The four main devices (symbols) in the Guilford blazon are the fleur-de-lis, lion, pomegranate and marlet. The four main tinctures (colors) are argent, azure, sable and or.
Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) 1. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 2.
Azure is the heraldic colour blue, usually quite a deep, dark shade of the colour (there is a lighter blue that sometimes occurs, known as celestial azure). If colour printing is not available then it can be represented by closely spaced horizontal lines in a scheme known as “hatching” 3. The word is thought to originate from the Arabic lazura and it represents the colour of the eastern sky. It is also said to be the colour associated by the Catholic Church with the Virgin Mary and hence of particular significance 4.
Sable, the deep black so often found in Heraldry is believed to named from an animal of the marten family know in the middle ages as a Sabellinœ and noted for its very black fur 5. In engravings, when colors cannot be shown it is represented as closely spaced horizontal and vertical lines, and appropriately is thus the darkest form of hatching, as this method is known 6. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 7.
Or is the heraldic metal Gold, often shown as a bold, bright yellow colour. It is said to show “Generosity and elevation of the mind” 8. Later heralds, of a more poetic nature liked to refer to it as Topaz, after the gemstone, and, for obvious reasons associated it with the Sun 9. In drawings without colour it is usually represented by many small dots, or by the letter ‘O’ 10.
The fleur-de-lys (“flower of the lily”) has a long and noble history and was a symbol associated with the royalty of France even before heraldry became widespread. 11. The Lily flower is said to represent “Purity, or whiteness of soul”12 and sometimes associated with the Virgin Mary. The fleur-de-lys is also used as a small “badge”, known as a mark of cadency to show that the holder is the sixth son of the present holder of the arms 13
The art of heraldry would be significantly poorer if we were without the lion in all its forms. Most general works on Heraldry devote at least one chapter solely to this magnificent creature and its multifarious depictions 14 15 16. Some of the earliest known examples of heraldry, dating right back to the knighting of Geoffrey of Anjou in 1127, where he is shown with six such beasts upon his shield 17 .The great authority on heraldic symbology, Wade, points out the high place that the lion holds in heraldry, “as the emblem of deathless courage” 18, a sentiment echoed equally today.
Many items found in the natural world occur in coats of arms, including many plants that people of the middle ages would be familiar with. Several varities of bush and small plants frequently found in the hedgerows beside fields can be observed 19, in addition to the famous thistle of Scotland 20. The pomegranate is a an example of such a plant, instantly recognisable to those in the mediaeval period and still a proud symbol today.