We’re halfway through our series on heraldic symbols, where we’re picking out our favourite motifs that pop up again and again throughout heraldic history. Things got heated in last week’s instalment, with flames and flammant hearts - this week, we fancy cooling off with a little moonlight and a nice, refreshing orange…
L is for Lozenge
When this shape appears in heraldry - four sides of equal length, with the point positioned upwards so it represents a diamond - the lozenge is symbolic of honesty, constancy, and noble birth. Traditionally used for the arms of a maid or a widow, a lozenge throughout has all four points touching the sides of the shield. When the lozenge appears with a smaller one removed from inside, it represents the mesh of a net, and signifies a persuasive individual.
M is for Moon
The moon has a lot of fans - it can be a symbol of the goddess Diana, indicating the power to endure mundane duties, or the symbol of the Virgin Mary, and her purity. The moon ‘in her compliment’ appears at its fullest state, and unlike the sun, is not drawn with rays. Often, the full moon is given a face, whilst the crescent moon may or may not be given one.
N is for Naval Crown
A gold crown that’s adorned with topsails and the stems of ancient galleys is called a Naval Crown - originally awarded to the one who first boarded an enemy’s ship, it’s now awarded to naval commanders who are distinguished. It was invested by Emperor Claudius as a reward for those who served at sea.
O is for Orange
No, not that kind of orange. In heraldry, an orange is in fact any circular mark of colour or metal, and actually represents a tennis ball! Once played only by royalty and nobles, tennis was a game that signified class - and to have a tennis ball on your coat of arms signified that you were very wealthy indeed. It’s seldom used these days.
P is for Pale
The pale is a vertical band which reaches down the length of the shield, and it was used to denote military strength. It is traditionally used by those who have defended cities, stood strong for the country under stress, or supported the government. The guidelines dictate that the pale should occupy a third of the width of the shield, but in recent years those rules have been bent to allow for the most attractive design.
Discover more about heraldic symbolism as we continue moving through the alphabet of symbols next week, and feel free to find out more about the work we do for the City of London by exploring our website.