Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Fountain

Location: Fort Augustus, Inverness-shire, Scotland

The Victorian cast iron drinking fountain located at Victoria Gardens was originally located beside the Caledonian Canal at Fountain Cottage and relocated when Fountain Cottage was sold by the Caledonian Canal Company. It was erected to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee of 60 Years.

Drinking fountain number 8 from Walter Macfarlane & Co.’s catalogue was manufactured at the Saracen Foundry at Possilpark in Glasgow. The structure is 9 feet 6 inches high and consists of four columns, from the capitals of which consoles with griffin terminals unite with arches formed of decorated mouldings.

Rope moulded cartouches within each lunette host the left facing bust of Queen Victoria with an inscription using raised metal letters, Victoria Jubilee 1837-1897. The structure is surmounted by an open filigree dome, the standard finial was a crown with a pattée cross. However, the absence of the crown may indicate that the canopy supported a lamp (I have been unable to find an image of the structure in its original location.)

Under the canopy stands the font (design number 7), 5 feet 8 inches high. The terminal was a crane which is now missing. The basin (2 feet 6 inches in diameter) which has a scalloped edge and decorative relief is supported by a single decorative pedestal with four pilasters and four descending salamanders, a symbol of courage and bravery. A central urn with four consoles offered drinking cups suspended by chains. The fountain was operated by pressing a button.

Symbolism was popular in Victorian times. Griffins are symbolic of guardians of priceless possessions, salamanders display bravery and courage that cannot be extinguished by fire, and cranes are recognized as a symbol of vigilance.

 

Glossary

  • Capital: The top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Cartouche, a structure or figure, often in the shape of an oval shield or oblong scroll, used as an architectural or graphic ornament or to bear a design or inscription
  • Console: a decorative bracket support element
  • Filigree, fine ornamental work
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Fret, running or repeated ornament
  • Griffin, winged lion denotes vigilance and strength, guards treasure and priceless possessions
  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Pattée cross, a cross with arms that narrow at the centre and flare out at the perimeter
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Pilaster, a column form that is only ornamental and not supporting a structure
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal

 

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