St. Martin’s Well, Looe, Cornwall

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – SX 2569 5407

Archaeology & History

St Martins Well on 1888 map

An early dedication to the St Martin of this well is from the 13th century, when referring to the “church of sanctus Martinus” in 1282, whose building is a half-mile to the north.  The well itself is located on the old parish boundary, on the footpath today known as the North View.

In earlier days, the water from this site came “flowing out of a rock” giving birth to St Martin’s stream (Quiller-Couch, 1894).  “It was much used by the villagers,” they wrote, “because of the excellent quality of the water; now it is covered in with an ordinary wooden lid, and is used to supply the town of Looe with water.”

Things hadn’t changed when Mr Lane-Davies (1970) visited the place, who was far from pleased at its status.  “The spring,” he told, “has been enclosed in an ugly shed and the water piped away.”

Despite this, when Meyrick (1982) came here, he thought the site had “a romantic and grotto-like air” to it, but he was equally displeased by barbed wire preventing folk from easily accessing the waters and “spoilt by a certain amount of rubbish.”  Unfortunately due to a dreadful accident here in 1993, when a young child fell into the waters and drowned, the site is now completely enclosed by railings to prevent this happening to anyone else.

References:

  1. Bond, Thomas, Topographical and Historical Sketches of the Boroughs of East and West Looe, J. Nichols: London 1823.
  2. Lane-Davies, A., Holy Wells of Cornwall, FOCS: St Ives 1970.
  3. Meyrick, J., A Pilgrims Guide to the Holy Wells of Cornwall, Falmouth 1982.
  4. Quiller-Couch, M. & L., Ancient and Holy Wells of Cornwall, C.J. Clark: London 1894.
  5. Straffon, Cheryl, Fentynyow Kernow: In Search of Cornwall’s Holy Wells, Meyn Mamvro: Penzance 1998.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Glastonbury Well, Sunny Corner, Truro, Cornwall

Holy Well (lost?):  OS Grid Reference – SW 837 434

Archaeology & History

There’s a minor discrepancy of opinion as to the exact location of this site, so I’ve chosen to go right in-between the positions cited by Leggat (1987): SW 836 433, and Meyrick (1982): SW 838 434.

The site was mentioned by Charles Henderson, who told that around the year 1750 there was a medicinal well at Sunny Corner, known as “Glastonbury Well”.  Its waters had the ability to “cure all disorders,” but its reputation was apparently short-lived, which would suggest that its fame beyond local villagers was concurrent to the rise of Spa Wells amongst the upper- classes at that time.

In the Leggats’ (1987) survey, no locals they spoke with had ever heard of the place; but that they “found a spring halfway up the lane adjacent to Sunnyside House which had been used in the past from time immemorial as a domestic water supply to a scattering of local cottages” and wondered if this might have been the long long Glastonbury Well…

References:

  1. AdamsJ.H., “The Mediaeval Chapels of Cornwall,” in Journal Royal Institution of Cornwall, volume 3 (new series), 1957. 
  2. Henderson, Charles, One Hundred and Nine Parishes of the Four Western Hundreds of Cornwall, Oscar Black: Truro 1955.
  3. Leggat, P.O. & D.V., The Healing Wells: Cornish Cults and Customs, Dyllansow Truran: Redruth 1987.
  4. Meyrick, J., A Pilgrims Guide to the Holy Wells of Cornwall, Falmouth 1982.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

St Margaret’s Well, Hasbury, Worcestershire

Holy Well (destroyed?):  OS Grid Reference – SO 9609 8284

Archaeology & History

The site on the 1904 map

Shown on the 1904 OS-map, beneath the aptly-named St Margaret’s Hill on its northern side, we can see where the holy well of St Margaret used to be, not too long ago.  Although it seems to have fallen pray to industrial destruction, there are a number of old references to the site, mainly gathered together in Jeremy Harte’s (2008) magnum opus on the subject.  It was also mentioned in a survey by the British Geological Society (Richardson 1930) where we were told that it was,

“in the private grounds of a house recently erected, and is a spring issuing from the Halesowen Sandstone at the junction of two faults (shown west of the ‘H’ of Hasbury on the new series Geological Map, Sheet 168) about 100 yds SW of the point where Blackberry Lane joins Hagley Road.  It is referred to, as a well of good cold unmineralised water, by T. Nash in 1781.”

And it was Mr Nash who gave us the earliest description of the place, saying:

“In the hamlet or township of Hasbury is an ancient holy well, called St Margaret’s Well, which formerly had much good stonework about it; but that was wholly removed in the year 1747.  One of these stones contained some curious sculpture, the figure of a man in a posture of hasty walking, and in the next compartment that of another man leaning on crutches… This place is called Margaret’s Hill and the water of the well supplies a small brook, which runs below the Grange, and falls into a piece of water at the end of the town, called Cornbow Pool.”

It’s more than probable that the old carvings he described—of one man on crutches and the other of a figure walking speedily—represents one of the main curative allegations that these waters possessed.  Cases of people walking on crutches to sacred wells, drinking the waters, then walking away without them (and in many cases leaving their crutches at the well-side as testament to its properties) are commonplace.  And, aptly enough, the curative elements of this ancient site have been maintained in modern times with the medical centre of St Margaret’s Well Surgery being built by this very spot!

References:

  1. Harte, Jeremy, English Holy Wells – volume 2, HOAP: Wymeswold 2008.
  2. Nash, T.R., Collections for the History of Worcestershire – volume 1, John White: London 1781.
  3. Richardson, L.R., Wells and Springs of Worcestershire, HMSO: London 1930.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Holy Well, Kislingbury, Northamptonshire

Holy Well (lost):  OS Grid Reference – SP 698 575

Archaeology & History

Hollowell Farm on 1885 map

A mile south of Kislingbury village, just by the roadside is the old Hill Farm.  In times gone by—as the early OS-maps show—a trackway led from here, westwards, for just a few hundred yards, until it reached the old farm of Hollowell Hill, all trace of which has long since gone.  The farm owed its name to the existence of a holy well mentioned briefly in 14th century records in the Cartulary of St. Andrews, Northampton, where it was described as Halywellhille, or the Holy Well on a hill.  All trace of it seems to have been lost.  A ‘Spring’ that is shown on the 1885 map, a few hundred yards south of the old farm, seems to be the closest contender, but it seems more likely that the well was adjacent to, or beneath the farm-building.

References:

  1. Gover, J.E.B., Mawer, A. & Stenton, F.M., The Place-Names of Northamptonshire, Cambridge University Press 1975.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Market Cross, Hastings, Sussex

Cross (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – TQ 828 099

Also Known as

  1. North End’s Cross

Archaeology & History

This long-lost stone cross should not be confused with the more recent one, erected by one Mr H. C. Richards in 1901 to commemorate some malarky about Edward VII.  The one in this profile was much older than that, although both of them were erected close to each other.  The older cross was found, said T.H. Cole (1884), “at the head of the Town, near All Saints’ Church.” Also known as the North End’s Cross, the old market was held here and close by were the gallows, the whipping post and the stocks.

References:

  1. Cole, Thomas H., The Antiquities of Hastings and the Battlefield, Hastings St Leonards Phil. Society 1884.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Market Cross, Aynho, Northamptonshire

Cross (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SP 514 332

Archaeology & History

In John Bridges’ (1791) account of the parish of Aynho, he made mention of an old market cross that stood in the village, but even in his day it had been removed and so we know little about it.    Chris Markham (1901) included it in his inventory of crosses, but could find no additional details to those provided by Mr Bridges.  He told us:

“In the seventeenth year of Edward II (1323-4) John de Clavering was lord of the manor of Eynho, and obtained the King’s charter for a weekly mercate, or market, to be held every Tuesday, and a yearly fair on the vigil and day of St. Michael and two days following.  This market was continued until the twentieth year of James I (1622-3), when Richard Cartwright obtained a new charter for holding the market and fair, with the addition of another yearly fair on the Monday and Tuesday after Pentecost.  Bridges, however, writing about 1700, says that the market had been discontinued for some sixty years, and that the market cross had been then long since taken down. Since then the fairs have also sunk into desuetude.”

