Presentation of a Further £22,000 to Canterbury Cathedral Trust
A delegation from the Province of East Kent, led by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Very Worshipful Brother Roger Odd, visited Canterbury Cathedral on Monday 9th March to present a £22,000 cheque from Freemasons’ Grand Charity. The cheque was presented to the Dean, The Very Reverend Robert Willis, and is a further instalment of Grand Charity’s support over several years of the training of apprentice stonemasons.
Roger Odd said he was privileged to present the cheque on behalf of Freemasons’ Grand Charity and spoke proudly of the opportunity to help preserve the on-going training of the ancient craft of stonemasonry at the cathedral.
It seemed particularly appropriate given the connections between stonemasonry and freemasonry.
Receiving the donation, the Dean thanked the Grand Charity and the Freemasons of East Kent for their continuing support of the cathedral, particularly the training of apprentice stonemasons.
He spoke of the important contribution made by the stonemasons to the ‘Creative Community’ of people that work in the cathedral. So high was the standard of their work that it is widely admired and is currently featured in the latest edition of an interior design magazine.
Prior to the cheque presentation the East Kent group were given a tour of the cathedral by Kim Harlow, Head of Trusts and Foundations. The tour started in the stonemasons’ workshop, where they met two of the sponsored apprentices: Ben Swinfield and Jake Wood. Ben is currently working on the North-West Transept, where much of the stonework needs to be replaced.
Architect’s drawings were displayed showing a jigsaw-like pattern of stonework, with those to be replaced coloured red. Damage to the stonework had accumulated over the years, not helped by some earlier remedial work.
Ben went on to explain how the details of each damaged stone is measured up, drawn out and a template prepared to define the shape of the replacement stone.
Mrs Heather Newton, the cathedral’s Head of Stonemasonry and Conservation, described the work as “Saville Row Masonry; highly-skilled, top-end work that preserves traditional methods and is endorsed by all statutory bodies”. Heather went on to tell the group that nine cathedrals unite together in a fellowship to provide a foundation degree course in Professional Development and Cathedral Stonemasonry with the University of Gloucester. Canterbury’s Apprentice-Master, Steve Manual, (offsite on this occasion) was described as a natural teacher who inspires the best from his trainees.
The tour continued around the North side of the cathedral, where the scaffolding around the North-West Transept could be observed and into the Chapter House, where the window donated by Kent Freemasons in 1896 was admired.
Proceeding on to Martyrdom, the site of Thomas Becket’s murder, the group paused to admire the Coronation Window donated by Kent Freemasons in 1954, and the shrine to Thomas Becket, before exiting on the South side of the cathedral.
The group was then equipped with hard hats and hi-vis waistcoats and, before climbing the scaffolding, Heather explained the damage to the Great South Window that resulted in its complete removal so that all the stonework could be replaced. Tom Long, the Master Mason in charge of this project, led the group up the scaffolding to the seventh level, to observe the progress of work so far. He was able to show that lessons had been learned over the problems caused by earlier renovation work and, by using stainless steel tie-bars, cleverly jointed into the stonework, problems caused by expansion, contraction and rusting could be avoided in future.