After recently completing roof works and the renewal of below-ground drainage within the Great Cloister to Westminster Abbey; Chris Norman, Contracts Manager for Bakers of Danbury Ltd, was invited to attend a Dedication Ceremony during which the new Cloister Garth Fountain was dedicated to the famous 18th-century landscape gardener Lancelot “Capability” Brown.
Positioned in the centre of the Great Cloister to Westminster Abbey, the lead cistern fountain sits over an old monastic well in the garth. It is formed on York Stone paving provided by Bakers of Danbury’s sister company Collins and Curtis Masonry Ltd. The fountain was designed by Ptolemy Dean, the Abbey’s Surveyor of the Fabric with the assistance of TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh, who also attended the dedication and gave reflection.
The Closter Garth Fountain marks the tercentenary of the birth of landscape gardener Lancelot “Capability” Brown. Known as “England’s greatest gardener”, “Capability” Brown designed over 170 parks and gardens – for many of which water plays a big part in their design. He was nicknamed “Capability” because he used to tell his clients their property had “capability” for improvement. Some of his work can still be admired in Kew Gardens in South West London, Chatsworth House in Derby, Warwick Castle and Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. Later he was Master Gardener at Hampton Court Palace and Richmond.
The Ceremony took place following the Evensong taken by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall. A week later Alan Titchmarsh attended Westminster Abbey again, this time to meet the Queen during the formal opening of “The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries”, a new museum and gallery located in the Abbey's medieval Triforium.
70ft above the Abbey floor, the new gallery provides visitors with magnificent views down over the Great Cloister, Abbey buildings and the Palace of Westminster. From the gallery, Alan Titchmarsh showed Queen Elizabeth the new Cloister Garth Fountain.
The roof works carried out by Bakers which involved stripping the existing roof, recasting original lead and re-leading part of the South Triforium and part of the Main Cloister can also be viewed from The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries.
Around the sides of the cistern on several panels is a quote from Horace Walpole:
WITH ONE LOST PARADISE THE NAME
OF OUR FIRST ANCESTOR IS STAINED;
BROWN SHALL ENJOY UNSULLIED FAME
FOR SO MANY A PARADISE REGAINED.
With the inscription:
1716 1783 LANCELOT CAPABILITY BROWN.
HE SOUGHT AN IMAGE OF HEAVEN.