The prime mover for the formation of Chantry Lodge appear to have been John Curtis and Jim Hearnden who approached W.Bro Bill Sage for help. He sought advice from W.Bro Leslie Martin. He had also been involved in the formation of an 'old boys' Masonic Lodge in another province before the war.
During the discussion to work out the details and when the new Masonic Lodge should meet. it was suggested that the brethren should not dine after the meeting (except on installation night) but merely have sandwiches. It was then agreed to dine when there was an initiate and also it should be a teetotaller Lodge! Luckily sanity prevailed before any of these ideas were set in tablet of stone.
Chantry Lodge No. 6454, in the Province of East Kent, takes its name from the The Chantry of Milton, the oldest building in Gravesend, Kent. It is all that remains of a leper hospital built in 1322, by the Earl of Pembroke.
After the end of the second world war many Master Masons coming home after demobilisation found their chances of advancing in their Masonic careers were limited. The situation was made worse by the numbers of men who wished to continue the war time fraternal camaraderie by joining the Freemasons. The only way to relieve the situation was to form new Masonic Lodges.
Chantry Lodge holds a Lodge of Instruction, this is where new Freemasons are instructed in the ritual and guided by senior Freemasons through to the higher offices of the Lodge. The Lodge of Instruction has always been a place where the enthusiasm of the newer Masons is encouraged and where a feeling of achievement and, perhaps competition among members, has meant that it has traditionally been well attended throughout the Lodge season. The success of the Lodge of Instruction is not only attributable to the junior members who attend, but to the Past Masters who give their time and patience to pass on their knowledge and experience.
In November 1997 the members of the Lodge and their ladies dined at the Masonic Hall to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the consecration of the Lodge. At the dinner the members and their guests were presented with a firing glass to mark the occasion. At the same meeting the Provincial Grand Master, the Right Worshipful Bro. John Bonomy, presented 50 year certificates to Tony Martin and Bert Steadman.
The Officers and member of the Lodge down the years strived to maintain the objectives set by the founders, but as the Fraternity competes with the demand for the time of the modern candidate, the definition of a 'happy Masonic Lodge' spreads beyond the excellence in which it undertakes the ritual to includes the social calendar and the involvement of ladies in the Lodge where possible.
In Gravesend, existing Lodges each sponsored a new Masonic Lodge. One of these new Lodges was Chantry Lodge, the founders of which mainly came from Beamish Lodge No. 3869. Looking at the list of founders, one sees two whom were already Masters of other Lodges and many more were members of more that one Masonic Lodge, especially the older and more senior members. Such was their enthusiasm and desire to help the younger Freemasons.
The first regular meeting of Chantry Lodge was held on the 22nd October 1947, when the first two candidates A Martin and A Steadman, were initiated. This is the only time the Lodge held an ordinary meeting in October, as that meeting is fixed as the installation meeting.
At the installation meeting on 26th October 1949 the Lodge banner, which had been hand made by Mrs J Curtis, was presented to the Lodge by her husband and founder Curtis and dedicated by the Provincial Chaplain The Reverend H Harwood. The banner depicts the Chantry of Gravesend.
Also at this meeting, L C Martin presented the Lodge with The Volume of The Sacred Law, which is still used at every meeting. This gift was received on behalf of the Lodge by the Provincial Grand Secretary. Other gifts to the Lodge were the working tools, made and presented to the Lodge by founder G E Smith and still in use today, and the kneeling stool with the Lodge name carved in to the hand rest. Unfortunately this stool was found to be too heavy and has fallen into disuse.
In July 1972, the members of the Lodge and their ladies dined together at the Masonic Hall, Gravesend, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the consecration of the Lodge. At the dinner, the then Master H G Stratford, presented the silver goblet to the Lodge for the use of the Master at the festive board. The Wardens of the Lodge have since been presented with toasting goblets.
Thanks to the hard work of the founder Secretary Leonard Saynor, ably assisted in these matters by Leslie Martin, the new Masonic Lodge, Chantry Lodge, was duly consecrated on the 29th July 1947 in the old Town Hall in Gravesend, Kent, by the Provincial Grand Master, the late Lord Cornwallis. This involved moving all the Lodge furniture from the Masonic Hall to the Town Hall. Prior to the meeting the founders had entertained their guests and the Provincial Executives to luncheon at the Masonic Hall.
It is of interest to note that Chantry Lodge warrant is rather unique as it was not signed by the Grand Master, The Earl of Harwood, who had unfortunately died during this period, but has been signed by Brig. General William H V Darell, Assistant Grand Master.