or The Distinctive Regalia of a Grand Steward
If ‘Dark Blue’ is the colour associated with Grand Officers then Red is most certainly the colour associated with Grand Stewards.
That ‘Dark Blue’ is more correctly specified by the Book of Constitutions as Garter Blue. The Book is not so specific in relation to Grand Stewards, but our red, or more accurately crimson is generally understood to be the Red of the Order of the Bath, revived in 1725 by King George I.
The earliest surviving reference to the Stewards’ crimson appears in the Minutes of Grand Lodge of 17 March 1731. Those minutes record a proposal that
“those Brethren that are Stewards should wear their aprons lined with red silk and proper jewels pendant to red ribbons and that all those, who have served the Office of Steward, be able to wear aprons lined with red silk.”
There have since been changes in the size and shape of the apron, apparent from surviving contemporary portraits and prints, and expansion in the composition of Grand Lodge, however the resolution with regards to Stewards’ regalia is largely unchanged.
Grand Stewards are able to wear red upon appointment to their office. Members of the nineteen Red Apron Lodges wear normal craft clothing until such an appointment, following upon nomination to the Grand Master by their Lodge.
Grand Stewards of the year wear plain red collars, as do the officers and Past Masters of Grand Stewards’ Lodge. To their collars each of the 19 Grand Stewards has a Steward’s Jewel. Since 1835 the Grand Stewards jewel has been in the style of a cornucopia between the legs of a pair of compasses following the pattern laid out in the Book of Constitutions:
Each Red Apron Lodge has their own jewel which is passed from Grand Steward to Grand Steward, and some of which have some small, but acceptable, variation from the rule. In the pursuit of their ceremonial duties in Grand Lodge, Grand Stewards also carry white wands.
Past Grand Stewards collars are edged with silver except for Antiquity Lodge No 2 and British Lodge No VIII whose collars are edged in gold.
The members of the Prince of Wales’s Lodge No 259 are permitted by rule 265 of the Book of Constitutions “to wear the internal border of the edging of garter-blue three-quarters of an inch wide”, a token of esteem granted to that Lodge by one of its members upon his succession the Throne.
In 1797, a Grand Steward proposed that every member of his Board should wear a plain blue coat with yellow buttons and the initials GS engraved on each button, a white waistcoat and black silk breeches. However by 1813 fashion decreed that the more formal wear of black suits with white gloves be worn. Today full morning dress is worn at all official functions attended by a Grand Steward.