Brief History of the Lodge

The Cantuarian Lodge, under the constitution of the United Grand Lodge of England (www.ugle.co.uk), may not be the oldest English Public School Lodge but it is the Lodge of the oldest English Public School. The School traces its origin to the time that St Augustine arrived in England in AD 597 to bring Christianity to this part of these islands at the instigation of Pope Gregory the Great (590-604).

 

The Lodge was founded at Freemasons’ Hall, London on the 26th May 1938 by the then Pro Grand Master the Earl of Harewood.  Amongst the departed was, most noticeably, the Headmaster Canon F.J.Shirley (1890-1967) who became one of Lodges first officers. By any standards “Fred” was a remarkable Headmaster from 1935 to 1962. Another notable was the schoolmaster P.G. Reynolds (inevitably nicknamed by the boys “Piggy” Reynolds) who went on to become Housemaster of Walpole. At the second meeting of the Lodge, Algernon Latter, Headmaster 1916-27 was one of the initiates. It must also be noted that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffery Fisher (1887-1972) was made an Honorary Member of the Lodge in May 1945.

Amongst the presentations to the Lodge, which we still have and use is the Bible, previously used by the School in the Cathedral and donated by the Dean and Chapter, firing glasses and a collection box in the form of St Augustine's Chair, made from 500 year old timber taken from the School dining room during its reconstruction, and the Officers Collars. 

   

 

 

See below for a full history of the lodge.

Membership

To boost membership, the Lodge recently (2010/11) held an Open Day in London for interested OKS, which included a tour of the imposing Freemasons’ Hall and a reception in a local pub. This resulted in several OKS joining the Lodge and ensuring its future for some years to come, though a continuing influx of candidates is the preferred option. It is hoped that we will hold more open days in the future.

    

The current membership of about 60 members spans OKS leaving years 1924 to 2007.

The old membership base of Old Boys and Masters has been widened to include those with a school connection including fathers and brothers of boys and sons of Old Boys. Girls (and thereby Old Girls ) now being a permanent feature of the School, this connection is of course extended to them, though they themselves remain excluded, at least for the time being!

 

The Lodge also retains the right to invite other persons to join who it believes will enhance its reputation and in 2006, the previous Master of the now defunct Old Lawrentian Lodge became Master of the Cantuarian Lodge.

 

ADDENDUM: Any Old Girl of the School wishing to join Freemasonry can find information on the two Grand Lodges that cater specifically for women or men and women jointly (Co-masonry) at www.hfaf.org and www.grandlodge.org.uk.

Sister Lodges

Old Dovorian Lodge No.5647

  

The Old Lawrentian Lodge No.4141 recommended and sponsored the formation of the Old Dovorian Lodge, which was subsequently consecrated on the 29th January 1937.

  

At a meeting of the Old Dovorian Lodge on 26th January 1938, a petition was presented by W.Bro.F.M.Furley P.A.G.DC to form a new School Lodge for the Old Boys of The King's School Canterbury. Thus was born The Cantuarian Lodge, duly sponsored by the Old Dovorian Lodge and consecrated in May1938.

(See Family Tree)

   

The Old Lawrentian Lodge was a sister Lodge until 2004 when it had to hand in its warrent because of lack of members.

  

The Lodge of The King's School, Parramatta, Australia was, until recently (2010), also a sister lodge, but it had to amalgamate with another Lodge because of lack of numbers.

Family Tree

Click on the thumbnail below to see a larger image of the family tree: This shows how creation of each lodge was sponsored by the one above it.

Cantuarian Lodge Gift

The Terms and Conditions of this Gift which is given for two years to one 6th form pupil of the School each year are available here (this document is in Adobe Acrobat format please visit www.adobe.com to download the reader software, if not already installed).

Full Lodge History

The Cantuarian Lodge, under the constitution of the United Grand Lodge of England (www.ugle.co.uk), may not be the oldest English Public School Lodge but it is the Lodge of the oldest English Public School.

   
The School traces its origin to the time that St Augustine arrived in England in AD 597 to bring Christianity to this part of these islands at the instigation of Pope Gregory the Great (590-604). The legend is that seeing some fair-haired young slaves in the market place in Rome Gregory asked who they were. On being told they were Angles he replied “not Angles but Angels”. Later when he became Pope he sent St Augustine on his way. The story about the “angels” may be apocryphal but the Venerable Bede records the fact of St Augustine’s arrival, probably at Ebbsfleet near Ramsgate. He preached to Ethelbert, King of Kent, and was then allowed to move on to the King’s capital, Canterbury. There he and his little band preached, taught and converted. His biggest “catch” was Ethelbert himself. At Pope Gregory’s instigation the missionaries then began to fan out into what were then the other kingdoms in the island. Education was needed for these missionaries at Canterbury and it is to that time that the present school traces its roots.

