The catafalque, or table upon which the coffin is placed during the service (see Fig. 22) should be fixed with its head abutting the cremating chamber. When this is constructed beneath the chapel, then the catafalque should be so situated that when the coffin is lowered it will descend in front of or in close proximity to the furnace. It has been thought by some that, by placing the cremating chamber in the basement, the lowering of the coffin would be a less departure from the old custom of earth burial. It has its advantages, but it also has many disadvantages. The lift is liable to get out of order and, more particularly, the working of the lifts in the continental crematoria has been found to be far from noiseless.

The catafalque in general use is about 12 feet long, 3 feet 8 inches wide, and 4 feet high; and the top is fitted with an apparatus worked by means of an endless chain, which causes the coffin to pass from the catafalque to a carriage inside the cremating chamber. It is subsequently transported upon the carriage to the front of the furnace, into which it is quickly placed by the same means by which it is removed from the chapel. Considering that the catafalque is the principal feature of the chapel, it should be of an artistic design, and the opening into the cremating chamber should also be in keeping with the purpose for which it is adapted. It is well if the opening at the head of the catafalque be fitted with a hammered wrought-iron or bronze grill in place of the iron doors and velvet curtains which are at present in general use.

The Catafalque 40

[Albert C. Freeman, Architect. FlG. 22. - Design for Proposed Crematorium in connection with existing Chapel at Barbados.