Craig Bunday, Peterborough Freemasons:
Continuing our theme of the long association between The Freemasons and Peterborough Cathedral, we left off our story last month where significant funds were raised to support urgent building work in the early 1920s.
All the work to secure the bulging north/east wall, continued throughout 1923 and when completed the Buttress was carved with Masonic symbols and dated in Roman numerals on the north face, the inner face was engraved “Confirma hoc, Dues, quod operatus es in nobis” (Psalm: 68, 28), and below that was carved and recorded “The Freewill Offering of Freemasons of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire, Leicestershire and Rutland, Cambridgeshire and other Provinces”.
During the same period, the second and most delicate operation was to remove the skeletal remains from over the past 500 years and re-inter them within the Precincts.
In April 1924, The Dean and Chapter invited the Freemasons of the Peterborough Lodges and others to attend a Dedication Service of the new Buttress on Thursday 12th June at 2.30pm at the Cathedral. The collection taken on the day was to be devoted to the Freemasons Hospital & Nursing Home in Chelsea.
The day of the dedication commenced with a luncheon at the Angel Hotel, where 160 Brethren dined, presided over by Lord Lilford. After lunch the Brethren made their way to the Cathedral for the Service, this was originally planned to take place at the site of the Flying Buttress, but due to thunderstorms and squally showers, the service had to be conducted inside.
Once again the Masons in their regalia totalling 350 witnessed Bro. the Very Rev. Arnold Page, Dean of Peterborough who was standing at the lectern, being approached by the three Provincial Grand Masters, who formally placed the Buttress into the care of the Dean and Chapter. The Dean then replied and said these Dedicatory sentences:- “ln the name of and to the Glory of God, I gratefully and humbly dedicate on their and my own and my Chapter’s behalf, this Buttress”. Bro. the Rev. H.E. Fitzherbert offered prayer, then Bro. Canon F.R.C. Payne read the lesson, Whilst hymns were sung, a collection was taken which amounted to £69/10/6 and donated to the Freemasons Hospital & Nursing Home at Chelsea; finally, the Bishop pronounced the Blessing and the Service closed with the National Anthem.
After the Dedication Service, the Freemasons made their way to Brook Street School where a Provisional Grand Lodge Meeting took place, during which the Provincial Grand Master elected his officers for the ensuing year.
If you want to know more about Freemasonry in Peterborough, visit www.northants- huntsmasons.org.uk or call Ellindon Masonic Centre on 01733 331948.
And next time you’re in the cathedral grounds, have a look at the buttress inscriptions.