Tercentenary Cathedral Service
Sunday 3rd September may well have been cold and wet in rural Wiltshire but that didn't stop over 1,000 Freemasons and their families from braving the elements to attend Salisbury's magnificent Cathedral for a very special evensong service celebrating the Tercentenary.
Organiser WBro Stephen Bridge APrGM said "It was a truly remarkable event, one in which we were privileged to take part and in doing so create Masonic history in Wiltshire"
The Provincial Grand Master RW Bro Philip Bullock welcomed civic leaders the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire Mrs Sarah Rose Troughton with Mr Peter Troughton CBE, and the High Sheriff Lady Marland who joined Masonic leaders President of the Board of General Purposes RW Bro Anthony Wilson and RW Bro George Francis PAGM for lunch before the service. Guests from the two neighbouring Provinces of Somerset and Gloucestershire included RW Bro Stuart Hadler and Mrs Susan Hadler, and RW Bro Tim Henderson-Ross accompanied by Mrs Tricia Henderson-Ross.
The service was the culmination of two years preparatory work by Stephen Bridge who worked very closely with Canon Precentor Tom Clammer and members of the Chapter in organising the event.
As one looked down the nave of the Cathedral it was quite incredible to see so many people present and proudly wearing Masonic regalia; which was a moment of intense and humbling delight and something that will stay fresh in the memory withe for many years to come. It’s at times like these that all of the planning, negotiation and apprehension and sleepless nights become worthwhile.
Stephen Bridge, continuing his comments said “We have celebrated the Tercentenary in Wiltshire’s most beautiful and impressive place of worship. In doing so we have not only honoured those Brethren who founded the first Grand Lodge, but also the generations of operative masons who built and maintain such an inspiring building. I can think of no more appropriate place for us to mark such an important Masonic event and in doing so I trust we have also contributed to the start of a mutually supportive relationship with the Cathedral, something that can only help promote Freemasonry in Wiltshire and beyond”.
By attending a Service that was part of the Cathedral’s ordained pattern of worship as opposed to one which was purely Masonic themed, Wiltshire Freemasons provided an admirable public window onto Freemasonry and Freemasons. This type of event is a tangible manifestation of the vital openness agenda, helping our communities understand the true values of Freemasonry and discount the myths still surrounding aspects of the organisation.
While the tone and content of the service, the scripture readings, prayers and choice of choir were very much the choice of the Dean and Chapter. We were fortunate in that RW Bro Rev Dr John Railton was accepted by the cathedral authorities as being suitable and qualified to preach what many said was a the most inspirational sermo . The prayers as led by Dr Tony Milsom were the set prayers for the day as were the Versicles and Responses and the three Collects. We did get the opportunity to choose the three hymns sung during the evening and while we were not permitted to sing The Closing Ode, we were delighted that two verses of the National Anthem were sung.
We were fortunate that the Cathedral had engaged The Farrant Singers as its guest choir. The longest-established chamber choir in Salisbury, with close links to the medieval city, the surrounding Wiltshire villages and the Cathedral, the choir occasionally sings the services in place of the Cathedral Choir. Founded in 1958 by the composer Richard Lloyd (then Assistant Organist of Salisbury Cathedral), initially to give performances of church music in the diocese.
Whilst there were some things which could have been better, the weather and the catering come to mind, we should be confident that Sunday’s Service marks another milestone in Wiltshire’s ongoing engagement with the wider public. The presence of so many Brethren, their family and friends was magnificent and a clear demonstration of your pride in this Province and your confidence and determination to promote Freemasonry at every opportunity.
Philip Bullock commented "I know that some were a little disappointed with the service and others with the post service reception, while everyone wished the weather could have been kinder to us; however, the success of Salisbury can be measured in a number of ways. First, the clery were delighted to welcome a thousand Freemasons and their families to worship in this wonderful building. Second, our civic guest were impressed and our Masonic guests were genuinely were delighted to have taken part in what was described as an outstanding occasion. Finally, irrespective on which wing of the church one worships, it cannot be denied that Freemasonry 'came home' at Salisbury."