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History of the Rolle Fountain by Moira Brewer

The Grade II Listed drinking fountain in the town square was a gift to the people of Torrington from the Honourable Mark Rolle, Lord of the Manor, in August 1870. It was not just for decoration but provided the townsfolk with drinking water and a means of telling the time.

The fountain is built of stone and granite and consists of a Gothic style square on plan with a crocketed spire of carved stone and a round basin for drinking water on each face. It no longer functions as a drinking fountain and these four basins are now filled with flowers which are maintained by local volunteers.

The structure is 18ft (4.5m) high and approached by two rows of steps. In the higher portion is a clock with a face on the north and south sides. The clock needs to be wound twice a week and this was done for many years by Derrick Reed who was followed by Colin Beer.

The fountain stood in the middle of the street and, when roads were far quieter and High Street was a two-way street, cars passed on both sides of the fountain. (See photo)

An inscription on the fountain tells us that it was restored by public subscriptions during the Mayoralty of Thomas J. Dyer in 1928-9. It underwent further restoration and cleaning in the 1970s and again during the first decade of the 21st century.

The fountain is 150 years old now and very fragile, the stone is very soft in places, and it is in need of some further restoration. The Town Council are currently exploring options for this work. Repairs are very expensive and require specialist skills, so it is very important that, together, we take care of this important historic monument and remember that it is not a suitable place to climb and that the basins/flower beds were not built for people to sit on. It we take care of the fountain, as a community, it can be preserved for future generations.