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Masons mark 200 years of Peppercorn Ceremony

  • Marking tradition: Governor, John Rankin,  at his first Peppercorn Ceremony (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Governor, John Rankin,  at his first Peppercorn Ceremony (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • The Royal Bermuda Regiment march in the square to open the Peppercorn Ceremony (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Freemasons take to Kings Square at the Peppercorn Ceremony (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Hundreds gathered in St George’s yesterday to watch a more than 200-year-old tradition unfold.

The 201st annual Peppercorn Ceremony took place in King’s Square. The annual event, first marked in 1816, featured the Freemasons Lodge paying the annual rent of one peppercorn to the Governor for use of the Old State House.

Community leaders, including Bob Richards, the Acting Premier, Leader of the Opposition David Burt, Hamilton Mayor Charles Gosling, Bermuda Police Service Commissioner Michael DeSilva, Commanding Officer of the Bermuda Regiment Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley, Bishop of Bermuda, Nicholas Dill, and members of Parliament, representing both sides of the House of Assembly, attended the ceremony.

Fifteen international town criers from the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States were also on hand, as was Owen Lovell, Mayor of Lyme Regis, the English town twinned with St George’s.

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the relationship between the parish and the coastal town in West Dorset.

Quinell Francis, Mayor of St George, arrived at the event in a horse-drawn carriage and welcomed John Rankin to his first Peppercorn Ceremony as Governor.

Mr Rankin first visited the town in an official capacity in December, when he was sworn in to his current post.

“We have a saying in St George — on your first visit you are a guest, but after then you are family, so welcome home,” Ms Francis said.

The Governor said it was an honour and privilege to be part of the ceremony, and to be back in St George where he had been welcomed by area residents “with great hospitality”.

He described St George as not just a living museum, but a thriving community.

He said he believed Sir George Somers, captain of the shipwrecked Sea Venture, would be “impressed” by what he saw in St George today.

“While his body rightfully lies peacefully in his home of Lyme Regis in Dorset, he might also be happy that his heart found its resting place here,” the Governor said.