Category Archives: Holy Wells

St. Patrick’s Well, Dublin, Under Threat ?

The construction of the cross- city Luas line will destroy a holy well associated with St Patrick, Jonathan Swift and the introduction of frogs to Ireland, a historian has claimed.

Gary Branigan, author of Ancient & Holy Wells of Dublin, said the line would pass over St Patrick’s Well as it makes its way past Trinity College. The underground well would be destroyed in the process, he said.

The Railway Procurement Agency said it was aware of the well, which is a recorded monument, but said it would not be affected by the Luas works.

“Few pedestrians walking along modern-day Nassau Street will be aware that beneath their feet lies a hidden and ancient site of pilgrimage associated with none other than St Patrick himself,” Mr Branigan said.

“Nassau Street itself was called Patrick’s Well Lane until it was renamed in the 18th century after the accession to the throne of William III, ruler of the house of Orange-Nassau.”

Mr Branigan has called on Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar to review the route in order to preserve the well.

However the aagency said the well’s location had been incorrectly mapped and was actually under the north side of Nassau Street at the junction with Dawson Street and would not be under the new line.

“Appropriate constraints to protect the well during construction have also been included in the works contracts,” a spokeswoman said, “such as the requirement for continuous monitoring of vibration levels from construction activities in the area and the setting of appropriate vibration limits to ensure that no damage will occur to the well”.

In 1729 the well ran dry, inspiring Jonathan Swift to write a satirical poem.

Legend has it that frogs were introduced to Ireland by a Protestant who, “to show his zeal against popery”, brought frog spawn from Liverpool and deposited it in the well.

Source – Irish Times, 25 July 2013

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Wishing Well, Cox Green

 

A mossy grotto alongside the south bank riverside path a little way east of Cox Green, a hamlet on the River Wear, about 5 miles out of Sunderland. Water drips from the roof and walls, forms pools on the floor.

I call it the Wishing Well because I came across reference to it by that name in someone’s memoirs of the 1930s published in the local paper. Its not otherwise refered to in any source that I’ve yet found, though maybe for others it has significance – on one visit I found a carefully constructed daisy-chain floating in the pool.

It’s really a well under threat – the roof of the grotto seems to consist entirely oif soil, held together by the roots of the trees growing on the bank above. Sooner or later the elements will conspire to bring the whole lot down, and the grotto will be gone, or at best extremely truncated.

Oh, and it works !

I presented a silver coin to the well spirit, made my wish (I wont divulge its nature) and within an hour my wish had been granted.

 

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Carter’s Well, Low Fell, Gateshead

 

Nowadays, Carter’s Well is a Cast iron pump with a spring handle and domed cap (not working) located on Durham Road, Low Fell, now a suburb of Gateshead, Tyne & Wear  (NZ25756005).

At least, that’s its current public face – there was, and apparently still is, more to it.

Once a mere spring “oozing out of a hillside“, where in summer people had to watch all night and take water up with a saucer, the water supply to the well was substantially improved when a drift was excavated in this direction from Sheriff Hill Colliery  and water was found in old coal workings.

Thomas Wilson, chairman of the local committee at the time, described the well in his poem “Pitman’s Pay” –

 “No other spring wiv it can vie;
it is a tap that ne’er runds dry –
a cellar where a rich supply suits every rank and station.
And it awd age myekes tipple fine,
wors mun, aw think, be quite devine;
for it’s a batch of Adams wine we gat at the Creation”.

 

 

Carter’s Well was Low Fell’s main source of water until the Newcastle and Gateshead Water Company supplied the village with a water supply in the late nineteenth century. Gateshead Council closed the well in 1895 having found a sample to be contaminated with foreign bodies.

 

More photos, information (and bad poetry !) regarding this well at http://holywells.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?id=259

 

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Spanish Sunday (Palm Sunday) Customs

Spanish Sunday is an old name for Palm Sunday in the English Midland counties, and in parts of the West riding of Yorkshire.

