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Famous Water Displays in the United Kingdom

  • 3 min read

Last month, we wrote a post about the best water features across the globe. We thought we’d continue this series, with a segment closer to home, with the UK’s best water features.

The Grand Cascade, Chatsworth House (Derbyshire)

Chatsworth House Fountain Stream North Yorkshire

Situated in a river valley on the edge of the Derbyshire Peak District, Chatsworth House has always been blessed with a ready supply of water, which has consistently played an important role in their gardens.

 

Their extensive water usage necessitated collecting and storing water. To do so, three lakes were dug on the hill, the largest was what is now called ‘Swiss Lake’. Relying on gravity, an elaborate system of ponds, watercourses and pipes led the water to where it was required.

 

Collectively, all the lakes at Chatsworth hold over 80 million litres of water.

The Revolving Torison, St Thomas’ Hospital (Lambeth, London)

Revolving Torison

A kinetic sculpture and fountain by the artist Naum Gabo. It was commissioned for the Tate Gallery and has been on long-term loan to the Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity since 1975.

 

'Revolving Torsion' stands at the centre of a large circular pool now with a low tubular steel rail, running around the outside (a later addition). The central work is fabricated from a stainless-steel plate and takes the form of an abstract composition of multiple curved, rib-like, plates, which appear to rise in a twisting motion from a shallow stainless steel basin. The plates are joined together along straight seams to create an open three-dimensional form.

 

The circular pool in which the piece stands is integral to its functioning as a fountain. Jets of water flow from the curved edges of the plates, their streams crossing as the jets follow the profile of the curve.

The Atlas Fountain, Castle Howard (North Yorkshire)

The Atlas Fountain, Castle Howard

The Atlas Fountain dates back to the 1800s. It was exhibited at the Great Exhibition prior to its installation. It currently stands in the grounds of Castle Howard in North Yorkshire and has been designated a Grade I listed building, whilst being recorded in the National Heritage List for England, maintained by Historic England.

 

A large globe of bronze dominates the fountain, supported on the shoulders of Atlas (In Greek mythology, Atlas a Titan condemned to hold up the heavens or sky for eternity after the Titanomachy.) Four recumbent Tritons blow water through shells over Atlas kneeling on a pedestal in the centre. Other jets fill the lower scallop shell basins, which overflow into the central basin producing a dramatic cascade of white water.

 

The water source for the fountain is the reservoir on the hilltop in Ray Wood to the east of the house. From here water can be piped in two directions simultaneously, to the Atlas Fountain, and to the Prince of Wales Fountain the second fountain installed at Castle Howard. The fall from the reservoir, through an 8-inch iron pipe over a quarter of a mile distance, is sufficient to generate an enormous head of water.

 The Granary Square Fountains (Kings Cross, London)

Granary Square Fountains

Hands down, the most popular attraction at King’s Cross are the fountains at Granary Square.

The 1,080 jets are individually controlled and lit, attracting families and tourists during the summer months. These jets can be programmed to swish about at varying heights and create patterns. Each jet has its own pump, and two tanks holding collectively 105,000 litres that sit beneath the square. All water used is recycled, with a spare tank acting as a constant filter to clean the water.

The developer of the fountains, David Bracey, of the Fountain Workshop, is based on the historic Chatham Dockyard in Kent.

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