It probably sounds like the name of a pub, but in Pimlico is a drinking fountain erected to the memory of the 2nd Marquess of Westminster.

Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Marquess of Westminster was a landowner and later politician, and father of the first Duke of Westminster, a title that still exists and is held by the 7th Duke.

Now, memorial fountains are not that unusual in London, but what makes this one stand out a bit are the mosaic panels on all four sides of the fountain. On one side it says In memory of Richard Second Marquess of Westminster died 1869, on another his date of birth, 1795, on the third a W below coronet for his title, and on the fourth, EMW below a coronet, for his wife, Elizabeth, Marchioness of Westminster.

The choice of the drinking fountain was not unusual, but in this case was specifically because the new Marquess was President of the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association, which worked to put make fresh drinking water available for the public, and this memorial fountain was paid for by the Dowager Marchioness of Westminster.

The building behind the fountain is called Fountain Court, almost certainly after the fountain, which was here before the block of flats. What’s curious is the stone statue of St Michael on the brick wall, and that’s a leftover from the previous occupants of the site, St Michael’s Vicarage.

The last inhabitant of the vicarage was Canon James Fleming, chaplain to royalty and to the 3rd Marquis. After he died in 1908, the site was sold to be developed for the block of flats there today.

The building gained unexpected fame in 1946 when it was one of a number occupied in a mass protest against post-war homelessness, and this building was targetted as it was occupied by the Ministry of Works for use as temporary offices. The public pressure of the squatting in a number of buildings across central London put pressure on politicians to fund housing, and the following year, Fountain Court was handed to Westminster Council who converted the Ministry’s temporary offices back into flats and rented them out as council houses.

Fountain Court is still owned by Westminster council and still provides some council housing.

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