Well, Well, Well

The Wells (And Other Wet Bits) Of Warwickshire

Featuring springs that monitor the corn market, wells that heal a hatchet job and a few closing words from the other great poet of the Midlands, Michael Drayton with his epic topological poem Poly-Olbion.

Originally posted on Twitter on the Thursday 13th June.
Images via @britishlibrary's Flickr collection.


Chad Valley AKA Good Knave's End AKA Hungry Valley had a particularly pessimistic spring. Troubled waters foretold battle and clear foretold disease. Good times ahead for the local folk.

Various springs were said to foretell the price of corn, notably in Atherstone where the higher the water the better your profits.

A Healing Spring

The prize for most specific prophesy goes to Rainsbrook near Dunchurch which will flow with blood when the great battle is imminent...but only if three Kings and a three-thumbed miller are present. I'll take that bet.

Elsewhere in the Midlands: St Helen's Well in Staffs dries up when things are about to go pear-shaped, even if the weather is wet. Whereas The Drumming Well at Oundel does as the name implies when disaster is on the way.

Gloriously, Whitnash's well tolls when you ask it your fortune. One of the church bells fell down the well on its way to be re-consecrated post-renovation. Locals would go at night and drop in a stone as payment. No word on whether the clanking foretold good or ill.

Healing Waters

Sutton Park's Rowton Well has its own healing spirit.

"The nymph of Rowton's Well a witch,
Who cures the scurvy and the itch."

Also there, St Mary's AKA Druid's Well was the seat of the Arch-Druid of Britain.

Fenny Compton had the smallest water company in England serving only 40 customers with water from seven springs in the Dassett Hills.

Try Gylde Well for eyes and ears; the spring at Napton's windmill for purity; most importantly, Stockwell water makes the best cuppa.

The Dassett Hills

Near the Watling at Sketchley the waters are good for your wits, hence "he has been to Sketchley" as a description of a sharp-witted chap.

While Southam had a well that cured eye disease. Also, it never froze over so competition for opticians all year round.

Newnham Regis' healing properties were discovered by Clem Dawes whose arm suffered a literal hatchet job but healed in days. Also good for gout, rhuematism and turning wood to stone.

Warning: don't drink more than eight pints a day.

Newfound Well AKA Balmore with a starting dose of one pint per day for one month proved an effective "purgative and emetic" (I bet it did). Good for skin, dropsy and jaundice. After 80 years of use only a pond remained.

Leamington Spa's waters are especially good for rabies, though that seems a bit cruel given the hydrophobia.

"So kindly has health's rosy Goddess
On Leamington lavish'd her bounty,
And so sure are its waters to cure,
They'll expel eve'ry ill from the County."

Leamington's Royal Pump Rooms

Honorable Mention

None of the above can compete with Hob's Hole near Coventry which had its own Mayor and annual elections. The investiture culminated in the new Mayor getting a ducking. This may have been an older fertility ritual or possibly to scare off the devil.

Or maybe it was just good fun.

And this from Drayton:

"Scarce ended they their song, but Avon’s winding stream,
By Warwick, entertains the high complexioned Leam:
And as she thence along to Stratford on doth strain,
Receiveth little Heil the next into her train:"