The second oldest English Cathedral is Rochester, having been founded in AD604 by Bishop Justus. The present building dates to the work of the French monk, Gundulf, in 1080. The glorious Norman architecture of the nave, parts of the crypt, as well as one of the finest Romanesque facades in England.
From its earliest times, Rochester appears to have been famous for the training of singers. In his Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, Book IV Bede writes of Bishop Putta, enthroned as Bishop of Rochester in AD 669 that:
“He was extraordinarily skilful in the Roman style of church music, which he had learned from the disciples of the holy Pope Gregory”.
Bede goes on to say that:
“From that time, they began in all the churches of the English to learn sacred music, which till then had been only known in Kent”.
The Cathedral Choir at Rochester can therefore claim to be the heir to a very ancient tradition as it maintains the round of daily worship.
Two Provinces working together
So, it’s no surprise that Rochester Cathedral Children’s Community Choir which started in 2015 is very popular and draws children from thirteen schools to take part and is opening to a wider catchment area, there are no constraints on gender or religious belief.
In support of this over the Christmas period, the Head of East Kent Freemasons Neil Johnstone attended Rochester Cathedral with his wife Margaret, along with members of his family.
Meeting with the Dean the Very Reverend Dr Philip Hesketh afterwards and presenting him with a cheque for £5,000 as part of the on-going support from Kent Freemasons, the Dean emphasised his support of the Freemasons and looked forward to building a continued successful relationship together.
“The Masonic Provinces of East and West Kent, are working closely with the Cathedral in helping to expand its activities, over the next four years, especially where youngsters are concerned”