Robert Matheson, 1859. Large elaborately carved 3-stage sandstone fountain forming triple crown, set in sunken circular basin on octagonal plinth, situated at centre of Palace forecourt. Tall, tiered base course, buttressed at arrisses. Carved lion's head faucets to each face.
Intricately carved 3-tier octagonal sculpture above with flying buttresses, pedestals, statues, heraldic emblems and shields including sejant erect lions and unicorns. Carvings include portrait heads, floral details and animals and decorative medallions. Surmounted by 4-figures supporting crown with Scottish Royal Crest as finial.
Statement of Special Interest
The ground beneath the Palace of Holyroodhouse and nearby structures (including Croft-an-Righ House, the buildings on the N side of Abbey Strand and the buildings around Mews Court) is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 for its archaeological importance. The upstanding remains of Holyrood Abbey and Queen Mary's Bath are also scheduled monuments. Significant upstanding and below-ground archaeological remains may survive as part of and in addition to the structures and features described above.
This large, highly decorative and elaborate fountain is prominently situated at the centre of the Palace forecourt. Based on the design of the James V fountain at Linlithgow Palace of 1628 (see separate listing), it was erected as part of Queen Victoria's improvements to the Palace grounds. The carving is intricately detailed and makes reference to both the Scottish Royal Family and 16th century aristocratic pursuits such as falconry and music.
The statues were designed by Charles Doyle, from the Office of Works and carved by John Thomas, a well-known contemporary sculptor.
Robert Matheson (circa 1807-1877) was the Clerk of Works for Scotland, who carried out a programme of gradual improvements to the Palace, the Park and the Abbey Precincts, at the request of Queen Victoria. These improvements included designing Lodges for the entrances to the Park, this fountain in the forecourt and the improvements to the Abbey courtyard.
In 1128, David I built an Augustinian Abbey at Holyrood. This flourished and when the Royal Court was subsequently in Edinburgh many royal guests chose to stay in the guesthouse of the abbey rather than the Castle, as the former was considered more comfortable. In 1501, James IV built a Palace on the site of the Abbey guesthouse and a gatehouse was constructed. This gatehouse was demolished in 1753 and the surrounding area is thought to have become quite dilapidated. In 1822-3, the King's architect, Robert Reid began a new building programme in the area, but it was not until the more comprehensive rebuilding programme by Robert Matheson in the 1850s and 60s that many of the current buildings were constructed, including this fountain.
Part of A-group comprising: Palace of Holyroodhouse; 28 and 30 Croft-An-Righ (Croft-An-Righ House); Abbey Strand Eastern Building; Abbey Strand Western Building; Queen Mary's Bath House; North Garden Sundial; Palace Forecourt Fountain; Abbey Court House; Gatehouse and Former Guard Rooms; Palace Coach House; Stables; Queen's Gallery (see separate listings).
References from previous list description: O & N Edinburgh II 79. Building News June 10 1859. Plans SRO (October 1858).
List description revised as part of the Edinburgh Holyrood Ward resurvey 2007-08. List description updated 2013.