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All's well that ends well

I recently took a photo of a drinking fountain just across the road from St Paul's Cathedral. I was struck with the slight similarity in the two objects and thought it would make a great picture to make the fountain look bigger than the cathedral.

As I walked around the fountain looking for the best view, I mused about Victorian folk possibly on their way to a service at the cathedral stopping for a quick slurp at the fountain. Wrong!

Having taken the photo I moved on, but when I came to publish it I needed a name, so googled Drinking fountain opposite St Paul's. Up came the correct image, but not the name I was expecting, St Lawrence Jewry Memorial Fountain.

St Lawrence Jewry is a church that sits opposite the Guildhall and takes it name from one of the streets opposite, Old Jewry. It is about three quarters of a mile away from St Pauls, so why is there a memorial fountain right opposite the cathedral? There was obviously some digging to be done.

The St Lawrence Jewry fountain was situated just off the Guildhall Yard, and sat between the surrounding buildings of the Church of St Lawrence Jewry to the south, and the City Courts of Justice, immediately north.

Today Guildhall Yard is a very light open space, as shown in this photo taken from the church tower, but back in the time of the fountain's installation in May1866 it was a very cramped space, born out by this picture taken in 1911.

Viewing it today, you'd take one look and say "Victorian" without hesitation and

obviously you'd be right. However, at it's unveiling there was a certain shock of the new about it as this style of design had been little seen up until then. The fountain fell under the auspices of the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association an august body, but not at the forefront of avantgarde design. The change in artistic direction could possibly be due that the £500 cost for the fountain was raised by the parish, not the Association, and it was the parish that decided on the design.

Right from it's unveiling it collected praise and critisism in equal measure, but the plaudits on the architectural side soon won out and the style began to be copied on other similar monuments. However the grumbles about the placement of the fountain and how it restricted an already cramped space continued with calls that, "Something should be done about it" appearing regularly in the press, which from time to time prompted a committee to sit and discuss the area of Guildhall Yard as a whole with the usual outcome; nothing.

These committee's continued to kick the can down the road until action was taken for them in the shape of the German Luftwaffe. While the church was badly damaged, and the Guildhall roof was lost, the fountain wasn’t touched. Post-war rebuilding progressed slowly, with the fountain eventually being dismantled in 1970 and put into storage. And there it sat crated up and possibly forgotten for the next thirty years.

The current site was earmarked for the fountain around 2000, but work didn't commence on uncrating all the bits for inspection until 2009. Once it was evaluated, restoration and preservation started and new pieces had to be created before it was reassembled on the site and it was finally unveiled in 2010.

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