Lady’s Well, Blythborough, Suffolk

Healing Well:  OS Grid Reference – TM 450 762

Also Known as:

  1. Wishing Well
  2. Queen Ann’s Well
  3. Lady’s Fountain

Getting Here

The site is found down Spring Lane at the south end of Henham Park. The current A145 meeting the A12.

Archaeology & History

A large structure is a brick and stone arch and which has two low seats inside, giving the alternative name of Tramp’s or Traveller’s Rest having also brass cups attached to the structure for anyone wishing to drink there. The age of the fabric has said to be mainly 1780, although one view was that it was erected by the first Countess of Stradbrooke in the 19th century and may be that recorded in 1833 in the poem ‘Lady’s Fountain’ poem by Agnes Strickland (the alternative name Lady coming from the Lady Strickland).  Another view is that some of the fabric is 13th century in origin.   The structure is now dry and overgrown, apparently last having water in the 1900s.

ladyswell1

Folklore

The spring is said to be near the reputed to be the place of King Onna’s death (654 AD). This was the battle of Bulcamp where Onna was chased by the Pagan Penda along Kings Lane, a lane which cuts through nearby parishes of Sotherton, Henham and Blyford to here were they stood their ground and he and his son Firminus were killed and buried. The well being erected where the king’s body fell. The legend clearly explains the site’s other alternative name of Queen Anne’s well…Anne being close enough to Onna to be semantically changed over time, and misrepresented as a Queen rather than a King!

References:

  1. R.B. Parish, Holy wells and healing springs of Suffolk (in publication)

Links:

  1. Holy & Healing Wells – A Suffolk Field Trip

Lady's Well

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Lady\'s Well 52.329742, 1.595189 Lady\'s Well

Holy Well, Longthorpe, Peterborough, Northamptonshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid-Reference – TL 1678 9815

Also known as:

  1. St. Cloud’s Well

Getting Here

From Thorpe Green, Longthorpe, then take the Larklands road.  Once a copse of trees appears at the front near a T-junction, the well can be accessed to the side of this wood.

Archaeology & History

The well was enclosed in grounds belonging to St John family, an estate laid out in a style similar to the pleasure gardens of Vauxhall. Within these grounds was an 18th century summerhouse, which has now vanished. A distillery was established here by a Doctor Skirmshire, who lived at Longthorpe, for making ‘considerable quantities of lavender and peppermint, cultivated in adjacent fields..’ (Arrowsmith n.d.).

Sadly, there appear to be no ancient records which justify ascribing an ancient date to the Holy Well complex. Indeed, it would appear to be contemporary with the summerhouse. Perhaps it was built to provide a folly-hermitage to support the legend? It is said that the summerhouse was demolished in the mid-ninteenth century because of the disorderly proceedings undertaken in it by visitors from Peterborough! According to Thompson (1913), the dressed stone was used for the kitchen floor of the nearby Manor House.

Thompson gives a plan of the well along with an accurate description, which luckily does not differ from the sight which greets the visitor today (although there is now an ugly metal gate on the structure):

‘The subterranean chambers constitute a medley of design and structure; they are not caves, although now underground, but were apparently first built….

The walls and domed roofs consist of undressed stone. The passage from the pool runs in a direction of N 60 W, and is some six feet long. The entrance being two feet four inches wide by five feet high. The first chamber or antechamber is mostly to the left and nearly at right angles to the passage; it is approximately ten feet by eight feet. In this there is a window high up, evidently a more recent introduction, for the frame is of dressed stone, and the rough stone roof cuts across it, so that external appearance rather than internal use would appear to have been the dominating factor in its design. On the opposite wall of the window is a doorway, and at one time evidently a door, for one stone jamb of dressed stone is left. This doorway opens into the very irregular second or main chamber, roughly twenty feet long, by fifteen feet wide near the widest part. Immediately within the doorway is a well, with dressed stone curb, of three feet internal diameter, and exactly above, in the roof is another smaller circular opening lined with dressed stone as though arranged to draw water from the well from the mound above without going into the chamber, but this is not now open. The well is now choked with stones, but the water used to overflow from the well and run down the passage way to the pool outside, it now flows out oat a lower level leaving the passage way dry. Immediately on the right, after entering the large chamber is am opening leading to a third chamber, smaller, crudely oval, but an indescribable shape, approximately eight to nine feet one way by twelve feet another.

