The Swan Fountain Avenue Gardens
The Swan fountain was first placed in Regent’s Park in 1863 in the Northern part of the Broadwalk but was moved to the Southern end to make way for the drinking fountain now known as the Readymoney fountain.
The Swan fountain was designed by R. Westmacott the younger and executed by his cousin, J.S. Westmacott, both members of a distinguished family of sculptors (eight in three generations).
It had a polished slate basin, a base and column of scotch granite, two swans of beaten copper and bronze and a ‘female water carrier’ on the top. Originally it was designed as a drinking fountain with two continuous jets of water through the swan beaks. However, the Metropolitan water board insisted on water economy and ‘concussive’ taps and jets were fitted and drinking cups on chains were provided.
By 1950 the slate basin had weathered badly and had been repaired several times also the London atmosphere had eaten through the beaten copper forming the swans, which was of a very thin gauge, and the metal had been patched several times. For the next ten years there were discussions with the Ministry of Works as to whether the fountain should be repaired, renewed, or demolished.
Subsequently it was decided to be too expensive to do anything other than take it down and it was decided to tender for buyers. In April 1961, the highest bidder was Lady Reading of Swanborough Manor. She erected it in the walled garden of the manor. Since her death in 1970 the house and grounds belong to the University of Sussex and used for conferences and social events. Unhappily in 1995 the swans, in a very friable state, were removed to a garage for safety; the whereabouts of the basin, column and statue are unknown.
A dolphin fountain, which was surplus to requirements at Hyde Park, was placed on the site but returned when the Avenue Gardens were restored to Nesfield’s design in the 1990s. A simple drinking fountain which had been in place nearby was taken away at the same time. A plaque set in a circle of stone was placed on this site to commemorates the restoration of Nesfield’s Avenue Gardens in the 1990s.
Boy with a Dolphin Avenue Gardens
In 1962 ‘ Boy with Dolphin’ was placed in the centre of the southern part of the Broadwalk in the Avenue Gardens. This replaced the Swan fountain which had been irreparably damaged by the London atmosphere over the years. The ‘Boy with Dolphin ‘ had been moved from Park Lane when it was widened in 1962 and was, then, surplus to requirements in Hyde Park. In 1994 when changes to the Avenue Gardens were planned, it was removed, restored and placed in the new Rose Garden near Grosvenor Gate in Hyde Park very close to its original position in Park Lane.
The fountain was designed in 1865 by Alexander Munro, 1825 – 1871, a British sculptor of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. His work has been described as ‘ … sketchy and wanting in strength, but full of refinement and true feeling’. Originally it was a drinking fountain but was altered in 1900 to be purely ornamental.
Drinking Fountain Top of Broadwalk (no photograph)
A drinking fountain as presented by Baroness Burdett-Coutts in 1871 and placed near the old main entrance to London Zoo and much appreciated by visitors. The sculpture on top of the basin of the fountain was of four female figures; designed by H. Darbishire. It was removed in 1926 and broken up and much lamented subsequently. Henry Astley Darbishire 1825 – 1899 was a British architect best known for working on philanthropic schemes, including Angela Burdett-Coutts.
Bronze reliefs Bridge by Gloucester Gate
Two bronze reliefs laid into terra cotta were placed on each side of the bridge across the canal near Gloucester Gate leading into the Park in 1878 to commemorate its opening. They were given by G. Albert Nodes, a local undertaker; the sculptor was Ceccardo Egidio Fucigna, a Sculptor of Italian origin who worked in London.
On the south east wing of the bridge the plaque depicted 3rd century Pope Marcellinus blessing St. Pancras; on the north east side the ‘Martyrdom of St. Pancras’ was portrayed. The saint was killed for his faith age 14 in 304; the plaque shows him being attacked by a large dog with a long tail. The plaque of the pope and the saint disappeared many years ago, but the Martyrdom stayed until 2003 when it was stolen during the time that a fence had been erected to allow repairs after a car crashed into the bridge.
Also, on the sides of the bridge there were two groups of modern warriors and athletes and fish and flowers, maidens and medallions all made in terracotta, but they fell apart soon after the bridge was built.
St. John the Baptist statue St. John’s Lodge Gardens
The centrepiece of a circular fountain garden was a large statue of the Marquess of Bute’s patron saint, St John the Baptist, which stood in a circular pool.
The statue was cast in block tin by W Goscombe John (1860 – 1952), a Welsh sculptor. It was removed to Cardiff in 1916 by the Marquess of Bute when he left St. John’s Lodge and the Red Cross took over for the duration of the War.
It was replaced by Hylas and the Nymph, St John’s Lodge Garden1933, by Henry Pegram RA (1862-1937)
Pavlova Fountain Rose Garden Queen Mary’s Gardens (never installed)
A letter exists to the Park Superintendent from Sigismund Goetze, a Park benefactor, in which he writes about “… the proposal sanctioned for a ‘Pavlova Fountain’ by Carl Milles to be placed in the centre of the Great Rose Garden. This I assume is definitely abandoned”. Carl Milles 1875 – 1955 was a Swedish sculptor working in the first part of the 20th century, in Rodin’s studio in Paris and later in the USA where he was famous for his fountains. However, no reference can be found for a ‘Pavlova’ fountain designed by him. There are several public sculptures of the ballerina Anna Pavlova, notably one on the top of the Victoria Theatre in London.
Pomona and Flora Queen Mary’s Gardens (never installed)
Sigismund Goetze in another letter to the Park authorities wrote “I did not expect that the stone steps to take place in the path would cost so much as £200 and I fear we cannot contemplate so much expenditure, at the present time.” In a letter from one civil servant to another official declares “we have staved off on the somewhat disingenuous ploy of caution, the Pomona and Flora offered for each side of the steps leading to the Northern end of Queen Mary’s Gardens.” It is not known who the sculptor or for the proposed garden ornaments was.
Pomona is the goddess of fruit trees, gardens, and orchards; she watches over fruit trees and cares for their cultivation. Flora is the goddess of flowers and the season of Spring.
Sculpture Park Queen Mary’s Gardens (never installed)
Sigismund Goetze, described as a benefactor of the Park, wrote from Paris in the 1930s about his wish to ‘ear mark’ Queen Mary’s Gardens ‘for ideal sculpture’. He wrote: “Looking out of my window at this moment I see the Tuileries Gardens and in it a wealth of sculpture amid flowers and grass-plots and I wonder how it is that a city on the Seine can provide its citizens with such artistic abundance which they – young and old – evidently enjoy and another city, on the Thames, cannot – or will not – promote the art of sculpture in places where it can be appreciated. But I am afraid that my ‘Tale of Two Cities’ would need the power of a Charles Dickens to convince him.”