"Rebecca's Fountain Celebrates her 150th Birthday This Month" -- Bath Abbey, Bath, Somerset, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 51° 22.891 W 002° 21.537
30U E 544612 N 5692447
Quick Description: A local news article tells about a historic Temperance Movement Fountain next to Bath Abbey known as "The Rebecca Fountain"
Location: South West England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 10/19/2016 11:25:39 AM
Waymark Code: WMT9FN
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member veritas vita
Views: 2

Long Description:
An elegant marble fountain stands on a pedestal engraved with the words "Water Is Best." The fountain is located on the south side of Bath Abbey, and at the time, faced a row of pubs.

From the Bath Chronicle: (visit link)

Rebecca's fountain celebrates her 150th birthday this month
By Bath Chronicle | Posted: June 16, 2011

Bath is admired worldwide for its cultural heritage and historical interest which is why the landmark 150th birthday of one of the city's few stand-alone pieces of sculpture is particularly important. Last week Rebecca and her fountain to be found outside Bath Abbey quiety notched up a century and a half in the centre of Bath.

Sadly, they have not all been very happy years.

Erected by the Bath Temperance Association in 1861, and presented to the then mayor, T Jolly and the Corporation of Bath, the fountain stands as a stark reminder of local craftsmanship and community pride, with JH Cotterell, the president of the association expressing his hope that the fountain would be 'a permanent memorial of the labours of some good men'.

It is interesting to consider just how far this statue has come since its creation as a source of drinking water and an indirect means of promoting morality and religion in the community.

This is especially so when considering that the local committee had to contend with the very real possibility of local opposition.

Local historian Philip Bendall in his recent research reveals how the general opinion of the time was that the Bathonians were 'Goths' and would not respect a figure of this kind.

This created an air of uncertainty about whether the fountain would be well received and there was much deliberation before it was decided that the committee had faith in its fellow-citizens, and so the fountain was left to the good feeling of the inhabitants, in the hope that they would seek to preserve it.

The fountain itself still supports the life-sized female figure, adorned in Eastern costume, as it did at its inauguration, and this skilfully chiselled monument, from white Sicilian marble is still considered as a testament to Bath history.

With the use of sturdy materials, the committee believed that the statue would still be in as good a condition in 200 years' time. We can't predict how the statue will fair in the next 50 years but if the last 150 are anything to go by then Rebecca is in for another bumpy ride.

The association paid for the fountain to be cleaned and restored in 1953 to mark the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, but in 1967 vandals daubed Rebecca with red paint (see photograph), which after hours of scrubbing only faded to a light pink.

Water stopped flowing from the fountain in the early 1980s due to disrepair and it wasn't until 1985 that the statue was removed from the fountain for restoration.

The female figure was given a much needed clean and the internal pipes were replaced so that water could once again flow from her pitcher, this came at a hefty cost of £4,000.

A year later and the local community were in uproar over the decision made by Wessex Water to turn off the water supply, after it was deemed 'a waste'.

It was not until 2003 that Wessex Water offered to pay for restoration and Rebecca was once again in working order.

Unfortunately this was to be short lived as 2004 brought with it a time of heartbreak. Just months after the restoration work was completed, the Rebecca fountain was vandalised, leaving the bowl smashed and debris scattered on the pavement. This was once again repaired by Bath and North East Somerset Council and since then the fountain has survived undamaged until the present day.

This elegant statue not only holds regional acclaim but to many locals represents a source of personal significance. Joyce Gilmour, from Bathwick felt compelled to share her own special recollection of the Rebecca Fountain with Chronicle readers.

She wrote: "I have a special, happy memory of the Rebecca's Fountain in 1947 during the spring of that year. My first date with my husband Sidney – or Gilly as I always called him – was the start of a happy relationship, culminating in our marriage at Bath Register Office in 1948.

"He had said to me over the phone: 'I will meet you at the little statue by the abbey.'

"I remember it being clean but I'm not sure if the water was running.

Whenever I pass the statue now, I remember that start of a very happy marriage, ending in 1972 with my husband's death.

"I recall that that first meeting was to go to a film at the Little Theatre. I think we went to see The Strange Case of Uncle Harry.

Ever since, I cannot pass the statue without the memory of that wonderful first meeting.

" So meeting at the little statue signifies to me the aura of romance and renews for me some very precious memories."

It is clear then that this is a monument to be celebrated and cherished and we can only hope as a community tha t the next 150 years are a lot kinder than the last.

Becky Holden"

More from the Bath Preservation Trust: (visit link)

"BPT STUDENT PARTNERSHIP SEES BATH’S REBECCA FOUNTAIN CONSERVED

The Bath Preservation Trust approached Architectural Stone Conservation students from City of Bath College and encouraged their successful submission of a conservation survey to Bath & North East Somerset Council, highlighting the work needed.
After four days of cleaning and conserving the 19th Century landmark, the students were greeted by community leaders who thanked them for their hard work.

The Rebecca Fountain was presented by the Bath Temperance Association to then mayor T Jolly and the Corporation of Bath to provide drinking water for the public and promote the non-consumption of alcoholic beverages. The 151-year-old marble drinking fountain, which sits on the north sideof Bath Abbey, was built by Rushton Walker and erected in 1861. The students said they hoped their conservation work would secure the fountain’s future for another 150 years.

The nine students used sponges and toothbrushes to scrub off the fountain’s moss, algae and staining, then repaired stonework, filled in cracks and re-pointed the steps.

She said: “The fountain is a central focal point that has been given the clean it deserves after years of needing it.

“The students have been fantastic, they’ve been working away in all weather, they’ve done a brilliant job.

“It looks really good on the widened pavement, against the back-drop of the Abbey; a real attraction for Bath.”

The conservation project was part funded by the World Heritage Enhancement Fund and included Bath artist Laurence Tindell sprucing up the bronze plaque."
Type of publication: Newspaper

When was the article reported?: 6/16/2011

Publication: Bath Chronicle

Article Url: [Web Link]

Is Registration Required?: no

How widespread was the article reported?: regional

News Category: Arts/Culture

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