Font by James Redfern, 1871. White marble. The font is in the baptistery in the south west corner of Inverness Cathedral. Modelled after one in the Church of Our Lady, Copenhagen, by the famous Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844), this font is in the form of a half-kneeling angel steadying a large shell-shaped baptismal bowl on the other knee. Although the design of the font derives from an earlier model, the face is Redfern's own likeness of Charlotte Learmonth, wife of the donor, Alexander Learmonth, a wealthy landowner from Dean, now a part of Edinburgh. The couple had married in 1859, and went on to have seven children. Alexander Learmonth later became a Colonel in the 17th Lancers, and died in 1887, leaving Charlotte a widow, so this is not a memorial to her in the usual sense, but an elegant and reverential tribute to the living woman.

Thorvaldsen's design was such a popular one that it is found in other churches too (like St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh, where the font was replicated by John Rhind) and is even now used for garden sculpture. However, here there is a touch of originality because of the Learmonth connection.

Photographs, caption and commentary by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. Click on the image to see the setting, and on the second one to enlarge it.]


Gifford, John. Highland and Islands. The Buildings of Scotland. London: Penguin, 1992.

"Charlotte Learmonth." Mapping Memorials to Women in Scotland. Web. 20 December 2017.

"A Tour of the Cathedral." United Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness. Web. 20 December 2017.

Created 20 December 2017