The Victoria or Burdett-Coutts Memorial Drinking-Fountain
H. A. Darbishire
Tower Hamlets, East London
This pink marble, granite and stone drinking-fountain, with its distinctive cupola, ornamental slate roof, four clock-faces, Gothic arches, sculpted cherubs and inscriptions, was the gift of the wealthy philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts to the people who visited Victoria Park in the East End of London. The architect who designed it for her, H. A. Darbishire, was also the architect for the buildings of the charitable Peabody Trust. It is said to have cost £6000, a fortune in those days. No doubt this Victorian extravaganza ("For the love of God and Country") gave pleasure as well as clean drinking water to the poor East Enders enjoying the park, and perhaps also edification: it reminded them, for example, that "The earth is the Lord's and all that thereon is." It is astonishing to come upon now; but could the money have been better spent? Sadly, it has had to be fenced off, presumably to deter vandals.
Compare the drinking fountain to the memorial sundial in St. Pancras Gardens, by George Highton, also donated by Burdett-Coutts.