The “Golden Fleece” and The Star and Garter
In the E.A. ritual, the W.M. gives a lambskin, or white leather apron to the candidate, saying it is “more ancient than the Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle, more honor justify">A fleece is a coat of wool covering a wool-bearing animal like a sheep. This would explain the link between a fleece and our apron being white leather. Golden fleece appears in the Greek tradition, where Aries (Latin for ram) was the winged ram of the Golden Fleece. There was also a fleece laced by the King of Colchis in a dragon-guarded grove and which was recovered by the Argonauts. It is also interesting to note that the Order of the Golden Fleece, introduced by Philip III (a.k.a. Philip the Good), Duke of Burgundy in 1429, was the highest order of knighthood, especially as wool was an important part of his domain at the time.
The Star and Garter was more difficult to research. There is an order, called the Order of the Garter, which is the most illustrious order of British knighthood. It was instituted by King Edward III in 1348. The order consists of the sovereign, and 25 companions, of which the Prince of Wales is always a member. It therefore signifies how important the order is, and also, more interestingly perhaps, the period from which our ritual possibly originated (12th century).
The History of the Most Noble Order of the Garter
The oldest and highest British order of chivalry, the Most Noble Order of the Garter, was founded by King Edward III in 1348 (historical records may say four years earlier). The Order ranks third after the Victoria Cross and the George Cross. The Sovereign and Knights of the Garter met for three days at Windsor Castle and St. George's Chapel for approximately two centuries after the Order was founded. From 1674 to 1805, the Order only met for one day and celebrated. Members only met for investitures once Windsor Castle was moved to London. In 1948, King George VI ordered the Knights of the Order to convene again at Windsor Castle to attend a holy ceremony at St. George's Chapel. King George VI decreed that the Sovereign would personally choose new Order members. Nowadays, Garter Knights include members of the British Royal Family, previous Prime Ministers, and foreign Monarchs. The Order only has the Sovereign, the Prince of Wales, and 24 other members. The Order of the Garter has had about 990 Knights. For a current list of Knights of the Order of the Garter, including some royals