References:

  1. Bridges, John, The History and Antiquities of Northamptonshire – volume 1, T. Payne: Oxford 1791.
  2. Markham, Christopher A., The Stone Crosses of the County of Northampton, Simpkin Marshall: London 1901.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Village Cross, Leighterton, Gloucestershire

Cross (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – ST 824 910

Archaeology & History

Charles Pooley (1868) gave a somewhat vague description of this site, telling that, “there is authority for believing that at one time a Cross was set up in the village.”  I can find no other reference to this monument which, I presume, has been destroyed.  (the grid reference cited is an approximation near the centre of the village, where village crosses were usually located)

References:

  1. Pooley, Charles, Notes on the Old Crosses of Gloucestershire, Longmans Green: London 1868.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

St Pancras’ Well, Marshfield, Gloucestershire

Holy Well (lost):  OS Grid Reference – ST 766 743

Archaeology & History

In R.C. Skyring Walker’s (1928) fine survey of Gloucestershire’s holy wells, he lamented the passing of this site, telling how

“it is sad to relate that this well has totally disappeared and its precise site is unknown.”

Since those words, the situation regarding its whereabouts has not been resolved.  First mentioned in Samuel Rudder’s (1779) work, the main clue we’ve got regarding its whereabouts is his description of the adjoining hamlets and village tithes:

“Westonton, formerly called Old Marshfield, or Little Marshfield.  It has been a distinct parish, called St Pancras, according to Sir Robert Atkins, and a well in this hamlet still bears the name of that saint.”

‘Well’ on 1886 OS-map

Westonton is the old farmhouse of Westend Town less than a mile northwest of Marshfield where, on early Ordnance Survey maps, a Well is shown.  To the north of this is Springs Farm.  This latter name probably has no bearing on St Pancras’ Well; but the location cited by Rudder of the well being in Westend Town gives us a damn good indicator as to where local historians should dig for this forgotten sacred site.

The Well was described in T.D. Fosbroke’s (1807) work, but only in passing.  St Pancras’s festival date is April 3. (the grid reference cited for this well is an approximation)

References:

  1. Fosbroke, Thomas D., Abstracts of Records and Manuscripts Respecting the County of Gloucester – volume 2, J. Harris: Cirencester 1807.
  2. Rudder, Samuel, A New History of Gloucestershire, S. Rudder: Cirencester 1779.
  3. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of Gloucestershire – volume 3, Cambridge University Press 1964.
  4. Walters, R.C. S., The Ancient Wells, Springs and Holy Wells of Gloucestershire, St Stephens Press: Bristol 1928.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Slaughter’s Well, Lechlade-on Thames, Gloucestershire

Healing Well (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SU 215 995

Archaeology & History

Not listed in the field-name surveys of the town, the name Slaughter Well was obviously a folk-name given to it by local people.  The place was mentioned in an unpublished manuscript that Adin Williams’ (1888) managed to lay his hands on, where it was mentioned in relation to the missing pyramidal Market Cross.  Its waters were “said to be medicinal.”  The name of the well was said to derive from a battle here between Oliver Cromwell’s men and the Royalists.  At this place,

“an officer was shot, and this incident gave the name ‘Slaughter’ to the well.”

References:

  1. Williams, Adin, Lechlade: Being the History of the Town, Manor and Estates, The Priory and the Church, E.W. Savory: Cirencester 1888.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

High Cross, Elkstone, Gloucestershire

Cross (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SO 9674 1321

Archaeology & History

High Cross on 1883 map

First shown on a 1775 map of the region, this long-lost site is preserved in several place-names near the old crossroads a half-mile north of Elkstone village.  It is mentioned, albeit briefly in Charles Pooley (1868) county survey, where he told that, “in former times a very handsome and lofty High Cross stood in this parish.”  However, there’s the possibility that the name ‘High’ cross may here derive simply from a cross located at a high point in the landscape.

An old ‘Guide Post’ marked on the early Ordnance Survey map at the same spot has been suggested by Danny Sullivan—and not without good reason—to be a prehistoric standing stone.  He may be right.

References:

  1. Pooley, Charles, Notes on the Old Crosses of Gloucestershire, Longmans Green: London 1868.
  2. Sullivan, D.P., Old Stones of the Cotswolds and the Forest of Dean, Reardon: Cheltenham 1999.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian