The introduction of the Keystone ten years ago was the brainchild of good friends V.W.Bro John Lendon and W.Bro John Organ, who were then secretaries of the Exmoor Mark Lodge No 697 (Somerset) and Fortescue Mark Lodge No 9 (Devon). John Lendon is a great Minehead stalwart, John Organ’s Masonic roots were at South Molton in Devon, he is however, a joining member of Exmoor Craft Lodge and was elevated into the Exmoor Royal Ark Mariner Lodge at Minehead.
Both were well aware of the popularity of visits to other Mark Lodges in their respective Provinces but that ‘cross border’ visiting was rather infrequent. Graham Gamble, then Master of Fortescue at the time as well as Lodges in Minehead was also enthusiastic about encouraging more visiting between Somerset and Devon. The idea of a travelling keystone to forge stronger links was mooted and supported by the brethren of the Lodges and the Provincial Grand Masters of Devon and Somerset.
A suitable keystone was made by W.Bro Andrew Petherick, current DC of Fortescue, it was fashioned from a piece of oak, taken from an old beam in Andrew’s house. The house was built in 1683 so the timber used could well be 350 years old!
In autumn every year the members of Exmoor visit South Molton to collect the Keystone, the following spring Fortiscue members come to Minehead to retrieve it.
To celebrate ten successful years of joint visits the Provincial Grand Master of Devon, R.W.Bro Peter Balsam and the Provincial Grand Master of Somerset John Morgan were present at the meeting of Exmoor Lodge on 2nd March 2017 to witness Fortescue Lodge once again retrieve the keystone. Both expressed their great pleasure at the success of the venture and hoped that the visits would continue for many years to come.
In ten years the two Lodges have raised over £4000 for charitable causes as a direct result of these biannual Travelling Keystone cross border visits.
Master of Fortescue, Ian Puttock and Clive Dunster Master of Exmoor Lodge MMM
Members of Fortescue No 9 and Exmoor Lodge No 697
John Lendon, Peter Balsom, Ian Puttock, Graham Gamble, Clive Dunster and John Morgan.