Manual Ref* NFnnHO004 Show 7 images 559

Fountain with St George slaying the dragon

County Norfolk   District Council North Norfolk 
Civil Parish or equivalent Holkham  Town/Village* Holkham Hall Estate 
Road Holkham Hall 
Precise Location South Terraces 
OS Grid Ref TF885428  Postcode NR23 
Previous location(s)  
Setting On terraces of Holkham Hall  Access Private 
Artist/Maker Role Qualifier
Charles Raymond Smith  Sculptor(s)   
W.A. Nesfield  Designer(s)   

Commissioned by

2nd Earl of Leicester 

Design & Constrn period


Date of installing

By 1858 

Exact date of unveiling



Abstract Animal Architectural
Commercial Commemorative Composite
Free Functional Funerary
Heraldic Military Natural
Non-Commemorative Performance Portable
Religious Roadside, Wayside Sculptural
Temporary, Mobile Other  

Object Type

Building Clock Tower Architectural
Coat of Arms Cross Fountain
Landscape Marker Medallion
Mural Panel Readymade
Relief Shaft Sculpture
Statue Street Furniture War Memorial
Other Object Sub Type: Fountain

Subject Type

Allegorical Mythological Pictorial
Figurative Non-figurative Portrait
Still-life Symbolic Other

Subject Sub Type

Bust Equestrian Full-length
Group Head Reclining
Seated Standing Torso
Part Material Dimension
St George  Stone (sword bronze)  H. 16 metres W. 8 metres 
Basin  Stone  L. 37 metres W. 27 metres 

Work is

Extant Not Sited Lost


Holkham Estate 

Listing status

Grade I Grade II* Grade II Don't Know Not Listed

Surface Condition

Corrosion, Deterioration Accretions
Bird Guano Abrasions, cracks, splits
Biological growth Spalling, crumbling
Metallic staining Previous treatments
Detail: Considerable growth on the stone statuary

Structural Condition

Armature exposed Broken or missing parts
Replaced parts Loose elements
Cracks, splits, breaks, holes Spalling, crumbling
Water collection Other


Graffiti Structural damage Surface Damage

Overall condition

Good Fair Poor


No Known Risk At Risk Immediate

Description (physical)

The sculpture is set on a hexagonal base in front of the main south windows of Holkham Hall and on the axis with the obelisk on the mount. The dragon has wound its tail around the great rock with pairs of dolphins at its base. His head is thrown back as St George raises his sword to deliver the death stroke while the princess looks on in hope with her hands crossed on her breast. When the fountain is on (in half hour bursts when the house is open) cascades of water rise from the dragon, the dolphins at the base of the rock and from the two swans and four dolphins set around the central rock. During the creation of the fountain the estate’s water supply was transformed by the acquisition of a steam engine to pump water from the well near the south-east corner of the Hall. The fountain was shipped from London to Wells and onto Holkham in July 1856 where it had to be plumbed in. As a result of the strain on the water supply an artesian well was sunk in 1867 to add to the reservoir’s supply. 

Description (iconographical)

The commission formed part of the redevelopment of the south approach to the hall with a series of terraces decorated with giant urns to the design of W.A. Nesfield from 1851-54. The fountain is now wrongly identified as Perseus rescuing Andromeda. In the account books it is identified as ‘the St George sculpture’, a description followed in the earliest guide book of 1861 and which represents a change to a more patriotic mode. Nesfield designed a very similar contemporary fountain at Witley Court which does show Perseus rescuing Andromeda. Following Ovid’s description Perseus attacks the monster from his winged horse, and Andromeda is shown naked (she had been left as a hostage for the monster) unlike the queen, here clothed and crowned. revised06/06/2019 


Date taken:  19/5/2007
Date logged: 

Photographed by:
Sarah Cocke

On Site Inspection

Date:  19/5/2007

Inspected by:
Richard Cocke

Sources and References

Hiskey, Christine, ‘A bigger splash’, Norfolk Gardens Trust Journal, Spring, 2001, 19-24; Richard and Sarah Cocke, The Public Sculpture of Norfolk and Suffolk, Liverpool University Press for the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association, 2013,pp.109-110 


Date entered:  6/6/2007

Data inputter:
Richard Cocke