Burns Night Initiation

Friday 25th January 2019

Our Worshipful Master W Bro Malcolm Graham conducts his first ceremony in initiating Bro Michael Keohan ably assisted by his Wardens Bro Neil Marshall and Bro Ian Packer.

Afterwards the brethren enjoyed a Burns Night festive board, Haggis Neeps & Tatties of course.

A fond Farewell to Richard Hinge

Many members of both Agricola Lodge and Agricola Chapter,  together with Freemasons from across the Province of East Kent attended a Service of Thanksgiving this week, to celebrate the life of our recently departed Brother, WBro Richard Hinge PAGDC, PProvJGW.

Richard will be much missed by us all.

As well as being a Freemason, Richard was a prominent local farmer who had lived and worked in Kent all his life.  So great was the attendance,  that the Service, which would normally have been held in his local Church in Bredgar, was moved to the larger Church of St. John the Baptist in nearby Tunstall.

In welcoming the congregation, The Reverend Alan Pinnegar described Richard as someone “who had the knack of putting people at ease”.  He referred to Richard’s kind and gentle manner as well as to his mischievous and often self deprecating sense of Humour.

The main Tribute to Richard was given by his friend of 40 years David Rhys-Jones who described Richard as  “a Gentleman” who was always welcoming, interested in people, and who loved to socialise.

Looking back over Richard’s life and achievements, David described his love of country sports and his lifelong interest in National Hunt and Point to Point racing.  He also mentioned the pride Richard felt in his membership of Agricola Lodge and Chapter,  and in his many Masonic achievements.

He also described Richard’s love of his family, the sad loss of his wife Bridget, and the happiness he had found in later life with Alice.

“With Richard…” said David  “a laugh was never far away”.

The Service featured contributions from 5 of Richard’s Grand Children Charlie, Monty, Rachel, Freddy and Fergus.

A retiring collection was held in aid of the Injured Jockey’s Fund and the local Parish.  Brethren wishing to donate should send payments in Richard’s Name to:

C. Waterhouse and Sons, Funeral Directors, High Street, Burwash, East Sussex TN19 7ET.

Farewell Richard…  We’ll miss you.
May you rest in peace.


Agricola Members conquer Vesuvius…

Tuesday 15th May 2018, saw 24 Lodge members, wives and partners gather at the Vesuvius Italian Restaurant in Maidstone for a Dinner to mark the end of the 2017/2018 Masonic “Season”.

The Lodge does not meet during the summer months.   It was originally formed as a Farmers’ Lodge, whose members would be busy harvesting their crops during the period May to October.

A great time was had by all…

Organised by Junior Warden and membership Officer Neil Marshall, the evening featured some excellent Italian food and wines all cooked and prepared by the lovely staff at Vesuvius.  Several happy diners remarked on the quality of the food, especially the Steak and the Veal which were pronounced “yummy!”

We were delighted to welcome our newest recruit Michael K. and his partner who were able to meet and get to know the members of the Lodge in a relaxed and happy setting.  Michael will hopefully be welcomed into the Lodge in January but we hope to see much more of him before then.

As no Masonic occasion would be complete without a raffle, Neil raffled a bottle of Berry Brothers and Rudd’s No 3 Gin in aid of the Lodge’s centenary fund (we will be 100 years old in 2023).  Rather unusually for an Agricola event it wasn’t won by Secretary Bob Burns, but went instead to well known Gourmet and “Masterbrew” expert Roger Waltham.

Look out for our next social occasion, a mid summer get together at one of Maidstone’s finest Nepalese restaurants,  the Ghurkha in Week Street, Maidstone on Friday 29th June at 19:30. Wives, Partners, Family and Friends all welcome. Please book with Ian Packer ASAP.

Viva Espana!

This just in from our Spanish Correspondent:   Snr.  Rodgerico de Walthamos who is currently on a beer tasting expedition somewhere in the Iberian Peninsula…


Muchos Gracias Hermano!

April 2018 Meeting

Our April Regular meeting took place at the Maidstone Masonic Centre on 27th April 2018.

The main event this time was the “Raising” (i.e. taking the third degree) of Bro. David Dadswell by our Worshipful Master Paul Constable.

However before that, the Lodge witnessed a sad moment when WBro. David Kershaw rose to pay a fulsome tribute to our late Brother Richard Hinge,  who died recently at the age of 83.

David Kershaw
David Kershaw

Initiated in 1969, Richard was the last member of the Hinge “Dynasty” who had been staunch supporters of Agricola Lodge since it was founded in 1922.  Both his Father and Grandfather had been members;  and Richard had served the Lodge for many years including a stint as Secretary in the early 1990’s.

