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

Vauxhall Well, Lambeth, London, Surrey

Healing Well (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference — TQ 3006 7734

Archaeology & History

Position of Vauxhall Well on 1824 map

In Thomas Allen’s (1827) huge survey of Lambeth parish, he told that there was little of any interest along Wandsworth Road, apart from a good orchard, “and a fine spring called Vauxhall Well.”  According to Daniel Lysons (1792), it was located “not far from the turnpike”; and according to Mr Sunderland’s (1915), was to be found “on the right-hand side of the Wandsworth Road” as you walked down it to the south.  Thankfully its position was highlighted on the 1824 map of the parish (right) that accompanied Mr Allen’s work.

It appears to have been built over in the latter-half of the 19th century, soon after William Thornbury (1878) wrote that he thought the well was still visible, but vanished soon after.

The waters were universally ascribed by all historians, from Mr Allen onwards, as being,

“esteemed highly serviceable in many disorders of the eyes, and in the hardest winter it is never known to freeze.”

The name ‘Vauxhall’ derives from that brilliantly famous family name of ‘Fawkes’ (as in Guy Fawkes), being the ‘hall of Fawkes’.  The name was first recorded here as early as 1241. (Gover et al, 1934)

References:

  1. Allen, Thomas, The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Lambeth, J. Allen: London 1827.
  2. Foord, Alfred Stanley, Springs, Streams and Spas of London: History and Association, T. Fisher Unwin: London 1910.
  3. Gover, J.E.B., Mawer, A. & Stenton, F.M., The Place-Names of Surrey, Cambridge University Press 1934.
  4. Lysons, Daniel, The Environs of London – volume 1,  T. Cadell & W. Davies: London 1792.
  5. Sunderland, Septimus, Old London Spas, Baths and Wells, John Bale: London 1915.
  6. Thornbury, William, History of Old and New London – volume 6, Cassell, Petter & Galpin: London 1878.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

Vauxhall Well

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Vauxhall Well 51.480198, -0.128334 Vauxhall Well

Robin Hood’s Well, Higham, Lancashire

Sacred Well: OS Grid Reference – SD 81755 35151

Archaeology & History

Robin Hoods Well on 1848 map

On the north-side of the River Calder, a short distance above the riverbank below Pendle Hall—as shown on the earliest OS-map of the area, but without a name—the local history writer, Joe Bates (1926), told us about this “spring of icy cold water”, which, in bygone years, “used to be called Robin Hood’s Well.”  (Having moved out of the area, I’m not able to say whether this site is still visible.  Can any local folk illuminate us on the matter?)

Folklore

Like many other sacred and healing wells across Britain, Bates (1926) said that the waters from Robin Hood’s Well,

“was at one time considered a specific for certain ailments of the eyes.”

References:

  1. Bates, Joe, Rambles twixt Pendle and Holme, Nelson 1926.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Robin Hood's Well

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Robin Hood\'s Well 53.812333, -2.278560 Robin Hood\'s Well

St. Canna’s Stone, Llangan, Carmarthenshire

Legendary Rock:  OS Grid Reference – SN 1770 1874

Also Known as:

  1. Chair of St. Canna
  2. St Canna’s Chair

Archaeology & History

St. Canna’s Chair Stone

This once important healing stone that was moved a short distance (from grid reference SN 1775 1875 to SN 1770 1874 according to officials) to its present spot, around 1925, whilst having a long history according to the folk traditions of Carmarthenshire, was previously questioned as an authentic site by none other than Prof John Rhys (1875), following his visit to the site in the 1870s.  Although Rhys seemed an isolated voice, some modern archaeologists have also questioned its veracity.  It’s difficult to say precisely what the original nature of the stone may have been, but it was certainly accommodated in medieval times as a healing stone and used in conjunction with a pagan well – which was of course, accommodated by the Church.  If the stone itself had a megalithic pedigree, as some have believed, we know not what it may have been…