Comparing Thompson’s description and the photograph, one can note a few differences, the main one being that the site in general has become noticeably overgrown. The wall which appears to run along one side has become overgrown and derelict, the pool overgrown, and rubbish-strewn. Within the structure, the curbed well has gone and now one can see the water bubbling from the rock.

Folklore

One side of this is the opening, now blocked up, to a supposed underground passage to Peterborough Cathedral, by which the monks of the Abbey of Burgh, were said to come and bathe in the pool….

To the left of this large chamber, on entering the latter, is a recess some fifteen feet wide and nine feet deep, with a floor consisting essentially of two steps, both apparently of ‘live’ rock, i.e. rock in situ; the upper step being the wider and more like a dais. There is a rather small opening high up on the outer wall of this recess, some five feet from the dais, and is about seventeen inches wide by twenty two feet high, but goes four feet or more in the thickness of the wall or mound without providing an external opening.’

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe site’s greatest fame stems from the tunnel mentioned above by Thompson, which is said to run from the Holy Well to the Abbey at Peterborough. A blocked-up doorway in the third chamber is described as the entrance to this tunnel, although one can imagine that the nature of the whole edifice would lend to such a belief. Certainly records show that the Abbey was supplied by a conduit at the Infirmary end of the Chapel of St Lawrence. However, it is more likely that this took its waters from the St Leonard’s Well at Spital, whose water also filled the Boroughbury Pools and Swan’s Pool.

Yet records show that the Abbey was interested in the site. During Abbot Godfreys tenure, in 1130s the following document states:

Amos ejus viii inclusat porceum Burgi Sumptus iiij I lb: xv sol. Item feat fossutum salveunium inter Thorpe fen et le Dom Sumptus xx sol‘.

Anon 1904-6

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This enclosure cost four pounds and fifteen shillings. Under Abbot Gyerge another document notes the extent of this land (Halywelle), of four acres, three rood and twenty pearches, which until the building of the estate remained the same (Anon 1904-1906). Yet neither of these documents explicitly refers to the laying of a conduit.

The only possible justification for this belief came in November 6th 1964, when workmen, excavating to set up telephone kiosks beside the old Guildhall on Cathedral square, unearthed an underground passage. This continued for twenty five feet under church street, and ran parallel to land belonging to the Almoner’s Garden that was exchanged in the 1194-1200 agreement between the Abbot and the Vicar of Burgh and Longthorpe.  Unfortunately, the underground passage turned out to be some kind of eighteenth century fire precautions.

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Much of the site’s folklore and history derives from a story entitled The Knight of the Red Cross, a story based in the twelfth century, in Richard I’s reign. There is some confusion about the place where this work is published. Thompson (1913)  in his Peculiarities of water and wells states that it is contained within a work called Wild flowers gathered: original pieces in prose and rhyme, printed by J. S. Clarke, with no author or date; whereas  Arrowsmith (n.d) states it comes from a similarly titled, A list of wild flowers found in the neighbourhood of Peterborough, by F. A. Paley. Arrowsmith further notes that the work is advertised on the back of the same author’s Notes on twenty Parish churches round Peterborough, published in 1859. Unfortunately, I have been unable to trace either of these to confirm which is the right source. How much the story is based on any ancient account is unclear. It may be ‘faction’ or fiction, a problem of course with many sites. The applicable parts are produced below as Thompson (1913) notes:

“There is a beautiful spot, called Holywell, in the neighbourhood of Peterborough, well known, and much frequented by the inhabitants. The road lies through a pleasant park, where stands an ancient edifice belonging to the Fitzwilliam family, called Thorpe Hall… After passing the front of this mansion, turn to the left, by the stables and outer buildings will lead, through a white gate, to a small green field from whence this picturesque little spot is seen, with its ivy clad walls, and its dark cypress and yew trees, casting their gloomy shadows around. Passing some broken steps which form the entrance, a shady path conducts to a modern niche, supported by two pilasters, over a slab pavement to a stone basin about six feet in depth and thirty in circumference. This is constantly supplied with clear water, running from the mouth of a subterraneous passage which connects Holywell with the cathedral of Peterborough. An artificial mound of earth is thrown up above this cavity, which is covered with creepers, ground-ivy and a few wild flowers.

Contiguous to the basin are some small fish ponds, partially shaded by beautiful trees; and the green rushes which grow at their bank form undisturbed retreat in which the moor-hen builds her solitary nest. A little further on is a piece of an old pillar, which is gracefully overhung with a wreath of ivy… An old wall surrounding Holywell on two sides, in which traces of windows and doorways are still discernible, is the last feature we shall mention.”

Arrowsmith (n.d) states that these pools have been called ‘Monk’s Stew Ponds’ or ‘Paradise Ponds’, although Arrowsmith considers that the long distance from the Abbey makes it unlikely, as the Abbey was close to good fishing waters  He continues, ‘The waters of this well were formerly in high repute, and were much frequented by those who came on pilgrimages’

Its waters, according to Thompson (1913), are said to be slightly ferruginous, though he detected no sign of it, and nor did I. It was also thought to be efficacious for gout, rheumatism, skin diseases, and good for eyes.

It was believed that a Hermit, called St Cloud, lived at the site. Thompson (1913) continues, quoting J. S. Clarke, that he was ‘of great celebrity, whose pious councils and paternosters were generally in request amongst all pilgrims who visited the spot.’

Some authorities, such as Arrowsmith, have identified this hermit as St Botolph, who is said to have lived within a mile of his chapel during its construction on the Thorpe Avenue site. He is associated with other wells, such as that at Hadstock, Essex, so it is not impossible.

References:

  1. Anonymous, “Holywell,” in Fenland Notes and Queries6, pp.22-4, 1904-6
  2. Arrowsmith, A. L., Longthorpe and its Environs: Microcosm of a Village, privately published: no date.
  3. Bord, J. and C., Sacred Waters, Granada: London 1985.
  4. Thompson, B., “The Peculiarities of Water and Wells,” in Journal of Northants Natural History Society and Field Club18(135), 1913.

Extracted and edited from the original post – Holy & Healing Wells

© R.B. Parish, The Northern Antiquarian

Holy Well

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Holy Well 52.568632, -0.278231 Holy Well

Haly Garden Spring, Burham, Kent

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – TQ 731 614

Also known as:

  1. Pilgrim Spring (possibly?)

Getting Here

To find the Pilgrim Spring, the probable site see below, take the road to Blue Bell Hill out of Aylesford and after passing a footpath sign and red house, you will soon come across a farm road. (not signposted with a white gate). Drive or walk up here and the spring heads will be obvious, one beside the drive, one below the derelict farm buildings and a large one above them further along the footpath. An alternative route is via the Coffin Stone off the Burham road past Kits Coty.

Archaeology & History

The location of the Haly Well of Haley Garden, has caused a fair amount of confusion from Kent historians being some discussion has occurred regarding its exact location, although Hale Farm may have taken its name from it. Harris (1719) in his work on Kent Topography notes that a well, that had many virtues, in particular cleansing sin:

“Under Boreham (Burham, Burgham) formerly there was a fountain in this Parish (South Philipot) at a place called Haly or Holy Garden, which was accounted mighty sacred by common people, and had very uncommon virtues ascribed to it, and in the 17th year of King Richard II, The Friars Carmelites of Aylesford obtained a grant by letters Pateill to bring the water from to their monastery.”

Hunter (1811) refers to the friars building an aqueduct from the site.  Finch (1925) believes that the well lay eleven hundred yards due west of the Kewland Wheel Well house. Although, he also states that other authorities believed that this wheel well itself was the site. This belief was discredited, however, when its well shaft was explored: no chambers or tunnels were found to lead off of from it. Sadly, there is no evidence of Great Kewland house, although some house debris down a nearby wooded quarry can be located, although being tightly fenced in, one is unable to find any remains of a well or local knowledge.

Folklore

The possible location for the spring is Pilgrim’s Spring, (TQ 731 614) in the old community of Tottington. Finch (1925) in his a Tramp in Kentish Pilgrim Land describes a pool surrounded by sarsens believed to be of ancient origin:

“Spread around this beautiful spring head in plenteous disorder is a large number of huge stones, some thrown into the bed of the stream, others supporting its margins. Some half buried and peep through the ground. With Cromlech and altar thrown down and heaped around the spring, it is left to our imagination to picture this site of ancient water worship in the dim and distant past. The stone circle appears to have completely encircled the principal spring; hence there are reasonable grounds for concluding that too was devoted to water worship.”

Of course, the description is perhaps tainted by the ‘Druid’ obsession of Victorian antiquarians, so perhaps the stones are natural, although close to recognised ancient monuments. This spring would appear to be a likely watering hole for those visiting the nearby lost shrine of St. Stephen and maybe Halygarden Springs as the stream does travel towards Aylesford. Finch (1925) notes that five springs fed the moat that surrounded the ancient manor, and were according to Dr. Thorpe (1788) quoted by Finch, of petrifying quality so that sticks become encrusted in it. Today one can still trace both the manor and moat despite its dereliction. The springs still exist too, but the number of sarsens associated with them appears to have been reduced, and one would suggest that a number have been dragged from their position and placed on the Coffin Stone.

Another possible site is  a Roman or Ancient Draw Well, (TQ 741 809) According to Finch (1925), there is a legend connecting the well with another that of Kewland by a secret tunnel. Finch (1925) notes that there is:

“…an elm tree and some stones of various sizes, beneath which is a well only some two feet in diameter, but tested to be 113 feet deep. This doubtlessly was sunk for a water supply for the Roman occupants hereabouts.”

Finch (1925) expected that this well was a local myth but was fortunate to find a sixty year old man, who as a boy, used to drop flints down it. He notes that:

“The elm tree is bowed over with age and its sinuous roots have all but closed the entrance to the well, leaving but a tiny aperture through which one could see the rough coping stones. With a little dexterity, one could drop a stone, time its fall, and hear the thus as it fell upon the accumulated debris on the bottom no casual visitor could find the well, even though accurately marked upon a plan, without a guide.”

Certainly, it is unmarked on the present maps, and attempting to uncover its location I was hindered by considerable ivy cover and rubbish. I did locate a large amount of brick and stone debris at one site and possibly remains of a dead elm, but conclusively.

(taken from the forthcoming Holy Wells and Healing Springs of Kent)

Links:  http://www.insearchofholyandhealingwells.wordpress.com

© R.B. Parish, The Northern Antiquarian and Pixyledpublications

Haly Garden Spring

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Haly Garden Spring 51.325730, 0.483899 Haly Garden Spring

Black Prince’s Well, Harbledown, Kent

Holy Well: OS Grid Reference – TR 129 582

Also known as:

  1. Leper Well
  2. St. Thomas’s Well

Getting Here

The Black Prince’s Well is found to the right of a path that curves around past the Leper Hospital / almshouses, and through the forecourt of a house.

Archaeology & History

Black Princes Well

Black Princes Well

Behind the old leper hospital, and to the west of the Church, is the Black Prince’s Well, a holy well of some renown and interest. For Canterbury pilgrims, the well was a significant watering hole before they made the last steps to that great Shrine of St. Thomas. According to Watt (1917) this was the seventh St. Thomas’s Watering at Harbledown. It still bears the alternative name of St. Thomas’s Well, a dedication unlike other sites would seem to be related to be a direct relationship, for it is recorded that he drunk from the well, accidentally leaving a shoe. Understandably, after the martyrdom, this became an important relic, and was held by the Hospital.

The spring emerges at the foot of the hill, enclosed in a six foot high semicircular domed well head made from rag stone. Most interesting a carved stone, in its central apse, depicts the Black Prince’s coat of arms, three feathers taken from the King of Bohemia at Crecy. This stone appears to havebeen possibly derived from another structure rather than being carved especially for the well head, as do the fluted stones shown in earlier photos (cf Goodsall (1968) in his Kentish Patchwork), which are now apparently missing. Either side of the well head are two courses of rag stone walling. The well is reached by a series of stone steps between two courses of stone walling. The water emerges, as a small trickle, through a five inch diameter red clay pipe, flowing to fill a circular basin.

