Bournemouth Coat of Arms Window
It is of no surprise that Merton chose a stained-glass window design of the Bournemouth coat of arms in his home. Merton became active in local politics, partly motivated to make the small and select resort of Bournemouth a year-round attraction to benefit his hotel. He was elected to the Bournemouth Board of Improvement Commissioners and was Mayor of Bournemouth from 1894-5. He oversaw civic improvements such as the first libraries, improved railway access and the Undercliff Drive, which to this day is still enjoyed by visitors to Bournemouth. In 1909, he was knighted for his charitable works and services to Bournemouth.
The coat of arms of Bournemouth was first granted in 1891. The motto is Pulchritudo et Salubritas, Latin for ‘beauty and health’. The colours of the shield, the main part of the coat of arms, are taken from the royal arms of King Edward the Confessor, in whose royal estate the area now known as Bournemouth was situated. The four salmon represent those to be found in the River Stour, which marks the boundary between Christchurch and Bournemouth. Each of the lions holds a rose between its paws. The six birds, also taken from Edward the Confessor’s arms, are martlets, heraldic birds with no legs, based on the folk belief that swallows never stopped flying and so did not need legs. The roses in the arms are emblems both of England and of Hampshire, Bournemouth’s original county.