Hopefully They Will Be Chuffed When They Visit
We look forward to welcoming many members of the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon on Saturday 29th September, when the order makes its annual pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral.
During the afternoon a service will be held in the Cathedral and members from all over the country, including the Grand Master of the Order, attend to earn their “choughs” – a small shield containing the three choughs of Thomas Becket.
The chough (pronounced chuff) is a red-legged member of the crow family – they have formed part of Canterbury’s coat of arms since its adoption as a subtle show of support for Becket. They were recently reintroduced to the Kent countryside. Now only found in the wild in Wales, the Inner Hebrides and Northern Ireland, the chough was wiped out in Kent in the 17th century, when the “Acte for the Preservacion of Grayne” decreed that every parish should provide nets for its destruction. The bird has a special historical association with Canterbury from when Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the monasteries and decreed that no reference to the Church should appear on new coats of arms.
The Order of St. Thomas of Acon was established in 1974 as a result of twenty years’ research in the Guildhall Library in London by John E. N. Walker, who for many years was the Secretary General of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia. The ancient records of the Order, written in medieval French and Latin, had been deposited in the Guildhall Library and escaped the Great Fire of 1666.
The Order now operates under the official title of The Commemorative Order of St Thomas of Acon and is an independent British Christian masonic organisation. Membership is restricted, by invitation, to subscribing Knights Templar’s.
Members meet in “Chapels” as opposed to Lodges and their charities raise monies for the support and upkeep of Canterbury Cathedral.
We Are On The Television Again!
Thursday 12th July saw another TV crew visit the museum, this time it was from ITV Meridian News.
Reporter Derek Johnson had picked up on our continued TripAdvisor successes and decided to take a look for himself. The feature, which was broadcast on Sunday 15th July, described us as “one of Canterbury’s hidden gems”.
Derek spent time at the museum filming many of our exhibits and artefacts and interviewed both Mark Bassant, one of the Masonic Province of East Kent’s Assistant Provincial Grand Masters about Freemasonry in General and Robin Evans, our Marketing Manager about the museum and library in particular.
Coincidentally, the news anchor on the day that the item was broadcast was Nia Mason! No connection though.
Visit From Arturo de Hoyos
On Monday 25th June W.Bro. Arturo de Hoyos paid us a visit from Washington DC.
W.Bro. Arturo is both the Grand Archivist and Grand Historian of the Supreme Council, 33°, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry for the Southern Jurisdiction, USA – the world’s oldest branch of “Scottish Rite” Freemasonry.
Arturo is in the UK as a guest of W.Bro. Jüstin Lyssér a member of Canterbury’s St Augustine Lodge No.972; both are members of London’s Quatuor Coronati Lodge No.2076, where he gave a speech during his stay. Quatuor Coronati is the world’s premier research Lodge and was established in 1884 to advance evidence-based study of Masonic history and research into the origins of Freemasonry.
As you can see from this collection of photographs, during his visit, W.Bro. Arturo met with some of our volunteers and looked through our extensive collection of artefacts, antiquities and books, he was especially taken by the paintings, glassware, pottery and the many antique jewels. He even found one of his own works in our library.
Before leaving Arturo, who has written, edited or translated more than 50 Masonic books, papers and articles, signed our visitors book and commented that he looked forward to visiting us again in the future.
A TripAdvisor Hat-Trick
As you would expect we are absolutely delighted to announce that we have been awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for the third year in a row.
Now in its eighth year, the award celebrates visitor destinations that have earned great traveller reviews on the independent TripAdvisor website over the previous 12 month period. Certificate of Excellence recipients include attractions located all over the world that have continually delivered a quality customer experience.
Upon receiving the award our Chairman, Roger Waltham, commented that “This brilliant news is down to the hard work from every one of our team of volunteers. On behalf of the charity’s trustees I extend my sincere thanks to ALL of the team. It is amazing that our niche museum and library is regularly listed as one of the Top Ten Things to do in Canterbury.”
Donation From The Association of Atholl Lodges
During the visit of the Association of Atholl Lodges to Canterbury’s United Industrious Lodge No.31 on Thursday May 3rd 2018 their Chairman, Geoffrey Abraham (L) presented our Curator, David Birch (R) with a most generous donation of £400 to support our work.
The presentation was made by Geoffrey “In recognition and appreciation for the help and assistance they received from the Museum for the recent exhibition to mark their visit to the city” – more details below.
