The market gained its Market Charter in 1281, although a market had existed long before this date. The market place is the focus of our town and is where our trail begins. This is the first trail board of many and will guide you to follow the trail throughout your visit. If you would like more information, leaflets are available in many outlets in the Market Place, the Town Hall and the Library in Queens Street.
In the centre of the Market Place stands the Victoria Jubilee Fountain 1887, erected and paid for by the Uppingham people. It was renovated a few years ago, but does not serve as a drinking fountain now, presumably for hygiene reasons.
QUEEN VICTORIA JUBILEE DRINKING FOUNTAIN
The fountain appears to be constructed of three types of stone.
- The 6 corner columns appear to be Clipsham limestone. They appear to have had a polished finish. On this there were traces of a painted surface that may have been a faux marble effect. It is not possible to determine if the over painting was part of the original or a later application for cosmetic reasons/fashion.
- The main structure appears to be Creeton limestone, a moderately hard limestone usually selected where fine detail is not required, this carries the inscribed dedication. Repairs have been carried out to part of the base plinth. These are again of Creeton limestone appearance but from later workings of the quarry.
- The details, acanthus leaves etc., appear to be carved in Ketton limestone. This is a soft limestone particularly suited to fine detail work.
During cleaning it became apparent that the blackening of the stone used for the fine detail work was caused by tar in coal smoke. Unfortunately this chemically bonds with surface of the soft limestone. Removal of this layer (up to 1mm thick) would erode the original stone. This would not be acceptable on a Grade II listed monument.
It is sometimes said that completely clean buildings lose definition and appear artificial.
PROPOSAL TO RENOVATE THE JUBILEE FOUNTAIN IN THE MARKET PLACE
Since moving to Uppingham, I have thought that the fountain appeared uncared for, largely neglected and not worthy of the town. Its full title is Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Fountain, and to quote the inscription on it.
“This monument is erected by the inhabitants of Uppingham in loving and loyal commemoration of the 50th year of the reign of her most gracious majesty Victoria – June 1887”
In research its history, I have found no actual written record. Members of the Local History Group have suggested that the architect may have been Thomas Jackson who designed most of the outer quadrangle of the school, or possible one of the Thorpes, well known local stonemasons. Although Grade II Listed, it is not mentioned in the Rutland County History, or the Rutland Pevsner guide. The Study Group’s publications show a drawing dated 1790 with a Greek Column gracing the centre of the market place, but this may be fantasy. An early photograph shows a 3 lamp ‘candelabra’ probably erected when gas lighting arrived, hence the curious light on top of the present structure. A later photo shows it is largely covered up by advertising boards.
I have had difficulty finding a stonemason to give an estimate for the work. Fennimores only do new work at present and the two local contacts they gave me were not interested. From Yellow Pages, I contacted Premier Stone in Tallington, and eventually met Ian Bullimore at the fountain. He thought it needed a good washdown with a few minor repairs for damaged parts. He would also quote for renovating the iron work on top. He said he would need a running water supply from one of the traders which may be a problem. I have just received a verbal quotation of £2300 and I am still awaiting more written details.
I have contacted Elizabeth Bryan at Rutland County Council who supported the idea, mentioning that as a Grade II structure we would need planning permission even for cleaning.
It now appears that the fountain belongs to Rutland County Council, but I hope this research may be useful if we can persuade them to take on this project which may help to raise the profile of the town.