As part of the planning approval for the ROQ site, Oxford University has committed to finding new homes for various artefacts from the Radcliffe Infirmary and St Luke’s Chapel which had to be removed as part of the refurbishment.
These are mainly commemorative plaques in stone or metal, some chandeliers and some statues, including a mother and child which commemorated the opening of the maternity wing of the hospital. One of the plaques marks the first use of penicillin in 1941.
Possibly the artefact of most interest to the public is the original 1858 Triton fountain which was located in the courtyard at the entrance to the site from the Woodstock Road, in front of what is now the Radcliffe Humanities building (the old Infirmary). A replica has been installed in place of the original because when it was removed for repair it was found to be too damaged to return to an outdoor site.
The statue is made of cast terracotta. Because the fountain continued to operate over the years even in cold weather, water got into the cracks and froze. The solution in the 1950s or 1960s was to cover it in concrete slurry, but this exacerbated the problem and caused more damage.
A new site is being sought for the six-foot Triton which was modelled on the top part of Bernini’s Triton fountain in the Piazza Barberini in Rome. Triton – according to mythology – was the son of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, and was commanded to blow on a trumpet made of a shell to soothe the waves.