At the Meeting of the Provincial Priory of East Anglia held on April 28th 1979 at the Royal Assembly Rooms, Great Yarmouth, the Provincial Prior, Right Eminent Knight, Flt. Lieut. Peter William Racey mentioned that he had discovered the "old provincial minute book" and that it was his intention to write the history of the province to form part of the centenary celebrations being planned for 1982. Those who knew Rt.Em.Kt. Peter at that time, whilst applauding his enthusiasm and ambition for such an undertaking could have been forgiven for whispering amongst themselves, "When is he going to find the time?". As a figure within the history of the Province of East Anglia, Rt.Em.Kt. Peter William Racey, GCT, will stand forever as an outstanding Freemason in general and a great Masonic Templar in particular. To read P.W.R's Masonic C.V. is to take the 'grand tour' of Freemasonry in its fullest splendour. Not only is it a tour of great breadth but also a tour of some of the highest ranks, the most demanding duties and inspirational innovations within East Anglia (and beyond). However, in relation to producing the documented history of the Province even P.W.R realised that it was a massive undertaking and perhaps a re-think of his initial rush of enthusiasm was in order. The following two quotes describe the coming together of two outstanding Masonic minds, who just happened to be in East Anglia in 1979 and who just happened to share a passion for Masonic research;
" A few years ago I began to give some thought to a history of this Province [ East Anglia]...At that time I made the acquaintance of a Mason who had retired to Aylsham in Norfolk and who shared with two of Masonry's great pleasures, namely Knight Templary and Masonic research. He gave me a copy of a book he had written, "An Historical Account of Jamaican Freemasonry", which I considered a production such as only a professional writer could have brought into being..." P.W.R 1982.
The Masonic author to whom P.W.R refers is Em.Kt. Lt.Col.Frederic William Seal-Coon, Past Great Deputy Sword Bearer. On the subject of researching and writing the history of the Province, Em.Kt. 'Freddie' writes;
"...first and foremost, thanks are due to our Provincial Prior...who initiated the work and thereafter maintained his constant interest and encouragement, mobilising co-operation and injecting the inspiration without which it might never have been started and could certainly not have been finished...He [P.W.R] had the thought, amid his innumerable other important Masonic commitments, of writing the history himself, but in the end ceded that grateful task to me" F.W.S-C, 1982
The outcome of this collaboration was 'The History of the Templar Province of East Anglia' (1982, published by the Province of East Anglia. Mann & Son Ltd, Ely, printers),
A book covering not only Provincial history, but the history of the original Orders and the development of Masonic Templary in England.
What follows is a dip into Em.Kt.Freddie Seal-Coon's work.
Thanks are due to Em.Kt. Mark Seal Coon for his permission to access his father's work, summarize sections, add in 'extras' and present it on this web-site in a series of instalments.
M.Richard Beardall, P.Gt.Registrar, Past Provincial Sub-Prior