Monuments Of Esher High Street

They are so familiar to us that we hardly see them, but did you know…?

Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Memorial

This fine Grade II listed monument takes the form of a copper statue of Britannia standing with a trident and is mounted on a red marble plinth and pedestal bearing a bronze plaque of Queen Victoria with the inscription “Victoria Regina et Imperatrix 1837-1897”.

The Memorial was designed by Francis Williamson (1833-1920) Queen Victoria’s favourite sculptor who lived and worked at “The Grapes” (79 High Street) near the memorial. The ERA has installed a Blue Plaque in honour of Francis Williamson at The Grapes.

The Village Pump and Le Comte de Paris

HRH The Comte de Paris was the grandson of the deposed King Louis Phillippe of France and his Queen, who lived at Claremont.

The Comte married Princess Isabella of Spain in 1864, spending part of his honeymoon at Claremont, and presented the pump to the village in commemoration of his marriage. By 1876 the water had become unsafe to drink and the pump was moved from its original position in the High Street to Sandown Park.

In 1961 It was refurbished and moved back to its current position on the grassed traffic island in the middle of the High Street crossroads.

The Queen Victoria Water Fountain

The original public water pump on Cato’s Hill near the Green had been cut off in 1874 and the Comte de Paris pump removed in 1876, so it was fortuitous that a drinking fountain was presented by Queen Victoria in 1877 to commemorate the fortieth year of her reign.

The granite drinking fountain, 3.6 metres high, has a marble basin and bronze lion head spout and remains in its original High Street position. The safe water supply which it provided was funded by local eminent subscribers.

The Traveller’s Rest

The Traveller’s Rest, originally known as “Wolsey’s Well”, is an English Heritage Grade II listed structure situated on the Sandown side opposite the Civic Centre entrance.

The Grotto is believed to have been built by Henry Pelham, brother of the Earl of Newcastle, between 1730 – 1740. It is built in random flint and rubblestone set in mortar and possibly incorporating rubble from Sandown Church.

There are three arched sections set in an angled front with stone slab seats. The square panel above the centre arch has a carved stylised “M” which is in fact the Pelham family emblem, a buckle.

The grotto was originally a drinking fountain with a spring fed water basin on the left side. Over the years the grotto has been demolished and moved away from the Sandown entrance. It was hit by an out-of-control dumper truck from Sandown Park in the 1960’s. It now seems to be somewhat neglected and could do with some restoration and repair.

Peter Heaney – February 2021