare collection of exhibits of national and international importance, including regalia and books, which cover all Masonic orders through the ages.

The museum also had a recent visit from Kate Bliss and the team from the BBC TV show Antiques Road Trip as part of the filming for an episode of the programme to be shown in the autumn.

Worshipful Brother Tony Denne, chair of trustees, commented: ‘We were thrilled to be, once again, acknowledged by TripAdvisor for the amazing independent reviews that our visitors from far and wide have left for us over the past year.

‘The warm and knowledgeable welcome provided by our volunteer guides is mentioned time and again on the site.’

The Certificate of Excellence accounts for the quality, quantity and recency of reviews submitted by travellers on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period. To qualify, a business must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months.

As of June 2017, the Kent Museum of Freemasonry is listed by the site as one of the Top 20 things to do in Canterbury.

Published in More News

A Canterbury tale

The links between Freemasonry and Canterbury Cathedral have helped preserve this iconic building. Glyn Brown gets to the foundations of a historic relationship that was only renewed 10 years ago

Canterbury Cathedral is a place of strange and majestic beauty, from the echoing cloisters and soaring Bell Harry Tower to the dazzling stained-glass windows and vaulted ceilings. 

Founded in AD597, rebuilt and enlarged, it seems to sanctify and protect Canterbury. With the pale Caen-stone grandeur of this UNESCO World Heritage Site dwarfing the modern buildings around it, the Cathedral has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries. Chaucer’s motley crew are perhaps the best known of those travelling to its sanctuary to worship at the seat of the Anglican church and the shrine of St Thomas Becket. 

The sense of peace and the knowledge of the sheer human endeavour that went into its construction make the Cathedral a deeply moving place. Added to which, there are ties between Freemasonry and the very fabric of the Cathedral that go far back in time.

The building has survived all sorts of trauma, from the civil war to damage during World War II, and so requires ongoing restoration. And this, in part, is where Freemasonry comes in today. Not only does the Grand Charity donate regularly, but Kent Freemasons and their neighbouring Provinces have pledged to raise a substantial sum for a particularly urgent project. 

Launched by Provincial Grand Master of East Kent Geoffrey Dearing, the 2017 Canterbury Cathedral Appeal is being coordinated by Roger Odd (pictured), Past Deputy Provincial Grand Master of East Kent: ‘For a long time, I had no idea there had been links between the Cathedral and Freemasons,’ Roger admits. ‘Then I realised Archbishops of Canterbury had been Freemasons – people like Geoffrey Fisher, who crowned our current Queen. I also saw a picture of Past Provincial Grand Master of Kent Lord Cornwallis at a service in 1936. There had been connections, but the relationship hadn’t been re-established for some time.’

It was 10 years ago, when Roger was asked to find out if Freemasons could attend a Cathedral Evensong service, that this all changed. ‘I made an approach, met someone from the Cathedral Trust, which was about to launch an appeal for restoration work funding, and our relationship started again. It was really just us asking what Freemasons could do to help.’

The relationship has since blossomed and Roger now visits the Cathedral several times a month, often going behind the scenes. ‘It is such a privilege. You see the actual construction of this glorious, iconic building, how it’s survived, how bits haven’t survived – and why it needs such tender loving care.’

‘It is such a privilege to see the actual construction of this glorious, iconic building.’ Roger Odd

Investing in craft

One of the more resonant things to have come out of the relationship is the grant of £22,000, given for the past three years by the Grand Charity towards funding an apprentice stonemason. ‘The trainees are passionate about what they’re doing, and it’s lovely to see some of them now becoming master masons and trainers themselves,’ says Roger.

The Kent Museum of Freemasonry is currently mounting a timely exhibition to explain the bond between Freemasons and the Cathedral building. A video features a stonemason at work: ‘He’s a young stonemason who we supported and he’s so dedicated, so enthusiastic, and only too pleased to show you how to try the job yourself – he let me handle the tools so I understood it.’ 

How did that feel? ‘I was scared, first of all! It’s the skill of being able to chip stone away at an angle, to use that heavy maul and chisel correctly. Some of these tools are years old, but the masons know exactly how to make the right groove and create the perfect figure or moulding.’

Heather Newton, stonemason and the Cathedral’s head of conservation, sees the Freemasons’ support as nothing less than a blessing. ‘We’re desperately in need of funds,’ she says. ‘It’s a huge building, and there’s always something that needs doing. The Freemasons have been immensely generous, but the fact that they’ve given much of their donation specifically for training apprentices is particularly helpful. It’s proper, practical help, and in many cases it’s been a lifeline for some very talented people. You see them develop over the course of the apprenticeship – the experience enriches them.’

