On the 22nd February 2019 24 Freemasons assembled at the Dover Masonic Hall to start their annual pilgrimage to the Spinoza Lodge No: 50 of the Regular Grand Lodge of Belgium.
The history behind this visit takes us back to July 2015 when an e-mail communication was received by the Secretary of the Septem Lodge No:7788 in the Province of East Kent, from the Provincial Grand Secretary. The e-mail asked whether the Septem Lodge could accommodate up to 13 visitors from Lodge Spinoza at their September 2015 Regular Meeting, a positive reply was given to the request and at the September Regular meeting 13 Guests arrived for their visit.
At the Festive board after the meeting, kind words and gifts were exchanged between lodges and the respective Worshipful Masters, Septem Lodge has this first gift proudly displayed in the dining hall in the Dover Masonic Centre.
The visit proved to be a huge success, friends were made and regular communication was established between the two Lodge Secretaries. An invitation was issued between the two Lodges to attend each other’s Installation Meetings, properly sanctioned by the 2 Grand Lodges and so in February 2016 8 members of the Septem Lodge attended their first Installation meeting in Belgium and were impressed with the way that they were received and although the meeting was conducted in Flemish, were able to understand the proceedings, in the May of 2016, 7 brethren from Lodge Spinoza No:50 attended the Septem Lodge Installation meeting and the bond was successfully forged between the 2 Lodges.
2017 and 2018 saw a steady increase in the number of visitors each side of the channel until February 2019 when 22 visitors under the Septem Lodge banner, including 2 active East Kent Provincial Grand Lodge Officers, 2 Past Provincial Grand Lodge Officers, 14 Master Masons, 1 Fellowcraft and 2 Entered Apprentices, plus 2 Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, WBro David Graeme & WBro Mark Bassant, from the Province of East Kent, (albeit an unofficial visit) made the trip for this meeting.
We were received by a brother from the Spinoza Lodge when we arrived at our hotel on the Friday evening and were taken out for the rest of the evening and guided around the City of Ostend and an excellent time was had by all.
On the Saturday morning after an excellent breakfast we had a spare morning to do as we wished, most went on a walk along the seafront as we searched for a place to exchange our currency,
Some even went on a tour of the tall ship that was in the harbour across the road from the hotel.
At the appointed time of 1:30 the 24 brethren assembled to be whisked off in Taxi’s to the venue of Tenputte for the meeting, which was to commence at 15:00.
The brethren shortly after arriving at the venue, posed for a photograph as they eagerly awaited the start of the meeting.
The meeting commenced at 15:00 prompt and was an extremely good afternoon, all due protocol was observed and those that were lucky enough to be able to see the Master installed were treated to an excellent ceremony by one of the Regular Grand Lodge of Belgium Grand Officers, who not only installed the new Worshipful Master in Flemish but also repeated it in English for those brethren who did not understand Flemish.
After the meeting we were treated to an excellent Festive Board where all were made to feel welcome, gifts from the Septem Lodge were given to the incoming Worshipful Master as is the tradition and a few words were given by the Secretary and organiser of the trip, W.Bro Kevin Kemp followed by visitors from Lodges in Vienna, Brussels, Germany, and France.
A final few words were given by Assistant Provincial Grand Master W.Bro David Graeme, who congratulated the new WM and his officers for an extremely good installation ceremony and for how welcome all of the visitors had been made to feel.
After the meeting, we returned to our hotel to change, and then out to enjoy some of the many different wonderful Belgian Beers.
The Septem Lodge has made many special friendships, as well as receiving 2 of the Spinoza Lodge as joining members, who are regular attenders at all of the Septem meetings, always bringing visitors when they can.
It is also worth pointing out that the Fraternity of Freemasonry is Universal, special friendships are made which will last a lifetime, conversations took place between our brothers from Belgium, France, Austria and Germany, long may this continue
We look forward to seeing our brothers from Belgium at our installation meeting in May and to returning to them in February 2020, with even more travelling with us.
W.Bro Kevin Kemp PPrDepGReg Secretary Septem Lodge No:7788