East Hill Fountain

Location: Colchester, Essex, England

On the East Hill leading to St James the Great churchyard is an 18th century red brick wall with stone rustications attributed to 18th century Colchester architect James Deane. It was recorded on the Register of Listed Buildings on 2 December 1971.

A blind stone arch highlights a drinking fountain set into the wall. With Joy Shall Ye Draw Water is engraved on the arch reflecting a biblical passage from Isaah 12:3, Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. It was dedicated in 1864, and an inscription is clearly outlined on the stone ledge: Erected by M.R. 1864 / In Memoriam.

Set into the wall, the neglected cast iron fountain has deteriorated leaving little evidence of its original design which is in the form of a stylized shield. At the top is a recessed arch, with gabled roof, which likely contained a decorative mascaron. The centre panel is flanked by scrolls. A spout extending from a palmette ushered water into a demilune basin. A single drinking cup was originally suspended on a chain.

Below the drinking fountain at street level is a stone step allowing children access. Offset on the left is a small recessed arch which housed a small trough for dogs.

It seems illogical to list the East wall as a historic building, and yet the drinking fountain is left to deteriorate.


  • Blind arch, an arch infilled with solid construction so it cannot function as a window, door, or passageway.
  • Demilune, half-moon or crescent shape
  • Gable, triangular portion of a wall between edges of a dual pitched roof
  • Mascaron, a decorative element in the form of a sculpted face or head of a human being or an animal
  • Palmette, a decorative motif resembling the fan shaped leaves of a palm tree
  • Rustication, the outside of a wall with large blocks of masonry that are left with a rough surface, beveled, and have deep joints between them

5 responses to “East Hill Fountain

  • Stuart Drabble

    Article in the Bury and Norwich Post of Tuesday 6th September 1864 states:

    Inauguration of a Drinking Fountain at Colchester – A drinking fountain presented to the town by T.J. Miller Esq., M.P. and erected in front of the new Cattle Market at Colchester, was publicly opened on Saturday forenoon. The fountain is a handsome structure, the chief materials being Portland stone and white brick, with a base of Haytor granite, and pilasters of polished Peterhead granite. The centre slab and basin are of Serpentine marble, prepared by the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain Company, with a shell of white porcelain, from which the water flows. Below is a stone basin, intended as a drinking place for dogs; and the overflow will be used for cattle in the market itself. It is to be surmounted by two lamps of appropriate design.

    Does anyone have a photo?

  • Robert Mercer

    Once new ownership of East Hill House is resolved we are hopeful of restoration of the above water fountain. However we are keen to try and identify the original pattern of the missing bowl and would be grateful for any assistance.

    • HIS

      I have been unable to find the manufacturer or designer of this fountain. However most of my research is done online, and a search in the Colchester library archive or newspaper archives may reveal information. It is distinctive in that it has a cornice beneath the arch.
      Please let me know if you should discover anything new. Thanks

      • Robert Mercer

        I have now found a photo from 1950 of the fountain in the Essex Record Office which does give us some help. It shows a half round stone base with a full width fluted iron basin . I cannot upload the photo to this page but will add it to flickr in due course along with a photo of the Cattle Market water fountain as it is today.

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