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Cabbie’s Curios: A Victorian Thirst Quencher

If you ever find yourself feeling thirsty within London’s historic square mile then head for St Paul’s churchyard where, standing opposite the southern side of the magnificent cathedral, you’ll find this equally monumental structure:

St Lawrence Jewry Fountain

This is the St Lawrence Jewry Memorial Fountain which dates back to 1866. It has not always been at this site- its first home was a short distance away in the courtyard of St Lawrence Jewry church, Guildhall.

The fountain at its original location in the Guildhall courtyard.

The fountain at its original location in the Guildhall courtyard.

The original St Lawrence Jewry church was one of many destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666.

It was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren and the fountain was installed 200 years later by the Victorians as a way of marking the bicentenary.

Close ups of the fountain's religious detailing.

Close ups of the fountain’s religious detailing.

On the night of December 29th 1940 the church suffered appalling damage during what would turn out to be the heaviest night of the blitz.

The ruins of St Lawrence Jewry following the devastating December 1940 raid.

The ruins of St Lawrence Jewry following the devastating December 1940 raid.

Amazingly the fountain survived, standing proud in the midst of the bombsite and holding the fort until the 1950s when St Lawrence Jewry was skilfully restored to Wren’s original design.

St Lawrence Jewry church today.... fully restored (image: Wikipedia).

St Lawrence Jewry church today…. now thankfully fully restored (image: Wikipedia).

In the 1970s the Guildhall underwent extensive redevelopment which required the fountain to be dismantled.

Divided into 150 pieces, the Victorian masterpiece was reduced to a complex jigsaw, stashed away on pallets and stored at a barn in Epping where it would remain hidden for four decades.

The Guildhall Fountain in its original Victorian form.... (image: London Illustrated News).

The Guildhall Fountain in its original Victorian form…. (image: London Illustrated News).

The fountain finally returned to the streets of London in 2010 when it was lovingly pieced back together and installed at its new home opposite St Paul’s Cathedral; that other great survivor of the December 29th air-raid.

The iconic image of St Paul's Cathedral, photographed on the night of December 29th 1940.

The iconic image of St Paul’s Cathedral, photographed on the night of December 29th 1940.

Two survivors together... St Paul's Cathedral & the St Lawrence Jewry Fountain.

Two survivors together… St Paul’s Cathedral & the St Lawrence Jewry Fountain.

If you fancy a sip from the fountain, the pipe can be found around the back; on the south side which faces towards Distaff Lane and the Millennium Bridge. 

A cyclist fills up from the Victorian fountain- the pipe is ideal for topping up water bottles.

A cyclist fills up from the Victorian fountain- the pipe is ideal for topping up water bottles.

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3 responses

  1. You mean it actually works?

    That is one of the saddest things about London – all over, there are monumental drinking fountains, praising the people who strove to bring clean drinking water to Londoners, which are no longer functional. We all have to spend our cash on plastic bottled stuff instead.

    1. Yep, it works 🙂 The pipe was originally on the main front piece; the one around the back is a brand, spanking new one- all clean and ready to go!

  2. Plus – wow. it survived four decades in pieces!

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