In the northern half of Regent's Park, not far from that venerated open-air cafe 'The Honest Sausage', stands this wonderful Gothic style monument. A watering hole, in its most literal meaning. And as you can see, enormously in demand on a wonderfully sunny bank holiday weekend.
What I hadn't appreciated until now is the India - indeed the Parsee - connection.
The fountain was built in 1869 by the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association (not many charitable endeavours encompass both human and animal welfare quite so magnificently), inuagurated by a member of the royal family, and paid for by a wealthy Bombay (now Mumbai) based Parsee industrialist.
Parsees - Zoroastrians by religion, a community numbering only in the tens of thousands - have had, and continue to have, an influence out of all proportion to their numbers. They have played a role in Indian industry and commerce akin to that of the Quakers in Britain a couple of centuries ago. Their role in politics, in India at least, has been less evident - though both M.A. Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, and Indira Gandhi married Parsees. But quite remarkably in Britain, the first three Asian MPs were all Parsees - Dadabhai Naoroji ('Mr Narrow Majority'), elected Liberal MP for Central Finsbury in 1892, Sir M.M. Bhownagree a Conservative representing (unlikely as it seems) a seat in the East End of London, and Sharpurji Saklatvala, a communist who represented Battersea in Parliament in the 1920s.
The plaque on the drinking fountain in Regent's Park omits to mention the full name of its Parsee benefactor, and what a marvellous name it is - Sir Cowasjee Jehangir Readymoney. Here's his Wikipedia entry. As you can see, the plaque records that Sir Cowasjee provided the funds for the fountain 'as a token of gratitude to the people of England for the protection enjoyed by him and his Parsee fellow countrymen under the British rule in India.' This was barely a decade after the 1857 Rebellion/Mutiny - decsribed by some as India's First War of Independence - so quite a bold statement.
Above the plaque is what appears to be a likeness of the benefactor - judge for yourself how well it captured his features:
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