Brief History of the

Old Ruymian Lodge No. 8391


The first record of the "making" of an English Freemason, was in 1646, but present "speculative" Masonry claims its roots back into ancient Egyptian and Hebrew history. Organised Freemasonry was formally established on the 24th June 1717 and rapidly became a regulatory body - the Premier Grand Lodge in the World! For historical reasons separate Grand Lodges were formed in Ireland (1725) and Scotland (1936) and between them, the "home" Grand Lodges took Freemasonry around the Globe. From 1730, Lodges were set up in Europe, West Indies, North America and India; later in the Middle and Far East, Australasian, Africa and South America. However, in 1751 a rival Grand Lodge, calling themselves the "Antients", split from the Premier Grand Lodge. In 1799, in the wake of the French Revolution, the Unlawful Societies Act banned all meetings of groups requiring their members to take an oath or obligation. Freemasonry was specifically exempted from the terms of the Act! In 1813, the 2 Grand Lodges united as the United Grand Lodge of England, and formalised the emerging Provincial Lodge system, founded on the English counties. There were 637 Lodges in the new United Grand Lodge! The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, was appointed Grand Master in 1874 and when he retired in 1901, on becoming King, there were 2850 Lodges! Growth continues apace in the 20th Century, especially after both World Wars.

From the four Lodges which formed the first Grand Lodge in 1717, there are now over 300,000 Freemasons in nearly 7,700 Lodges. The Queen's cousin, Edward, Duke of Kent is the current Grand Master, and has been since 1967. The Marquis of Northampton is the present Pro Grand Master.


The Provincial Grand Lodge of Kent was formed in July 1769 at Chatham. In 1880 the Canterbury Temple was built and the Provincial Library and Museum, now one of the best in the country, evolved. The oldest Lodge in East Kent is the Royal Kent Lodge of Antiquity No. 20, which was formed in 1723 and meets at Chatham. As a result of the extraordinary growth on Freemasonry in Kent after World War 2, in 1973 the Province of Kent was split into the Provinces of East Kent and West Kent. The offices of the new Province of East Kent, in due course, reverted to the Canterbury Library and Museum, where it still resides. Recently the Province raised over £5.3 million for children's Charity. There are now some 180 Lodges and over 10,000 Freemasons in the Province! Right Worshipful Brother John Bonamy has been the Provincial Grand Master for the past 12 years and has been replaced in 2004 by Worship Brother Michael Bailey.


There are Masonic Temples in Margate (where 4 Lodges meet), Broadstairs (3 Lodges), Westgate (1 Lodge), Birchington (4 Lodges) and Ramsgate (6 Lodges). There are also Temples in nearby Sandwich, Deal, Dover, Canterbury, Herne Bay and Whitstable. The oldest Lodge in Thanet is the Union Lodge No. 127, founded in 1763, which now meets in the Margate Temple, which itself was opened in 1895.


The present Temple, built as a Church in 1873, was opened for Masonic use in 1903 by the Lewises Lodge No. 1209 (founded in 1868); subsequently they were joined by the Royal Navy Lodge No. 429 (founded in 1835). Both Lodges were instrumental in the foundation of the St Lawrence Lodge No. 3350 in 1909 and some 62 years later, with the Old Ruymian Lodge No. 8391 (in 1971). Since then the Thanet Masters Lodge No. 8918 was formed in 1979 and the Porta Sapientiae Lodge No. 9429 in 1991. As well as the 6 Lodges and the Royal Arch Chapter, the Thanet Chapter No. 429, which meet at Ramsgate, there are a number of other Orders (side degrees) which use the Ramsgate Temple including Mark Master Masons, Rose Croix of Heredom, Red Cross of Constantine & Royal and Select Masters.

Old Ruymian Lodge No. 8391


Founded in October 1971 as a Lodge for past pupils and Masters of Chatham House School, in Ramsgate and the first Lodge to be Consecrated into the Ramsgate Temple since the St. Lawrence Lodge in 1909. Over the years the criteria for membership of the Lodge has evolved to having a close connection with the School, thus Fathers, Grandfathers, Brothers and Sons of past or present pupils are also now eligible! Indeed there are currently a number of family connections in the Lodge including four Fathers and Sons! The membership of the Lodge varies between thirty and forty and there is usually a goodly band of visitors at every meeting. The Lodge meets 4 times a year, on the last Saturday in October, February and April and the second Saturday in December, when traditionally the Ladies join us after the meeting for Christmas festivities. The Lodge maintains a close contact with the School and annually presents two prizes to the School. Recently a large donation was made to assist in the School's application for Science and Mathematics status. The Old Ruymian Lodge is an enthusiastic member of the Federation of School Lodges and has participated in their Annual Festival over the past twenty odd years. It is also a keen member of the Kent Group of School Lodges which meet together on a regular basis. The Lodge has nurtured a reputation for erudite, humorous, entertaining and expressive minutes of their meetings a well as embracing a ritual as varied, interesting and different as any in the County.

It is a very happy Lodge!