On a glorious sunny morning on the 21 July 2018 something stirred in the Town of Uckfield, in East Sussex. There was a certain hum going around that something was going to happen about the place as some 50 or so members of the Order of St Thomas of Acon attended the Masonic Hall for a ceremony par excellence, that would culminate in the Installation of Sir Roger of Canterbury (Roger O’Brien to you and me) be installed as the Grand Preceptor of the Province of South Eastern Counties. Taking over the reins from Sir Brian of Baldwins Hill (Brian Prevett).
The Grand Master and his team arrived with expectations of a Grand Ceremony and Festive Board afterwards, which I am delighted to say far exceeded those expectations.
How did this momentous occasion arise? Well in 1999 Roger was approached to join the order as it was thought there should be a Chapel in Canterbury especially as the order is based around Thomas Becket, who as you are fully aware was the Archbishop of Canterbury murdered by callous villains.
As it happened on the 27th November 1999 Roger was the representative Candidate along with 20 other Candidates was admitted into the Order and subsequently on the same day became a founder of the Canterbury Chapel, No7. Having been admitted into the order by Sir Barry of Ilford, the Grand Master at the time.
The consecration was a memorable one for Roger as during the ceremony the contents of the censer was spilt on the Temple carpet. It was smouldering away and the Grand Marshal, Keith Ansell had to pick up the embers with cotton gloves. He ended up with burned fingers and mittens.
Roger became Worthy Master of Canterbury Chapel in 2004 and subsequently was a founder of Geoffrey Chaucer Chapel, No 63.
He has now reached the pinnacle as Grand Preceptor of the Province and will lead the Province for some years to come.
Finally, for the scholars out there, there is a book called “Becket’s Bones” by John Butler of the University of Kent. He wrote on the whereabouts of Becket’s remains after his shrine was dismantled by Henry VIII “Reformation”. Roger made a small contribution to the book and is listed in the credits. This came about when was Clerk of Canterbury Magistrates’ Court when two lads appeared having been charged with attempted burglary of Canterbury Cathedral. They were going to try to prise open one of the tombs in the Cathedral which they thought contained Thomas Becket. They were students and only amateur burglars and were caught before they could attempt it. So, Roger has had a very small part in the story of Thomas Becket.
Sir Reginald of Paphos
Provincial Grand Prior
For further photographs follow the link Installation of Grand Preceptor