Cruckles Well, Manningham, Bradford, West Yorkshire

Sacred Well (lost):  OS Grid Reference – SE 160 339

Archaeology & History

Which one is the Cruckleswell?
Which one is the Cruckleswell?

In an essay by great regional historian Harry Speight (1912) on the ancient tracks of Bradford and district, he mentions this “Cruckleswell” which was first described in 1602.  Mentioned again in 1612 land deeds and several times thereafter, the site has long gone (been built over), but may have been a place where local people ascribed there being water spirits, or naiads.

Although the local historian W.E. Preston (1932) described the place as being in fields between Manningham Stoop (an old boundary stone, now lost) and Hallfield Cross (perhaps an old stone cross site, also lost), a more detailed article appeared a few years later by Wilfrid Robertshaw (1935), telling of its approximate location.  He wrote:

“The interesting field-name of Cruckleswell occurs in 1664.  Cruckleswell was situated between Manningham Stoope and Hallfield Cross.  The latter name is here applied to some closes of land near the Bradford-Manningham boundary and not to a monument; but from this qualifying statement must not be inferred the opinion that a stone or wooden cross of the name never existed.  From Manningham Stoope, whose location I have not traced, a lane led to Fair Gapp, which was just within the town of Bradford; but in 1686 there was a close called the Stoope, which adjoined Manningham Lower Lane on the left-hand side from Bradford to Manningham.  The occupiers of Cruckleswells were ordered by the jurors of the Bradford Manor Court to take in the water which ran by their premises.  The occurrence of a water-course thereabouts, together with the name, Cruckleswell, suggests that here, as in the Panewell Feilde, was a holy well of a kind.  Perhaps the derivation of the name may be found in the Yorkshire dialect word ‘crukle,’ meaning to make crooked, or to bend or twist.  In a sense, therefore, Cruckleswell was another pin well, into which bent of ‘cruckled’ pins were cast.  Cruckleswells, or Crookewells, as the three closes of land were called in a deed of 1658, were then granted by Tempest Brighouse, of Bilbie in the county of Nottingham, to James Mitchell of Bradford, yeoman.  But…I have found a deed of sale by Christopher Pighells of Bradford, yeoman, to John Nicholls of Horton, clerk, of the close of land called Cruckleswell… Nicholls purchased Cruckleswell in 1612, the year before Saxton produced his plan, on which the small field is shown adjoining others belonging to Pighells.  Thus the plan fixes the location of Cruckleswell; it adjoined the east side of the highway leading from Bradford to Frizinghall and was just within the Manningham township.”

This would put it close to the Holy Well Ash well and its long-lost standing stone.  The 1852 OS-map of this area shows an unnamed well between the Holy Well Ash and the boundary line, as highlighted above; but another unnamed well is to the north of the holy well.  If we cross over the boundary line south and out of Manningham, three other wells existed less than 200 yards away.  Anyone of these may have been the Cruckleswell.

Mr Robertson’s idea on the word ‘cruckle’ is echoed in A.H. Smith’s (1961) place-name analysis of the site, where he relates how the word is “possibly connected with the obsolete crookle, ‘to crook, bed.'”  This is shown to be the case in Thomas Wright’s (1898) gigantic tome. And as “cruckling” pins was a common animistic practice in earlier centuries, this derivation of it—as being a well where offerings were given to the spirit of the waters—is not unlikely.

References:

  1. Preston, W.E., ‘Some Local Holy Wells,’ in Bradford Antiquary, June 1932.
  2. Robertshaw, Wilfrid (ed.), West Yorkshire Deeds (2 volumes), Bradford Historical & Antiquarian Society 1936.
  3. Shepherd, Val, Historic Wells of Bradford, Heart of Albion: Wymeswold 1995.
  4. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire – volume 3, Cambridge University Press 1961.
  5. Speight, Harry, ‘Ancient Streets and Lanes of Bradford as Portrayed in the Manor Court Rolls,’ in Bradford Antiquary, New Series 3, 1912.
  6. Wright, Thomas, English Dialect Dictionary – volume 1, Henry Frowde: Oxford 1898.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Cruckles Well

loading map - please wait...

