For anyone that has visited Palatine, you may have noticed the name that sits atop our list of Past Masters; H. B. Carter, PProvAGStB, 1963. It’s very unlikely that many of you have met WBro Henry Brian Carter, or know that much about him, but here is a little of his story, and ours.
Henry (Harry) Brian Carter was born on the 1st of January 1931... Until just a couple of years ago, you had to be 21 years of age before you could become a Freemason. Even then it was unusual to join at a young age unless you had a family connection, but, as both Harry’s Grandfather and Father were members of Palatine, he joined at the first available opportunity, and was initiated on the 10th of January 1952, at 21 years and 10 days old.
Obviously keen, he joined ‘the ladder’, and progressed through the offices, becoming the Worshipful Master of the Lodge on the 12th of December 1963, less than a month shy of his 33rd birthday, and in just a couple of months’ time his name will have featured on our list of Past Masters’ for some 60 years.
He was honoured by Province with the rank of Assistant Grand Standard Bearer (ProvAGStB) on the 17th of May 1972. Moving to Jersey in 1974, his attendance became infrequent, although he always maintained his membership. He was made an Honorary Member of the Lodge on the 12th of March 2015.
Honorary Membership means that when anniversaries come about, such as Harry’s 70th year in the Craft, you’re not notified automatically. We knew that it had to be coming up, and when we checked, we’d missed it, so duly requested a certificate from Province to recognise the milestone, hatching a plan that we might go and visit him personally to deliver it. Whilst these plans were under way, we then realised he had never been presented with his 60-year certificate, finding it in our safe whilst carrying out other research, so it was to be a double presentation!
Phone calls were made, plans progressed, and four of us found ourselves Jersey bound, albeit a flying one-day visit, on the 6th of September.
Whilst he wasn’t keen coming to a meeting, we had arranged to meet Harry at his daughter’s house early afternoon. On the morning we had arranged a tour of the Jersey Provincial Museum, and on the evening, we would be paying a visit to the Prince of Wales Lodge, No. 1003.
If you are ever in Jersey, the Masonic Temple there is outstanding, and a must visit for any Mason. We had a very enjoyable time, and it was fantastic to see some Sunderland Lusterware on display, and with a huge connection to our Lodge, too. Two of the pieces featuring the Iron Bridge over the Wear, the brainchild of one WBro Rowland Burdon Esquire, Worshipful Master of this Lodge in 1791, 93, 94, 95 and 96. We gave them a copy of our Palatine History book, 1757-2007, the first 250 years, to add to their collection.
One of the Iron Bridge Jugs
Leaving there we headed to the nearest bar, and suitably refreshed, booked a taxi to go and meet Harry. Arriving at our destination we couldn’t find his daughter’s house! No answer on the phone (she said she’d be at work) and knocking on a few of the doors in the area yielded no results. A bit of head-scratching and we decided we’d head to Harry’s – we wanted to go anyway (… about that Eagle…) and had hoped to find him there. Alas not, but we did get to meet the Eagle – the original that had adorned the Eagle Building in Sunderland – that had been in Harry’s possession for several years. More on that to follow.
We left the certificates at his house and hoped they would be safely found.
A little deflated, we retired to our Hotel and freshened up for the evening and our visit to the Prince of Wales Lodge. A thoroughly great evening in fantastic surroundings, and undoubtedly new friends made. Our Worshipful Master, Steve Thompson, was asked to respond to the Toast to Visiting Brethren, and as he casually mentioned that 'the Ten o'clock Toast', as we call it, was instituted and proposed by our then Lodge Secretary, way back in 1911, we were also asked to the deliver the Toast to Absent Brethren, which was duly given by our Director of Ceremonies, Wayne Rumley.
Returning home the following day, contact was made with Harry, who was delighted that we had made the trip but, like us, a little disappointed not to have met up. We asked if he would mind taking a picture with his certificates, not least so that a lot of our members could put a face to the name, and he has delivered. Quite rightly, It is our featured image on the article.
Now, about that infamous Eagle, and how it, and Harry, ended up in Jersey.
The Eagle Building, situated on High Street East, Sunderland, was the site of a pub dating from the late 17th century. Originally known as the Three Crowns, the pub changed names over the centuries until the 1860s when the owner, Mr Newbiggin, established the Eagle Tavern. The eagle, its body being carved from a solid log, was mounted on the building's roof in honour of the pub's new name.
The eagle was removed in 1937, some 17 years after the building stopped being a pub. It then spent time at the entrance to H & B Carter and Sons builders’ yard at Hill Top, Deptford. Sometime after, it was removed and stored in a shed in the yard, after it toppled over injuring our young Harry, and because of concerns that it may also injure a passing member of the public.
The Eagle in Carter's Yard, Deptford
We now know how it came into Harry’s possession. Onto Jersey.
In 1927, Harry’s uncle-in-law moved to Jersey to start a job as an accountant. His aunt-in-law (sister to the uncle) followed, and bought a cottage in Samares, that had been built in 1690. Following their deaths, the cottage was bequeathed to Harry’s wife, Margaret, and at fear of losing it to the Jersey authorities, she moved there. Harry remained in Sunderland running the family construction business. After getting fed up with commuting once a month to Jersey to see his wife, he moved there permanently in 1974.
He took several jobs in Jersey, but still owned the builder’s yard up in Deptford. After a few fires at the yard, and Sunderland Council threating to compulsory purchase the land, he reluctantly sold it to them in 1987.
Prior to the sale he emptied the yard and transported the Eagle all the way to Jersey in a Bedford van. It has stood outside his cottage ever since, firstly on his driveway, but perhaps recalling that incident all those years ago, and fearing it may fall and cause injury, it was moved into the garden where it stands to this very day (the other wing is safely stored in his garage).
Eagle at Harry's cottage
The Eagle Building was restored in 2002. To mark the occasion a new wooden eagle was carved, from laminated planks, by local sculptor, Phil Townsend, and mounted on the roof where the original eagle once sat overlooking the town.
Article co-authored by Steve Thompson and Wayne Rumley