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French author of freemasonic books of formation and symbolism




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The  Derrick

Q. How and why did the derrick corne to be associated with the Senior Warden and be placed on his pedestal ?

A. In one older lodge room the pedestals have only the columns and pillars - (on

the Master's the V.S.L.). In the centre of the room was a 16-foot table, on which

were the derrick supporting a smooth ashiar, two globes and various other items.

Thé members sat round this table during the Lodge meeting, and, when the Lodge

was closed, the old phrase : "Put away our W.Ts. and Jewels" became an actuality,

for ail on the table was locked away in the Lodge cupboard - "a safe and sacred

repository" - after which the table was used for dining and thé festive board. What

more certain than that, when pressure of numbers became too great for comfort,

the table was removed and the furniture disposed round the Lodge room. The

derrick, with its suspended smooth ashiar, would go to the S.W/s pedestal, as being

thé most appropriate place.


lt is well, however, not to be too dogmatic on this point, as many of the old

Lancashire Lodges have elaborate derricks of varying design placed on the east side

of the pavement, suspended sometimes the rough and sometimes the smooth

ashlar, as the occasion may warrant.


lt is likely that the tripod or derrick was introduced to illustrate the practical use of

thé lewis, than that it came in merely as ornament.


Where Lodges meet on their own promises and the ashlars are sizable models of ten

or twelve inches side, the tripod is usually some five or six feet in height, and is

placed in the south-west, sufficient far towards the centre of the room to leave space

for the Deacons and candidate to pass outside it in their perambulations. In those

Lodges the rough ashlar lies on the floor in front of the Junior Warden's pedestal.

But where, as in so many London Lodges, the appurtenances have to be packed

away in a box after each meeting, the necessary tiny ashlars were placed on the

Warden's pedestals, the rough ashiar being given to the Junior Warden and the

perfect ashiar to the Senior Warden. When the tripod was introduced in such

Lodges it had of necessity to be very much in miniature, and it, like the ashlar

previousiy, was placed on the pedestal.


It should be noted that the tripod, although it had corne into use - in London Lodges

at any rate - before the Union, is by no means ubiquitous. Thus, in Manchester

neither it nor the lewis is in evidence, the ashlars (fairly large ones) lying in the

north-east and south-east corners of the small area of tesselated pavement in the

middle of thé floor. Nor is there a tripod in Bristol, where the stones are placed on

the easterly corners of the low table that supports the Tracing Boards.

A paper published by AQCC. London. 1999


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