About Buxton Memorial Fountain
The Buxton Memorial Fountain is a memorial and drinking fountain in Westminster commemorating the emancipation of slaves in British Dominions in 1834, and specifically, the role of British members of parliament in the abolition campaign.
Buxton Memorial Fountain history
The fountain was designed and commissioned by Charles Buxton, the son of Thomas Fowell Buxton, a prominent abolitionist and member of parliament in the early-19th century.
Charles dedicated the memorial fountain not only to his father, but to other notable philanthropists and anti-slavery campaigners such as William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson and Henry Brougham. All these men had worked tirelessly to see not only Britain’s slave trade abolished in 1807, but also the termination of the institution of slavery itself in British Dominions in 1833.
The fountain’s construction, in collaboration with the neo-Gothic architect Samuel Sanders Teulon, coincided with the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which ended slavery in the United States of America.
While the memorial was originally constructing in Parliament Square, it was removed in 1949 and reinstated in its present position in Victoria Tower Gardens in 1957. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s various acts of vandalism meant that the fountain needed to be restored a few times.
A fully restored memorial fountain was unveiled on 27 March 2007 as part of the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Abolition Act of 1807.
The Fountain today
The base is octagonal, about twelve feet in diameter, having open arches on the eight sides, supported on clustered shafts of polished Devonshire marble around a large central shaft, with four massive granite basins.
Surmounting the pinnacles at the angles of the octagon are eight figures of bronze, representing the different rulers of England.
The fountain inscription reads that the fountain was “intended as a memorial of those members of Parliament who, with Mr. Wilberforce, advocated the abolition of the British slave-trade, achieved in 1807; and of those members of Parliament who, with Sir T. Fowell Buxton, advocated the emancipation of the slaves throughout the British dominions, achieved in 1834.”
There is a café in the park, as well as accessible toilet facilities.
Getting to Buxton Memorial Fountain
Buxton Memorial Fountain stands in Victoria Tower Gardens, located along the Thames River beside the Palace of Westminster. If walking from the Houses of Parliament and along the riverbank, visitors will see the fountain as roughly 200 metres from the entrance to Lambeth Bridge.
If travelling by tube, the closest stop is Westminster Station which is on the District, Circle and Jubilee line. Bus routes 3 and 87 also stop outside the Gardens.
Discover crucial histories of slavery at these sites around the UK, from the International Slavery Museum at Royal Albert Dock in Liverpool to the Buxton Memorial Fountain outside the Palace of Westminster.