This appeal ended on 31st December
On Saturday 12th September 2015, at the Kent Provincial Grand Stewards’ Lodge No 5866 held in Dover, the Head of East Kent Freemasons, Provincial Grand Master Geoffrey Dearing, launched an Appeal in East Kent to support the refurbishment of the North West Transept Tower and its Pinnacles at Canterbury Cathedral. In conjunction with the other neighbouring Provinces of West Kent, Surrey and Sussex, it was agreed to raise the sum of at least £200,000 to support the repair work of this iconic building as part of our celebrations for the 300 years of English Freemasonry in 2017.
At the meeting in Dover, the Worshipful Master of the Kent Provincial Grand Stewards’ Lodge, VW Bro Roger Odd, outlined the connections that Local Freemasons had had with the Cathedral over many years – including two resplendent windows in the Chapter House in 1896 and the Martyrdom in 1954 as well as the many Services in which Freemasons had participated. Freemasons in the Province of East Kent were looking forward to 2017 and it was felt a permanent memorial within Canterbury Cathedral on this occasion would be a fitting climax to our celebrations.
Mrs Heather Newton, Head of Conservation at Canterbury Cathedral (and formerly Head of Stonemasonry) explained the importance of the refurbishment of the North-West Transept Tower and its Pinnacles. This was the oldest part of the present cathedral and dated back to the 11th Century, as well as supporting some of the most important parts of the building, for example the Martyrdom of Thomas Beckett in 1170. She spoke about the deterioration of the stonework in this part of the Cathedral, which had suffered badly in subsequent refurbishments when poor materials had been used. Heather illustrated the problems by showing photographs of the work and pieces of stonework which had worn away and needed to be replaced.
The Provincial Grand Master felt that Freemasons in East Kent would want to support this Appeal, which would last until the end of 2016. It would culminate in a Special Service at the Cathedral on Saturday 18th February 2017 when Freemasons in the four Provinces would be able to celebrate 300 years of English Freemasonry and the help given to the Cathedral in the restoration of the North-West Transept Tower and its Pinnacles.
The Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, the Very Reverend Robert Willis, has agreed to preside personally at this Service. The Cathedral has agreed that a special plaque will be placed in the Cathedral building to show the support given by the Freemasons, as well as a permanent engraving in the Stonework within the Tower.
Individuals, Lodges and Chapters were asked to support this Appeal through a letter that was sent out by the PGM/MEGS and payments passed on to the Cathedral at regular intervals.
Crafting of new stone ashlars
The Stonemasons at Canterbury also agreed to make a set of Rough and Perfect Ashlars out of the Caen Stone used in the Cathedral which would be given to those Lodges or Centres which made a generous donation to the Appeal. A certificate was also presented with the Stones.
Several illustrated talks were given throughout the Province during 2016 and, where possible, Heather Newton helped to explain the North-West Tower refurbishment project being undertaken at the Cathedral. An Exhibition was also staged from November at the Masonic Library and Museum at Canterbury to show the links between Canterbury Cathedral and Freemasonry.