Jaffe Fountain

Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland

The drinking fountain was dedicated to Daniel Joseph Jaffe, a businessman, politician and philanthropist, and was erected in 1874 at Victoria Square. The commemoration panel is located on the interior of the canopy hood: Daniel Joseph Jaffe born Schwerin 1809 Died at Nice 1874/ A founder of Jaffe Brothers/ of Hamburg, Dundee, Belfast, Liepzig and Paris/ He fostered the linen trade of Ulster/ Until 1933 this memorial stood near the warehouse/ he erected in 1880 at 10 Donegall Square South. It was/ then moved to this site for the better service of the public.

The structure was manufactured by the Sun Foundry, Glasgow and is drinking fountain design number 2. In its original location, the fountain was seated on a deep plinth with several stairs leading to the interior and the font. One of the original features was a lamp at the apex of the dome. It is unknown when the lantern was removed or for what reason (possibly the advent of electric light), but it had already been replaced by a weather vane with compass points when the fountain was moved to the embankment near King’s Bridge, Botanic Gardens in 1933. While located at the Botanic Gardens, the structure fell into disrepair.

In 2007, the monument was in a fragile condition and was dismantled piece by piece and taken to Shropshire, England, to be fully restored. Extensive research and scientific analysis was carried out on various layers of paint in order to identify the original colours. The Fountain was returned to Victoria Square on 14 February 2008.

A manufacturer’s stamp at the base of one of the columns identifies Geo. Smith & Co. Sun Foundry Glasgow No 16 – 5. The stamp refers to Column design number 16 which was 5 inches in diameter.

Seated on a solid base with four steps from street level, the Jaffe Memorial Drinking Fountain consists of eight columns supporting a large solid domed canopy and finial. The open filigree frieze above the cornice is expanded to the interior of the dome, and leaves decorate the outer edge of the cornice. The cupola is trimmed with rope design and is surmounted with a five tiered finial consisting of four scrolls with leaves and suns/stars pointing in four compass directions. (The current finial bears no resemblance to the original lantern, and little resemblance to the weather vane which replaced it). The uppermost part of the finial appears to be in the shape of an arrow pointing to Heaven.

The wide based font, design number 13, was located on a raised and stepped platform. The central pedestal was supported by four columns stamped with a diamond pattern. Square capitals on each side of the dog toothed basin contain a seven pointed embellishment which may represent a star or the sun. This symbol also outlines the ribs on the domed roof. Four consoles with acanthus relief connect the central stanchion to the basin and originally supported drinking cups suspended on chains. Shell motif spouts released water flow. A multi-tiered circular column was surmounted by a studded orb terminal.


  • Acanthus, one of the most common plant forms (deeply cut leaves) to make foliage ornament and decoration
  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Consoles, a decorative bracket support element
  • Cornice, a molding or ornamentation that projects from the top of a building
  • Cupola, a small, domed structure on top of a roof.
  • Filigree, fine ornamental work
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Frieze, the horizontal part of a moulding just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests
  • Stanchion, upright bar or post providing support
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal

3 responses to “Jaffe Fountain

  • Andrew Molloy


    Thank you for the excellent and informative post.

    I am doing some research into a drinking fountain located in Belfast City Cemetery which is identical to the Jaffe memorial fountain, minus the canopy. It also bear’s the ‘Sun Foundry’ and ‘George Smith and Co.’ maker’s marks on it’s base. I am also looking at a larger ornamental fountain located within the cemetery, also made by the Sun Foundry. I was wondering if you would be able to point me in the direction of any references with regards to the foundry, particularly any old catalogues, etc, which detail the design numbers you mention throughout this post.

    Any help would be gratefully received.

    Andrew Molloy

  • HIS

    The drinking fountain you are referring to is Sun Foundry design #13. I can send you more detail and a drawing from the catalog. Please leave your email address.

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