Few outdoor features can make a statement quite like the majestic fountain, but this prestigious centrepiece has come a long way from its humble origins, becoming a popular centrepiece of the English country house from 1843.
Some of the first fountains can be traced back to 2000 BC and were primarily functional, providing precious drinking water and water for religious ceremonies. Later, the Ancient Greeks would establish rudimentary water systems that could distribute water to cities for drinking, bathing, and washing. These earlier incarnations relied on gravity to supply a steady water flow from higher sources, including aqueducts, streams, and reservoirs.
The Romans were the first to introduce decorative fountains into society, embellishing them with bronze or stone masks depicting animals and ancient heroes. This concept of honouring influential people was most prominent during the 17th and 18th centuries, when Baroque decorative fountains celebrated the Popes who had restored the city’s aqueducts. It is no coincidence that Rome is affectionately known as the ‘city of fountains,’ thanks in no small part to its 39 fountains.
By the end of the 19th century, more sophisticated indoor plumbing made functional fountains redundant, but their popularity as decorative features remained strong. They became a popular centrepiece of the English country house and were heavily influenced by the Italian Renaissance garden and French examples, including the fountains of Versailles. One of the finest examples can be found at Chatsworth House, and was built by the Duke of Devonshire in 1843 to mark the visit of an eminent Emperor.
Today, the stunning fountain at Rookery Hall is one of the hotel’s most prominent features. Whether providing a stunning backdrop for summer weddings or a peaceful place to while away a few hours immersed in nature, it plays its own part in keeping our love of fountains flowing.