IN Richmond’s Friary Gardens, there used to be a pretty water fountain, set in a delicate circular stone bowl with a jet bursting out of its centre.

The start of the celebrations of the 950th anniversary of Richmond Castle has led older residents of the town to wonder whatever happened to the fountain which they remember gushing away in their youth in the 1940s and 1950s.

Can anyone tell us anything about it? Do you remember seeing it?

In the 1985 book, Remembering Richmond, which was written about the town in the first decades of the 20th Century, Julia Ghent wrote of how the stone basin had been in a field opposite the cemetery on the western edge of the town on the road to Reeth.

“When my grandfather, Christopher Mattison, was alive he, or my granny, often took me for a walk down Mill Lane, as it was called then, before it became Reeth Road, to visit the cemetery,” wrote Julia. “On lovely summer days the cows used to drink from the little spring which flowed into the meadow. Flowers grew in profusion, buttercups, celandines, marsh marigolds and milk maids, during the hot summer months.

“When the Reeth Road houses were being built, the attractive stone basin was removed and placed in the Friary Gardens. It was a beautiful bit of stonework, about six or seven feet in diameter with a carved lace-like edging. It was made into a proper fountain with a water jet in the centre.”

There is no picture of the fountain in action, but in Richmondshire Museum, there is a 1950s picture of Friary Gardens showing a circular flowerbed and a trench dug across a path nearby, as if someone had recently been excavating to disconnect a water supply. Was this the site of the fountain?

Julia said: “Today the fountain would be a delightful reminder of the past. It always strikes me as sad that unique objects like this can disappear, never to be seen again."

If you know anything about the fountain, please email

lWith thanks to Mike Wood, Jane Hatcher and Marcia McLuckie

IT was very appropriate that the fountain ended up in Friary Gardens on the site of the Franciscan friary founded in 1258. The site, just outside the town walls, was noted for its springs.

The friars – known as “greyfriars” because of the colour of their habits – liked to provide water supplies for townspeople, and in Richmond they had a conduit of some form which was perhaps the towns first water supply.

The Wetherspoons pub, The Ralph Fitz Randal, opened in Richmond in 2002 named after the landowner who left his heart in the friary opposite

The Wetherspoons pub, The Ralph Fitz Randal, opened in Richmond in 2002 named after the landowner who left his heart in the friary opposite

The friary was founded on land given to the friars by Ralph Fitzrandal, the lord of Middleham – which is how the pub opposite gets its name.

Ralph died in 1270 and his heart was apparently buried in a silver casket in the chancel of the friary church. Whereas the fountain has only been missing for decades, the silver casket has been gone for centuries – unless, of course, you have it in a cupboard somewhere.