Holy Well: OS Grid Reference – TM 116 166
Archaeology & History
This spring of water is in the edge of Nun’s Wood on the north side of the Dolphin Pond pool and is covered by a small stone building, from which issues a small stream into the lake. Remains of an old nunnery in the woods are said to be the oldest such monastic remains in England.
This holy well, the woods in which it’s found, and the old straight road leading to the chapel,* are all said to be haunted by the headless ghost of old St. Osyth, beheaded — in one legend — by the Danes who came here in the 7th century. At the spot where she’s said to have received her final fatal blow, the waters from this now bricked-up old well gushed forth from the Earth. (Prior to this, folklore tells how St. Osyth was ‘killed’ several times, and each time came back to life – just as in shamanic lore, from which such early christian tales were glossed onto.)
Of it medicinal virtues, Robert Charles Hope (1893) told us that St. Osyth’s Well had been blessed by many a sufferer who found there a medicine for his ills, and at that time, “continues to this day as a sovereign remedy for many diseases.”
- Hope, R.C., Legendary Lore of the Holy Wells of England, Elliott Stock: London 1893.
* I’m presuming that the old road to the chapel here is the long straight grove of trees which ran from St. Osyth’s Chapel and up towards the well. Anyone know for sure?
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian