St John Stone

our Provincial Parton saint


By 1926 it was clear that the rapid expansion of the Order in London and the Home Counties required Provincial organisation. May of that year saw the establishment of Westminster, Brentwood and Southwark Provinces.

The new Southwark Province covered the entire area of London south of the Thames with the counties of Kent, Surrey and Sussex. It was erected at Greenwich on Mat 21st, 1926 when Councils 108 (Dartford), 117 (Peckham), 118 (Woolwich), 123 (Greenwich), 128 (Wandsworth) and 129 (Lewisham) formed the Province. All these Councils had been erected during the previous 12 months. In 1958, Southwark Province was subdivided into three Provinces, which later became known as Southwark, Surrey and Sussex.

For many years these three London Area Provinces co-operated in such large scale ventures as the Silent March of 45,000 men in 1938, a Hospital Benefit Scheme with the Hospital of St john and Elizabeth which started long before the National Health Act 1948, the KSC Bureau which was not only an Information Centre but an Employment Agency for members. The large London wartime hostel for the forces and later the KSC Club were also run by committees appointed from the three Provinces. At the request of Archbishop Amigo, the Knights organised in 1931 the first annual procession of the Blessed Sacrament through the streets of Canterbury to take place since penal Days.

From 1940 it became a Diocesan Pilgrimage, while still organised by the Knights and attended by Brothers from many Provinces. The Pilgrimage remained an annual event until 1978 when it ceased due to traffic and other considerations. In 1928, the Knights asked Archbishop Amigo for a long-term project that they could adopt. He asked them to give financial and practical help to the Southwark Travelling Mission, a band of Priests who brought the Mass and the Sacraments to Catholics scattered in small towns and villages throughout the Diocese. Many of these travelled long distances to hear Mass when the Missioners were in their area. Many Churches and Mass centres were established through the pioneer efforts of the Missioners and their scattered congregations.

The Province, acknowledging the need, gave wholehearted support to the project. Councils donated large sums of money annually, and Province itself raised funds for the Mission through a 200 Club, annual cricket and golf matches, garden parties and dances. In 1994, Archbishop Bowen judged that the Mission had completed its work and after consultation with the Province asked us to set up a Provincial fund for the education of students to the Priesthood and the upkeep of the Seminary at Wonersh. The increasing popularity of Our Lady’s shrine at Aylesford since 1949 has involved the Province in providing stewards on each Sunday of the pilgrimage season, with a Provincial Officer specially appointed to ensure effective liaison with the community at Aylesford Priory.

The Province plays a major part in the preparation and running of the annual Youth Day Aylesford which it organises jointly with other Provinces in the South of England. In response to the Italian earthquake disaster of 1980, Province 12 not only funded caravans but also provided billeting and service arrangements at Channel ports. Regular support is given to S.P.U.C. and pro-Life rallies. For the Knights of Southwark, as elsewhere, the Papal visit in 1982 was the cause of much activity. Province 12 was privileged to provide stewards at the service for the sick in St Georges Cathedral and its annexe together as well as at the six feeding and comfort stations. Stewards were also sent to Papal celebratations at Westminster, Wembley, Roehampton and Canterbury.
As second largest Province in the Order, Southwark was allocated a large quantity of surplus Papal Souvenirs to sell to defray the cost of the Papal visit. This proved to be a difficult assignment which was carried out with great persistence by our Brothers.

Over the years, the Province has taken part in stewarding the Wembley Rallies, outdoor processions throughout the Province in places such as Lesnes Abbey and Staplehurst, and latterly the inauguration of Churches Together in Britain at St Georges Cathedral on September 1st 1990.

In December 1989, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Order, the Province was privilidged to take part in one of the first Masses celebrated in Canterbury Cathedral since the Reformation. The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Howard Tripp, Ecclesiastical Advisor to the Order. Southwark Province 12 currently has 28 Councils, all spread around the general area known as the Southwark Diocese which means it is a large area to cover. We have Councils throughout the Diocese and as far as Ramsgate in Kent. Because of its area and the number of Councils, the Province has a number of Officers and District Deputies whose job is to keep regular contact with the Councils and give advice and help when requested.

The Provincial Grand Knight of the day is responsible for overseeing the welfare and running of the Province and to make sure it’s Councils all carry on the important work of the Order especially in the area of welfare not only for its members but the community in general.