Ewing Fountain

Location: Rothesay, Isle of Bute, Scotland

In 1862, Mrs. Catherine Ewing presented the city with an elaborate canopied drinking fountain which was erected in Guildford Square at the corner of Victoria Street. It was flanked on three sides by the Lorne Hotel, the Bute Arms Hotel and the Temperance Hotel.

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I have been unable to find little information on the drinking fountain; whether it was donated as a memorial, or when and why it was removed. My educated guess is that it was removed in the early to mid-1900s most likely due to public awareness of sanitation and possibly dismantled to use the cast iron in war armaments.

Looking to the west

Looking east

The drinking fountain was design number 20, an elaborate 18 feet by 4 feet fountain, sold by Walter Macfarlane & Co, and manufactured at the Saracen Foundry, Possilpark, Glasgow, Scotland. Seated on a two tiered octagonal plinth, the open filigree canopy was supported by eight columns with griffin terminals which were positioned over capitals with foliage frieze above square bases.

The highly decorated cusped arches were trimmed with rope mouldings. Cartouches contained within each lunette offered shields for memorial: swan, crane, and a dedication shield. On each side arch faceplates provided a flat surface for an inscription using raised metal letters; often the useful monition, Keep the pavement dry. Civic virtues such as temperance were often extolled in inscriptions on drinking fountains.

Doves and flowers offered decorative relief on the circular, ribbed dome. The internal capitals contained flowers and statues of owls on enlarged column heads. The structure was surmounted with a large lantern finial.

Under the canopy stood the font (design number 18.) A circular shaft, ornamented with water lilies, rested on a wide base with canted corners. Four lion jambs supported four highly decorated quatrefoil basins. Rising from the centre was a pyramid shaped stanchion decorated with swan and bird decoration. A kylix-shaped lamp terminal with four consoles offered drinking cups suspended by chains.

Symbolism was popular in Victorian times. Griffins are symbolic of guardians of priceless possessions; owls are symbolic of guardians of the afterlife, lions are symbolic of guardianship; and cranes are recognized as a symbol of vigilance.

Glossary

  • Canted corner, an angled surface which cuts of a corner
  • 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
  • Cusped Arch, the point of intersection of lobed or scalloped forms
  • 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 classical moulding just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Griffin, winged lion denotes vigilance and strength, guards treasure and priceless possessions
  • Jamb, a projecting vertical post containing sculpture
  • Kylix, a Grecian style drinking cup
  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests
  • Quatrefoil, a type of decorative framework consisting of a symmetrical shape which forms the overall outline of four partially-overlapping circles of the same diameter
  • Stanchion, upright bar or post providing support
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal

 

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