Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Garter. The Order of the Garter was instituted by Edward III. in honour of Edward the Confessor and St. George of Cappadocia, probably between 1344 and 1348. Roughly speaking, there are two theories as to its origin. According to one theory, it was established with the definite purpose of encouraging valour in the French war by commemorating victories and rewarding those who specially distinguished themselves. The supporters of the other view appeal to the legend that the king, having in the course of a dance picked up the garter of a lady, whom tradition identifies with the Countess of Salisbury, returned it to her with the exclamation, "Honi soit (qui nial y pense" (" Shamed be he who thinks evil of it"), which became the motto of the new order. The order originally consisted of t/he king, the Prince of Wales, and 24 knight-companions, who had stalls in St. George's Chapel at Windsor, where they assembled on the eve of St. George's Day (April 23). Later statutes permitted the election of foreigners and descendants of George III. (1786), George II. (1805), and George I. (1831), in addition to the original number. The right of election was at first vested in the whole body, but was afterwards confined to the king. The officers of the order are the Prelate (the Bishop of Winchester), the Chancellor (the Bishop of Oxford), the Registrar (the Dean of Windsor), the Garter King of Arms, and the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod. The original insignia of the order were a garter, a surcoat, a mantle, and a hood, to which the collar and George, star, and under-habit were afterwards added. The garter, which is worn a little below the left knee, is now made of dark blue velvet, and has the motto inscribed on it in gold letters. The mantle, surcoat, and hood are all of velvet lined with white taffeta, the colour of the two latter being crimson and that of the mantle purple. The badge, a silver escutcheon bearing a red cross and surrounded by the garter and motto, is worn on the left shoulder of the mantle. The collar contains 26 pieces, roses alternating with knotted cords, and from it hangs the "George," a representation of St. George slaying the dragon.