A few pictures from Cambridge

Saturday, September 20th 2014

Today we paid a visit to the university city of Cambridge. We had no special goal in mind but wandered around taking photos, though I did make a couple of purchases, as I shall explain later. The weather was rather dull as you will see from the photos below.

Lloyds Bank Lloyds Bank
Lloyds Bank
Lloyds Bank now…
…but built as Foster’s Bank 1889-91

Today this building accommodates a branch of Lloyds Bank but was designed by the celebrated Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse and was built between 1889 and 1891 for a company called Foster, whose name still appears embossed above the doorway. A little more about the building and the Fosters will be found on this Victorian Web page.

Holy Trinity Church
Holy Trinity Church
Built and modified from the 12th to 19th century

The first Holy Trinity was a wooden structure with a thatched roof and it burnt down in 1174.  A more durable stone church was started in 1189 but was modified and added to several times during the ensuing centuries until 1887, when a stone chancel was completed. In front of the church is a cycle rack, quite a small one by Cambridge standards. The town is flat and the bicycle seems to be the preferred mode of transport for citizens, especially students belonging to the various colleges.

Great Gate of Trinity College Great Gate of Trinity College
Great Gate of Trinity College
Featuring Henry VIII and his chair leg

Another Trinity is Trinity College, founded by good old bad old Henry VIII in 1546. The college buildings were cobbled together from pre-existing ones and some are therefore older than the college’s foundation date. The main gate, for example dates from 1490. There is a little mystery attached to the statue of the founder on the gate’s façade. The standing figure originally held a sword and an orb, symbols of royalty, but at some point the sword was stolen and replaced with a chair leg. The usual version of the story has it that the substitution was effected as a student prank in the 19th (some say the 18th) century. An article in Varsity, however, posits a different explanation for the chair leg. Which, I wonder, is the true version?

Angels
Angels

This decorative motif of a pair of angels appears on the corner of a nearby building though I do not know its date. Throughout its history, the university has been in a close – some might say unhealthy – relationship with the established church and religious nomenclature and symbolism abound.

There are no doubt apocryphal stories of tourists wandering around Cambridge with puzzled looks on the faces trying to find the famed “university” and not being able to locate it among all these colleges. That’s a bit like someone wandering among sheep trying to find a thing called the herd. The sheep are the herd and the colleges are, collectively, the university. Distributed systems were invented long before computers came upon the scene.

St John's College
StJohn's College John Fisher
St John’s College
John Fisher, sometime Chancellor of the University

Passing along St John’s Street, I took some photos of this building that I think is part of St John’s College, though I don’t know which part or any details of its history. It is decorated with statues in niches of people important in the history of the university. This one, for example, is John Fisher (1469-1535), Catholic bishop and theologian and sometime Chancellor of the university. Though generally held in high esteem, Fisher managed to fall foul of Henry VIII (a not altogether difficult thing to do) and was consequently beheaded on Tower Hill on June 22nd 1535. He was later declared a martyr and canonised by the Catholic Church.

A glimpse through the gate of St John's College
A glimpse through the gate of St John’s College

The way into a college is usually through the gate, often style The Great Gate, which leads into a quadrangle or court. Colleges are private property and therefore can admit or exclude members of the public as they see fit. Today, St John’s College was closed to visitors but I managed to sneak a picture through the gate.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Also known as the Round Church

This is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which is also known as the Round Church. I expect you can see why. It was originally built in 1130 and owes its shape to the fact that its designers , the Fraternity of the Holy Sepulchre, took their inspiration from the church of the same name in Jerusalem. As usual there have been some alterations and additions through the years. English Heritage awarded it a Grade I listing in 1950.

Punts on the Cam
Punts on the Cam
Magdalene Bridge

We paused on Magdalene Bridge to take a photo showing Cambridge as many people think of it, a place where folk idle away the sunny weather sailing up and down the river on punts, flat-keeled boats propelled by pushing with a pole against the river bed. (“Magdalene”, incidentally, is pronounced “Maudlin” in Cambridge, for reasons best known to those who say it thus.) Cambridge and its river are cited as a rare example of a town giving its name to the river, rather than the other way about. The river was originally known as the Granta and is in fact still called that above the town. The Anglo-Saxons called the town Grantebrycge, after the river, but in the fullness of time, this became simplified to Cambridge and, by reverse etymology, the river changed its name to the Cam.

Trinity Street
Trinity Street

Trinity Street is known for the beautiful old buildings that line it. Many of them are listed though this particular example is not. I don’t know its history but I think it’s a pretty fine piece of work.

