There has been an exciting development in the project to conserve, restore and re-present the Sea Horse Fountain on the South Lawn as closely as possible to how it looked and functioned in the 1st Duke’s time.
Cliveden Conservation’s carvers have modelled in clay and attached many of the missing elements of the five sea horses and the central Triton sculptures. Members of the project team met recently at Cliveden’s Somerset workshop to review and approve these modelled legs and wings. All agreed how greatly improved the sea horses appeared.
Chatsworth and its archives have had a crucial role to play in this work. We are fortunate that the Heanor-born carver Samuel Watson (1662-1715) had made pencil studies of the sea horses in his sketchbook (pictured below). These were especially photographed and enlarged images of them were pinned up in Cliveden’s workshop as carving aids.
In the meantime, experts in water supply and metalwork have been examining the existing pipework and filters at Chatsworth, and the wrought iron stands on which these heavy sculptures sit, in preparation for when the sea horses and Triton can be returned to the fountain.
Curator of Collections, Devonshire Collection