Folklore

The well was noted as being able to cure leprous ailments, and presumably this is why the leper hospital was built in 1084 by Archbishop Lanfranc to exploit its properties. Among its many early pilgrims looking for a cure for this complaint was Edward the Black Prince, who patronised the well twice: the first on his last journey to Canterbury, when he was cured, and then finally, on his death bed in 1376. Unfortunately in this latter case the waters were obviously of no use, being unable to rid him of his syphilis, of which he died. The well subsequently named after the knight. For those unable to drink straight from the well, water was often administered to those living far from it. Evidence for this being the discovery of a leather pouch found near the well. Indeed, even the early part of this century the water was still used, especially by those from afar, for Snowdon Ward (1904) remarks that:

“the water is still in some repute for its curative powers. The sub-prior of the hospital told us that he still occasionally receives small remittances from various parts of the continent…”

Cartwright (1911) illustrates that its local reputation was still current before the Great War. He records that it was:

‘still believed by Country folks to be of great benefit to the eyes.’

Certainly the well is one of the most interesting and enchanting of Kent wells.

(taken from the forthcoming Holy Wells and Healing Springs of Kent)

Links:  http://www.insearchofholyandhealingwells.wordpress.com

© R.B. Parish, The Northern Antiquarian and Pixyledpublications

Black Princes Well

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Black Princes Well 51.282238, 1.051474 Black Princes Well

St Francis’ Well, Conisborough, South Yorkshire

Holy Well:  OS-Grid Reference – SK 5112 9880

Also known as:

  1. Town Well

Getting Here

From Church street turn down into Wellgate, the well is on the right hand site at 18 Wellgate surrounded by railings near some new properties, on a little island.

Archaeology & History

Near the castle, and although dry it is a substantial site variously called the Town well or the Well of St Francis.  This is as C.F. Innocent (1914) described it:

“Covered by a curious little building very medieval-looking  with it a chamfered plinth and steeply slanted roof”

Little is recorded of its history, but the structure more a conduit house probably dates from the 1500s at the earliest and was used as source of domestic water until the 1900s.

Folklore

Which St Francis it is, is unclear, but Alport (1898) records the local tradition which states that he was a local holy man and probably not a true saint and it is interesting that a number of churches are dedicated to a St. Francis in Yorkshire. Interestingly though, the date of creation of the well is recorded and is quite late compared to other local saints.

It is said that in 1320 -1321 the village was suffering from a particularly terrible drought and this St. Francis, said to be an old and wise man was sought for his advice. He suggested that the local people cut a willow tree from Willow Vale and then as the people sang psalms and hymns he lead them through the church and priory grounds to the site of the well. At the spot St Francis then struck is and not only did a spring arise and followed for the next 582 years (for its sadly dry now) but the tree took root.

Sadly this tree has either died or was dug up. Clark (1986) believes the story recalls a Pagan priest and that the legend was a legacy of Conisbrough’s pre-Christian past; certainly the reference to a willow indicates a water diviner.

Extracted and amended (where both sites of the town are discussed) from http://insearchofholywellsandhealingsprings.wordpress.com/2011/12/11/a-yorkshire-field-trip-conisboroughs-two-holy-wells/

References:

    1. Allport, C.H., (1898) History of Conisborough.
    2. Clark, S., (1986) “The Holy well of Conisborough,” in Source, Old Series no.5.
    3. Innocent, C.F (1914-18) “Conisborough and its Castle,” in Trans of Hunter Archaeology Society.

© Ross Parish

St Francis' Well

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St Francis\' Well 53.483503, -1.231057 St Francis\' Well

Egg Well, Ashenhurst, Leek, Staffordshire

Healing Well:  OS Grid Reference — SK 005 540

Egg Well, Ashenhurst

Egg Well, Ashenhurst

Getting Here

Just outside of Leek a right-hand lane leads to the small hamlet of Ashenhurst, turning left pass the gated road and on the right hand side at the next fork is the The egg well on the right in a small brick building.

Archaeology & History

The Egg Well is a curious site.  No evidence appears to record it as a holy well, nor a spa— but it appears to be a secular healing well.  Local tradition believes that the site was used by the Roman, but the older fabric was set in place by William Stanley, the owner of Ashenhurst Hall bewteen 1744 and 1752.  The present house was erected in the 19th century.

Waters of the well

Waters of the well

The name of the well is curious; it could refer to the shape of the basin, but could also refer to sulphurous waters although I could not detect a smell.  Today, a rather ugly 19th century brick-built structure surrounds this stone lined bath-shaped structure, which was roofed at a later date.

Folklore

The site was used by the Romans, but there is no evidence.  Its properties are recorded on the basin is this monogram and an interesting Latin inscription which reads:

“Renibus, et splenui cordi, jecorique medatur, Mille maelsi prodest ista salubris aqua.”

