Provincial Grand Lodge of Dorset

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For Province P0060 - Province of Dorset.

6th

Sep. 2018

Wimborne Freemasons remember St Cuthberga

The Lodge of St Cuthberga celebrated its 165th anniversary with pride that the lodge is named after one of the most important and influential ladies of her time and regard it as an honour and privilege to meet under her name.

Friday 31st August marked the 1300th anniversary of the death of St Cuthberga and the brethren from the Lodge of St Cuthberga marked the occasion by attending the Minster to remember her. A talk about her life and her achievements was given by Mrs Christine Oliver from the Minster.

The Master from the Lodge of St Cuthberga has promised to support the Minster with further investigations to establish the true resting place of St Cuthberga. The lodge banner, which was made in 1896 and depicts St Cuthberga, is in need of restoration. This work will be undertaken by Brenda Slade and on completion the banner will be blessed.

Cuthberga (Cuthburg) (died AD 725) was the daughter of Prince Coenred, a second-cousin of Caedwalla, King of Wessex. Her brothers were St Ine, King of Wessex and Ingild, great-great-grandfather of Egbert, the first King of the English, and direct ancestors of Alfred the Great. Cuthberga was married to Aldfrid, King of Northumbria in 685. It appears to have been a political marriage because she would have preferred a secluded life of a nun. As soon as her children were of age, Cuthberga realised her ambition. With the consent of her husband she retired to the famous Monastery at Barking in Essex. She remained there until the death of her husband in 706. In the same year, Ina, who had vigorously promoted the conversion of his people to Christianity invited Cuthberga to found a Convent on the banks of the Stour at Wimborne.

The Convent was of the Benedictine Order, with the buildings being strongly defensive particularly on the river side, owing to the ever present danger of the Danes who made their way up the rivers ever seeking to pillage and destroy. Such attacks were frequent until in the 10th century they finally attacked and destroyed the Monastery. Once restored it was dedicated anew in the name of St Cuthberga and given over to secular cannons.

Cuthberga did not live to see the results of the foundation that she laid but, in her life time the Convent had become celebrated for its literacy activities and for training Missionaries. Its fame spread far and wide. St Cuthberga's chest, hollowed from a single piece of oak, was supposed to have survived the devastation and it is still pointed out in the North Aisle of the Minster. Her burial place is said to be under the wall of the chancel.

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