David recalled how he, Richard and the late Ted Whiting had progressed through the Lodge Offices together, providing mutual support, encouragement and friendship over many years.  He was, said David…

An example to us all, who will be sadly missed.

A Service of Thanksgiving for Richard’s Life will be held on Wednesday 16th May.  Details can be obtained from the Lodge Secretary.

David and Paul
David (L) and Paul

The meeting then proceeded with Organist John Fry restored to his place at the keyboard after his recent hospital treatment.  The Ceremony of Raising, featured an hilarious moment when The Worshipful Master, (who is 5ft 3 inches tall) raised David (almost 6ft 5 inches tall).

The Master Masons among our readership will appreciate the problem :-)))

Happily all was concluded satisfactorily,  when David was invested with the Rank of a Master Mason with much acclaim.

The Festive Board was our usual happy affair featuring Hot Sussex Smokie, Roast Beef and Apple Pie.  The Bottle Raffle in aid of the Lodge Centenary Fund featured a particularly fine bottle of Jura Single Malt.  It raised £56.00 and was won by David Kershaw.

The main Raffle raised a further £175.00 for which Charity Steward
Jim de Save thanked the Brethren.

In his toast to the Worshipful Master, acting IPM Richard Carney congratulated him on another battling and determined performance and thanked him for the funniest moment (see above) “… Since Herbie Watson’s trousers fell down”.  A famous moment of high comedy, featuring a wardrobe malfunction,  which occurred back in the year 2000.

This meeting was the last of the current “season”.   Our next will be on Friday 26th October 2018.  However there are a couple of social events over the summer.  Full details are in the Events section.

Agricola Eggheads rule OK? (Well almost…)

Agricola’s Quiz team recently took part in the 6th annual Maidstone Masonic Centre Quiz Night.

This annual competition for the “Brooks-Tozer Shield” seeks to raise both the intellectual ability of the members,  as well as a significant sum for the improvement of the Centre.

However by the end of the evening it was generally accepted that whilst second objective had been achieved,  the former “may be in doubt”.

Appearing for what was billed as the “Agro Cola” team were Malcolm & Janet Graham, Mike and Julie Spencer, Ian and Kellie Packer and Bob and Wendy Burns.


Fleur de Lis Lodge
The winning team from Fleur de Lis Lodge

For the first time the eventual winners were the team from Fleur de Lis Lodge No 8969  who improved on their previous best position of 2nd.

However the “Agro Cola”  Eggheads ended up a creditable 4th.


Secretary Bob Burns afterwards admitted that they would have come third if he had listened to Wendy who provided the correct answer to a critical question.

However the team displayed what Bob describes as…
“A good spread of useless knowledge”.

The evening raised  the magnificent sum of £360.00 which will be donated to the Maidstone Masonic Centre for improving  facilities for the members.

March 2018 Meeting

Our March Regular meeting took place at the Maidstone Masonic Centre on 23rd March 2018.

38 Brethren gathered to witness the “Passing” (i.e. taking the second degree) of Bro. Nick Marinov by our Worshipful Master, Paul Constable.

Peter Malcolm and Nik
Peter, Malcolm and Nik

The meeting began in a somewhat unusual manner as our Organist John Fry had been admitted to hospital with a kidney complaint.  The opening Ode was therefore sung “Acapella” but was surprisingly tuneful given the limited vocal talent of most of the membership.


The Almoner John Sampson assured the Brethren that Bro. John was responding to treatment and was keeping us appraised of his progress via Social Media.  We all wish John (F) a speedy recovery.

Moving on with the Agenda, The Secretary Bob Burns rose to deal with the Minutes of the last meeting.  He informed the meeting that the only comment he had received was from (a suspiciously anonymous) Brother who apparently claimed that they were “the best minutes he had ever seen” ;-))

Nik’s answers to the questions leading from the 1st to 2nd degrees were word perfect, as was the rendition of the 2nd Degree Working Tools by Peter Jacobs and the Explanation of the 2nd Degree Tracing Board by Mike Spencer.

One innovation later in the evening was the introduction of a 4th “Rising” by the WM.  This was blamed on the IPM who was apparently asleep…

Alms raised during the meeting were £101.30.

Peter, Roger and Mark, Beer quality control testing!

The meeting was followed by a thoroughly enjoyable Festive Board at which a further £233.00 was raised.  The Bottle Raffle was won by Bob Burns (again…).

Responding to the Toast to the Guests and Visitors, WBro. Tony Hayward of the White Horse of Kent Lodge No 8784 thanked the Brethren for an enjoyable meeting, a sumptuous Festive Board and for their warm and sincere welcome.  He expressed the wish of all the Guests and Visitors that they might enjoy a similar occasion in the not too distant future.