Cruckles Well 53.801159, -1.758554 Cruckles Well

Holy Ash Well, Bradford, West Yorkshire

Holy Well (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference SE 15942 34208

Also Known as:

  1. Ash Well
  2. Holy Well Ash Well
  3. Pin Well

Archaeology & History

Holy Well Ash on 1852 map

Either right next to, or perhaps now beneath Bradford City’s Valley Parade football ground, was once a very important sacred well site.  Known as the Holy Ash Well and variants thereof, this healing spring was of considerable renown to people all around Bradford district in bygone days.  The site was illustrated on the 1852 OS map, and there was also a sacred stone adjacent to the well known as the Wart or Pin Stone, which had some animistic healing properties related the waters.

The old well was described by local historian Abraham Holroyd (1873) who said that:

“In Manningham Lane there is a fine well, in old deeds called Hellywell, i.e., holy well, in a field now called Halliwell Ash, now a stone quarry… Near this is the ancient Pin Stone.”

A few years later, in Robert Charles Hope’s (1893) monumental study, he described how,

“This holy well, not far from Manningham Lane, probably derived its name from having at some time been dedicated to some saint.  The inhabitants of Bradford were wont in ancient times to resort on Sundays to these wells as a common place of meeting, to drink of the waters and partake of their preternatural virtues.”

Which was another was of saying that he didn’t really know too much about the place!

The Bradford historian William Preston (1933) described this site in one of his early essays, where he informed us that local people knew the accompanying rock hereby as the Ash Stone, due to its proximity and ritual relationship to a great old ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior) that grew next to the well.  The mythic history of this particular tree should not be understated: it was a Creation deity par excellence in northern and Viking myths, but whatever old tales and power might once have been had here, in Bradford, they’ve long since been forgotten.  But it was the industrial historian William Cudworth (1896) who told the most of this all-but forgotten site, saying:

“On the sloping ground between Belle Vue and the Midland Railway there once existed a spring of water, supposed to have preternatural virtues. The name it bore within present recollection is probably a corruption of Holy-well. The holy wells of England as elsewhere had not all the same virtues attached to them. Some were blessed if used for baptisms, to others were attributed curative properties, especially for sore or weak eyes, while others were supposed to possess mystical powers, insomuch as any article dipped in them became charms or safeguards against witchery.  Any traditions associated with the spring at Halliwell (or Holywell) Ash are lost, but certainly in the early part of the present century the place was a favourite resort of the townspeople on Sundays.

“The derivation of the name is doubtful. In the survey of 1638 a close called ” Helliwell Ash” is mentioned as containing 2a. 3r. 26p., but without any indication as to its locality. The spelling of the name is of little moment.  Mr. James, in his “History of Bradford,” states that he had seen the place referred to in old deeds as “Helly-well.” By his will, dated May, 1685, Thomas Lister, of Manningham, devised to his two daughters, Juliana Lambrecht and Elizabeth Stapleton, equal shares in two closes of land called “Holywell Ash” and ” Delf Close,” besides other lands in Manningham. In the will disposing of the possessions of Juliana Lambrecht, her moiety of “Holywell Esh” was bequeathed to Francis Stapleton, her nephew.  In due course the lands in question were inherited by Francis Sharp Bridges, and have latterly belonged to Sir Francis Sharp Powell, M.P., in whose writings the form of spelling is given as ” Halliwell Ash.”

“Upon the ground in question there used to be a fine well of water issuing out of the higher ground, to which tradition assigned healing virtues. Might not the name of “holy” come from this circumstance?  Sufficient importance attaches to the tradition, however, to have led the farmers of the recent ordnance plan of Manningham to preserve the name, although the widening of the Midland Railway below Thorncliffe Terrace has almost obliterated the site.”

A more recent updated overview of the site was written by one of my old school-mates, Dave Pendleton (1997), who said of the place:

“Prior to 1886 the only feature of any real note in the Valley Parade environs was a holy well that emerged near the corner of the football grounds Midland Road and Bradford End stands; hence the road Holywell Ash Lane. Today the site of the well is covered by the football pitch.

Only the road name survives as a reminder of what was apparently one of the district’s foremost attractions. On Sundays and holidays people would gather to take the waters and leave pins, coins, rags and food as offerings to the spirit that resided in the waters.

Accounts suggest that the well was covered and had a great ash tree standing over it (hence ‘holy ash’). There was also a standing stone called the wart stone of unknown antiquity. The stone had a carved depression that collected water. It was believed that the water was a miraculous cure for warts. Indeed, as early as 1638 the Holy Well had been credited with healing powers.