Before the meeting and after the museum was closed to the public, it was exclusively reopened for attendees to the United Industrious meeting, amongst the many visitors were Mark Eyles-Thomas, Deputy Provincial Grand Master for West Kent and Mark Bassant, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for East Kent.
Atholl Lodges Temporary Exhibition
To mark the visit of the Association of Atholl Lodges to Canterbury’s United Industrious Lodge No.31 on Thursday May 3rd 2018, our latest temporary exhibition tells the story of the association and highlights its members in the county and their respective histories.
The Association was formed more than a quarter of a century ago to encourage Atholl Lodges, and anyone with a connection to or interest in those lodges, to join together in celebrating and preserving the Atholl heritage.
It seeks to foster and promote fraternal links amongst its members by, amongst other things, encouraging inter-visiting and arranging special events. Hence the sojourn to Canterbury.
This tour is also on Google as part of their Street View facility leading you straight from St Peter’s Place into and around our museum. As fantastic as it is, there is no substitute for visiting us in person and engaging with our knowledgeable volunteer guides.
March 2018 – West Kent Provincial Officers Mess
Our Chairman of Trustees, W.Bro. Roger Waltham accepted a kind invitation from RW.Bro. Mark Estaugh to speak at the West Kent Provincial Officers Mess on Tuesday 13th March.
As well as thanking Mark for inviting him to speak, Roger acknowledged the invaluable work and support of Phil Moore and Adrian Wagstaff, both of whom are tremendous supporters of the work of the Trust.
You can read more by following this link
ITV Meridian News
On the ITV Meridian evening news bulletin on 26th February, two Kent Freemasons Richard Carney, Head of Communications for the East Kent Province and Hazel Damiral, a member of the Honourable Fraternity of Lady Freemasons were interviewed by ITV’s Fred Dinage and Sangeeta Bhabra.
The TV crew spent time in the Museum and filmed many of our exhibits and artefacts for the background shots. You can see the full video here.
The Trustees of the Kent Masonic Museum & Library Trust are pleased to announce the following important appointments.
David Birch has been appointed as Curator.
Charles Pottle has been appointed as Chairman of the Association of Patrons.
The Trustees are delighted with both appointments, which take immediate effect, and extend their sincere thanks to David and Charles for taking on these vitally important and challenging roles. Each bring great commitment, energy and enthusiasm to these key positions and will be hugely influential in helping to ensure a successful and vibrant future for the work of the Trust. The Trustees are sure everyone will join them in wishing David and Charles every possible success in their new roles, and in doing everything possible to support their essential work.
The Trustees take this opportunity of publicly acknowledging the work and long service of Mark Bassant, who stepped down as Chairman of the Association of Patrons at the AGM in September, having been Chairman since the founding of the Association in 2010. They thank Mark sincerely and wish him very well in his forthcoming new role as an Assistant Provincial Grand Master in The Masonic Province of East Kent.
New Staff Kitchen
Many Representatives, partners, Patrons and others took the opportunity to visit the Museum after our recent AGM. What they won’t have seen is our newly refurbished “staff kitchen” that is used by our volunteers that were mentioned so positively time and again in the various reports.
W.Bro. Graham Cuthbert, Facilities Manager and Bro Stephen Heasman, Volunteer Steward standing in the recently refitted and redecorated kitchen, made possible due to the generosity of Stephen, assisted by Graham. As a result of them giving their time and talents, all who work as Volunteers in the Museum will now have nicer facilities for making a snack or enjoying a hot or cold drink.
If you would like to volunteer to help at the Museum & Library in any capacity please contact us.
Annual General Meeting Report
A packed Canterbury Lodge room assembled for our Trust’s 2017 AGM.
Outgoing Chairman, W.Bro. Tony Denne welcomed everyone to the meeting stating that “As well as being a year of consolidation has been a year of achievement and progress for the Museum and Library. I am pleased to report that visitor numbers to the museum continue to increase which is most encouraging. The month of July proved to be a milestone for the museum as for the first time we exceeded 1,000 visitors in a month and the good news is that in August we exceeded the July attendance. It has also been encouraging to see the increase in the number of large groups visiting the museum and we have welcomed many overseas visitors and it is interesting to note that we have again received visitors from over 50 different countries again during the year. As I said last year I suspect quite a test of the language skills of our Stewards.”