The translation being:

“The liver, kidneys, heart’s disease these waters remedy. And by their healing powers assuage full many a malady.”

References:

  1. Parish, R.B., Holy Wells and Healing Springs of Staffordshire – in publication.

Links:

  1. Holy Wells & Healing Springs – Staffordshire

© R.B. Parish, The Northern Antiquarian

Egg Well

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Egg Well 53.083488, -1.993084 Egg Well

St. Mary’s Well, Wallingwells, Nottinghamshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – SK 572 840

Archaeology & History

Old photo of St Mary's Well

Old photo of St Mary’s Well

First mentioned in Pipe Rolls and referred to by the founder of Wallingwells Benedictine Priory (founded around 1150 CE) as ‘juxta fonts et rivum fontium’, the site Wallingwell or originally Waldon-by-the-Wells, may be significant.  The name refers to ‘bubbling wells’, but whether these wells were dedicated appears to be unknown, although it does seem likely.  Indeed, an anonymous article from the Worksop Guardian dated 1929 on the Wallingwell Estate, shows the well arising under a rough stone work arch beside the site of a lake.  Close by, appears to be a grotto of a similar construction. The article states that the grotto was built 250 years (from 1929 this suggests a date of 1679 which appears a little too early for this folly, a date in the 18th century being more likely). This was done by Thomas White using stone from petrified springs in Derbyshire. No reference is made of the well, but one assumes that it was built at the same time, but whether White was constructing a folly around an existing traditional site again is unknown.

Baker (2000) refers to the castle folly but fails to reference these sites suggesting that it had vanished. However, grotto and well still exist in the overgrown and forlorn garden to the back of the house.  The grotto is well-preserved, although signs of ruination are evident and the urn within has gone.

The internal brickwork

The internal brickwork

The overgrown well

The overgrown well

St. Mary’s Well is the most ruined. The archway appears to have fallen or been knocked down but the channel or basin the spring flows into still exists. Observation underneath a flattened stone covering the channel show that the spring flows from a pipe further up and under a series of neat brick arches. It is clear that the well structure was never accessible as it abutts onto the Lake, but was designed to be seen from the other side of the Lake. This view now is difficult due to the considerable plant growth obscuring the sites. It is good to see that the well still exists and hopefully the garden could be restored.

Extracted from R. B. Parish (2009) Holy Wells and Healing Springs of Nottinghamshire

Links:

  1. Holy & Healing Wells

© R.B. Parish, The Northern Antiquarian

St Mary's Well

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St Mary\'s Well 53.350112, -1.141413 St Mary\'s Well

St. Helen’s Well, Hemswell, Lincolnshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – SK 932 911

Also Known as:

  1. Seven Springs

Getting Here

From the village lane at the east end of Brook Street, take the footpath through the first gate and then over the stile into the woods on your left (north).  Soon a clearing will appear on the left hand side as you climb the hill.  Careful as you scramble down (look for a swing set up by local children) on the left hand side will be the Devil’s Pulpit.

Archaeology & History

The village name deriving from ‘Helmes’, the genitive singjular of the Old English masculine name Helm, or from helmes, the genitive singular of OE helm ‘a helmet, the summit of a hill, a shelter’, so that the name is either ‘Helm’s spring’ or ‘spring at the summit or shelter’—which does rather neatly defines its topography.  However, other authorities suggest its gets its name from elm trees which once grew around the wells.

The site has an eerie but not unquiet atmosphere this is possibly due to the stone called the Devil’s Pulpit, a large approximately six-foot high piece of sandstone under which a small spring arises.

Folklore

This Thompson (1999) in his Lincolnshire Wells and Springs notes local opinion thought was St. Helen’s, he said it tasted sweeten than the other waters (a fact that I cannot testify as the spring has appeared to have almost dried up the year I went).  Binnall (1845) notes that the spring wells were regarded as possessing curative powers and rags were hung on the surrounding bushes.

The dedication of St Helen is an interesting one and can be seen as an outlier from those found widely distributed in Yorkshire (Whelan & Taylor, 1989), but rare in the adjoining counties of  Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.  Harte (2008) in his English Holy Wells suggests that the name is spurious; and Rudkin’s (1936) Lincolnshire Folklore does not refer to it as such.  However, in support of the view, I had no problem locally detecting the well using this name in the village (incidentally Harte makes an error referring to the springs as Aisthorpe Springs, these are clearly another site).  There was supposed to be a chapel or church associated with the site, of which there is no trace or record.

Taken from R. B. Parish (2012) Holy Wells and healing springs of Lincolnshire

References:

  1. Cameron, Kenneth, The Place-Names of Lincolnshire – volume 6, EPNS: Nottingham 2001.
  2. Harte, Jeremy, English Holy Wells, Heart of Albion: Loughborough 2008.
  3. o’ Neill, Susanna, Folklore of Lincolnshire, History Press: Stroud 2012.
  4. Rudkin, Ethel, Lincolnshire Folklore, 1936.
  5. Thompson, Ian, Lincolnshire Springs and Wells: A Descriptive Catalogue, Bluestone: Scunthorpe 1999.
  6. Whelan, Edna & Taylor, Ian, Yorkshire Holy Wells and Sacred Springs, Northern Lights: Dunnington 1989.

Links:

  1. Holy & Healing Wells

© R.B. Parish, The Northern Antiquarian

St Helen's Well

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St Helen\'s Well 53.408964, -0.598561 St Helen\'s Well

Ragged Spring, Healing, Lincolnshire

Healing Well:  OS Grid Reference — TA 199 096

Also Known as:

  1.  Ragged Well

Getting Here

The site can be found along Wells road, just after the turning for Healing wells farm and after the mirror.  One may need to beat through the thickets to reach it.

Archaeology & History

The Ragged Spring

The Ragged Spring

Some confusion exists over the relationship between the wells and the parish name. This is possibly an ancient site, as the earliest name for the parish is ‘Heghelinge’ and perhaps derive from the springs.  However, this is at variance to the view of Kenneth Cameron (1997) in his Place-Names of Lincolnshire, where it is noted that ‘Hægelingas’ is derived from “the sons or followers of a man named Hægel” rather than healing, although it is of course a strange coincidence!

The springs are still marked on the current OS map, as Healing Wells, in a small plantation, but they are, as the photo shows, only marked by circular indentations in the ground.  The first spring is the easier one to trace and it appears to have holes, although these may be made by animals.  The springs are now quite dry, perhaps that the clogging of the springs noted above continued as the waters were forgotten, resulting in the current situation. There is no clear lining around the well or other structures. Lying around the springs are a range of metal buckets in various stages of decay and some metal pieces which may be remains of a metal fence around it. Sadly, I was unable to find any sign of rags although the man I asked in the whereabouts referred to them as “the ragged springs.”

Folklore

The Ragged Springs fed a stream where people paddled or hung garments on bushes to acquire good health strangely rather than the wells themselves. Gutch and Peacock  (1908) in their County Folklore note that a,

“Mr. Cordeaux visited them not long since for the purpose of discovering whether pins are ever dropped into them, but the bottom of the water in both cases was too muddy and full of leaves to allow accurate examination.”

According to Gutch and Peacock (1908) each well had a different use, one spring being a chalybeate one was done for eye problems, whereas the other was for skin problems. They continue to note that a:

F S, a middle-aged man, who grew up in an adjoining parish, states that when he was a lad, one spring was used for bathing, and the second for drinking. The latter was considered good against consumption, among other forms of sickness. . . . What the special gift of the bathing well was F S cannot say. He often plunged his feet into it when a boy, but he does not venture to assert that it had any great power in reality, although ‘folks used to come for miles,’ and the gipsies, who called the place Ragged Spring or Ragged Well, frequently visited it. A Gentleman who hunts with the Yarborough pack every winter, says that he notices the rags fluttering on the shrubs and briars each season as he rides past. There is always a supply of these tatters, whether used superstitiously or not, and always has been since his father first knew the district some seventy years ago.”

This would appear to be the site recorded as below under Great Cotes by R.C. Hope (1893) in his Legendary Lore of Holy Wells:

“there is a spring celebrated locally for its healing properties. It rises from the side of a bank in a plantation, and is overshadowed by an ancient thorn, on the branches of which hang innumerable rags, fastened there by those who have drunk it waters.”

