The Wells of Old Warwickshire

by P.M. & E.M. Patchell


Introduction

     The wells are listed from West to East according to the nearest village shown on the Ordnance Survey Motoring Atlas. We find this more helpful than trying to work out which parish the well is in. Six figure map references are only approximate. The symbol (V) means that the well, or its site, has been visited recently. The symbol (C) means that the well is accessible by car. More information could be given about Leamington Spa and Ladywell Baths, Birmingham, but otherwise this survey gives absolutely all we know about the interesting wells of this county so far. If no one writes in to correct or add to the list we will be very disappointed, especially as we are not experts in etymology. In many names like Welford and Wellesbourne, the 'well' element only means a stream, not its source, but we have included some doubtful farm names for consideration.

 


The Wells

 

Birmingham     (SP 07 87).

     Chad Valley Spring used to foretell events like battles the plague. The place was also called 'Good Knaves' End' or 'Hanging Valley'. (SP 045 855).

     Ladywell, in 1986, has been commemorated by a new, dry ornamental garden in front of the Hippodrome Theatre. In the early nineteenth century the old well was made into 'the most complete Baths in the whole island at the expense of near 2000'. There were baths for ladies and for the indigent and for swimming, also cold, temperate and hot baths, with the help of a boiler. (SP 071 864), (V), (C).

     There is a Ladypool Road off the Stratford Road. (SP 087 847).

     Bull Spring in Billesley is a boundary point. It is the source of Showell Green Brook but this may not be a 'show well', it could derive from shewels which means 'scare crow'. (SP 090 835).

     Coldbath Road in Hall Green is named after a mill pond and brook but they, in turn, are probably named after the River Cole and 'batch'. There is no record of any spa. (SP 085 814).

 

Sutton Coldfield     (SP 12 96).

     The magnificent park contains half a dozen man-made pools and three named wells. It was the seat of the Archdruid, a royal hunting park, and then Henry VIII gave it to Bishop Vesey, who passed it on to the local residents. The park is now municipally owned and admission is free. Rowton Well is a medicinal pool about ten feet in diameter, with a neat low circular curb of large stones, now enclosed by a new post and rails fence. It is one mile North-East. of the car park at Banners Gate. The going is easier if you walk along the road, over the river, and then along the low ridge. (SP 092 962), (V).

     Keepers Well is named after John Holt who was here in the time of Edward IV. It is on the South side of the path leading up the stream which feeds Keeper's Pool. (SP 107 966).

     Druids Well (or St. Mary's Well) is at the South-Western end of Bracebridge Pool. (SP 099 979).

 

Solihull     (SP 15 79).

     Haliwell Chapel is a curious, two-storied building on the North side of St Alphege's Church. There is a piece of masonry, like three walls of a small tower, or a hay loft, in the south wall of the churchyard. It is clearly very old and has always been respected whenever the rectory was rebuilt. A visiting water diviner became very excited by it. Can this be St Alphege's Well? (SP 154 791), (V), (C).

     There is also a Wherrett's Well Lane in Solihull, which is named after one of many domestic wells. (SP 163 806).

 

Knowle     (SP 18 77).

     St Anne's Well is where they started building the church of St Anne in the reign of Richard II, on Batts Hill. But the fairies kept on moving the stones until the builders gave in and put the church where it now is. (SP 183 765?).

 

Coleshill     (SP 20 89).

     Beggar's Well is some dry masonry rather like a dog kennel. It lies at the foot of a very large willow tree at the northern junction of the main street and the by-pass, on Crimstock Hill. (SP 197 898), (V), (C).

     St Peter's Well appears in many old documents. The parish church is dedicated to the saints. Peter and Paul.

 

Dosthill     (SK 21 00).

     This spa is a pair of springs, one chalybeate, one strong brine. The Old Salt Bath is between the footpath and the river Tame. (SK 212 009).

 

Honily     (SP 24 72).

     St John's Well used to be a place of pilgrimage. It has the same dedication as the church. Recently it was seen to be a simple spring with a few stones in the roots of a large tree at the top of the tiny valley near the public footpath which goes North and East from Church Farm. The site is now in a fenced-off private, newly landscaped garden. (SP 243 723).

     Lady's Well, just West of Wroxall Abbey School, sounds good but we know that the old house was much 'improved', and there is no ancient record of this well. (SP 220 710).

 

Berkswell     (SP 24 79).

     Holy Well, which was called Beorcal's spring, is a sixteen foot square pool restored in 1851 with neat masonry walls. Water bubbles up out of clear pebbles and flows strongly into a trough which has steps leading down to it. There is great local concern about a threatened coal mine in the area. The well, which was probably used for immersion baptisms, is just outside the gate of St John the Baptist's Church, and appears in the Bords' study, Sacred Waters. (SP 244 791), (V), (C).

 

Meriden     (SP 24 82).

     St Lawrence's Well has the same dedication as the church. It used to be in the south-east. corner of a small wood reached by the path along the west side of the vicarage. (SP 280 810).

      The village pond, east of the shops, has two outlets. One flows into the Humber, the other into the Bristol Channel so confirming that this is indeed the centre of England. (SP 244 819), (V), (C).

 

Allesley     (SP 29 81).

     Dudley's Spring predicts the price of corn. It feeds a pretty stream which runs down beside a public path at the east side of the south end of the A45 fly-over. It is an easy walk from the Old Coventry Road. (SP 295 805), (V).

 

Atherstone     (SP 31 98).

     King Dick's Hole is a bend in the river at SP 315 993. Corn Spring predicts the price of corn.

 

Coventry     (SP 33 79).St Catherine's Well, Coventry

     St Catherine's Well is a charming little fourteenth century sandstone chapel next to a small square, dry, well, on Conduit Knob. It a delightful surprise, to be found in Beaumont Crescent off the Holy head Road. A locked fence of railings surrounds the site. (SP 323 796), (V), (C).

     Hob's Hole was a town spring which elected its own mayor, or king, each year and dunked him in the river. There is a record of the ceremony in 1862, when Blind Christopher Woodhouse teased them all. The site is now under Cox Street at SP 336 794.

     Roman wells have been found near the cathedral, and Swanswell (Swains' Pool) has always been a public source of water just outside the city walls. There used to be much dispute about access to it.

     Broad Well in Well Street and Jordanswell are only names now. The records of old conduits and wells show that many of them became community centres and took on personalities of their own. In fact, the royal licence for conduits granted in 1333 preceded the establishment of the first Mayor and Corporation. May we claim that democratic local government has its roots in the administration of the water supply, and in well ritual?

 

Bulkington     (SP 39 86).

     There is a Well Green Farm here.

 

Burbage     (SP 44 92).

     Sketchley Well is said to sharpen the wits. It is described as being a railed-off private pump, just over mile south of Hinkley Railway Station. (SP 428 920).

 

Long Lawford     (SP 47 75).

     Baths were established here in 1579. From the road along the north bank of the Avon, between Long Lawford and Kings Newnham, the ruins can be seen. ( SP 460 775), (V), (C).

 

Dunchurch     (SP 48 71).

     There is a riddle which states that Rains Brook will run with blood after a great battle when three kings' horses will be held by a miller with three thumbs. The brook runs under the M45. (SP 502 708).

 

Shottery     (SP 18 55).

     Caudle Well is used to make caudle which is a delicacy of oatmeal, sugar, spices and ale or well water. The lady of the manor makes it for any man to take home to his wife when she is confined after the birth of a baby.

 

Claverdon     (SP 19 64).

     Holywell was a natural spring with a few simple stones set in a bank of hartstongue. It had good water which never fails or freezes, but it is recently concreted over. The site is on very private land, belonging to Holywell House, under a large ash in a wood 100 yards behind the garden of Holywell Cottage, which is the site of a small cell of Cistercian nuns from Pinley Abbey. Nearby can be seen the fish ponds later used for watercress. (SP 199 666).

     There is another excellent old spring on Yarningdale Common. A cottager in the village still uses her well and winding gear.

 

Stratford     (SP 20 55).

     Old Stratford Spa opened in 1837 but the well had long been used by local people who noticed that pigeons loved it. It is now a private house, between the Birmingham Road and Alcester Road, on Bishopston Lane by the canal. It was also known as the Royal Victoria Spa. (SP 185 563), (V), (C).

     Clopton House Spring is where Margaret Clopton drowned herself and inspired the story of Ophelia. It is behind the house, which is 1 miles north of the town. (SP 202 568).

 

Ilmington     (SP 21 43).

     Newfoundland Well is a chalybeate spring discovered in 1681. (SP 205 437).

 

Snitterfield     (SP 21 60).

     Caudle Well.

 

Alderminster     (SP 23 48).

     Caudle Well at Crimscote. (SP 234 474).

 

Great Wolford     (SP 25 34).

     A chalybeate spring, covered with a canopy of ancient fragments, is in a field at the back of Little Wolford Manor. (SP 263 352).

     There is a Salters' Well Farm at SP 255 310, and a Pepperwell Farm at SP 265 341.

 

Charlcote     (SP 26 56).

     Park Pond is haunted by a girl suicide. (SP 263 566), (V), (C).

 

Long Compton     (SP 28 33).

     Rollright Spring is under the hill where the stone circle is sited. The stones known as the Whisphering Knights are said to go down to a stream to drink, at midnight.