UGLE’s CEO Visits East Kent

Thursday 15th March 2017 saw over 220 East Kent Freemasons gather at the Winter Gardens in Margate for the Spring meeting of the Provincial Officers’ Mess. Guest of Honour and Speaker for the day was none other than the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of the United Grand Lodge of England, Dr. David Staples.

Geoffrey Dearing & David Staples
PGM Geoffrey Dearing with Dr. David Staples


Dr. Staples confessed that he had been expecting an intimate lunch with 20 or so people, but expressed his delight at having the opportunity to address so many East Kent Brethren at a single event.


In his address, the outgoing President of the Mess, Geoffrey Dearing, thanked the Brethren for their outstanding support over the seven years he had served as Provincial Grand Master. He also referred to his new role as President of the Board of General Purposes and said how much he was looking forward to working with Dr. Staples specially in relation to the
“Enough is Enough” campaign.

Before he replied, Dr. Staples took the opportunity of taking to the Winter Gardens stage,  the boards of which had been trodden by many show-business legends. He recalled that his last appearance on such a stage was some years ago when he had appeared as the back end of a pink elephant in a Hospital pantomime.

Provincial Officers' Mess
Over 220 Brethren attended the Provincial Officers’ Mess


In a wide ranging speech he recalled his own links to Kent. He was born in Sidcup, and fondly recalled his mother’s memories of the county as an evacuee during the Second World War.



He then went on to describe the reasoning behind the “Enough is Enough Campaign, in particular the need to counter the huge degree of ignorance and misinformation which persisted about Freemasonry both in the media and society at large. He also discussed his own very personal experience of discrimination against Freemasons.

We managed to get an exclusive interview with Dr. Staples.

You can listen to it here

The Mess ended with a poignant moment when The Provincial Junior Grand Warden, Martyn Summers proposed the last ever vote of thanks to the outgoing President. He reviewed RW Bro Geoffrey’s many achievements during his time in office and offered the thanks and good wishes of all the Provincial Officers, wishing him well in his new Role as President of the Board of General Purposes at UGLE.

January 2018 Meeting

Our regular meeting on the 26th January 2018, saw us welcome our latest recruit, in the person of Nikolay Marinov.  Nik’s journey into Freemasonry began some years ago when he moved into the house next door to Senior Warden Malcolm Graham.  He had long been interested in Freemasonry but it was his growing friendship with his next door neighbour which finally convinced him to take the plunge and apply for membership.

nik marinov initiation
Nik was proposed by Malcolm Graham (l) and seconded by Neil Marshall (r)

Nik, aged 35, is an Accountant living in Maidstone with his wife Maria, who is a local GP,  and his 2 young boys aged 6 and 1.  His hobbies are “anything sporty” with a particular interest in  Martial Arts.  Malcolm of course proposed him.  He was seconded by Junior Warden, and Membership Officer Neil Marshall.

The meeting opened at 6pm and, in addition to a smoothly executed first degree ceremony, included a poignant moment in the Lodge’s history when long standing member WBro. Richard Hinge was elected an Honorary Member.  A local fruit Farmer,  Richard is the third generation of his family to have been a member of Agricola Lodge.  He served the Lodge in many ways over the years;  but is perhaps most remembered for his years as Lodge Secretary, and for his rendition of the “Address to the Brethren” which was a regular and much loved feature of our Installation Meetings for longer than most of us can remember.

The Lodge was also delighted to see WBro. John Beadle back with us after his stroke last year.

nik marinov initiation
Nik was welcomed by WM Paul Constable

The formal proceedings being over,  the Lodge was closed at around 8:15 after which the Brethren repaired to the Dining Room for our now traditional January Burns Supper.  The meal began with a warm and satisfying, home made, Cock a Leekie soup.  This was followed up by Haggis Neaps and Tatties and rounded off with Tipsy Trifle, Cheese and Coffee.

Following the usual Toasts, Neil Marshall rose to propose the “Toast to the Initiate.”  He outlined Nik’s background assuring the Brethren that although Accountancy didn’t enjoy the most exciting of reputations, Nik was very much at the hip “Rock and Roll” end of the profession.  Following a rousing toast, Nik thanked the Brethren for accepting him into the Lodge and said how much he was looking forward to getting to know more about Freemasonry.

With the Lodge’s Centenary looming in 2023, our Secretary Bob Burns kindly donated a bottle of Single Malt whisky which was raffled in aid of the Centenary Fund.  It was won by er…..  Bob Burns !!!  

A Stewards Enquiry has been ordered ;-)))

The meeting was brought to a close by Tyler Mark Kirby at approximately 10:00pm