The custom apparently continued until the 1940s.  Indeed a visitor in the 1920s noted that even the trunks were covered with longer pieces of rag.  A picture in the 1995 edition of Lincolnshire Past and Present journal shows a number of rags on the bushes. It is worth noting that perhaps the presence of a large thorn perhaps suggests a great antiquity to the site.

References:

  1. Cameron, Kenneth, The Place-Names of Lincolnshire – volume 5, EPNS: Nottingham 1997.
  2. Gutch, Mrs & Peacock, Mabel, County Folk-lore – volume v: Examples of Printed Folk-lore Concerning Lincolnshire, David Nutt: Folk-lore Society 1908.
  3. Hope, Robert Charles, Legendary Lore of the Holy Wells of England, Elliott Stock: London 1893.
  4. Parish, R.B., Holy Wells and Healing Springs of Lincolnshire. Pixyled Publications 2013

Links:

  1. Holy & Healing Wells

© R.B. Parish, The Northern Antiquarian


Ragged Spring

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Ragged Spring 53.569867, -0.190275 Ragged Spring

Bede’s Well, Hebburn, Jarrow, County Durham

Holy Well:  OS Grid-Reference – NZ 31987 64158

Getting Here

Bedes Well, Hebburn 1898

Bede’s Well on 1898 map

Gone down Adair Way and drive down as far as you can. Park and find the path back into the path this leads to the natural amphitheater down steps where the well is.

Archaeology & History

Surrounded by worn paving slabs in a small amphitheatre. It is reached by steps and surrounded by trees. The well is very dry, with broken stone work. Nearly lost under Victorian industrial growth, local people in the early 1900s became concerned with its plight and money was raised via an appeal in the Jarrow Guardian. Although some money was forthcoming, nothing appears to have happened until 1932 when it was enclosed in a railed enclosure with its name carved into the stone work either side of a gate way. When  Palmer’s shipyard slag heap was consolidated sadly spring was diverted leaving the well dry.

Bede's Well, Jarrow (6)St Bede has a long association with Jarrow but whether he knew of this well is unproved. The legend locally says that when living at St. Paul’s Monastery he would send the monks out to collect water from this well. However, it has been questioned why? Especially as the well is some distance away, a well was found enclosed in the site and in fact the river nearby would have been clean enough to drink. It is possible that the site derives its name from the Anglo-Saxon word baed meaning bathing place and as such perhaps the site was dug to provide a healing bath. Perhaps we shall never know, but what is clear is that the site is slowly disappearing into obscurity.

St. Bede's Well in 1908Folklore

The earliest reference to this site is Floyer in 1702 which notes that

“Nothing is more Common in this Country… for the preventing or curing of Rickets, than to send Children of a Year old and upwards, to St Bede’s… Well”

Bede's Well, Jarrow (2)

Brand (1789) says that:

“about a mile to the west of Jarrow there is a well, still called Bede’s Well, to which, as late as the year 1740, it was a prevailing custom to bring children troubled with any disease or infirmity; a crooked pin was put in, and the well laved dry between each dipping. My informant has seen twenty children brought together on a Sunday, to be dipped in this well; at which also, on Midsummer-eve, there was a great resort of neighbouring people, with bonfires, musick, &c”.

A report in the Sunderland Times quoted by Hope (1893) notes that:

“Still, when the well is occasionally cleared out, a number of crooked pins (a few years ago a pint) are always found among the mud. These have been thrown into the sacred fount for some purpose or other, either in the general way as charms for luck, or to promote and secure true love, or for the benefit of sick babies… In days when the ague was common in this country, the usual offering… was a bit of rag tied to the branch of an overhanging tree or bush”

A visitor reported an early morning journey to the well, where ‘he seated himself on a rail to enjoy the singing of the birds. Before long an Irishman came up, who had been walking very fast, and was panting for breath. He took a bottle out of his pocket, stooped down and filled it from the well, put it to his mouth, and took a copious draught. “A fine morning, sir”, said our friend. “Sure and it is”, replied the man, “and what a holy man St Bede must have been! You see, when I left Jarrow, I was as blind as a bat with the headache, but as soon as I had taken a drink just now, I was as well as ever I was in my life”. So he filled his bottle once more with the precious liquid, and walked away.

Bede's Well

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Bede\'s Well 54.971020, -1.501849 Bede\'s Well