Within a Lodge room there are many symbolic items of equipment used during a ceremony. Many are used with their symbolic meaning conveyed to the Brethren.  Below are examples of some of the equipment and their Masonic meaning (click on pictures to enlarge).

THE SQUARE: The Square is an angle of 90° or an important implement with which an operative mason can gauge right angles in his work.  Its symbolic use in masonry is to teach morality.  It is of interest to note that in Limerick during the excavation of the foundations of a bridge over the river Shannon, an ancient 500 year old Masonic square was discovered bearing the words: ‘Upon the Level, by the Square, I will strive to live, with love and care’.

THE COMPASSES: The compasses are a well known working tool, and when displayed in conjunction with the square use of the compasses is of great antiquity and is by no means confided to Freemasonry.  In ancient China it suggested order, regularity and propriety; references abound in medieval literature as early as ‘Piers Plowman’ and they appear in the arms of the operative Masons.  In the Craft they are a symbolic reminder to each member that education will enable him to become a fit and better member of society; and that he should limit his desires within the compass of propriety.

The Square

CHAIRS: The chairs of the three principal officers in the Lodge are frequently of ornate and antique origin, often being specially made for the Lodge at its inception.


COLUMNS (CANDLES): The candles used in a Lodge are more than a means of illumination.  They are symbols with a long and attractive history.  The candle came into the Lodge not only from the hall of the Guild, but from a votive offering before a shrine centuries ago.  Its physical light is the emblem of the spiritual. The burning candle carried with it the idea of consecration, of the making and keeping of vows, of gratitude for mercies which had been vouchsafed.  The candlesticks or columns are classical pillars of the Ionic, Doric and Corinthian orders of architecture and represent symbolically Wisdom, Strength and Beauty.

THE WORKING TOOLS: The tools associated with the 3 Craft degrees do, in some purely conventional and over simplified way, associate themselves with the 3 grades of a Mason.  Thus the Entered Apprentice uses the 24 inch gauge, the gavel and the chisel; the Fellow Craft the square, level and plumb rule; and the Master Mason the skirret, pencil and compasses.  To each of these tools Masonry attributes a symbolic sense.  Hence the 24 inch gauge reminds us to use the 24 hours of each day with propriety and decorum; the gavel to subdue all our vain and unbecoming thoughts; and the chisel to educate ourselves to become fit members of society.  The square teaches morality, the level equality and the plumb rule to conduct our lives with justness and uprightness.  The skirret points out to us the rules of conduct laid down for our persuit in the volume of the sacred law, the pencil teaches us that our words and actions do not go unseen and the compasses remind us of God’s unerring and impartial justice.

The Working Tools

CHEQUERED OR MOSAIC FLOORING: The mosaic pattern carpet with its tessellated border, traditionally but hardly historically, is meant to represent the pavement of King Solomon’s Temple. The black and white squares are said to symbolise the chequered existence of man.  The uncertainty of all things in life, the joys and sorrows, the prosperity of today, the adversity of tomorrow, all the opposites of material life.  It is to remind us to moderate our passions and prejudices, and to walk with humility at all times.  The tassels at the corners are symbolic of the 4 cardinal virtues – Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude and Justice.


TRACING BOARDS: The tracing board is an emblem whose history goes back indirectly to the tracing board or drawing board of the medieval mason, on which he worked out plans and details of the building.  The speculatives’ tracing boards are not the equivalent of those old draughting boards, but are now pictures representing various Masonic emblems and depicting scenes or events appertaining to the Solomonic legend.  In many respects they represent an allegorical representation of the beliefs and tenets which are part of Masonic teaching.  Most tracing boards used in Lodges nowadays hark back to those designed for the Emulation Lodge of Improvement about 1846, and to those published 3 years later by the noted designer John Harris.

Tracing Boards

BALLOT BOX: Used for new members or matters that require a vote.

THE APRON: From ancient days the apron has been an emblem, a symbol, as well as part of a craftsman’s working dress.  It was worn by candidates in many ancient societies – Egyptian, Persian, Jewish, Indian, etc. and there is an echo of such usage in the wearing of an apron by the Church dignitary. To the speculative Mason the apron is first and foremost a badge and he is taught in the Lodge that the apron is the badge of innocence and the bond of friendship.  In early English speculative masonry it was the one and only badge of masonry.  It was of skin, but somewhat idealised, being white lambskin, suitably dressed.  Such, basically, is the apron of today, but the amount of ornamentation sometimes obscures that fact.  In the course of time it has acquired tassels, rosettes or levels.  The tassels were probably added to represent the decorated ends of ribbons, which, when tied, hung down the front of the apron; and which disappeared when the ribbons were replaced by rear fastening.  There is no known reason for the inclusion of the rosettes, but it is likely that they were adopted as a means of distinguishing the grades of Brethren.  The levels were, again, probably a means of identification and consist of perpendicular lines upon horizontal lines, thereby forming several sets of 2 right angles.

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DEACONS WANDS: The Deacons are officers of the Lodge whose duties are to look after the candidates during the ceremonies and to assist the Master and Wardens.  The derivation of the word ‘deacon’ is from the Greek, meaning a ‘messenger’ or ‘servant’.  As an emblem of his authority he carries a wand which is surmounted by the office’s emblem, a dove bearing an olive branch.

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THE ASHLAR: The rough Ashlar is an axe trimmed, rude, roughly squared stone, more or less as it comes from the quarry and is meant to symbolise the natural man, uneducated and unaware of any duty to society.  The perfect Ashlar, smooth faced, die square and ready to be built into a form part of a sound wall, symbolises the cultured and educated man, a man having a social conscience.

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COLUMNS: These are presented to the Senior and Junior Wardens at the installation ceremony of a new Master.  The Junior Warden places his column horizontal whenever the Lodge is open for business and erect whenever the Lodge is called from Labour to refreshment, that matter being under the immediate supervision of the Junior Warden as the Ostensible Steward of the Lodge.  The Junior Warden is told that his place is in the South, his duty to mark the sun at its meridian, to call the Brethren from Labour to refreshment and from refreshment to labour that profit and pleasure may be the result.

The Senior Warden is presented with his column and told to place it erect when the Lodge is opened to point out to the Brethren that the Lodge is engaged on Masonic business. He is told his place is in the West, his duty to mark the setting sun, to close the Lodge by command of the Worshipful Master after having seen that every Brother has had his due.


WARRANT: The Warrant of the Royal Alfred 1028 Lodge which confirmed one hundred and fifty years as being on the registrar of Grand Lodge.


DEACON’S COLLAR AND JEWEL: which is a Dove in salter carrying a Olive Branch.



THE FELLOWSHIP BRIDGE: The Fellowship Bridge a permanent record of the donations made by Lodges and individual members towards the alterations of the building. A member can if he so wishes purchase a brass plate with his name and Lodge on it which is then fixed to the bridge as a forever memory.


DINING FACILITIES The newly completed dining facilities at the Alfreton Masonic Hall which are also available for use by others in addition to  Masonic activities.

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