Tony continued to highlight the successes of the year including the landmark visit from the BBC’s Antiques Road Trip who spent six hours filming at the Museum and the adjoining Canterbury Masonic Centre. He went on to praise the mainstay of the museum by “thanking the many Volunteers and Stewards who give up their valuable time to welcome visitors to the museum throughout the year and the support that they have given W.Bro. Jim Flower in his role. Their dedication to the museum is outstanding and they are truly the backbone of the museum and without their support the museum could not function and would not be open almost every day of the year.”
In closing he continued, “As you are probably aware I shall be retiring as Chairman and a Trustee at this Annual General Meeting. My successor as Chairman, W.Bro. Roger Waltham, needs no introduction as he is, I am sure, well known to you all through his many activities throughout the Province of East Kent, particularly of course as an Assistant Provincial Grand Master and of course he has been Chairman of the Museum and Library in the past. So, he is well experienced in museum matters and I know will be an excellent Chairman and take the museum forward and see it prosper in the future. Finally, I would like to thank all those who over the past few years have contributed to the success of the Museum and Library.”
Upon taking over as Chairman, W.Bro. Roger thanked his fellow Trustees for their confidence. He continued “It’s been seven years since I was Chairman of our former Trust, during which period we managed to secure funding, and take the resource into its life-giving refurbishment phase.”
“Since then, much has moved forward and there have been many changes – not least the sad deaths of some of the close team members of that time, including David Anning and Tony Periton, of course, who are sadly missed – but also much positive progression under the Chairmanships of Andrew Notley and latterly, Tony Denne. As he steps down today, I’m sure you will join me in showing Tony our appreciation and high esteem.”
“As has been mentioned already, the fantastic reviews that we get are because of the great team of stewards that greet and guide our visitors, and I would very much like to add my thanks to them, and indeed the whole team who greet, meet, organise, manage, catalogue, attend to the marketing, manage the facilities, the administration, the accounts, run the shop, and everything else that is necessary to make everything the best it can be. Thank you all for that hard work, zeal and attachment.”
He concluded by saying that he was “Delighted to now be back on the team and I look forward enormously to working with you all to take things forward.”
Before a family luncheon in the Canterbury Centre the meeting was addressed by The Provincial Grand Master of East Kent RW.Bro. Geoffrey Dearing who commented that “With increasing visitor numbers, 85% of whom are non-masons, recent excellent publicity and its high standing on TripAdvisor, the museum was not only an asset to the Masonic community but also the City of Canterbury.”
AGM Reminder and New Chairman
Museum & Library Representatives, Association of Patrons Members, partners and all who support the Museum are reminded that the Museum AGM is on Saturday 16th September 2017 in the Canterbury Masonic Centre commencing at 11.00am. The usual lunch will follow in the Dining Rooms for those who have pre-booked with Trust Secretary, W.Bro. Dr John Andrews. Coffee will be available in the upstairs bar from 10.30am.
Leading from the top, Tony has generated tremendous loyalty, respect and affection amongst all those on the Museum & Library Team. He retires, following a sterling 4 years in post, during which, amongst other things, he has steered the landmark transition into a Charitable Incorporated Organisation.
Roger, enthusiastic as ever in all that he does for masonry, is returning to the scene, re-appointed as a Trustee and about to begin a second term in office as Chairman. Tony and Roger, good friends and professional in all they undertake, a seamless transfer of responsibilities is in no doubt.
W.Bro. Tony thanked all the Trustees for everything they had done to help him. He wished the new Chairman and those continuing to serve as trustees, managers, officers and volunteers, continuing success for the future. W.Bro. Roger on behalf of the trustees and all those who contribute to the life of the Museum & Library, thanked Tony for being such a superb Chairman, driving through essential change in a demanding and busy period in the life of the Museum.
Kent Museum of Freemasonry Retains TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence
We are delighted to announce that we have retained our TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for a further year.
Now in its seventh year, the award celebrates visitor destinations that have earned great traveller reviews on the independent TripAdvisor site over the past 12 months. Certificate of Excellence recipients include attractions located all over the world that have continually delivered a quality customer experience.
Tony Denne, chair of our trustees commented “We were thrilled to be, once again, acknowledged by TripAdvisor for the amazing independent reviews that our visitors from far and wide have left for us over the past year. The warm and knowledgeable welcome provided by our volunteer guides is mentioned time and again on the site.”
The Certificate of Excellence accounts for the quality, quantity and recency of reviews submitted by travellers on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period. To qualify, a business must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months. As of June 2017 we are currently listed by the site as one of the Top 20 things to do in Canterbury.
