Freemasonry in Kent did not, as one might suppose, spread out from London. It was strongest in naval and military towns such as Dover, Sheerness and the Medway towns of Chatham and Gillingham, before expanding into the larger inland towns, such as Canterbury, Maidstone and Ashford. However some of the oldest surviving Lodges, the oldest of which is the Royal Kent Lodge of Antiquity, No. 20, meeting in Chatham, moved from London.
The Province of Kent was formed by the Grand Lodge of the Moderns in 1770, with the Hon. Robert Boyle Walsingham as its first Provincial Grand Master. The Moderns amalgamated with the Grand Lodge of the Antients in 1813 to form the United Grand Lodge of England.
Provinces serve two main functions, principally that of administration but also as a focus of identity being based, as they are, upon historic counties. There are too many Lodges and brethren meeting under the United Grand Lodge of England to be readily administered from its headquarters in London. Some of the administration, powers and responsibilities are delegated to Provincial Grand Masters, who are appointed and hold office under a patent granted by the Grand Master. The Lodges in each Province are regulated under bylaws approved by the Province, whilst the Provincial Grand Master, his Deputy, Assistants and administrative team, all appointed by him, lead and conduct the business of the Province.
The increase in the number of Lodges meeting in Kent was quite slow until the mid 19th century. By 1973 there were so many Lodges that the decision was taken to divide the Province into two, East Kent and West Kent. Lodges in East Kent meet in the towns shown below. In 2013, forty years after its formation, there are 185 Lodges meeting in East Kent with about 7000 members.
Provincial Grand Masters of East Kent since 1973:-
1973 – 1981: The 2nd Baron Cornwallis
1981 – 1992: John Andrew Porter TD JP DL
1992 – 2004: John Bonomy OBE JP
2004 – 2011: Michael Robin Bailey
2011 to date: Geoffrey Gordon Dearing
Please click here for a more detailed history of the Province of East Kent.
Please click here for further details of all Lodges meeting in East Kent.