 

Moving on 1300 years, the Lodge was founded at Freemasons’ Hall, London on the 26th May 1938 by the then Pro Grand Master the Earl of Harewood. The Earl of Harewood DSO, KG, GCVO, whose interests are listed in the Dictionary of National Biography as the “arts, freemasonry and horse racing” (in that order) died in 1947. Amongst the departed was, most noticeably, the Headmaster Canon F.J.Shirley (1890-1967) who became one of Lodges first officers. By any standards “Fred” was a remarkable Headmaster from 1935 to 1962. He rescued the School from near bankruptcy in the mid 1930s, kept it flourishing during the war when it was evacuated to Cornwall, celebrated its return with a service in the Cathedral, one of the lessons being read by an old boy, Field Marshall Montgomery of Alamein and in 1946, obtained from the hand of King George VI himself, in a ceremony at the Norman staircase, a new Charter! Under Fred’s tempestuous guidance the School expanded and became an envied centre of academic, musical and sporting excellence, regularly appearing in the list of top ten Public Schools published by The Times newspaper. The School’s expansion around the Precincts was viewed with alarm by some of the resident clerics and fears were expressed about the take-over of the Cathedral itself! One wag christened it “Shirley’s Temple”. This quip was subsequently recycled and applied to the new Assembly building, the Shirley Hall. The old jokes are probably the best ones!

Also there as a visitor to the Lodge (he subsequently joined) was the schoolmaster P.G. Reynolds (inevitably nicknamed by the boys “Piggy” Reynolds) who went on to become Housemaster of Walpole. At the second meeting of the Lodge, Algernon Latter, Headmaster 1916-27 was one of the initiates and J.S. Linnell, one of the first Lodge officers. Linnell was a ritualist ‘par excellence’ who was awarded a silver match box by the prestigious Emulation Lodge of Improvement in London for conducting before it a word-perfect ceremony.

 

Amongst the presentations to the Lodge, which we still have and use is the Bible, previously used by the School in the Cathedral and donated by the Dean and Chapter, firing glasses and a collection box in the form of St Augustine's Chair, made from 500 year old timber taken from the School dining room during its reconstruction, and the Officers Collars. The new dining hall was opened by the Duke of Kent in 1938, but unfortunately Hitler’s Luftwaffe was no respecter of other peoples property and knocked it down again a couple of years later! Also demolished, irretrievably, was a large part of mediaeval Canterbury. What replaced it today can hardly be described as an improvement. By a miracle, was St Thomas a Becket watching over the site of his martyrdom nearly 800 years later? Because by a whisker, the Cathedral escaped virtually undamaged although the Cathedral library and Canons’ houses within a few yards went down.

  

It is perhaps worth recording that the Duke of Kent, who was subsequently killed on active service, was the youngest surviving brother of King George VI and the father of the present Grand Master.

Regrettably, there have disappeared over the years, with many changes of venue of meeting places, a ballot box in the shape of the Norman Staircase and a stone gavel and smooth ashlar made from stone quarried at Jerusalem and donated by the Cartwright family.

 

In January 1939 the Worshipful Master at that time was made an honorary member of the Old Lawrentian Lodge No. 4141 and Old Dovorian Lodge No. 5647. So began the association of the East Kent Sister Lodges. The first Triennial meeting was held by the Old Lawrentian Lodge (the oldest of the three Lodges), at Ramsgate in the summer of 1939. The Cantuarian Lodge hosted the second meeting, at Canterbury, in the summer of 1946. In 2004, there was a sad event when the Old Lawrentian Lodge closed due to a falling number of members. However, joint meetings with the Old Dovorian Lodge continue.

