Turret from St Olave Church

Turret from St Olave Church Turret from St Olave Church

We do find ourselves taking photos of the most unlikely subjects. Our close-up photo would win a "dull picture" prize. It would have been more interesting had the plaque not been stolen - you can still see the screw holes.

Site: Turret from St Olave Church (1 memorial)

SE1, Tanner Street Park, Tanner Street

Thanks to our friend Anne for providing scale in this picture. The building in the background is, presumably, upright so it's the turret which is on the lean.

This structure was originally the capping turret of the tower of St Olave Church, Tooley Street. Following removal of the tower in 1928 the capping turret was relocated here and converted to a drinking fountain. The sale of the church site financed the creation of this park, making it the appropriate site in which to place the turret.

The 1647 drawing by Wenceslaus Hollar shows the church with, on the top of the tower, a hut-like structure. The church was rebuilt in 1734 and images of it in the early 19th century (e.g. FamLoc) show no visible turret. If this is the turret kept from the first building then between 1734 and 1928 it must have been kept down at ground level, presumably in the church grounds.

The Hollar drawing shows the turret with a pointy, oniony, roof which makes it an attractive item and explains why people would want to keep it, so it's a pity that that feature been lost.

2021:since our 2015 visit to take photos this park has been renewed, presumably funded by one or other of the local property developments. The turret no longer leans and there is an information board. We give the text here, but must note that the turret is not, despite its name and its recent restoration, actually a functioning provider of water.

Tanner Street Drinking Fountain
This Grade II listed structure was originally the turret at the top of the tower of St. Olaf’s Church on Tooley Street visible on the photo from 1918. This had been constructed from Portland stone in 1737 to a design by Henry Flitcroft. By the early 20th century the church had fallen into disrepair. Permission was granted in 1918 to demolish part of the church with the stipulation “… that provision should be made for the preservation of the tower thereof and for the maintenance of a portion of the site of the old church and of the said churchyard as a public open space and for the perpetuation of the name of St. Olave in connection with such site.”

Subsequent development of the riverside around Hay’s Wharf meant that a request was submitted to demolish the tower. After fierce debate in Parliament, consent was given for the tower to be demolished but on the condition that Bermondsey Borough Council should use some of the proceeds from the sale of the church land in Tooley Street to establish a recreation ground in nearby Tanner Street and that, as an acknowledgment of the original church, the turret/cupola should be retained as a drinking fountain. The current structure is visible at the tip of the tower in the etching from 1928.

The Drinking Fountain in turn fell into disrepair but was restored in 2018 by Southwark Council as part of the restoration and upgrading of Tanner Street Park.

This section lists the subjects commemorated on the memorial on this page:
Turret from St Olave Church

Subjects commemorated i

St Olave Church, Tooley Street

Founded in the eleventh century in memory of St Olaf. The original building, ...

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