Upon obtaining a lease for the land now known as The Prospect in 1697, John Kyrle set about creating a public garden, at the centre of which a fountain was built. It was to provide a source of water to the townsfolk living in the neighbourhood of the parish Church. Sources of information about the fountain that once stood at the centre of The Prospect are scarce and rely on the memories of William Dobbs who, aged 84, was interviewed by Charles Heath of Monmouth c1796, for a book he published in 1799, and a book published in 1821, by Thomas Dudley Fosbroke. They tell us the fountain was oval in shape and had a spouting figure at its centre.
To feed the fountain water was pumped up from the river by means of “an engine” (waterwheel) through pipes comprising hollowed out tree trunks. To create the pipes the tree trunks had to be split vertically, hollowed out and then bound back together by means of metal hoops. There’s an example of a similar pipe in the Waterworks Museum in Hereford. As a result of this construction style and the high pressure created at times by the waterwheel, they were prone to leaks, spurting the water many feet into the air. After a number of years (probably after John Kyrle’s death in 1724), attempts to keep the pipes in good repair were abandoned and the fountain fell into disuse. This, combined with the gradual degradation of The Prospect through subletting to a farmer who grazed his beasts on it – some of the carcases of which ended up in the fountain – led to it being filled in and lost for good by 1794.
“William describes it as forming an oval of some extent, in Proportion to its depth, which was near 8 feet, the sides secured with brick, and the bottom paved with fine square stones.”
Extract from “The Excursion Down the Wye From Ross To Monmouth” by Charles Heath.
“Having obtained a long lease of the ” Prospect” he (Kyrle) elevated the ground in the midst, and joined by other respectable Townsmen, had in ” the dry Rock” a fountain made, supplied from the river by the engine below. The fountain contained upwards of 550 hogsheads of water, conveyed by underground pipes to public cocks in the streets. In the middle was a handsome spouting Image. The fountain growing long ago into disuse, through pipes being placed to convey the water to the houses, the brick wall of this reservoir was taken down, and the hollow filled up in 1794,”
Extract from “Companion to the Wye Tour” by Thomas Dudley Fosbroke, published in 1821.