The Lodge continued to meet spasmodically during the war both in London and in Canterbury, usually at 2.00pm. in deference to the German bombers, doodlebugs and rockets. Lunch was sometimes taken first. Morning or Service dress was the normal attire. During 1944-45 Canon Shirley was in the Chair and was recorded as having performed at least one ceremony. In May 1945 there is a letter from Ian White-Thomson, Chaplin to the Archbishop (he was subsequently Dean of Canterbury after Hewlett Johnson the “Red Dean”), which reads, “The Archbishop asks me to thank you for your letter of May 12th and to say that he gladly accepts Honorary Membership of the Cantuarian Lodge”. This was Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher (1887-1972). Bishop Cartwright can recall himself attending meetings when the Archbishop, who was a great pipe smoker, would light up after the Loyal Toasts and say “See, I have got permission for you to smoke”! He was the first Archbishop of Canterbury since the Reformation to visit the Pope, which was reciprocated when the Pope made an historic visit to and partook of a service in Canterbury Cathedral in 1982. The Archbishop came to a better end than that of his namesake Bishop John Fisher who was beheaded in 1535 for refusing to recognize Henry VIII as Head of the Church. However we must not denigrate Henry. Without him in 1541, there would not have been a “King’s” school at Canterbury, reshaped from the old City school and more recently, by inheritance, a “King’s” School in Australia, unless Bishop Broughton (see later) was seeking to flatter King William IV (1830-37). Late afternoon meetings followed by dinner resumed at the end of 1945. It can be noted that the minimum charge at the Connaught Rooms (or elsewhere) was 8/6d with drinks extra, but an extra shilling or two would result in a better selection of menu!

 

Bishop Broughton, an old boy and the first Bishop of Australia was instrumental in founding the King’s School, Parramatta, Australia in 1831. Their arms are displayed on Lardergate House in commemoration of Australian help with its rebuilding and extension in 1951 (see Thomas Hinde, “Imps of Promise” 1990, page 56, James & James Ltd, London. Incidentally, this is an excellent and most readable book on the History of the King’s School, Canterbury and is fully illustrated). The first reference in the Cantuarian Lodge Minutes to the Lodge of the King’s School, Parramatta, was in November 1948 when apparently the Lodge was being formed. There was considerable correspondence in the 1970s and the idea of reciprocal membership was floated, so that members could attend each other’s Lodges. Regrettably, this foundered on constitutional grounds. In June 1980, three representatives of the Australian Lodge visited the Cantuarian Lodge and, in the presence of our Honorary Member Lord Cornwallis, Provincial Grand Master for Kent (before Kent was divided into East and West), presented a jewel to be worn at Lodge meetings by the reigning Master, in perpetuity. In 1995, two representatives of the Cantuarian Lodge visited the Lodge of the King’s School, Parramatta and presented a picture of the school. 

 

In 1997, a triennial meeting with the two Sister Lodges was held in Canterbury, which coincided with the Cathedral’s celebration of the arrival of St Augustine 1400 years ago. A strong delegation from the Australian school Lodge came over to join and actively partake in this meeting. It was a great party and over 100 sat down to dinner. On the following day the Bursar hosted a reception in the School.

Regrettably, the Lodge had to hand in its warrant in 2010, and the remaining members joined with another Lodge representing public schools.

 

In 1990, a former member and Secretary of the Lodge Anthony Fox-Male left a legacy to the Lodge. With further money added by the Lodge itself, the interest from this fund has been devoted to providing an annual bursary at the School (The Cantuarian Lodge Gift) for a bright new sixth former and is paid for two years to each recipient.

Thanks to closer contact with the School, the Lodge is holding its own, in spite of declining numbers in other Lodges in London. To boost membership, the Lodge recently (2010/2011) held an Open Day in London for interested OKS, which included a tour of the imposing Freemasons’ Hall and a reception in a local pub. This resulted in several OKS joining the Lodge and ensuring its future for some years to come, though a continuing influx of candidates is the preferred option. The current membership spans OKS leaving years 1924 to 2007. The old membership base of Old Boys and Masters has been widened to include those with a school connection including fathers and brothers of boys and sons of Old Boys.

 

Girls (and thereby Old Girls ) now being a permanent feature of the School, this connection is extended to them, though of course they themselves remain excluded, at least for the time being! The Lodge also retains the right to invite other persons to join who it believes will enhance its reputation and in 2006 the previous Master of the now defunct Old Lawrentian Lodge became Master of the Cantuarian Lodge.


ADDENDUM: Any Old Girl of the School wishing to join Freemasonry can find information on the two Grand Lodges that cater specifically for women only or men and women jointly (Co-Masonry) at www.hfaf.org and www.grandlodge.org.uk