It’s derived from a children’s custom that flourished there as recently as the first two decades of the 20th century, and of which traces may still remain in a few districts.

A sweet drink was made for the festival from broken pieces of Spanish liquorice, peppermint or lemon sweets, brown sugar, and well-water. The solid ingredients were put into glass bottles on the previous evening, and a little water was added to make a thick, rich sediment.

On Palm Sunday morning, the children went to some local holy or wishing-well, walked round it once (or in some places three times) and then filled the  bottles with its water. Almost every region had some particular spring  which was visited for this purpose, and to it children came from surrounding parishes in quite considerable numbers.

When the bottles were filled, they were vigorously shaken, and as soon as the sweet sediment was sufficiently dissolved to flavour the water, the ‘Spanish’ drink was ready to use.

For more on this subject, view the thread dedicated to it on the Holy Wells & Water Lore Forum –  here.

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St. Mary’s Well, Jesmond, Newcastle Upon Tyne

More photos of St Mary’s Well at Jesmond, Newcastle Upon Tyne…

 

The dimensions and shape of the site make it difficult to get a decent photograph of…but we try.

More photos, site history, etc at this thread on the Holy Wells & Water Lore Forum –  http://holywells.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?id=74&p=1

 

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St. Mary’s Well, Jesmond, Newcastle Upon Tyne

 

A quick visit to St Mary’s Well in Jesmond, Newcastle Upon Tyne, a couple of days ago saw an interesting development – remains of candles at the well, what was possibly an incense burner and a ribbon tied to an overhanging branch.

The nearby ruins of St Mary’s Chapel are always decorated with candles, fresh flowers, Roman Catholic iconography, etc, but this is the first time I’ve noted evidence of worship at the well.

More photos, the story of this well, etc can be found at the Holy Wells & Water Lore forum –

http://holywells.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?id=74&p=1

 

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HOW BALA LAKE BEGAN

There is a Welsh couplet, still well known in the neighbourhood of beautiful Bala Lake in Merionethshire, Wales, which, translated into English, runs:

“Bala old the lake has had, and Bala new
The lake will have, and Llanfor, too.”

For there is an ages-old belief in the countryside that Bala will continue to grow bigger until it has swallowed up the village of Llanfor, now about a couple of miles from the water’s edge.

According to the old story the site of the original town is near the middle of the present lake, at a spot opposite Llangower. There, years and years ago, a peaceful community lived a happy, prosperous life in their houses clustering around a well called Ffynnon Gwyer, or Gower’s Well.

Only one very important thing had these long-ago people to remember, and that was to cover up their well every night, otherwise, as they knew from their fathers and grandfathers before them, the spirit of the well would grow angry with them and wreak some dire punishment upon them.

But one night, after some special festivities, the guardian of the well forgot his task. Too late this omission was discovered, for as soon as the last inhabitant was in bed, the well began to gush forth water.

Soon the whole village was in a state of alarm. The quickly rising waters began to flow into the cottages, and young and old rushed to Ffynnon  Gower, which they realised was the cause of their distress. There they saw a great stream of water gushing upward. In their anger they called upon the negligent guardian, but he, seeing the harm that had come of his forgetfulness, had fled, though it is said he did not escape the angry waters, for they overtook him and drowned him miserably.

A frenzied effort was made to cover up the well and stop the unwelcome flow, but it was useless, and the people of old Bala had to escape as best they could to higher ground. When morning broke they looked out to where their homes had been and saw, instead of their fields and houses, a great lake three miles long and a mile wide.

To-day the lake is five miles long; and they say that on clear days, when its surface is absolutely calm, you may see at the bottom, off Llangower, the ruins and chimneys of the old town that was overwhelmed so long ago.

And, as the old couplet tells, they say too that the spirit of Gower’s Well is not yet appeased. On stormy days water appears to ooze up through the ground at new Bala, which is built at the lower end of the lake, and some day they believe that too will be swamped and the waters will cover the valley as far down as Llanfor.

View this thread on the Holy Wells & Water Lore Forum – http://holywells.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?id=130

 

 

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