Tales From The Village - Hinton Martell

Mon 17 Aug 2020

The Hinton Martell Fountain

by Katherine Bebo 

Taken from her book '111 Places in Poole that you Shouldn't Miss'

His tray runneth over

While this fountain may not have the wow factor of, say, Rome's Trevi Fountain or Las Vegas' Fountains of Bellagio, it still has a story to tell and water to spurt.

Hinton Martell is the only village in Dorset - and probably the whole country - with its own fountain. It exists due to the determination of Henry Charles Burt, the owner of Witchampton Paper Mill, to have running water piped to the village in the 1870s.

Witchampton Paper Mill was the Paperchase of its time, and started producing paper in 1720, when it was driven by the power of the River Allen. It churned out cartridge paper, book covers, record sleeves, labels and other paper goods for over 250 years, until it closed in 1993.

The calm of this 368-person village is at odds with the origin of its name, which comes from Eudo Martel, the Frenchman who used to own it. The village church retains the original spelling of 'Martel' after a campaign by Reverend William Barnard to restore the original medieval spelling to align it with that of the town in France where the Martel family originated. The current fountain is a replacement of the original, which was intentionally built so low so that thirsty sheep could take a slurp of water.  

In 1905, Sir Frederick Treves wrote about the fountain in his Highways and Byways in Dorset book, saying, 'The fountain, of painted metal, tawdry and flimsy...No unhappy detail is spared: the ambitious pedestal, the three impossible dolphins, the paltry squirt of water, are all here.' Clearly not impressed, perhaps he should have taken a trip to Rome or Vegas to get his fountain fix....