The air was charged with happy anticipation when over 80 companions congregated in the lounge bar at the Masonic Hall in Blackpool for the convocation of Senatores Chapter of Installed First Principals No 8966. Grand officers mingled with their minions, sharing their enthusiasm for the forthcoming meeting. The planned programme for the evening promised an opportunity to advance their Masonic knowledge, while having a thoroughly enjoyable time.
Principal guest at the meeting was Provincial Grand Orator for the Province of Middlesex Dr Mike Kearsley, a speaker of impeccable credentials who has delivered countless talks on a diverse range of Masonic topics. He was invited to become a full member of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No 2076 in 2011 after winning the Norman Spencer prize for a paper on the formation of the Grand Lodge of New Zealand.
Mike was later invited by United Grand Lodge of England to present the Prestonian Lecture in 2014 and it was the subject of that lecture on which he based his talk at Senatores Chapter. Entitled ‘1814 – Consolidation and change, the first year of the United Grand Lodge of England’. Mike’s paper presented the events leading to the union between the ‘Moderns’ and the ‘Antients’ and went on to trace some of the changes that were effected in the short, and necessarily, the longer term thereafter.
As change on the scale required could not possibly be achieved in one year, events beyond 1814 had to be included. His paper was presented through the perspective of three individuals of the time, each of whom played an important role in the union. They were Fredrick Augustus, Duke of Sussex, the first Grand Master; William White, the first Grand Secretary; and Sir John Soane, the first Grand Superintendent of Works.
The Prestonian Lecture is the only official lecture held under the authority of the United Grand Lodge of England and is named after William Preston, the foremost Masonic educator of the late 18th and early 19th century. He died in 1818 and was buried in the precincts of St Paul’s Cathedral. In his will, he left money to provide for the annual delivery of a lecture based on his system of instruction – to inform, educate, stimulate and entertain a general lodge or chapter audience.
Dr Mike Kearsley admirably adhered to those principles in his delivery at Senatores Chapter of Installed First Principals. Illustrating his talk with a carefully compiled PowerPoint presentation, Mike kept his attentive audience spellbound with a vibrant, structured and humorous discourse. He has the knack of embellishing a story in a way that leaves his audience with a clear grasp of what he is talking about. His audience follows him like a bloodhound and there is no doubt that William Preston would have been delighted with the result.
Mike charges no fee for his services. All the proceeds from donations for his booklet on the topic and a contribution from the chapter went to Mike’s chosen charity – DEBRA, the national charity working on behalf of people in the UK and worldwide with the genetic skin blistering condition, Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). Epidermolysis Bullosa is a group of genetic skin disorders that result in fragility of the skin and, in some cases, other internal membranes and organs. Blisters, open wounds and sores form as a result of the slightest touch, rub or trauma. Certain types of EB can be fatal in infancy and others are severely life-limiting. There is currently no known cure for EB and consequently, funding of research into the cause and possible treatment of the condition is one of DEBRA UK’s main activities.
Mike visited Senatores Chapter of Installed First Principals with the values of the Prestonian Lectures firmly in his mind and all present were unanimous in their judgement that he had informed, educated, stimulated and entertained to the full!
Details of this and other Prestonian Lectures can be obtained from Quatuor Coronati Lodge and other lectures by members of Quatuor Coronati Lodge can be arranged by emailing Paul Calderwood at:- firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website at:- https://www.quatuorcoronati.com/
Information on DEBRA can be found on the charity’s website at www.debra.org.uk.