East Kent Provincial 2013 News

East meets West

East meets West at the Scriveners’ Conference – in the presence of the Deputy Grand Secretary

Adapted from the original article by Harry Maton of West Kent Scriveners Lodge No 9799.

Scriveners from both East and West KentScriveners from the Masonic Provinces of both East and West Kent

FORTY years ago, on the 31st May 1973, the new Masonic Provinces of East and West Kent came into being. To celebrate this auspicious anniversary the Scriveners’ Lodges of East and West Kent organised a joint conference which was held on the 9th November.

The idea for a conference came from West Kent Scriveners’ but was readily agreed to by their East Kent counterparts. Given the importance of the anniversary, one of the key tasks was to secure the services of a first class headline speaker. The organisers were delighted when VW Bro Graham F Redman, the Deputy Grand Secretary, agreed to give up a Saturday to attend.

The Masonic Hall at Tovil, Maidstone was the chosen venue, being more or less central to Kent, which was just as well, as over 100 Masons from both Provinces attended. This included RW Bro Jonathan Winpenny PGM who led the West Kent vanguard over the River Medway, and many members of the Executive. The East Kent deputation was led by VW Bro Roger Odd, Deputy PGM, along with other members of the Executive. Altogether there was a good mix of Brethren from both East and West.

The morning started at 9:30 a.m. with the Masters of both lodges (Mike Wheal for West Kent and Peter Martin for East Kent) welcoming the assembled throng. The conference got under way with a keynote talk from the chairman for the day, Roger Odd, a Past Master of EK and a member of WK Scrivener’s lodges. He challenged the conference as to the role of the Secretary of a Lodge/Chapter. Roger’s light-hearted but informative approach met with approval from his audience and he concluded by assuring all concerned that a Secretary held “the best office in the Lodge”.

This was followed by an address from Roger Waltham (APGM East Kent) on the changing face of communications, particularly focussing on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Roger has produced a guide on this subject, “Website and Social Media Guidelines”, which is available on the East Kent Website.

Graham Redman (centre) with Roger Odd and Gordon Davie

The conference was then delighted to welcome Deputy Grand Secretary, Graham Redman (all the way from Great Queen Street via Bedford). He spoke on matters appertaining to the constitution and Masonic etiquette. Given his vast knowledge of the ‘blue book’, which was illuminated with many examples, he brought the subject to life. He then threw the floor open to questions, which came in thick and fast. All were fielded with excellence by this master of his art. It was a great honour for the host lodges to have Graham as a speaker and he more than did justice to his subject. The image of him “listing” under the weight of his jewels (a response to a query about the wearing of past festival jewels) will remain with all present for some time.

After a quick break for tea and coffee (any self-respecting conference will look after the needs of the inner man) the second half commenced with Mark Estaugh (APGM West Kent and also a Scrivener) expounding on the changing face of communications over the years. Mark’s presentation was enlivened with images from the past which served to make the point, not only about the rate of change, but how far technology has progressed in such a short time. The image of the early mobile phone, about as portable as a brick, spoke volumes as did the information that a modern mobile phone has more processing power than the NASA moon probe.

How should Masonry keep pace and take advantage? Mark’s captivating delivery kept all enthralled to the end. The Masonic future is ours for the taking provided we sensibly blend old and new together.

Finally, it was the turn of Gordon Davie (Past APGM West Kent) to talk about how it really was and what actually happened at the time. Gordon is well known in both Provinces and it was a delight to listen to him recount his experiences. As only he can, Gordon took the conference back to 1973 (and earlier) with his “man on the spot” review of events as they unfolded. The conference was in a state of disbelief at Gordon’s solemn revelation that, as a Deputy GDC in the late sixties, he was present at meetings with the then PGM Lord Cornwallis, where he was not allowed to say a word! Gordon’s illuminating insight into the events of the time was of great interest to all. As he stated, Gordon is one of the remaining few who have received a Kent Provincial apron. Suffice it to say that the division of the old Province of Kent into East and West was not the start of a brave new world but an experiment that has never since been repeated. Gordon’s paper was not only interesting but is of historic importance and steps are, naturally, being taken to have this retained for posterity so that the Masonic historians of tomorrow may have an inkling as to what actually happened.

Roger Odd and Jonathan Winpenny

The conference was closed by a question and answer session led by Bob King (Deputy Grand Superintendent West Kent and a PM of WK Scriveners) which brought forth many interesting questions (and answers from the speakers). These questions continued at the buffet provided after the conference and it was a pleasure to see so many smiling faces heading homewards shortly after 1:00 p.m.

The organisers are exceedingly grateful to Sharon Kember and her team at Tovil for looking after everybody so well and we are all grateful to Alan Short for being the driving force behind such a successful conference.

Editor’s note: as stated in the report, the ‘I was there’ paper about the formation of the two Provinces, presented by W Bro Gordon Davie, will be of interest to many people. It can be found on page 14 of the December 2013 issue of the "West Kent News On-line".


As if taking note of what Roger Waltham and Mark Estaugh had said about Social Media, the following comments were posted on Facebook shortly after the Conference:

“The joint Scriveners' Conference held at Tovil today was extremely well received by the capacity audience. Talks from Graham Redman and Gordon Davie were both enlightening and interesting and we also had presentations on communications from APGMs from East and West Kent, Roger Waltham and Mark Estaugh. Chaired by the ever entertaining Roger Odd with a final Q&A session hosted by Bob King, the morning was a resounding success. Thanks go to all the speakers and also to everybody who gave up their Saturday morning shopping sessions to come along.”

“Excellent and successful events like this don't just happen and we are indebted to Alan Short and Harry for the tremendous amount of hard work they put in behind the scenes. Well done and thanks to you both.”

“Maybe we can hold more joint seminars!”