In January 1926 Bro Fisher became a joining member
of Tyrian Lodge No. 253 in Derby. The Lodge takes pride
in having had no fewer than three Grand Chaplains of the
United Grand Lodge of England as members, the other two
being the Rev L D H Cockburn and the Rev Neville Barker
Cryer who, after 50 years of membership, is this year ruling
as the Master of the Lodge.
Notwithstanding the proximity of the Derby Lodge,
Bro Fisher continued to attend his mother Lodge in London
and presided as Master during the course of 1928, whilst still
headmaster of Repton, having been installed on 10 January
of that year. It was almost a natural progression that, on 13
March 1928, he was exalted into Chapter of Justice No. 253,
which is attached to the Tyrian Lodge.
It would appear that Companion Fisher did not embrace the
Royal Arch with the same enthusiasm as he had for the Craft.
The Chapter records show that he did not attend any meeting
after his exaltation, notwithstanding the fact that his colleague
the Bishop of Derby was also a member of the Chapter.
Meanwhile, his clerical career was developing comfortably
when circumstances took over his mundane intentions.
Wishing to take a post as a country parson in family tradition,
he stepped down as headmaster of Repton in 1932, when,
to his surprise and undoubted delight, on 6 May 1932
he received a letter from the Prime Minister, Ramsay
MacDonald, inviting him to accept the appointment,
in September, as the Bishop of Chester.
This was Geoffrey Fisher’s launch to high rank and fame.
He resigned from both the Tyrian Lodge and the Chapter of
Justice in June and September 1932 respectively as he moved
into his new residence, the Bishop’s House, in the ancient
and prestigious Bishopric of Chester. The flood of letters
and official communications which followed, congratulating
him on his joining the bench of Bishops, was a testament to
his popularity and the support he enjoyed.
He was about to embark on a new career and once more he
was prepared to take on the new challenges with enthusiasm
and determination. During the next seven years he established
himself as an individualist. Innovative in his routine duties,
he was also a considerate and concerned ecclesiastical leader,
he excelled as a money-conscious administrator of Church
affairs, most especially in the field of clerical legislation.
These qualities and experience served him well for the future.
Having settled down, on 22 January 1935, the busy year of
the Silver Jubilee of King George V, he joined the relatively
new, five-year-old St Anselm Lodge No. 5166 meeting at
Freemasons’ Hall in Chester. It only took him a year to be
elected Master of the Lodge and to gain the Province’s
recognition by being appointed Provincial Grand Chaplain.
A year later, in 1937, he was given the high rank of Grand
Chaplain of the United Grand Lodge of England. It was an
honour as deserved by him as it was gratifying to Freemasonry
in general and the many Brethren he had endeared himself
to in his Masonic career to date.
He fulfilled his duties in Chester to the utmost satisfaction
of his peers and in April 1939, as war was about to break, he
was offered the see of London by the Prime Minister, Neville
Chamberlain. Fisher’s response, in his own words, was to
kneel and weep like a child, in spiritual anguish, fear and
apprehension at what was awaiting him.
He was in the prime of his manhood, had a fresh mind
and was intellectually gifted. London, in spite of the very
difficult period, was to benefit greatly by his six-year spell.
Throughout the dangerous war period he chose to remain
in Fulham Palace, his official London residence and serve at
St. Paul’s Cathedral in the very heart of the City. His many
responsibilities were onerous and went beyond the call of
duty. He proved himself to be courageous and a caring and
dedicated, co-operative minister of the Church. Whilst in
London, he made important friends and contacts, not least
with the Royal family.
Geoffrey Fisher in the church at
Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop’s
official residence in London
President Eisenhower, seated, listens
as Geoffrey Fisher addresses the World
Council of Churches in September 1954
Web site created by Mark Griffin