In the year that Freemasons everywhere are celebrating their Tercentenary, it was very appropriate that a team of East Kent Freemasons were able to relaunch a demonstration of “Lodge Night 1759”.
The demonstration team, led by Peter Trower – Jim Hawkins in the recent Provincial Pantomime “Treasure Island” – gave its first public performance at a meeting of All Saints Lodge No 5383 in Gillingham on 7th February 2017. The Master of All Saints Lodge, George Grafton, handed over to the team after dealing with his lodge’s business for the evening. (George can be seen in the photo behind the Demonstration Team).
The re-enactment was very much in the manner of 18th Century Freemasonry, and was based on the records of The Union Lodge meeting at the Union Hotel, Royal Square, St. Helier in October 1765. The players sat around a large square table representing the way in which lodge meetings were held in those days. The positioning of officers around the table was very similar to the layout of a modern lodge room. There was no Inner Guard, that duty being carried out by the Junior Warden.
It was the Tyler’s responsibility to deliver the Lodge Summons to all the Brethren and, on the evening of the meeting, to draw the lodge on the floor of the tavern room and to mop up afterwards. This led to some complaints from various tavern owners of the day and eventually a floor cloth was used which could easily be laid out and stored after use. The re-enactment team used their own floor cloth in the demonstration.
The aprons worn by the Brethren were not uniform, as they are nowadays, but were decorated at the whim of the wearer to his own design and expense. So it did not necessarily follow that the more beautiful the apron the higher the rank of the wearer.
The Master of the lodge was referred to as “Right Worshipful” and he was the only Brother who kept his hat on throughout the ceremony.
The ancient ceremonies were more informal than today’s and there was much wine-taking and banter between the characters represented in the demonstration.
The eight characters were played by the following Brethren, all of whom are Past Masters of various lodges in East Kent, and who have been working together for months to prepare the demonstration:-
- Right Worshipful Master – Robert Dobson,
- Senior Warden – Clinton Wingrove,
- Junior Warden – Brian Clarke,
- Scrivener – Andy Waters,
- Treasurer – Peter Trower,
- Vicar – Archie Moore (also the oldest member of the team)
- Tyler – Terry Stockwell, and
- Candidate’s Friend – Colin Dutton.
The part of candidate was played by Sarbjit Mattu, Senior Deacon of All Saints Lodge.
The demonstration was thoroughly enjoyed by over seventy local Freemasons who booked in for the event. Afterwards, at the Festive Board, the proceeds of the raffle were given to the team who passed it on to the Cornwallis East Kent Freemasons’ Charity.
This demonstration was previously given by members of the CTO and Telecoms Masonic Association, comprised of Freemasons that worked for the Royal Mail or British Telecom. The team operated for many years all over London, Kent and the Home Counties and raised thousands of pounds for various charities. While the CTO and Telecoms Masonic Association is still in existence, the demonstration team disbanded a few years ago and passed their equipment, costumes and archives over to the Masonic Province of East Kent.
Peter Trower took up the challenge of restarting the demonstrations and, over a period of many months, gradually built up the new team. The costumes and some of the equipment were in poor condition and were replaced at the team members’ own expense.
The team is available for demonstrations at other lodges where, once again, a donation to the Cornwallis East Kent Freemasons’ Charity would be appreciated. The re-enactment is suitable for all Freemasons, including Entered Apprentices. They are also looking for additional members to afford them more flexibility and increase the team’s availability. If you want to book the team, or volunteer your help, please email Peter Trower using the contact form below.