As any member of our Order knows, Thomas Becket, Canterbury and Devotion are keywords!
We as an Order have been attending Canterbury Cathedral for many years to pay our homage to our God and respect the memory of that Great Inspiration to us as an Order, Thomas Becket.
Sadly, due to matters outside our control, last year we were unable to hold our Pilgrimage at the Cathedral, but we were determined to return as soon as we could.
Our new Protector of Canterbury, Sir William of Marchwood, The Reverend Bill Whitfield, has worked tirelessly, with the full backing of the Grand Master and myself, over the last twelve months in what became a most successful negotiation, resulting in restoring the event in our busy calendar.
Sir William is a modest man, but those of us who are in ‘the know’, are aware of the toll, that the task we gave him, placed upon him, his health and his life over the last twelve months. Bill, Thank You, somehow, does not seem anywhere near enough, in terms of gratitude, but is sincerely meant by us all in the Order.
Now, back to the day, The Grand Master, Grand Prior and several members of the Executive travelled down to Canterbury to join the some 160 plus members, wives and friends who had ‘booked in’ for the buffet at the usual venue, ‘The Pilgrims Hotel’.
First however the Grand Master, Tony Cross and I, along with Sir Alexander from Rio de Janeiro and Sir Felipe of Macuco, both of whom had travelled all the way from Brazil! visited the Museum of Freemasonry at the Masonic Hall in St Peter’s Place, right in the heart of Canterbury. I had previously circulated the Museum’s existence & facilities to the membership and I’m pleased to say that several other knights came to have a look around whilst we were there. Roger O’Brien, Sir Roger of Canterbury, the new RW Grand Preceptor of the South East Counties, who is trustee of the museum made himself available to show us round and explain the significance of many of the exhibits. Thankyou Roger, it was very interesting.
Then down to the Pilgrims hotel for lots of ‘networking’ and lunch. Now Stan Brown, ‘Stan of Croydon KC, had worked his usual oracle, and a superb buffet awaited those who had booked in. This year numbers were up, and this necessitated opening a further expansion area, (which will be opened from the moment we arrive next year) to accommodate the increased numbers.
Buffet consumed, and we were able to take a gentle stroll down to the riverside and along the myriad of ancient byways on the way to the Cathedral.
There was time for a coffee in one of the many the local coffee houses, whilst the gathering masses formed. We were soon on our way into the Cathedral, led by Sam Royle, the gracious lady that I dealt with in relation to our donations to the Cathedral Trust and its various fund-raising events. It was an impressive sight to see the huge following as we descended into the vault for our celebration ceremony, well over the 200 mark, the best attendance so far!
Before our devotions commenced, the Grand Master addressed those present and thanked them for attending in such good numbers. He went on to present the Arch Deacon of Canterbury, Very Rev’d. Jo Kelly-Moore with a cheque for £4,000.00 in respect of the Organ Stop Appeal. The donation was graciously accepted, and quickly passed to Sam, who then thanked everyone present, not only for the donation just given, but also the magnificent donations in relation to the previous appeals, well in excess of £40.000.
The ceremony then commenced with readings from a Past Grand Prior, Michael Harridine, and the Grand Prior, Sir Lee of Bromley by Bow KH. The address by Sir William was well received, being not only appropriate but of an appropriate length! Well done, again, Sir William.
Following the closing, the knights retired, many staying for evensong. Others made their way along, what for some was a long journey home. Knights attended from the UK, (all Provinces), Brazil, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, and very possibly many other areas.
Our one regret is that we could not meet and greet you all personally, but we did give it a good shot!
There was time to view the plaque which records our support for the previous appeal for repairs to the building, repairs which are now well underway, scaffolding was everywhere!
What more could a freemason wish for, but to leave his meeting with a warm and contented feeling of a job well done, Sir Knights The Job was Well Done, and our donation will, once again, be faithfully applied.
Sit Michael of Accrington KH
The Plaque recording our Donations
The Grand Master, Arch Deacon of Canterbury, Grand Prior and Protector of Canterbury