Blind Sam Fountain

Location: Holt, Norfolk, England

On the corner of Norwich Road and High Street (Obelisk plain) in Holt, stands a memorial fountain erected in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. The fountain was surmounted with a gas lamp which was frequently not in service due to a sporadic gas supply. The locals therefore nicknamed it, Blind Sam.

It was originally situated in Market Place and relocated in 1921 in deference to a WW1 War Memorial to be situated on the site.

Manufactured at the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow drinking fountain number 45 from Walter Macfarlane’s catalogue stands 15 feet high. A square pedestal with Egyptian patterned frieze designed by Alexander ‘Greek” Thomson, offered demi-lune basins on four sides with troughs for dogs at ground level. Spigots within the geometric pattern released water into the basins, and drinking cups on chains were suspended from projecting tendrils.

The griffin feet capitals support a four sided central stanchion heavily decorated with palmette and acanthus relief on three sides. The fourth side contains a plaque inscribed, The 1887 Queen Victoria Jubilee Column and Lamp, removed from Holt Market Place in 1920 to make way for the 1914/18 war memorial. The replica lantern and base by Tony Sizeland was commissioned by Holt History Group and Holt Town Council in 1992.

A fluted column with attic base arises from a highly decorated acroter. The structure is capped with a central lamp, a crown and finial. Roofed in with scales of opal glass the lantern cast the light downwards (design number 223). The lamp originally lit by gas is encircled by flowers and a crown containing Maltese crosses surmounted by a trio of spiked orbs.

The structure was listed a grade II historic building in 1983 and was restored in 1992 with funding from the Holt History Group and Holt Town Council.



  • Acanthus, one of the most common plant forms (deeply cut leaves) to make foliage ornament and decoration
  • Acroter, flat base
  • Attic base, a column base with two rings
  • Capital: The top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
  • Fluted, a long rounded groove decorating the shaft of a column
  • Griffin, winged lion denotes vigilance and strength, guards treasure and priceless possessions
  • Palmette, a decorative motif resembling the fan shaped leaves of a palm tree
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Spigot, a device that controls the flow of water (tap)
  • Stanchion, an upright bar or post providing support
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal



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