The well suffered a decline in popularity during the late nineteenth century and its keepers resorted to importing sulphur water from Harrogate, which they sold for a half penny per cup. The well disappeared under the Valley Parade pitch during the summer of 1886 and the wart stone was moved to the top of Holywell Ash Lane – which then ran straight up to Manningham Lane. The stone was still there as late as 1911 but thereafter it seems to have disappeared into the mists of time.”

A night-club adjacent to the Valley Parade football ground—called Bibby’s—was said to have had an old well in its cellar, which the owner of the place, Mr Pearl Gladstone Minott, said was ‘haunted’.

Unfortunately I’ve not been able to find any old photos or drawings of this lost holy well – though I imagine that some local, somewhere must be able to help us out with this one.  Surely there’s more of this site hidden away somewhere….?

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  2. Cudworth, William, Manningham, Heaton and Allerton, W. Cudworth: Bradford 1896.
  3. Holroyd, Abraham, Collecteana Bradfordiana, Saltaire 1873.
  4. Hope, R.C., The Legendary Lore of the Holy Wells of England, Elliot Stock: London 1893.
  5. Pendleton, David & Dewhirst, John, Along the Midland Road, Bradford City AFC 1997.
  6. Preston, W.E., ‘Some Bradford Holy Wells’, in Bradford Antiquary, volume 7, 1933.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Holy Well Ash

loading map - please wait...

Holy Well Ash 53.803929, -1.759419 Holy Well Ash

Wart Stone, Bradford, West Yorkshire

Standing Stone (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SE 15940 34211

Also known as:

  1. Ash Stone
  2. Pin Stone

Archaeology & History

Wart Stone on 1852 OS-map

At Bradford City’s football ground there used to be the holy well known as the Holy Ash Well, adjacent to which was this old stone (as shown on the 1852 OS map).  For some reason it was uprooted and moved further up the hill around the end of the 19th century and was resurrected beside the old Belle Vue Hotel on Manningham Lane.  From thereon however, I’ve not been able to trace what happened to it, and presume it’s been destroyed.  It was known by local people to have had a ritual relationship with the adjacent healing well, to which people were said to visit from far and wide.

It seems to have been described first by Abraham Holroyd (1873), who told us that:

“In Manningham Lane there is a fine well, in old deeds called Hellywell, i.e., holy well, in a field now called Halliwell Ash, now a stone quarry… Near this is the ancient Pin Stone.”

The Bradford historian William Preston also made mention of the stone in one of his early surveys, where he told how local people also knew the stone as the Ash Stone, due to its proximity and ritual relationship to a great old tree.

Folklore

Also known as the Wart Stone, thanks to its ability to cure them and other skin afflictions.  Intriguingly, the building which now stands on the site is said to be haunted.

As my old school-mate, Dave Pendleton (1997), said of the place and its associated well:

“Prior to 1886 the only feature of any real note in the Valley Parade environs was a holy well that emerged near the corner of the football grounds Midland Road and Bradford End stands; hence the road Holywell Ash Lane. Today the site of the well is covered by the football pitch.

Only the road name survives as a reminder of what was apparently one of the district’s foremost attractions. On Sundays and holidays people would gather to take the waters and leave pins, coins, rags and food as offerings to the spirit that resided in the waters.

Accounts suggest that the well was covered and had a great ash tree standing over it (hence ‘holy ash’). There was also a standing stone called the wart stone of unknown antiquity. The stone had a carved depression that collected water. It was believed that the water was a miraculous cure for warts. Indeed, as early as 1638 the Holy Well had been credited with healing powers.

The well suffered a decline in popularity during the late nineteenth century and its keepers resorted to importing sulphur water from Harrogate, which they sold for a half penny per cup. The well disappeared under the Valley Parade pitch during the summer of 1886 and the wart stone was moved to the top of Holywell Ash Lane – which then ran straight up to Manningham Lane. The stone was still there as late as 1911 but thereafter it seems to have disappeared into the mists of time.”

Unfortunately we have no old photos or drawings of this lost standing stone – though I imagine that some local, somewhere must be able to help us out with this one.  Surely there’s summat hiding away…

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  2. Holroyd, Abraham, Collecteana Bradfordiana, Saltaire 1873.
  3. Pendleton, David & Dewhirst, John, Along the Midland Road, Bradford City AFC 1997.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

 

loading map - please wait...

  53.803956, -1.759449 Wart Stone