Kent Museum of Freemasonry in The New York Times
The renowned American daily newspaper, The New York Times often referred to as The Gray Lady has a highly regarded travel section. Part of this section is called 36 Hours – The one-stop resource which tells you what to do when you’
In a piece by Mark Vanhoenacker published on June 1st 2017 he says that Canterbury is a small city of “prayer, stone and stories that calls to travellers like a miniature Rome”. Amongst the obvious places to visit such as the Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey and the Roman Museum he mentions us, what an honour! The complete article can be found here, enjoy the read.
Antiques Road Trip Pays A Visit to the Kent Museum of Freemasonry
Antiques expert Kate Bliss and a film team from the BBC television series Antiques Road Trip paid us a visit as part of the filming for an episode of the programme to be shown in the autumn.
In the programme two antiques experts compete against each other. They each start out with a budget of £200 with which to buy antiques and collectables, that are then sold at auction. After each daily auction, the amount in each expert’s kitty after costs are deducted becomes their budget for the next leg. The winner is the expert who makes the greater profit over five legs; each leg is a single programme, normally broadcast from Monday to Friday.
During each programme one of the experts pays a visit to a local place of interest to find out more about its story, its history and its people. On this occasion we were the chosen venue. Kate and her team spent several hours with us, asking museum Trustee and prominent local Freemason Roger O’Brien questions about not only the museum and library but also the history of Freemasonry. We are now looking forward to the autumn when the programme is broadcast.
Worshipful Company of Masons’ Landmark Visit to the Kent Museum of Freemasonry
Museum Trustee and East Kent Provincial Choir founder, Tony Eldridge was invited to sing earlier this year, as a guest soloist with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ Choir, at the Mansion House, for the Worshipful Company of Masons Master’s dinner.
The occasion marked the contribution to the life of the Company by their Master, William “Bill” Gloyn FRICS. Bill is a long-standing musician friend of Tony’s, a Past Provincial Organist in Middlesex, and now the Livery Company’s Immediate Past Master/Deputy Master. This led to Bill asking Tony to organise a visit for members of the Company, including the current Master, Nick Payne TD, to view the Museum en route to a visit to Canterbury Cathedral.
Some of them had seen the East Kent article in “Freemasonry Today” and this also generated enthusiasm for a visit to the Museum. On the day, Museum Trustee colleague Roger O’Brien, with his vast knowledge of the Museum’s artefacts, was pleased to share in the welcome, as the Company was shown around, culminating with their natural interest in the Museum’s Cathedral Stonemasons’ Exhibition – and in our Tercentenary Appeal for refurbishment of the Cathedral’s North West Transept.
Left: Members of the Worshipful Company of Masons and the Livery Company of Masons Trust, with Museum Trustees Roger O’Brien & Tony Eldridge. Right: Sharing in the welcome, L to R, Volunteer Stewards Ray Upton & Ken Mayhew, with Operations Manager, Jim Flower.
The party then moved to view the Canterbury Centre’s hundred-year-old Temple, and as only two of the party are Freemasons, this also proved to be a special moment. The Masons’ Company is active in its support of vocational training for the stone industry and general education in deprived areas of the UK. As they stood together in the Temple, all were able to share their enthusiasms for ‘history & heritage’, and ‘support in the community’, and to celebrate the special relationship East Kent Freemasons and the Masons’ Company have built up with Canterbury Cathedral; both organisations have been pleased to support Cathedral Apprentice Stonemasons with bursaries.
In a note of thanks afterwards, the Company’s Deputy Master said: “The Master and I had a good chat on the way to the Cathedral and he was both impressed at the quality of the museum and what you were prepared to talk about in openness. Very grateful for your help in making this happen. An important step in building bridges between our two organisations. Please pass on our sincere thanks to your colleagues for a great start to a very enjoyable day. Incidentally, having viewed one in your Museum, we saw our second (rare) “Breeches” Bible of the day in a private visit to the Cathedral Library. They’re like London buses in Canterbury!”
Feature in The Surrey Mason Magazine
The Autumn/Winter edition of the Surrey Mason, the official magazine of the Masonic Province of Surrey, carries an interesting article about a visit to us by one of their members earlier this year.
