Holy Well (destroyed): OS Grid Reference – TQ 332 911
Also Known as:
My Lady’s Hole
Archaeology & History
Long since gone after drainage operations on Tottenham Cemetery made the waters dry-up, this was one of several holy wells in the Tottenham area. Its history has been described in various old tomes, but the most definitive is found in William Robinson’s (1840) classic on the parish of Tottenham, when the well was still visible. He told us:
“There is a spring which issues from the side of a small hillock on the south side of the Moselle, nearly opposite the Vicarage, leading thence to the Church, called Bishop’s Well. This spring was formerly considered famous for many strange and wonderful cures performed on the diseased by the use of this water. It has been for some years neglected, but of late the owner of the field in which this well is, had it cleansed, and planted some trees round it, and put up posts and rails to prevent the cattle treading down the sides of it. It is said that the water of this well never freezes. In former times this well was in great repute from the purity of its water. The ladies in the vicinity of it were accustomed to send their servants in the morning and evening for water for their tea, from which circumstance it was for many years known by the name of “My Lady’s Hole.” The water of this well is not only esteemed for its medicinal qualities, but particularly for curing disorders of the eye.
“There were formerly many other springs about the village, especially one which issued out of the hill on which the Church stands; and another in Spottons Wood otherwise Spottons Grove, on the north side of Lordship Lane, which in the fifteenth century was of considerable notoriety; but none of which have in former times been so much frequented and held in such repute as Bishop’s Well.”
(Please note: the grid-reference for this site is an approximation)
Foord, Alfred Stanley, Springs, Streams and Spas of London: History and Association, T. Fisher Unwin: London 1910.
Hope, Robert Charles, Legendary Lore of the Holy Wells of England, Elliott Stock: London 1893.
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)
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?)
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.”
Bates, Joe, Rambles twixt Pendle and Holme, Nelson 1926.