Why Do We Wear Aprons?

You may have seen pictures of men who belong to Masonry wearing “Aprons” of various designs and colours, but where did they come from, why do we wear them and what do they mean. Some of the questions that are always asked. 

 

a masonic apron of a master mason, with white gloves and a black tie
Neil-Johnstone Official Photo in his Grand Lodge and PGM regalia
members of the Holy Royal Arch in their regalia

The first image shows the Apron of a Master Mason

The Second Image is a picture of our Provincial Grand Master in his Apron

The Third Image is of members of the Holy Royal Arch Chapter. 

So, where did it start?

Freemasonry can trace its history back to when as “Operative Masons” men wore Aprons to protect their clothing. Originally the Entered Apprentice wore an apron with a bib, this was to protect the upper part of his body and clothing when carrying heavy stone, such as a pillar. 

As he progressed in his trade, his skills now to smooth and prepare the stone ready for the more experienced workman, there was no need for the upper bib. The upper part then hung over the lower apron, and so the triangular part of a Freemasons Apron, has the “bib” still showing. 

The Apron having become a symbol of the Mason’s Trade and Art, that when “Speculative Masonry” was established, we adopted the Apron.

In the 18th Century, the length of the Apron became to be shortened, but not that of the apprentices, buttons were added to separate the different degrees, in some lodges today, they insist that the triangle shape at the top of the apron is erect, and not lowered until they reach the rank of a Fellow Craft. 

As we reach the 19th Century, the design of the Apron became more elaborate, with designs in some cases creating a division between some members. 

But it was the Union between the two major Grand Lodges that the apron became standardised. Under the direction of the Duke of Sussex made significant changes in the management and appearance in Freemasonry. 

Standardised Ranks, the material of the Apron was to be Lambs Skin, all other fancy materials were excluded. 

Each degree in Freemasonry was to have its own form of Apron. 

The simple White Apron worn by Entered Apprentice Masons.

The Fellow Craft Apron, this now has two Blue Rosettes, these are formalised remnants of the Buttonholes worn on old design Aprons. 

When a member reaches the Rank of a Master Mason, his Apron now has three Rosettes, more than likely symbolising that he has reached the third degree. 

When a Mason becomes the Master of the Lodge, the Rosettes are replaced with “Taus” or “Levels”.

And so, this is why Freemasons wear Aprons. Across the Country and Globe, Freemasons all wear roughly the same Apron, but you will see different designs and colours. 

Aprons are worn during our masonic meetings, these are in simple terms, morality plays, we”dress up” with our aprons, collors and suits, and the plays teach us about making good men better. 

Would you like to know more?