Masonic Education - July 2018

In this portion of our website, I will present various articles that I hope readers will find interesting and educational. Hopefully a new one each (calendar) month. Most, if not all articles will not be my own creation, so I will indicate my source of information. Should I depart from or add to the original script, I will indicate in brackets [ ]. As some of the entries on a website are done in ''code'', there may be slight variations from the original script which I may not indicate in the brackets.

LODGE: One has to go back to the Anglo-Norman 'loge', a 'habitation or lodging', for the source of this most word in the language of Freemasonry; it has been employed in at least four senses. For operative masons it was the building or room in which they sometimes worked (in bad weather, for instance) and in which they took refreshment and rest. In former times also it seems to have been used for a portable object which may have been a kind of chest or 'ark' but may equally have been a sort of tracing-board. It came to indicate as well the group of masons who were entitled to gather in the 'lodge', which was often depicted as a 'lean-to' shed against the outer wall of the building at which they were at work, and it could also refer to an assembly of such a group. In these lasts two senses it is of course used today in the speculative Craft.

In the first of the senses the earliest-known reference is found in 1277 in the building accounts of Vale Royal Abbey in Cheshire. The Fabric Rolls of York Minster record in 1355 a significant 'order for the masons':

Then to breakfast in the fabric lodge, and forthwith all are to return to work until noon. Between April and August, after dinner they shall sleep in the lodge, then work until the first bell for Vespers.

The first clear indication that 'lodge' meant a body of men rather than a place where they might foregather is in the Shaw Statutes of 1599, which refer to the Lodges of Edinburgh, Kilwinning and Stirling as existing organizations.

As to the implication of a meeting of such men, the earliest catechisms mention a lodge's being formed in a lonely and deserted place, presumably in the open air. This hints at a necessary to conduct business without the possible entrance of 'cowans and eavesdroppers'. Then as now, 'going to lodge' conveys the sense of attending a meeting of masons.

As a feature of the dedication of the new Freemasons' Hall in London in 1776 , four Tylers carried the 'Lodge' three times around the room and placed it on a crimson velvet couch in the centre. This 'lodge' may have been a chest, designed to represent Ark of the Covenant and still used at consecrations, and intended to house the Volume of the Sacred Law, the Book of Constitutions and the lodge's warrant, when these are not on display.

Alternatively, Minute-books of the old lodges sometimes suggest that a floor-cloth or tracing-board was 'the lodge' .The Royal Cumberland Lodge No. 41 (as it is now named and numbered) at Bath is recorded as having told a member in 1771 'to paint a lodge'; the 'lodge board' (tracing board) resulting from that commission is still in existence at Barnstaple.

I thank our Webmaster for allowing me to contine in contributing to the Masonic Education portion of the website.

from 'A Reference Book For Freemasons' - compiled by Frederick Smyth and published in 1998.

R.W. Bro. Robert South