For Newton, the stonemasons are the ‘guardians’ of the Cathedral. It’s almost as if the building is a living, breathing thing that holds people’s hopes and beliefs within it. ‘It’s exactly like that, an extraordinary place.’ But like any living thing, it needs support. ‘The weather throws everything at the Cathedral. The south side gets lashed by rain and wind, then hot sun in summer. The north side is attacked by cold.’ 

Does it cause you pain when you see it start to crumble? 

‘It does sometimes, when you see really old little bits of detail just hanging on by a whisker. If something precious is on the brink we take it out and put it in a safe place, replacing it with as accurate a copy as we can. After all, the original will still bear that first stonemason’s marks.’

The most pressing issue is the deterioration of the north-west transept and its pinnacles. One of the oldest parts of the building, dating back to the 11th century, it supports the area of the Martyrdom, the small altar to St Thomas Becket, as well as one of the breathtaking stained-glass windows Freemasons of the past helped provide, dating from 1954. 

With the Cathedral in need of support, it was a happy coincidence that Roger was considering how best to mark the Freemasons’ Tercentenary. The result is that the Provinces of East and West Kent, Sussex and Surrey have pledged to raise £200,000 by the end of the year to enable restoration work already underway to be completed.

‘The Freemasons have been immensely generous. They’ve given proper, practical help.’ Heather Newton

Masonic foundations

And so to the Kent Museum of Freemasonry, where you will discover – if you don’t already know – that Freemasonry is thought to have origins in English stonemasons who built the great cathedrals and churches of the Middle Ages. 

Tony Eldridge, a museum trustee and volunteer, says visitor numbers have risen notably since its refurbishment in 2012: ‘We’ve had 9,000 visitors in the past 12 months, over 5,000 of those non-masons.’ From the interactive children’s area to the surprising list of masons (including George Washington and ‘Buzz’ Aldrin), the museum opens a door on Freemasonry, particularly through the current exhibition tracing modern – and ancient – bonds with the Cathedral. 

A semi-professional singer, Tony often sings at Canterbury Cathedral and knows it well: ‘A Canon, Tom Pritchard, once said to me, “If you think of the prayers that have soaked into the walls, it’s no wonder people feel so uplifted here.”’ Or as Roger says, ‘The more I get involved with the Cathedral, the more I feel, “Aren’t I lucky to be a part of this?” ’ 

Find out more about the Kent Museum of Freemasonry at www.kentmuseumoffreemasonry.org.uk 

Published in Features

The following list of books are surplus to the library's requirements and are offered to members and masonic centres who have, or may like to start, a small local library

They are available on a first-come first-served basis by contacting the following number: 01227 785625

Although the library is not selling them per se, it is expected that a reasonable donation to running costs be made to the library for each book. You will need to make arrangements to collect them in person as there is no provision to post them.