Feeling peckish, we went down to King’s Parade where, situated in an alley, is the entrance to the Rainbow Cafe, a vegetarian restaurant. It is very good and very well known, so you need to choose the time of your visit carefully in order to be sure of getting a table. The menu is imaginative with recipes from all over the world and continually changes. It’s hard to make up your mind but whatever you choose, you know it’s vegetarian or even vegan.

Silver jewellery!
Nomads
Silver jewellery!

Also in King’s Parade is a shop called Nomads. What’s particular about it? It sells a lot of different things but, in particular, silver jewellery! I am drawn to silver jewellery like a pin to a magnet (I am not called SilverTiger for nothing!) and so, of course, I had to go in a take a look. Almost the first thing I saw was a lion! Not a real lion, naturally, but a silver ring with a lion on it.

The Lion Ring
The Lion Ring

I tried it on and it fitted and that was that, really. I obviously had to buy it. Lions are not quite on the same level as tigers but they come close, along with leopards, panthers, cheetahs, jaguars and so on, not forgetting the domestic moggy. So now I have a tiger on one hand and a lion on the other.

The Corpus Clock
The Corpus Clock
and the Chronophage

You can’t go to Cambridge and not take a photo of the Corpus Clock. It is famous but also interesting. It is called the Corpus Clock because it belongs to Corpus Christi College and occupies a window in the college’s Taylor Library. It was unveiled in 2008 by an eminent person well known for his interest in time, Stephen Hawking. The feature that everyone’s notices (while trying to work out how to tell the time from the clock) is the creature that sits on top of it. Is this a grasshopper?  (That would be appropriate because the clock uses a grasshopper escapement.) Or is it a locust? (That would be appropriate too as the idea here is of a valuable resource, time, being eaten up.) Whatever inspired its design, the creature has been dubbed the Chronophage (meaning “time eater”). Acting as the escapement, it rocks and releases the cogs of the wheel one by one. This is Cambridge, so of course, there has to be a religious motto in Latin: mundus transit et concupiscentia eius (“the world passeth away, and the lust thereof”,  1 John 2:17, Vulgate version).

Relief, Corn Exchange
Relief, Corn Exchange
Reliefs, Corn Exchange

Cambridge already had a Corn Exchange when in 1868 a new one was built. I don’t know whether corn was ever traded here but assume that other business was also transacted. These days, the old Corn Exchange is a concert venue and sometimes used, I believe, to hold university examinations. Two reliefs on the outside certainly fit the putative theme of the building, showing the cultivating and harvesting of corn.

Talos
Talos
Michael Ayrton
Click for slideshow

There is plenty of sculpture in Cambridge, of course, much of it ancient. There are also some modern pieces, such as this one by Michael Ayrton and called Talos. The description reads

Legendary man of bronze
was guardian of Minoan Crete
the first civilization
of Europe

If you click on the image you will see views from 7 different angles.

Cambridge Market
Cambridge Market
I bought a new handbag

Cambridge of course has a market, which has been going since the Middle Ages. Nor does it run on only one day a week but every day from Monday to Saturday. It sells a wide range of goods and I was here tempted into my second purchase of the day, a new handbag. (Click to see a wide angle version of the picture.)

Memorial to the South African War Memorial to the South African War
Two figures
Memorial to the South African War

Near the market is a memorial to the South African War, 1899-1902, and the men of Cambridgeshire who fought and died as members of the Suffolk Regiment.

Between the Lines
Between the Lines
Peter Randall-Page, 2007
Click for slideshow

On a happier note, we discovered a sculpture in Fisher Square. This somewhat abstract design has been carved on a glacial boulder formed of granite. It is entitled Between the Lines and the sculptor was Peter Randall-Page. Click on the image to see a slideshow of the sculpture from 4 angles. I managed only four because photography was rendered difficult, as it often is in public, by people using the topology of the setting to practice their skateboarding techniques. Pictures had to be taken as skaters shot out of frame and before they came back in. A bit like nature photography but in reverse, I suppose.

Like all ancient cities, Cambridge presents a complex picture to the visitor and does not reveal its secrets at the first glance. Every time we go there, we discover new things and new aspects of familiar things.

