Monday, December 11, 2023

One Historic Site, Two Different Coats of Arms: Part One

There are two way by which to get to the historic Merchant Adventurers Hall in York.

Definition: A Merchant Adventurer was someone who risked or ‘adventured’ his or her own money in overseas trade in the hopes of bringing home goods and wealth. Indeed, it was just such a group of Merchant Adventurers, English investors, whose capital funded the Pilgrims' voyage to America on the Mayflower in 1620.

The first, of course, is just to walk down Piccadilly Street until you come to the Hall itself. (We will cover the other way in our next post.)

As you can see from this photograph, the Hall is hard to miss, even if you don't see the coat of arms to let you know that you have arrived.

The Merchant Adventurers Hall in York was built between 1357 and 1361, earlier than most of the craft or trade guild halls in Britain, and is one of the largest buildings of its kind and date in England. More information about the Hall, including some photos of its impressive interior, can be found on-line at

Naturally enough, there is a coat of arms over the main gate to the site.

This is the coat of arms of the Company of Merchant Adventurers of the City of York: Barry wavy of six argent and azure, on a chief per pale gules and azure a lion passant or between two roses argent seeded or. And for a crest: On waves of the sea barry wavy argent and azure a Pegasus rampant argent winged azure.

The symbolism of the arms is all pretty obvious: the waves of the sea, over which the ships they financed sailed; the chief red and blue from the Royal arms, with a lion of England (even though not passant guardant as are the lions in the Royal arms); and two white York roses. The crest, too, symbolizing the long distances the ships they financed had to travel over the seas.

Next time, the other way to get to the Merchant Adventurers Hall, and a different-but-similar coat of arms there.

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