A piece by Hugh O’Neill in another article in this issue – ‘Ashlar Chippings’ – made me wonder more about rosettes on aprons.
So, I got in touch with a few friends and they very kindly took photos of the beautiful rosettes on their aprons of various Orders.
Huge thanks to Simon Polkinghorne, Wayne Owens, James Palmer, and Paul Gardner for use of their photos.
According to Hugh O’Neill, there is not much information on the origin of the use of rosettes on Masonic aprons; but he does state that:
they came into use soon after the time of the Union of the two Grand Lodges in 1813, simply to distinguish the different grades of the Brethren, much as the sleeve stripes of NCOs in the army.
Before the Union, aprons were often just plain white or highly decorated, at the whim (and the purse!) of the wearer.
The earliest example of aprons with rosettes in the Museum at Great Queen Street, London, date from about the time that the United Grand Lodge made the ruling in May 1814.
Another snippet I found was from the website of Freemasons Victoria, where RWBro Otto Klotz (The Craftsman, Canada – 2007) discusses the meaning of the three rosettes – he writes:
that the master Mason has thrice been obliged to Fidelity, to Secrecy, and to Silence – Fidelity to the Craft, Secrecy as regards our sacred Secrets, and Silence as to the proceedings of the Lodge, which should never be disclosed to the profane.
The first examples of rosettes are ones most of us immediately recognise – they are shown on the Master Mason apron; the ones depicted are from various eras:
BLACK MOURNING ROSETTES
Black rosettes are used as a symbol of mourning for a Brother in a Lodge, and/or after the passing of a senior or royal member of the Craft.
They were used far more in the past than in current times.
The historical use of the colour black as a symbol of mourning dates back centuries; the Victorians were especially dedicated to the art of mourning and the wearing of black clothing, mourning jewellery, and rosettes (or cockades) was customary and often continued for many months, or in the case of Queen Victoria after the death of her husband Albert, her black-clad mourning lasted for the last forty years of her life.
Order of Athelstan
Photo © Simon Polkinghorne
The Masonic Order of Athelstan formed in 2005, growing out of the shared interests that a number of like-minded individuals had in the origins of Masonry.
Candidates must be subscribing Craft Freemasons as well as subscribing Companions of a Royal Arch Chapter in full amity with the United Grand Lodge of England.
You can read more about the Order here https://www.athelstan.org.uk/
Knights Beneficent of the Holy City (KBHC)
Photo © Simon Polkinghorne
The KBHC is the anglicised name of a very old and very “elite” masonic body known worldwide as “CBCS”, short for “Chevaliers Bienfaisant de La Cite Sainte”.
You can read more about the Order here: https://www.markmasonshall.org/orders/knights-beneficent
Order of Knight Masons – Irish
Photo © Simon Polkinghorne
The Order of Knight Masons was created specifically to perpetuate Masonic style Degrees which had been conferred in a variety of different bodies for centuries.
Versions of the degrees had been given across the globe in a truncated fashion certainly since the early 1700s.
You can read more about the Order here: https://freemason.ie/about-grand-lodge/appendant-bodies/grand-council-of-knight-masons/
A (possible?) French apron
Photo © Simon Polkinghorne
The materials, embroidery, and braid work on this apron are exquisite – if anyone knows more about the origins of this design, please do let us know! Drop me a line – firstname.lastname@example.org
Article by: Philippa Lee. Editor
Philippa Lee (writes as Philippa Faulks) is the author of eight books, an editor and researcher.
Philippa was initiated into the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons (HFAF) in 2014.
Her specialism is ancient Egypt, Freemasonry, comparative religions and social history. She has several books in progress on the subject of ancient and modern Egypt. Selection of Books Online at Amazon
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