Visit From Metropolitan Grand Chapter
Prior to their visit to a meeting of the East Kent Stewards Chapter a team representing Metropolitan Grand Chapter, led by Assistant Metropolitan Grand Superintendent Ian Currans, made a tour of the museum led by trustees Tony Eldridge and Charles Boxer. After the visit Ian sent us message saying “Thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to show us around the museum yesterday. We enjoyed it immensely and all thought it was a wonderful advert for freemasonry as well as a treasure-chest of masonic gems.”
Kent Museum of Freemasonry Awarded 2016 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence We are delighted to announce that we have received our first TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. Now in its sixth year, the award celebrates visitor destinations that have earned great traveller reviews on TripAdvisor over the past year. Certificate of Excellence recipients include attractions located all over the world that have continually delivered a quality customer experience. Tony Denne, chair of our trustees commented “We are obviously delighted to be recognised by TripAdvisor for the amazing independent reviews that our visitors from far and wide have left for us over the past year. The informative and engaging displays, organised by our curator Tony Periton and his team, are complemented by the friendly and knowledgeable welcome provided by our volunteer guides, who are mentioned time and again on TripAdvisor.” The Certificate of Excellence accounts for the quality, quantity and recency of reviews submitted by travellers on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period. To qualify, a business must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months. As of May 2016 we are currently listed by the site as one of the Top 20 things to do in Canterbury. “With the Certificate of Excellence, TripAdvisor honours hospitality businesses that have consistently received strong praise and ratings from travellers”, said Heather Leisman, Vice President of Industry Marketing, TripAdvisor. “This recognition helps travellers identify and book properties that regularly deliver great service. TripAdvisor is proud to play this integral role in helping travellers feel more confident in their booking decisions.”
Retirement of A Stalwart
Well known East Kent Freemason Eddie Baker recently retired from his role as our Facilities Manager after 21 years of loyal service to the Trust.
There is no doubt about Eddie’s energy and enthusiasm for his work. In his seventy-seventh year, he says “he keeps fit by keeping busy”, and certainly wears his years well. Eddie is a man of many skills. He began his working life as an apprentice gas fitter prior to joining the regular army in which he served with the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment, for 9 years in Egypt & Cyprus – he was ‘at Suez in 1956’. On his discharge in 1964 he began a new career with the Kent Ambulance Service spanning 30 years, retiring with the rank of Superintendent. He was also District Liaison Officer for Canterbury & Thanet Health Authority. In addition to his busy career Eddie has dedicated many years of active support to local voluntary organisations including: The St John’s Ambulance Brigade, Age Concern and, as a founder member of the Herne Bay National Coastwatch Institution where he assisted in setting up the new Whitstable station, which he subsequently went on to manage. However, the voluntary work with which most East and West Kent Freemasons associate Eddie is of course his service to the Kent Masonic Museum & Library, commencing in 1995 till his retirement earlier this year, after 21 years of dedicated service. During this period Eddie has contributed thousands of hours first as a Steward, then Assistant Secretary, eventually organising the Rota for all Stewards. Then, as Operations Manager responsible for amongst other things, Health & Safety, utilities, maintenance and housekeeping and recently as Facilities Manager, all to ensure that visitors were warmly welcomed and were left with the best possible impressions of the Museum and of course Freemasonry. Eddie has been at the Museum during all recent key periods of change, including the recent complete redesign, refurbishment and reopening in 2012. He is rightly proud to have been part of all that has been achieved. Eddie was initiated into the Minnis Bay Lodge No 8496 in 1988 and became a Founder Member of The Emergency Services Lodge in 1998 spending most of his time in the role of Director of Ceremonies. He was also a Founder of Millennium Lodge of Charity in East Kent and Sir Edward Elgar Lodge, as Founding Almoner. Harking back to his years in army service, he could not resist joining the recently consecrated Queensman Lodge No 2694. He likes to be busy! In recognition of his long and valuable contribution to the museum, Eddie was presented with the Provincial Grand Master’s Award for Meritorious Service at the Annual Provincial Festival on 15th April. In presenting the Award the Head of East Kent Freemasons, Geoffrey Dearing, Provincial Grand Master, remarked that “Eddie is a wise and experienced Mason and has always been there to give a helping hand to anyone who needed it, he is happy to freely pass on his knowledge and takes an active interest in the welfare of all, for which he is held in particularly high regard.” Still contributing to the life of several Lodges & Chapters, but grateful that he will no longer be a Museum keyholder – sometimes called out two or three times in a week at 3.00 or 4.00 am – Eddie Baker will continue to be on ‘active service’ but with the benefit of a good night’s sleep.