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The fountain in the middle of Kennington Park

Urn-ing its place – stonemason recreating Kennington Park fountain’s stolen ‘crowning glory’

An artist is raising money to replace the stolen urn on top of Felix Slade Fountain in Kennington Park.

Heather Griffith, a heritage stonemason, is raising £5,000 to cover the costs of a replica limestone urn to replace the bronze one that previously sat on the drinking fountain.

The original fountain was donated to Kennington Park in 1862 but now only a basin remains as the urn on top of it was stolen in 1863 and again in the 1950s when it was not replaced.

Griffith said: “It is that empty granite basin, which you notice and so obviously begs the question, what was once there?

“There is something so unfinished about it. I would really like to fill a gap in history.”

Griffith, who previously worked in conservation for Historic Scotland and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, has already begun to carve a faithful replica of the urn.

She has donated her time and the material costs herself, including 250kg of French Lavoux Limestone.

The process takes more than 1,100 hours, involving carving the limestone, casting the bronze details, and turning the body of the urn on a stone lathe.

HARD AT WORK: Heather Griffith is a heritage stonemason

The urn will be finished in June 2021 and donated to the Friends of Kennington Park for display in the Collective Café as a thank you for the work they do to maintain the green space.

Griffith said that the urn would be in the café not in the original location because it is missing the fountains underneath, it is made of a stone which would weather and for security as the original was stolen twice.

After studying at the City and Guilds Art School near Kennington for a number of years, Griffith wanted to give back.

She said: “Almost every lunch break I would spend walking around the park and I have become very attached to it. It was my first introduction to London and it became my second home.”

She is crowdfunding £2,500 and has applied for match funding from Lambeth Council, bringing the total up to the required £5,000.

“If there are funds available for food banks or those out of work then it feels so selfish asking for something like this at this time. But often these funding budgets just sit untouched so it might as well come to something nice to brighten up the park for the public,” she said.

Marietta Crichton Stuart, chair of Friends of Kennington Park, said: “The Friends were delighted to work with Heather and her plan to re-create the fountain’s urn, its crowning glory, which disappeared long ago.

“FOKP are extremely grateful for her generous offer to present the completed urn to the Friends who will ensure that it can be publicly and safely displayed and its story told.”

The original fountain was donated by Felix Slade who wanted to bring clean drinking water to the park after he was charged 3d for a glass of tepid water in a dirty glass.

In the long term, Griffith hopes that the urn will increase interest in a full restoration of the fountain to bring more clean drinking water to Kennington.

She said: “That would be my dream arriving full circle.”

If you would like to donate you can do so at the crowdfunding page.

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