William Pye Water Scupture

Salisbury Cathedral Font

Water is the predominant feature of this work, its surface reflecting and extending the surrounding architecture, while four smooth filaments of water pass through spouts at each of the four corners of a bronze vessel and disappear through a bronze grating set into the floor. See video footage here. The base is clad in Purbeck stone. Here two contrasting aspects of water are woven seamlessly together: stillness expressed in the reflecting surface, and the flow and movement though the spouts expressing its essential life giving properties. 

The shape was developed from a square footprint. A cruciform shape is created by scooping out radiused sections of the four sides. This immediately accentuates the directional flow of water, channelling it towards the corners which at the same time provide obvious and natural positioning withing the embrace of the bronze vessel for priest and candidate for baptism.

The font was consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury on 28th September 2008. Until recently, Salisbury Cathedral had no permanently installed font. The move to procure a permanent font for Salisbury was initiated by the then Canon Treasurer June Osborne, who went on to become Dean of Salisbury and then Bishop of Llandaff.

During this decade, I installed a series of my own works at the North Porch Crossing which was the chosen location for the font. For the first one in 2001, a trapezoidal tray echoed the shape of St Osmond's tomb. This was a temporary installation, primarily aimed towards demonstrating the immense potential of reflection of the surrounding architecture in still water within the Cathedral.

In the subsequent years, versions of my Brimming Bowl series were installed over the Easter periods, when they became temporary fonts for baptisms. These installations were all aimed towards finding a solution that would be acceptable to all parties involved including the congregation. Not only was I to produce a working font, but also to do something that would become a major attraction to the 90% of visitors entering the Cathedral who are not there to worship, but simply as visitors. A design was finally approved in 2007.

Concept development

  • Experiment to demonstrate the stunning effect of reflection using a shallow tray
  • The final shape for the font
  • Design for a bronze grille to surround the font
  • Original shape based on the famous St. Osmond's Tomb


  • Maquette
  • Maquette photographed in the Cathedral


  • An Archaeological dig needed to be performed in the Cathedral before installation could take place.
  • An Archaeological dig needed to be performed in the Cathedral before installation could take place.
  • Fabrication of water grates
  • Fabrication
  • delivery of reservoir
  • delivery of reservoir
  • Delivery
  • Delivery

Completion and launch

  • Salisbury font
  • Salisbury font
  • Salisbury Cathedral
  • Salisbury font before consecration
  • Salisbury font