The Trinity Chair

One of the great privileges accorded to the Worshipful Master of Trinity Lodge is the right to sit in this magnificent Master's Chair. This ornate and impressive chair has been in regular use for over two hundred years but its date of origin and its arrival in Trinity Lodge is a conundrum on which we can only speculate.

Over many years, and probably since the day it arrived, there has been considerable debate about the old Chair, as to its origin, the skills involved in its fabrication and how and when it became the property of Trinity Lodge. There are no minutes, for any of the lodge numbers held by Trinity Lodge between 1755 and 1807, during which time the Chair undoubtedly arrived. The Chair is thought to have been in use in the Lodge well before 1800 and it has been concluded that it was actually fabricated in the "late" Eighteenth Century. Clearly, the Georgian style of various items, such as the cabriole legs, and the known later date of 1807 when its existence was acknowledged in Lodge records (with a cost for repair), indicate that the Trinity Chair was assembled and arrived in Trinity Lodge around 1780.

The Chair not only contains many recognisable symbols and working tools but it also contains some less well understood (such as the three Greek Gods at the top). Moreover, it also includes hidden and subtle representations related to the canopy of heaven, the archway to the middle chamber of King Solomon's Temple, the Greek philosophers Pythagoras and Euclid, and to the will of God being delivered with the speed of eagles. The three Greek Gods, Apollo, Hercules and Artemis, are known to relate to Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, with Apollo being the God of philosophy, of the seven liberal arts and sciences, of medicine and of music. Hercules is the God of Strength and Artemis the Goddess of Purity and Beauty.

The Chair also contains symbols of the Sun and the Moon, presented directly perpendicular to the Master, thereby illustrating the three lesser lights in Freemasonry. The canopy itself represents heaven as being above the stars and the place where the Gods live and the "hands" relate to Fides, the Greek representation of Fidelity. Less obvious than at first apparent, the two pillars with the symbols for Pythagoras and Euclid, together with the arch of the canopy, represent the entrance to the middle chamber of King Solomon's Temple.

The stars themselves allude to the number seven without which no lodge can be considered perfect and in the centre of them is the Volume of the Sacred Law. The working tools and Jacob's ladder are clearly depicted on the Chair back in pierced fretwork.

Whilst the ornaments and emblems of the Chair encourage many theories, interpretations and conclusions, there can be no denial that the Chair itself has provided both an inspiration and a challenge to the long line of Masters of Trinity Lodge, who have enjoyed the privilege of sitting in it, and to the historians and students who strive to unravel its symbolism. The greatest gift of this symbolism is to remind us all that, in spite of our relative insignificance in this world, it is still our duty to strive to maintain those highest standards of moral behaviour which the ornamentation on the Chair is clearly intended to depict.

If you would like to read the full history of The Trinity Chair, please visit our Book Shop.

 


The Trinity Chair

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