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On Monday 6th December, 2021, the Lodge of St George No 6054, held their regular meeting at

the Masonic Hall, St Leonards on Sea, attended by members and Masonic guests, during which

the minimum of business was transacted. Following the meeting the Worshipful Master, W Bro

David Birchenough and the Brethren of The Lodge of St George extended a warm welcome into

the Temple to all their guests, their wives and partners, including members of the NHS and the

caring professions, to witness the Ceremony of the Vacant Chair, one of the few rituals in

Freemasonry that is shared with the public.

The Ceremony of the Vacant Chair is thought to date back to 1875, a decade after the close of

the American Civil War when it was used in Masonic lodges throughout the nation to pay tribute

to those who did not return from the war. Since then, it has been used by many lodges on

Remembrance Day to pay homage to those Brother Freemasons who sacrificed their lives for

their country, and adapted accordingly. Placed on a cushion on the seat of the chair was an EA

apron originally made from the skin of a Lamb, as the Lamb had been from time immemorial the

universally acknowledged emblem of purity and innocence; and to a Mason this represents the

badge of innocence and the bond of friendship.

The Ceremony was led by W Bro John Rycroft, Mentor of the Lodge. Bro Bob Daniels, a former

member of the British Army who had seen service in Northern Ireland in 1983/4, and

subsequently two tours of duty in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2013, paraded the Vacant Chair

around the Lodge, escorted by Bros Luke Dowle and Larry Clift. The ceremony had been specially

adapted for the evening as a Service of Remembrance, of Reflection and of Thanksgiving, to

honour the dead of those killed in armed conflict, to pay respect to those who have lost their

lives during the Covid-19 pandemic, and also to express appreciation to the NHS and the caring

professions, who have worked tirelessly to ease the suffering of those with Covid, and who

continue to offer love and compassion where it is needed most.