Monday, March 17, 2014
A picture in a recently donated book of postcards of old Bishops Stortford grabbed my attention. It was of the cross roads at Hockerill in the early years of the last century. In the centre was a large drinking fountain, complete with gas lamp.
A second view, from a later postcard reveals the addition of traffic signs, and shows the fountain in action.
This fountain was a gift to the town, from Edwin and Eliza Eyre, in 1872. They were related to the Houblon family who owned the nearby estate of Hallingbury Place, in Great Hallingbury. The estate was inherited in 1891 by Brigadier George Bramston Eyre who subsequently adopted the surname Archer-Houblon. It is not however clear what his exact relationship with the Houblon family was, nor indeed, the Eyre’s connection with the town.
The Houblon family estate also included Hatfield Forest, which abutted the eastern boundary of the estate. Their fine country house, built in about 1772, was demolished in 1924, one of the many country houses to have suffered a similar fate in the years after the end of the First World War.
The drinking fountain was relocated from its position on the crossroads to the Castle Gardens in the 1920’s, following extensive road widening at Hockerill. Now sited at the base of the castle mound, overlooking the Causeway, it can still be seen, minus water and drinking cups and gas lamp. Hopefully next time you walk past you will know a little more about this silent stony monument…
Blog written by Musuem Volunteer Chris Connell