Title: author - number in stock

Manual of Freemasonry: Richard Carlile - 12
A Ritual of Freemasonry: unknown - 6
Born in Blood: John Robinson - 1
The Hiram Key: Knight & Lomas - 2
Holy Blood & Holy Grail: Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln - 1
The Freemason’s Manual: Jeremiah How - 1
Thomas Dunkerley: Henry Sadler - 3
The Four Corners: Sir James Stubbs - 5
Rule & Teach: Lewis Edwards - 1
The Higher Degrees Handbook: JSM Ward - 1
A Concise Cyclopedia of Freemasonry: EL Hawkins - 2
Duncan’s Ritual of Freemasonry: Malcolm Duncan - 2
The Mysteries of Freemasonry: John Fellows - 7
Freemasonry for Beginners and Others: AL Philips - 2
Things a Freemason Should Know: FJW Crowe - 2
Masonic Ritual: JW Hobbs - 1
Sidelights on Freemasonry: Rev JT Lawrence - 3
The Perfect Ashlar: Rev JT Lawrence - 3
Commentary on the Freemasonic Ritual: Dr EH Cartwright - 1
An Examination of the Masonic Ritual: Maj M Sanderson - 1
A Lexicon of Freemasonry: AG Mackey - 3
The Freemasons: Eugen Lennhoff - 1
The Unlocked Secret: James Dewar - 2
The RMIG Year Book 1960 - 11
The Rare Books of Freemasonry: Lionel Vibert - 2
The Apocalypse of Freemasonry: Rev F de P Castells - 5
Origin of the Masonic Degrees: Rev F de P Castells - 3
Emulation Explained: HF Inman - 2
Labour and Refreshment: JSM Ward - 1
Masonic Speechmaking: JW Hobbs - 6
The Medieval Mason: Knoop & Jones - 2
English Speaking Freemasonry: Sir Alfred Robbins - 2
The Origin & Evolution of Freemasonry: Dr Albert Churchward - 1
The Masonic Initiation: WL Wilmshurst - 1
Darkness Visible: Walton Hannah - 1
The Early Masonic Catechisms: Knoop, Jones & Hamer - 4
Masonic halls of England: The South: Rev N Barker Cryer - 3
Masonic halls of England: The Midlands Rev N Barker Cryer - 2
Masonic halls of England: The North Rev N Barker Cryer - 2
Priest & Freemason: George Oliver: RSE Sandbach - 1
Masonic Jurisprudence: Rev G Oliver - 1
New Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry; vol 1: AE Waite - 2
The Lost Keys of Freemasonry: Manly P Hall - 1
Masonic Enquire Within pub; Masonic Record - 1
Treasury of Masonic Thought: Martin & Callaghan - 4
English Speaking Freemasonry: Sir Alfred Robbins - 3
The Symbol of Glory: Rev G Oliver - 1
Emblematic Freemasonry: AE Waite - 1
Our Ancient Brethren: Rev F de P Castells - 1
English Freemasonry 1600 – 1700: Rev F de P Castells - 1
Hughan’s English Masonic Rite: WJ Hughan - 1
Masonic Orations: LP Metham - 1
Ceremony of Passing: WL Wilmshurst - 1
Early Masonic Writers: Rev G Oliver - 1
The Evolution of Symbolic Masonry: James Stevens - 1
A Short History of English Freemasonry: AF Dence - 1
A Ritual & Illustrations of Freemasonry: Unknown - 2
High-Ways & By-Ways of Freemasonry: Rev JT Lawrence - 1
Freemasonry & Its Etiquette: Campbell-Everden - 11
The Masonic Initiation: WL Wilmshurst - 2
Who Was Hiram Abiff?: JSM Ward - 2
Early Masonic Pamphlets: Knoop, Jones & Hamer - 5
The Worshipful Master: GS Blakely - 1
The Genuine Secrets in Freemasonry: Rev F de P Castells - 1
Promises of Ezekiel’s City: Bezzant & Pridham - 1
Unwritten Laws in Freemasonry: “Hazlitt” - 1
Freemasons’ Guide & Compendium: BE Jones - 10
A New Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry: AE Waite - 2
Masonic Jurisprudence: Rev JT Lawrence - 4
Freemasonry & Its Jurisprudence: CI Paton - 1
Institutes of Masonic Jurisprudence: Rev G Oliver - 1
A Treasury of Masonic Thought: ed. C Glick - 1
Early French Exposures: ed. H Carr - 4
Dictionary of Symbolic Masonry: Rev G Oliver - 1
Dr Ashe’s Masonic Manual: Rev J Ashe - 1
Emulation a Ritual to Remember: CFW Dyer - 6
Freemasonry in My Life: JW Stubbs - 3
Director of Ceremonies: A Rose - 5
Masonic Symbolism: AH Ward - 1
British Masonic Miscellany vols 11,14,17: ed. GM Martin - 3
The Master Mason’s Handbook: FJW Crowe - 1
The Text Book of Freemasonry: Unknown - 10
The Brotherhood: S Knight - 5
The Temple & The Lodge: Baigent & Leigh - 3
Beyond the Pillars: ed. Grand Lodge of Canada - 1
Happy Hertfordshire 1797 to 1997: pub. Province of Hertfordshire - 4
Province of Kent 1770 to 1970: pub. Province of Kent - 14
The Builders: JF Newton - 8
Grand Lodge 1717 to 1967: UGLE - 1
Prestonian Lectures 1925 to 1960: ed. H Carr - 2
An Introduction to Freemasonry: Knoop & Jones - 1
The Genesis of Freemasonry: Knoop & Jones - 1
Inside the Brotherhood: M Short - 1
Our Separated Brethren the Freemasons: A Mellor - 1
The Freemason at Work: H Carr - 1
A Century of the Allied Masonic Degrees: HHC Prestige - 1
Some Royal Arch Terms Explained: RA Wells - 2
The Book of the Lodge: G Oliver - 1
Rule and Teach: L Edwards - 1
The Key of Masonic Initiation: PT Runton - 1
A Commentary on the Freemasonic Ritual: Dr EH Cartright - 1
Grand Lodge of MMMs 1865-1968: RM Handfield-Jones - 1
History of 1st Hundred Years QC Lodge: C Dyer - 2
Masons and Masonry: pub GL Scotland - 1
Ancient and Accepted: J Mandleburg - 1
The Royal Order of Scotland: RS Lindsay - 1
The Royal Order of Scotland 2nd 100 years: G Draffen of Newington - 1

Correct as at 28.03.2013

To check current availability please contact:

Tony Periton
Curator/Librarian
St Peter's Place
Canterbury
CT1 2DA

01227 785625
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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