Anatomy of a Drinking Fountain

There were many types of drinking fountains. Small designs were inset into walls or were pedestal forms that I describe as fonts, which although elaborate in design, were merely a drinking spout with a basin. Larger column types were capped with statues, clocks or lamps. Canopied drinking fountains, the most popular option, were manufactured by many iron foundries and due to restoration efforts many still exist today.

The architectural structure of a canopied drinking fountain:

  • The base that the structure rests on is called a plinth. It may be a single or multiple plinth.
  • Cast iron columns support the structure. The circumference of the fountain designates the number of columns required.
  • The columns are connected by arches to support the domed roof. Interior column connectors are a form of Memento Mori.
  • Finials decorate the top of the columns.
  • The roof or canopy is usually a dome and may be solid or openwork.
  • Plaques/roundels/lunettes on each side of the dome offer a visual reference to the memorial.
  • A top finial decorates the domed roof.
  • At the base and in the centre of the structure is a wide brimmed basin that sits on top of a pedestal. Dogs drink from a small receptacle at the base of the pedestal.
  • The font contains a terminal often a statue of a bird or a boy/baby/cherub i.e. ‘Putto’ derived from the artists of the Italian Renaissance.
  • Fresh water is collected using a small cup chained to the basin.



2 responses to “Anatomy of a Drinking Fountain

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: