Nathaniel Montefiore Drinking Fountain

Restoration of the 19th century drinking fountain

This 19th century drinking fountain is in the centre of St James, Bermondsey's churchyard. It was added when the land was transferred from the church to public use. It is now owned by Southwark council. Nathaniel Montefiore, to whom the fountain is dedicated, was born in 1819 and died in 1883 in London. He was buried in Ball Pond Cemetery in Dalston, an important Jewish burial place. Unusually for the Jewish community at this time, Nathaniel trained as a surgeon and practised at Guy's Hospital. His main interest remained philanthropy, and he spent a great deal of time at schools and orphan asylums. The inscription on the fountain reads: 1886 IN MEMORY OF NATHANIEL MONTEFIORE ESQ, OF WHOM IT WAS WRITTEN "HE SOUGHT TO DO THE MAXIMUM OF GOOD WITH THE MINIMUM OF NOTORIETY" THIS FOUNTAIN HAS BEEN ERECTED BY HIS WIFE EMMA MONTEFIORE. The fountain is of red granite and despite loss of its decorative capping and cup & chain, it is in reasonable condition. The stonework is clean and sharp and the inscription legible. It is constructed in five sections, and the restoration project will include dismantling four of these. Old plumbing will be removed and new piping and drainage reinstated. The stonework will be cleaned and the water supply reconnected.

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