The four main devices (symbols) in the Merton blazon are the bends, heathcock, chevronel and torteaux. The two main tinctures (colors) are azure and argent.
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” 1. 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 2.
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) 3. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 4.
The bend is a distinctive part of the shield, frequently occuring and clearly visible from a distance – it is a broad band running from top left to bottom right 5. Indeed, so important is the bend that it was the subject of one of the earliest cases before the English Court of Chivalry; the famous case of 1390, Scrope vs Grosvenor had to decide which family were the rightful owners of Azure, a bend or (A blue shield, with yellow bend). 6. The bend is held in high honour and may signify “defence or protection” and often borne by those of high military rank 7.
The Moor cock occurs in a number of coats of arms but always seems to be reference to the family name (e.g. MOORE) rather than having any special significance as a type of bird. 8The Heath cock is an alternative name for moor cock.
Readers may already be aware of the chevron, the large inverted ‘V’ shape that extends across the whole shield but may be new to its smaller cousin the chevronel. This can equally cover the whole width but is at least half the width of the chevron, if not narrower. 9 There can be multiple chevronels present, normally these are stacked vertically, but there is a very striking variant whereby the chevronels are said to be interlaced, in which case they are side-by-side, overlapping and intertwined, creating a very striking effect 10. In common with its larger relative, Wade associates the chevronel with the idea of “Protection…and a reward to one who has achieved a notable enterprise” 11.