Lodge Strong Box


In common with many fraternal and benefit societies Masonic lodges can be classed as ‘box societies’. That is, they kept their important documents and petty cash in a strongbox, which was usually kept by the treasurer. Often, two more officers would hold keys; all needed to be present to open the box, an obvious security measure. Curiously, the box below only has one lock. The lockplate indicates that this box was made in 1737, the year after the lodge was chartered. It is unusual for a society strongbox, both in terms of size and its lining: it may not have been used to keep cash but instead documents and deeds.

It is interesting to recall the financial arrangements of the Lodge in 1766. At this time, and for 40 years afterwards, there were no Banks in Dalkeith, and the Lodge funds were partly kept in the Box and partly by Members, who gave bills against the sums received by them. This Old Box Required two Keys to open and is, I believe, the explanation why there are still two Key-keepers amongst our Office-bearers, though the duties of their office have long passed away. Thus the Master at one of the Meetings expressed himself as well satisfied with the arrangements and deputed Brother David Crichton, the clerk, to receive the sums contained in the subscription bills and “hoped every Brother would voluntarily and readily discharge the sum annexed to his name”.

Behind the Masters Chair is a cavity in the stone work of the building. The door is made of iron and requires two keys to open. Into this cavity fits exactly the original strong box of the lodge, which also requires two keys to open, and as already stated, the keys were kept by different brethren. There must have been considerable inconvenience when access was required to the Box and one or other of the Key Keepers was not present.