Moses Fountain

Location: Hythe, Kent, England

The drinking fountain inset to a wall in Red Lion Square was donated in 1886 by Mayor Thomas Judge. It was originally installed next to the Town Hall on Stade Street in the wall of Dr. Fagge’s house which was later converted to a bank. When the bank was rebuilt in 1911 the fountain was relocated to Market Square (renamed Red Lion Square).

The fountain was cast by Coalbrookdale Company of Shropshire from a design by William and Thomas Wills of Suffolk. The brothers were noted sculptors in the mid 19th. century and best known for their designs of drinking fountains.

The cast iron frame is in the form of a stylized shield with curved and winged edges. The top part of the shield, in the form of an ogee arch, contains a sculpture of winged cherubs resting upon clouds. Beneath the cherub is a legend, He Opened The Rock And / The Waters Gushed Out / They Ran In The Dry Places / Like A River / Psalm CV 41.

A recessed round arch contains the drinking well and the name of the sculptors, Wills Brothers Sculpt London. Water was dispersed into the basin via a spigot concealed behind a clam shell decoration situated in the interior of the arch. The foundry’s name is engraved on the edge of the basin, Coalbrookdale Co. Beneath the well is an engraving, Presented / To The Borough Of Hythe / By / Thos Judge Esq / Mayor / 1885.6.

Each side of the arch is decorated with reeds and foliage. On the left side is a robed male figure with long beard standing contrapposto. In his left hand is a rod resting on the cusp of the arch. This is a depiction of Moses striking the rock to release gushing water. On the right of the drinking well is the robed figure of a woman offering a basin of water to a naked child.

A recessed trough at ground level offered overflow water to dogs and small animals.

In 1965 public awareness of water related diseases prompted the removal of the metal cup by the Health Department and the supply of water being withdrawn.

Glossary:

  • Contrapposto, stance where one leg bears the weight and the other leg is relaxed
  • Ogee arch, an arch with a concave apex

 

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