The brethren of the OW Lodge, in common with the brethren of fellow PSLC lodges, wear their old school ties in lodge, each with their distinct colours.
As the OW tie is restricted specifically to Old Boys, some brethren, notably the existing and former masters and servants of College, are not entitled to wear the tie, so the OW Society tie is also permitted, the Society having the wider constituency that includes all those who have served Wellington.
On the exceptional occasion that a member is not entitled to wear either Wellington tie, the wearing of their own school tie is also permitted. Our guests too are welcome to sport their school colours.
The last custom with regard to ties relates to our Mother Lodge, Household Brigade. Members of that Lodge are welcome to wear the Household Brigade or Guards tie as they do in their own lodge, as a mark of respect from a Daughter to her Mother Lodge.
The pictures above highlight an interesting design quirk: For some reason, lost in the mists of time, or at least not known to any current OW, the stripes on the OW tie go the wrong way, in the direction of ‘one drawing one’s sword’, or bottom left to top right (from the wearer’s point of view).
This is contrary to accepted wisdom, ably demonstrated by that bastion of all things ordered and traditional, the Household Brigade. and a quirk shared only by Repton amongst the great public schools*. A guest from another school was heard to whisper that it was faintly American…
Before anyone gets too carried away by what at first may seem faintly improper, it is worth noting that several former and current regiments in the British Army share this design quirk, some of which are moderately respectable. They include the Royal Dragoons, the 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, the Royal Hussars, both the 17th/21st and 16th/5th Lancers, the Buffs, the Argyles, several Fusilier and Light Infantry regiments, the Royal Signals, the Intelligence Corps and the Royal Marines.
So too does the RAF, although this may not be an entirely helpful argument in favour of propriety and tradition.
No Oxbridge college dares break ranks however, and only one of the ‘Ivy League’ universities follows the alleged Americanism, Yale. Should any further debate be required, it can be left in the hands of the members of Grays Inn, the only one of the Inns of Court whose tie also follows the ‘Wellington pattern’.
For a wider sample of PSLC school colours please see the excellent page on the Old Tauntonian Lodge website, and for a broader take on ties, see Nick Foulkes’ amusing article in Country Life, which highlights another nonconformist tie, that of touring cricket club ‘I Zingari’. It also features a lesson in tying ties from a former honorary member of the OW Lodge, the Duke of Windsor.
As a postscript to this debate, it has been suggested that the real reason for this swathe of ‘sinister’ ties is in fact rather prosaic: the weaving technology then available in India at the time the various regimental messes sought to turn their colours into suitable neckwear was such that this direction of pattern was the only one available. Whether this can in fact be the case should I think be left to the reader.
*although recently it has been possible to purchase Repton ties that go both ways.