Monday, October 05, 2009

Coronation Fountain, March

click photo to enlarge
I'd never visited March in Cambridgeshire until a couple of weeks ago. I knew of its church, St Wendreda, which has the best medieval "angel roof" in Britain: that's what we'd gone to see. But, as we drove into the town, a typical, flat, Fenland settlement of interesting main streets with buildings spanning three centuries, the first thing that caught my eye was of more recent vintage, and is the subject of today's photograph.

It was a cloudless day, but even without the strong illumination this structure would have positively glowed. It must have been repainted fairly recently, and the bright, shining colours simply drew my eye. As we drove past it I took it for a Victorian edifice, but I was wrong. Inspecting it on foot I saw a panel on it that carried this inscription: "This fountain was erected by the inhabitants of March to commemorate the coronation of his majesty King George V 22nd June 1911." So it was later than I thought, originally a fountain, but was certainly commemorative. Yet, there was no doubt too that it was in the style of so many Victorian iron-work bandstands, fountains, and park "eye-catchers". It can be seen as an example of a tried and tested format continuing to be used in the provinces: had it been erected in London a more up-to-date style would have prevailed. In place of the long-gone water was a striking plant that must have made more of a statement during the summer.

As I circled the structure, taking my photographs, enjoying the filigree metal-work of the dome, smiling at the cast-iron owls inside it at the top of each column, and noting the modern LED lighting that had been woven around the structure to give it impact at night, my wife fell into conversation with a local inhabitant, a sprightly eighty three year old who told us something about the fountain and the town. I reflected that though it was interesting, and I was glad it had survived to the present day, it was a confection that couldn't really be described as a thing of beauty so much as a fascinating historical object. However, what I couldn't deny was that it made the streetscape richer, and certainly grabbed the attention of two travellers with an architectural inclination!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Photo1 (Photo 2)
Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 11mm (22mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/400 (1/1000)
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On