     There is also a Caudle Well in the area.

 

Warwick     (SP 28 65).

     Guy's Well is a pair of springs which were arched over, by Richard Beauchamp. Guy of Warwick is a folk hero of the tenth century who after various legendary adventures became a holy hermit. The well is halfway from the A429 to the great mansion standing on the cliffs above the Avon water meadows. The hermit's cave, huge statue, and Medieval chapel, has been falling into ruin for many years, but now has new owners. (SP 291 668).

 

Cherington     (SP 29 36).

     Caudle Well.

 

Whichford     (SP 31 34).

     Holy Well is in the northern part of the wood at SP 305 346.

 

Brailes     (SP 31 39).

     There is a Hob's Hole at SP 301 401 and a chalybeate spring at SP 304 405.

 

Moreton Morrell     (SP 31 56).

     Here is a Leg Water Spring and Eye Water Spring, one of which is petrifying.

 

Whitnash     (SP 32 63).

     There is a legend here that the church bells slipped down the Holy Well when they were being blessed, on the way from the old church to the new one. Whenever a stone was dropped into the well at night, a reply could be heard from the bell in the morning. Sadly the well has been drained but it was south of the path to Radford near Whitnash Brook which is itself deemed curative. (SP 334 637.

 

Royal Leamington Spa     (SP 32 65).

     The Pump Room, still in use, is at the bottom of the High Street. In front of the church a little further south is a stone memorial to the first well which was long used for 'seasoning meat'. The water is not naturally thermal but it has various mineral and medicinal attributes. (SP 319 655), (V), (C).

 

Upper Tysoe     (SP 33 43).

     There is a Sugarswell Farm at SP 360 440.

 

Kineton     (SP 33 51).

     King John's Well was a dip well but it was enclosed in a brick chamber by the railway. It now seems to be lost, like the castle. (SP 327 510).

 

Chadshunt     (SP 34 53).

     St Chad's Well used to have many pilgrims, but the village name is said to derive from 'Caedel's huntsmen'. A Mr Dunne will be pleased to show visitors the well in his Old Park Field if he is asked by telephone beforehand. The spring was walled around and trees planted by Mr Dunne's grandmother. (SP 350 530), (V).

 

Lighthorne     (SP 34 55).

     There is a petrifying spring.

     Bath Copse is also in this parish although a little nearer to Moreton Morrell village. (SP 325 556).

 

Northend     (SP 39 52).

     The Holy Well of Burton Dasset lost village is a small stone house built in 1840 over a lovely dip well just next to the church gates it is featured in the Bords' Sacred Waters. (SP 398 515), (V), (C).

     There is also a Caudle Field in the hills.

     Stockwell, at Knightcote, is a mineral spring similar to Leamington. (SP 400 545).

 

Warmington     (SP 41 47).

     On the green there is a large ancient reservoir feeding a trough. (SP 410 477), (V), (C).

 

Southam     (SP 41 61).Holy Well, Southam

     The Holy Well is a very beautiful semi-circular pool with steps down into a trough along the diameter into which the water pours out through three fourteenth century carved faces. Just above are the ruins of a more recent waterworks. To find the well, take the lane along the north side of the church and then park near the south-western corner of the playing fields. Take the public footpath west through the sewage works and keep on the northern bank of the stream. It is an easy, but slightly muddy, walk through two fields. (SP 410 618), (V).

     There is also a salt spring, very like Leamington water. (SP 445 605), (V).

 

Farnborough     (SP 43 49).

     St Botolph's Well has the same dedication as the Norman church. The well is chalybeate and reputed to cure eye ailments, but is now only a cattle drinking place on private land. It is just a little way down the lane leading south from the church, at a little bridge. (SP 434 494).

 

Willoughby     (SP 51 67).

     Lodge Spa was founded in 1828. Apparently all that is left is a stable pump. (SP 533 679).

     New sulphur and saline baths were under three cottages opposite Four Crosses.

     There is a mineral spring at Willoughby House, very like Harrogate water. (SP 515 664).

 


Acknowledgements

 

     We wish to express our thanks for very generous help from; Mr Brian Townsend of Southam, Mrs Linda Murray of Farnborough, Mr Bremsfield of Wroxall Abbey, Ms Debbie Keene of Coventry, Mr Andrew Watkins of Coleshill, Mrs Eithne Harborne of Birmingham, Mr Martin Dunne of Chadshunt, Mrs Reading of Claverdon, and Mrs Reynolds of Holywell.

 

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Text P.M.   & E.M.Patchell | Illustrations Hilary Kennelly (1986)

Designed & Maintained by Richard L. Pederick ( 1999) | Created 05/02/01