Ian Kingsbury, the Provincial Grand Master of the Devonshire Freemasons recently met the Very Revd Jonathan Greener, Dean of Exeter Cathedral to present him with a certificate to commemorate the £10,000 granted to the Cathedral to help with the renovation and modernisation of the facilities so essential to the wellbeing of the house of worship, in particular on this occasion the Chapter House the money was raised equally by the Devonshire Benevolent Fund and the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF).
The Chapter House is essential for so many of the most important Cathedral meetings, events and activities and is the gathering place for all the Civic and State ceremonies that the Cathedral fulfils.
Crucial to better and much fuller use of the Chapter House in the 21st Century is to install a glass lobby at the entrance to provide better access arrangements. The lobby will provide level access from the Cloister gardens and will allow the medieval doors to be opened; this will instantly look more inviting and welcoming to visitors from the outside.
Ian Kingsbury JP. when presenting the certificate said
“the protection of such an important structure which is the centre of the community not only in Exeter but in Devon is paramount in the minds of the masonic community, we all need to believe that the church is a part of our daily lives and the fabric of important buildings such as this must be maintained at all costs for future generations to use and to admire”.
The Very Revd Jonathan Greener, Dean of Exeter, in receiving the cheque said
"I am delighted that the Provincial Grand Master of the Devonshire Freemasons has, together with the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), kindly donated the tremendous sum of £10,000 to help our appeal for this new lobby. We are all most grateful for the Freemasons continuing help and support".
The Chapter House was originally built by about 1227 to provide a large and dignified administrative centre in which the medieval Dean and Chapter could meet at regular intervals to transact their most important business. It is one of the oldest parts of the Cathedral.
The Chapter House contains the grave of Serlo, the first Dean of Exeter (who was also the Archdeacon of Exeter) who died in 1231. This appointment brought Exeter in line with the popular administrative solution for secular cathedrals of the time with a Dean to preside, a Precentor for music, a Treasurer to guard the movable property (including the bells) and to make sure of lights and security, and a Chancellor to take responsibility for the 24 prebends (livings). Other posts were usually held by the Archdeacons and even by the Bishop himself.
The ‘Canonici Prebendati’ met regularly on Saturdays and their decisions were recorded in Chapter Acts, many of which still survive in the Cathedral Archive. These acts show that the Chapter House was in continual use, (except during the Interregnum of the Commonwealth period - 1646-1660) as it still is today.
The building was severely damaged by fire at the beginning of the fifteenth century and rebuilt in about 1412. The beautiful extended ceiling and decorated tie beam roof dates from this time.