As Janet & Colin Bord (2006) wrote, the stone “still survives, but to the casual observer it looks like any other abandoned block of stone,” sitting innocuously within the ring of trees surrounding the church.  An early account of the stone was written by E.L. Barnwell (1872), who told:

“The present church of Llangan in Carmarthenshire is a wretched structure, built in 1820, and is about to be removed, as the population has long since migrated to some distance from it, and in a few years even the memory of Canna’s church having once existed here may cease. There is, however, a relic still left, which we trust will not be overlooked by the local authorities, as indeed it seems to have been hitherto ; for no notice occurs of it in the account of the parish in Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary or any other work. This relic is a rude stone, forming a kind of chair, lying in a field adjoining the churchyard, and about thirty or forty yards from it. When it was removed to its present position is unknown. There was also a well below the church called Ffynnon Canna; and there is still a small brook available, if required, for following the rules prescribed to those who wish to avail themselves of the curative powers of the saint’s chair. It appears that the principal maladies which are thus supposed to be cured are ague and intestinal complaints. The prescribed practice was as follows. The patient first threw some pins into the well, a common practice in many other parts of Wales, where wells are still thought to be invested with certain powers. Then he drank a fixed quantity of the water, and sometimes bathed in the well, for the bath was not always resorted to. The third step was to sit down in the chair for a certain length of time; and if the patient could manage to sleep under these circumstances, the curative effects of the operation were considerably increased. This process was continued for some days, even for a fortnight or longer. A man aged seventy-eight, still living near the spot, remembers the well and hundreds of pins in it, as well as patients undergoing the treatment; but, about thirty or thirty- five years ago, the tenant carried off the soil between the well and the watercourse, so as to make the spring level with the well, which soon after partly disappeared, and from that time the medical reputation of the saint and her chair has gradually faded away, and will, in the course of a generation or two, be altogether forgotten.”

Folklore

In Wirt Sykes (1880) classic text, he told us that the field where the original Canna’s Chair may have been, possessed fairy-lore that we find at other sites, usually ascribed as prehistoric.  He wrote:

“In the middle of this parish there is a field called Parc y Fonwent, or the churchyard field, where, according to local tradition, the church was to have been originally built; but the stones brought to the spot during the day were at night removed by invisible hands to the site of the present church.  Watchers in the dark heard the goblins engaged in this work and pronouncing in clear and correct Welsh these words, “Llangan, dyma’r fan,” which means, “Llangan, here is the spot.””

References:

  1. Allen, J. Romilly, The Monumental History of the Early British Church, SPCK: London 1889.
  2. Baring-Gould, S. & Fisher, John, Lives of the British Saints – volume 2, London 1907.
  3. Barnwell, E.L., “Canna’s Chair,” in Archaeologia Cambrensis, volume 3 (4th Series), 1872.
  4. Bord, Janet & Colin, Cures and Curses: Ritual and Cult at Holy Wells, Heart of Albion: Wymeswold 2006.
  5. Breverton, Terry, The Book of Welsh Saints, Bro Morganwg: Glyndwr 2000.
  6. Davies, Jonathan Ceredig, Folk-lore of West and Mid-Wales, Welsh Gazette: Aberystwyth 1911.
  7. “D.M.”, “Canna’s Chair,” in Archaeologia Cambrensis, volume 4 (4th Series), 1875.
  8. Rhys, John, “On Some of Our Inscribed Stones,” in Archaeologia Cambrensis, volume 4 (4th Series), 1875.
  9. Sikes, Wirt, British Goblins, Sampson Low: London 1880.
  10. Sharkey, John (ed.), Ogham Monuments in Wales, Llanerch: Felinfach 1992.
  11. Westwood, J.O., Lapidarium Walliae: The Early Inscribed and Sculptured Stones of Wales, Oxford University Press 1879.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

St Canna's Stone

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St Canna\'s Stone 51.837433, -4.647453 St Canna\'s Stone