Copyright © 2014 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Out and About | 2 Comments

“Where time is pleasant”

Saturday, September 13th 2014

In Christchurch, Dorset, “time is pleasant”, according to the town’s official slogan. One could of course quarrel with the semantics of that proposition which clearly does not make sense. (Time, the concept by which we order events from past to future, is clearly neither pleasant nor unpleasant, anymore than it is blue or green, smooth or lumpy.) Presumably what is meant is that, for those living in Christchurch, time passes pleasantly or is spent in pleasurable pursuits. What about visitors to the town, specifically those of us coming just for a day: will we find that “time is pleasant” in Christchurch?

Christchurch Station
Christchurch Station

We arrived at Christchurch’s Victorian (1880s) railway station on a South West Trains “service” from Waterloo. (Have you noticed that railway companies no longer call their vehicles “trains”, preferring to refer to them as “services”?) Christchurch, incidentally, used to be in Hampshire but in 1974 was assigned to Dorset. The town was founded in the 7th century on a prime site between the rivers Stour and Avon and became one of Anglo-Saxon England’s more important harbours. Because of its location, it was named Tweoxneam, meaning “between rivers”, and this eventually became Twynham. It was known as Twynham until the building of Christchurch Priory in 1094, whose name it then took.

Memorial drinking fountain and trough Memorial drinking fountain and trough
Memorial drinking fountain and trough
In honour of Samuel Bemister

We walked into town from the station, as usual photographing anything that caught our interested attention. One such object was this rather unusual drinking fountain and cattle trough. It was erected, probably in 1900, in memory of Samuel Bemister (1818-1900), a native of the town and its mayor on no less than 7 occasions, according to the dedication. This man’s life covered virtually the whole of the Victorian era and a good few years before that. What remarkable changes he must have seen in the country as a whole and in the lives of his fellow citizens of Christchurch!

The monument, which is Grade II listed, strikes me as unusual in a couple of ways. Firstly, it combines the function of a drinking fountain and trough with that of a street lamp, something that is fairly rare, though I have seen other examples. These days, we take street lighting in towns for granted but perhaps in 1900, the streets of Christchurch were lit badly or not  at all, in which case the lamp would be as welcome a feature as the supply of clean drinking water. Secondly, fountains raised as memorials to dead individuals are usually just drinking fountains for human use (albeit with ground-level bowls for dogs) and ones that combine human use with a cattle or horse trough are, I think, relatively rare.

The Old Town Hall
The Old Town Hall
Built 1746. rebuilt 1860

We walked down the High Street and encountered the Old Town Hall. This compact and, I think, pretty building has arcades on the ground floor, no doubt to provide shelter for market stalls. The blue plaque affixed to the corner of the building informs us that this town hall was first built in 1746 and was then rebuilt in 1860, though no reason is given for this. Did it fall into disuse or did it need to be enlarged? The plaque is silent on these matters but tells us that the project was funded “by public subscription generously supported by the Borough’s MP, Admiral John Edward Walcott of Winkton Lodge”. Nice to hear of a politician actually giving something to the community he supposedly serves.

Celtic Cross
Celtic Cross
Saxon Square

Behind the Old Town Hall is a large square whose other three sides are lined with shops and cafes. This presented quite a lively scene. At the opposite end from the Old Town Hall a Celtic cross stands on a plinth of three steps. It seems not to be very old but there was no clue as to its origins or, indeed, why it should be there at all. Today, curiously, it was flanked by two road cones.

The name of this public space is Saxon Square and, given its its location behind the arcaded Town Hall, I was tempted to speculate that this was once the market square, though I have no evidence for this. Markets have been held in Christchurch since the 12th century and are still held today. They take place on Mondays and stalls are located both in the High Street and in Saxon Square. Another virtue of the square is that it is home to a branch of Costa Coffee where we took refreshment and tarried a while!

Christchurch Christian Centre Christchurch Christian Centre
Christchurch Christian Centre
Built as a Congregational Church 1867

We turned down Millhams Street where this striking and, I think, quite handsome, tower dominates the view. It belongs to a building that today declares itself to be the Christchurch Christian Centre (Elim Pentecostal) but was original built between 1866 and 1867 as a Congregational Church. This Gothic structure with Romanesque detail (I’m cribbing that from English Heritage) has been given a Grade II listing.

Sunday Schools
Sunday Schools

An interesting and perhaps unusual feature is the two-story wing that projects out vertically from the main axis of the church. It looks rather like a school, doesn’t it? Well, that’s what it was, but not an ordinary school for standard education, rather a Sunday School. The founders obviously took such things seriously, presumably on the principle of “Get ‘em young and you’ve got ‘em for life”.

A quieter corner
A quieter corner

We continued around this quieter part of town, where it was easy to imagine how life might have been in earlier times, and eventually came to the picturesquely named Ducking Stool Lane.

Not the real ducking stool
Not the real ducking stool
Just a modern imitation

I am quite prepared to believe that there was once a facility here with which the good (male) citizens of Christchurch dunked women accused of being scolds and troublemakers in the conveniently situated millstream. This narrow waterway branches off the Avon, runs parallel to it for half a mile or so, and then debouches into the Stour, having visited the mill on the way. Documentary evidence suggests that a ducking stool was in use here from the mid-14th century (assuming that the words schulffyngstol and shylvyngstole do indeed mean what we understand by that term), though when the practice came to an end, I do not know. Any original “stol” or “stole” is long gone and in its place is a modern replacement. This would not work as the pivot is too ridiculously close to the chair which in consequence could never reach the water. I imagine the stream was deeper and faster in its heyday but now it is shallow and slow. A scold today would hardly get more than her socks wet.

Norman House
Norman House
Part of the castle complex

We continued down Millhams Street to Castle Street which, as its name suggests leads to the castle. This was built by the Normans and relatively little of it remains. At street level, where the castle courtyard would have been is now a grassy area with a bowling green. At one end is the ruin of a Norman house.

Now a hollow shell
Now a hollow shell

It is now a hollow shell but is a palpable reminder of the Norman Conquest and its consequences for England.

The Avon
The Avon
Busy with pleasure craft

Beside the castle runs the main branch of the Avon. The river would once have carried trading vessels to the harbour but today it is busy with pleasure craft.

Birds on the green Black Headed Gull
Birds on the green
A bold black headed gull

We crossed the green where many birds of various species were watching passers-by with interest. I can only imagine that people often feed them here. One black headed gull was particularly bold in approaching us.

The castle keep
The castle keep
Standing on the motte

Passing through a row of trees we came to the base of the motte, or castle mound. In many castle ruins, the motte has become eroded but this one, with remains of the castle keep is still solid and high. It is a clear reminder of how the Normans could mobilise a large workforce for their projects.

The gate to the tower
The gate to the tower

Climbing up to motte (there are now steps cut in it to help you), you arrive at what is left of the most strongly defended part of the castle, the tower or keep. It was surrounded by its own moat, now long dry.

Inside the keep
Inside the keep

Standing here, we would once have been inside the rectangular building that sat atop the motte but all that is left today are two pieces of wall.

The first version of the castle, with a wooden tower, was in existence by 1107 and it may have been built by one Richard de Revières to whom Henry, son of William the Conqueror, awarded the manor of Christchurch and surrounding lands. Later, the castle was improved with a stone tower (was this just for defensive purposes or also as an ostentatious show of power and wealth?) and the family held the property for nearly 200 years.

The entrance arch
The entrance arch
Still impressive

In a turn of events that the Norman builders could not have foreseen, the castle was to play a part in the English Civil Way. In 1645, the Parliamentarians took Christchurch which was then a Royalist town. When the Royalists counterattacked, the Parliamentarians retreated to the castle and this proved still to be too strong to capture and Christchurch remained in Parliamentarian hands until the end of the war.

Mrs Perkins' Mausoleum
Mrs Perkins’ Mausoleum
Fear of being buried alive

In the Priory Gardens near the castle is to be found this unusual structure. Though it vaguely resembles the façade of a house it is clearly not a house. If you think there is a funereal feel to it, you would be right. But what is it? Nearby is an explanatory information board and I think I can do no better than quote it verbatim:

According to “The Smugglers of Christchurch” by E.R. Oakley, this structure was a mausoleum of a certain Mrs Perkins who died in 1783. This lady had a horror of being buried alive and requested that her body should not be interred, but that a fabric should be erected to receive it near the entrance to the free school then in St Michael’s loft of the priory, so that the boys should hear if she revived. She also requested that the lid of the coffin should not be screwed down and the lock of the mausoleum constructed so as to enable her to open it in the spring. These wishes were carried out, but when her husband died in 1803 her body was removed, the structure sold and re-erected on this present site.

English Heritage remains silent on the object’s possible back-story, simply describing it as “Wall, said to be part of a former mausoleum, moved from churchyard and re-erected here circa 1803, C18 Gothic”, awarding it a Grade II listing.

Covered path
Covered path

We walked through this pleasant covered path and…

Christchurch Priory
Christchurch Priory

…passed by the end of Christchurch Priory, soon entering another part of the gardens where we found a sculpture. By Jonathan Sells, it provides a humorous take on the history of the Priory.

Sculpture illustrating the history of the Priory
Sculpture illustrating the history of the Priory
Jonathan Sells (1994)
Click to see the slideshow

I have arranged 5 photos of it as a slide show. For details of what is shown on each face, see here.

Place Mill
Place Mill
Mentioned in Domesday Book and active until 1908

Continuing southwards along the millstream, we came at last to Place Mill, once owned and used by the Priory for grinding corn and fulling cloth. There is no doubt that it is very ancient, being mentioned in Domesday Book (1086). It continued in use until 1908 and seems now to be an art studio and shop.

Christchurch Quay
Christchurch Quay
On the Stour

From the mill we walked down to Christchurch Quay, an inlet off the River Stour. It was crowded with boats of various kinds and crowded also with water fowl.

A gathering of water fowl
A gathering of water fowl
Where birds and people interact

Being the largest, the swans were the most noticeable inhabitants of the quay but there were also geese, ducks, gulls and pigeons. There were flurries of activity as people fed the birds.

Swan
Swan
Big, powerful and bold

The swans, more powerful than the other species and bolder, were prepared to take food from the hand, though they snatched roughly as if to assert their independence.

The Bandstand
The Bandstand
Inaugurated 1938 in celebration of the coronation

Beside the Quay, in an open space known as Quomps Recreation Ground, is a rather pretty Victorian bandstand. A proposal to install a bandstand was first mooted in 1937 but fell through, apparently as a result of local apathy. The following year, however, a a gift of money was received from a mystery donor (later identified as David Llewellyn, Chairman of the Town Band and General Manager of the Hants Water Company) in celebration of the coronation of George VI, and the bandstand was formally inaugurated in June 1938. I do not know where the bandstand came from originally but English Heritage, which gives it a Grade II listing, dates it to the late 19th century. Presumably, it had previously been erected somewhere else.

Christchurch Priory
Christchurch Priory
With a wedding in progress

We took a final look at the Priory, where a wedding was in progress, before turning for the station.

A view from the bridge
A view from the bridge
Christchurch Station

So, did we find that “time is pleasant” in Christchurch? For my money, time is no different here from what it is anywhere else. The town is pleasant enough without being noticeably different from many another southern English town. We did find one or two features worth special attention such as the castle and the Quay and perhaps there are others that we missed. Will we come back? Maybe…

Town clock
Town clock
“Where time is pleasant”

Copyright © 2014 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Out and About | Tagged , | 2 Comments

The park that was paradise

Thursday, September 11th 2014

Stoke Newington, in the borough of Hackney, was founded by the Anglo-Saxons who built it on a ridge beside Ermine Street, the Roman road leading from London to Leeds. The first mention of this place dates to Norman times, 1086, when its name appears as ‘Neutone’. According to scholars, this name means something like “new town in the wood”. I am not sure when “Stoke” was added to the name or why but it is a frequent element in names of Anglo-Saxon origin.

Jonathan Hoare's Paradise House
Jonathan Hoare’s Paradise House
Today known as Clissold House

Spin the clock forwards to the late 18th century and we find a Quaker city merchant, philanthropist, anti-slavery campaigner and general good egg, called Jonathan Hoare, building a house here on a pleasant parcel of land. The house was built on a rise and through the property ran a section of Sir Hugh Myddelton’s New River, adding amenity to the site. Jonathan Hoare was obviously happy with his acquisition as he called it Paradise House.

The rear of Clissold House
The rear of Clissold House
An extra storey

The position of the house on a slope means that while it has two storeys in the front, it has three storeys at the back. Perhaps this trick allowed the addition of a servants’ wing that was not visible from the front where the gentry would arrive.

In the 19th century, the estate passed into the possession of Augustus Clissold, hence its modern name. Augustus shuffled off his mortal coil in 1882 and then, as now, developers began circling like vultures. Then appeared our two heroes, members of the Metropolitan Board of Works, called John Runtz and Joseph Beck. They persuaded the authorities to maintain the estate as a public amenity and, as a result of their efforts, Clissold Park opened in 1890.

Yeates-Crawshay Fountain Yeates-Crawshay Fountain
Yeates-Crawshay Drinking Fountain
In memoriam of three sisters

Attached to the wall of the house is a Victorian drinking fountain. It was erected in 1893 by Rose Mary Crawshay in memory of her three sisters who apparently all died in 1834 aged 1, 3 and 4 years, respectively. The fact that they all died together and that a drinking fountain (a source of clean water) was chosen as their memorial suggests that they all perished in the typhoid epidemic of 1834. Rose Mary (1828-1907), who would have been 6 years old when her sisters died, went on to marry a rich industrialist, Robert Thompson Crawshay, in 1846. This enabled her to perform works of charity and to establish the Byron, Shelley, Keats in Memoriam Prize Fund, a unique award for female literary scholars. Who or what is the figure whose face surrounds the spout? He looks like a clown or jester but the hanging globes, reminiscent of fruits, suggest he may be the Green Man or some other symbol of spring and rebirth.

St Mary's Church
Mary’s Church

Pictures of the park and Clissold House tend to include the spire of St Mary’s Church which stands nearby. This, in fact, is St Mary’s New Church, built in the 1850s as a replacement for the 16th-century Old Church which was by now too small in view of Stoke Newington’s increasing population. The Old Church, however, still remains and is used for various activities. Both churches are Grade II* listed.

The New River
The New River

As mentioned above, the New River runs through the park though all that is now visible is an L-shaped section. Once a vital part of London’s water supply, Hugh Myddelton’s brainchild is largely covered over but parts of it remain visible, as here, to provide a welcome decorative element in the environment. If people appreciate it, so do water fowl. We spotted coots, ducks and the now inevitable Canada Geese (Branta Canadensis). These rather handsome birds have settled here and given up the migratory life for a mess of potage. Well, not potage as such, but the good grazing and the handouts of human food so readily available in public parks and gardens.

A pair of Canada Geese
A pair of Canada Geese

Regarded as a pest by some, because of the mess and the noise they make (the unmistakeable honking of an excited flock of Canada Geese is hard to miss), these birds possess a quiet dignity, whether floating on the water or waddling across the grass. As you approach, they stand and eye you speculatively. Well, you might just have a biscuit or a sandwich to share…

Menagerie goat
Menagerie goat

The park has a small menagerie and the above goat, one of a pair, is an inmate. There is also an aviary containing a selection of exotic birds. Though I don’t approve of keeping birds in cages, I have to admit that they are entertaining to watch. The birds are protected by layers of stout netting and, while this is a sensible precaution, it makes photography next to impossible.

Fallow deer
Fallow deer

The menagerie has a small herd of fallow deer. They live in a large enclosure with plenty of cover and we had begun to doubt whether there were in fact any deer. But suddenly, there they were, comfortably ensconced in a grassy clearing. We immediately had 5 pairs of eyes and 5 pairs of ears focussed on us.

Dragonfly
Dragonfly

Not contained by any cage but flying free, this dragonfly came to rest on a handrail and I managed to snap it before it took fright and flew away.

Near the Robinson Crusoe Gate (Stoke Newington was known for the number of Dissenters among its inhabitants and Daniel Defoe lived here for some time) stands another memorial drinking fountain in the centre of a well kept garden.

Memorial drinking fountain Memorial drinking fountain
Memorial drinking fountain
In honour of Joseph Beck and John Runtz

The fountain was installed in honour of our two above mentioned heroes who rescued the estate from the developers. An inscription reads as follows:

THIS
FOUNTAIN
WAS ERECTED
BY SUBSCRIPTION
A.D. 1890
IN GRATEFUL RECOGNITION
OF THE UNTIRING EFFORTS OF
JOSEPH BECK
AND
JOHN RUNTZ
AS LEADERS OF THE MOVEMENT
BY WHICH THE USE OF THIS PARK
WAS SECURED TO THE PUBLIC FOR EVER

You might reasonably expect that a drinking fountain 124 years old, and one installed less out of necessity than as a memorial, would no longer function. Happily, you would be wrong. The park, the house and the fountain were refurbished this year in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the opening of the park.

The fountain is in working order
The fountain is in working order

Pressing the buttons on the spouts soon revealed that the water was flowing as freely as ever. Even the dog bowls were kept topped up from the upper basins.

Topping up the dog bowls
Topping up the dog bowls

A no doubt practical though somewhat quirky principle is at work here. When you run water for drinking, some naturally escapes into the bowl beneath the spout and runs away through a hole. The evacuation hole of each upper bowl is connected to the dog bowl on exactly the opposite side of the fountain. The run-off then enters the dog bowl and tops it up. There must be an interesting criss-crossing of pipes inside the fountain.

I like to think that our two heroes would be both amused and touched that the fountain raised in their honour still functions as a reminder of their noble efforts to keep the park free for public use.

A last look across Clissold Park toward St Mary's New Church
A last look across Clissold Park toward St Mary’s New Church

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