Parlington Hall :: Fish Fountain Page two, the discovery

Having uncovered the location and brief information about the fountain, it seemed likely that I would not learn any more about it, lost in the annals of time! Then quite out of the blue I received a copy of the Barwicker and lo and behold on the rear cover was a photograph (I) of the mysterious fish in-situ in the gardens at Lotherton.

The Fish, but no Fountain, Lotherton Hall Gardens (I)

However whilst it was clearly the fish, there was no sign of the bowl, unless that is it holding flowers to the right of the fish, and it had all been placed rather haphazardly on a flat paving stone and some other relics of masonry, surrounded by yet more artefacts of old stonework. So here was proof that it had not remained at Parlington, but had been taken at some point to Lotherton and re-erected. My next task was to discover what had become of it, as it is most certainly nowhere to be found in the gardens at Lotherton Hall. [2009]

After discussions with the Curator at Lotherton, Dr Adam White, it was revealed that the council were concerned that such pieces in the gardens were liable to late night unwanted visitors carrying them off. Thus they were moved to an external compound adjacent to the Hall and lay there unloved! The pictures below are of the fish!

Fish showing some details of the mouth where the water was ejected

Fish showing some details of the pectoral Fin

I also discovered that at the time of the transfer of Lotherton Hall, bequeathed to Leeds City Council by Sir Alvary Gascoigne in 1969, he provided the then Director of Leeds Art Galleries, Robert Rowe, a note containing information about the source or origin of some of the objects located in the gardens and about the gardens themselves.

This is a verbatim extract, the points struck through have been discovered to be in error for one reason or another. Item 8 refers to the fish fountain, although the reference to the fountain being the centrepiece of the main fountain is clearly a mistake.

1) Parlington Portico and Statue: Portico erected about 1910 at Lotherton Statue by Praxilites, a well known Greek sculptor, (of 1870?). Statue was left to my mother by her cousin Hubert Salton of Hadzor House, Worcestershire.
2) Sun Dial with wrought iron finial: This was designed and executed by by Joubert (London) about 1912. Joubert was well known at that time although of French nationality he worked for some time in England.
3) Sun Dial in Rose Garden: This was removed from the centre of the old kitchen garden at Parlington Hall in about 1958 its origins are unknown. (1800?).
4) Stone Bird Bath: Nothing known.
5) Bowl carved with faces and animals: no information.
6) Stone Pagoda: Bought in Japan 1924.
7) Bronze Chines Bowl: Bought in Singapore in 1910 made I think in Canton.
8) Dolphin and Shell: Brought from Parlington Hall. It formed the centrepiece of a large fountain in the front lawn of Parlington 1903, origin unknown.
9) Octagonal Column of Buff Sandstone: Origin unknown, Italian(?). I think this may have come from Florence. My mother's sister was married to an Italian who lived there.
10) Ice House: None at Lotherton as far as we know.
11) The Garden: It was made between 1892 and 1949. Terraces in front of the house sere completed before 1914 as also was the rock garden and the brick tennis court. The large grass tennis court was made in or about 1929 as also the extension with the fountain. The garden may be said to have been made by my mother Mrs L.S. Gascoigne, who with the help of specialists such as Mr Goldring, made first the terrace and afterwards the rock garden. The only garden at Lotherton up to 1892 was that known now as the Rose garden. This was used only for economic purposes I.e. Vegetables and fruit. The rock garden was constructed for the most part of stones brought from the North Riding. It was planted with alpines and primulas and completed about 1912. The stone bench in the Rose garden came from Bennison in 1922.

Fortunately it was appreciated that the storage was unsatisfactory and the pieces were then moved to a new internal store, where they will be unaffected by the weather. All that now remained was to look at the stonework pieces in the store, to confirm that they were the same, and I have photographs of them, see below!

Fish in Secure Storage

The photographs were taken as I found the pieces, and are not presented as anything other than a record. Interestingly there are many other items in storage, which will form a future article if I can get to photograph them properly. For example beyond the fish is an ancient lead water butt, presumably from Parlington as the embossing shows the Gascoigne Pike head in two places and the tank is dated from the eighteenth century [1769] on the bottom of the longest side.

Fountain stone shell, bowl

The shell from above, the ribbed stonework in the foreground to the bottom right, is where the water would have run into the bowl as the pressure was reduced.

Fountain stone shell, from the front

The bowl was slightly damaged in the move from the open storage and whilst unfortuante it did make it obvious that the material is white limestone, therefore hand carved, and more than likely from Huddlestone quarry. The delicate detailing of the edge, where the water would have tippled over is quite delightful.

Fountain stone shell, from the back

The foreground of this shot is the section upon which the fish was situated above, head facing towards the bowl. The picture of the fish at Lotherton indicates that the fish has broken roughly in line with the base of the pectoral fins. This is also the entry point for the pipework, as can be seen by the black hole, so the bottom jaw has broken away, I don't know if this is still around at Lotherton in the store somewhere.


There now remains just one mystery, how did the fountain obtain its water supply, as I noted earlier the location at Parlington suggests it was above the river Crow, which is around eighteen inches below the garden surface to the top of the culvert. But the watercourse is very susceptible to changing weather conditions and can be dry for months in the summer. A pump from this source would be an unlikely candidate, as well as the noise and smoke from a steam engine, to raise the water. It is possible that the large water tower which was built in the stallion pens with a pumphouse may have provided the source for the water and the oveflow drained away into the Crow river as it toppled from the crest of the shell. This would also provide the same method for the main fountain, and being well away from the pumphouse would not have bothered the residents. It seems likely therefore that a large pipe would have fed the fountains and gate valves somewhere in the line, near to each fountain.

Update Late April 2010

The location of the fountain is shown on the 1885 plan drawn up by the Architect George Fowler-Jones. The fountain had been overlooked on the plan as originally the drawing was printed onto two sheets of A4, taped together, and held in a plastic sleeve, this has been used extensively for reference over the last few years. However with the acquisition of a large printer I am able to print A3+ and so took the opportunity to redo the large print, this has a greater area and some of the perimeter which was cropped from the earlier print is included, to my surprise in the top corner was the scrawled text Dolphin, with a drain running from it to connect to the River Crow. So we can be sure that the location can be plotted on the ground, using the scale from the old plan.

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