To Freemasons the lodge to which they were initiated is their Mother Lodge and holds a certain place in their memory. With twin meanings the word lodge is both a place/room in a building where Masonic meetings are held, and a collective term for the Freemasons who meet there. So one could say a Lodge of Freemasons meets in a Freemasons Lodge!
Under the Grand Lodge of England Freemasons are formed into over 9,000 Masonic Lodges which meet in about 900 Masonic Halls, some of which have multiple lodge rooms. About 150 Masonic Halls were purpose built for Freemasonry.
Lodges have different meeting times with some named after their original founding members, the town they're based in, a historical figure or famous Mason, or even a symbolic word or phrase. The lodge’s name is always followed by it number or the register of the prevailing Grand Lodge. The older the lodge, the lower the number.
King Solomon's Temple
Many of the lodge rooms reflect aspects of King Solomon's Temple the symbolism of which is based upon the accounts of Solomon's Temple.
While there are many variations on the design and layout of a lodge room throughout the world, depending on differences in customs, rituals, and rules generally lodge rooms are arranged in a very similar fashion.
- Usually a rectangular room, with seating around the perimeter, the ceremonies take place in the centre of the room, giving everybody a good view.
- Normally oriented east to west, aligned with the east-to-west path of the sun. Even if a Masonic building actually faces north and south, when you walk into the lodge room, you're symbolically facing the East.
- The Bible (or other holy book sacred to that lodge's members) is open on the pedestal. It is referred to as the Volume of Sacred Law as Freemasonry is principally based on the Old Testament. While the pedestal may be in the centre of the room, in UK lodges it is usually in front of the Master's chair.
- Officers chairs are in the same specific positions in the room. The Worshipful Master is in the east, on a raised platform of three steps. The Senior Warden is in the west on a platform of two steps, and the Junior Warden is in the south on one step. The steps symbolize the progression of life: youth, manhood, and age. The Senior Deacon is to the right of the Worshipful Master and the Junior Warden is on the right of the Junior Warden
- There are two tall pillars with globes on the top, patterned after two bronze columns that were prominent architectural features of Solomon's Temple called Boaz and Jachin. Boaz in the bible was the Great Grandfather of King David and Jachin was the Assistant High Priest. Usually on either side of the Senior Warden, the pillars are sometimes next to the doorway leading into the lodge.
- An illuminated letter G is suspended from the ceiling to represent both God
- There is always a black and white chequered square floor which, for Freemasons represents Day and night, or the joys and sorrows of our chequered existence in the life on this earth.
- There is also a column on each of the warder’s pedestals; the positions of which are changed during the course of the ceremony.
All the ceremonies and rituals of Ancient Craft are conducted in rooms similar to this.
The Lodge rooms can be from very large to small typically seating from 30 or 40 members, to Grand Lodge in London, in which there are 40 Masonic lodge rooms; with the main one seating 1,700. Most Masonic Halls incorporate a dining room and, perhaps, other social rooms.
Lodges meet at regular intervals throughout the year. Most assemble once a month for a business meeting, where communications are read, bills are paid, proposed members are voted on, and the members catch up on each other's lives. Often, guest speakers are invited, or a member will give a presentation on the ritual, history, philosophy, or symbols of Masonry.
Because the primary goal of Freemasonry is fellowship, a meal; referred to as the Festival Board, it is usually served after the meeting, either in the lodge dining room or at a nearby restaurant. Depending on the traditions, formality, and finances of its members, meals can be as simple as pizza or bologna sandwiches or as sumptuous as a seven-course feast often followed by ceremonial toasting.
A Masonic Lodge, often termed a Private Lodge or Constituent Lodge, is the basic organisation of Freemasonry. Every new Lodge must be warranted or chartered by a Grand Lodge, but is subject to its direction only in enforcing the published Constitution of the jurisdiction.