Broadwell - Holy Wells - At the Sign of the Black Cat
Broadwell, Market Lavington

Watery Initiation Rites

broadwel.jpg (25233 bytes)Broadwell in Market Lavington is an excellent example of a village dipping well which has retained its central position in village life, admittedly no longer as a supply of water, but as a focal point for the community.  We have in the Parochial Church Council minutes a very clear picture of its evolution over the past hundred years.   Its gradual metamorphosis from domestic and agricultural water supply, sheep-wash and washpool to a recreational area for the village is set out in minute detail.   Until the mid-1930s the PCC's concerns are all practical ones relating to the supply and purity of the water, the cleanliness of the spring and the stream it feeds, and the wilful pollution of the spring by villagers.  After the village gets its mains water supply in the later 1930s, Broadwell's importance as water supply wanes gradually, although as late as 1955 we still find people using the well for domestic water.   Recent concerns about Broadwell relate to the paddling pool and playground for the children, vandalism of the seats and structure, and dumping of rubbish.  The Broadwell area around the playground is rather stark and it is clear that the PCC would like to see some sympathetic landscaping of the area, which would preserve the overall appearance but increase its appeal as a place to sit and enjoy the sight and sound of the water.  (Bromfield 1994, references throughout)

"When I was a girl they said that you weren't a native of Market Lavington until you'd fallen in Broadwell,"  Peggy Gye, a lifelong resident of Market Lavington, told me in May 1995.  Falling in as inadvertent baptism, a sign of initiation or belonging to a community, can be met elsewhere in waterlore: I have been told that you aren't a true 'wellie' (well-hunter) until you've fallen in a well.  It is easy to see the reasoning behind the significance of falling into Broadwell.  Children have played in the water time out of mind, and all children of the village must have fallen over in it at some stage.


GR:  SU 016540, OS Sheet 1201, 1:25 000.

Starting from the crossroads at the centre of Market Lavington, take the road which leads SE towards the Plain.  Broadwell is easily found down here on the right, flowing from beneath a children's playground.  There is parking space beside the well.

Oral Sources

Falling in Broadwell.  Peggy Gye, Market Lavington, 18th May 1995.

Not a true wellie until you've fallen in a well.   Tristan Grey Hulse, Source weekend, Holywell, November 1995. 


Bromfield, A. (1994).   Market Lavington Parish Council: the first one hundred years, 1896-1994.   Amesbury: Durrington Press. 

web metrics

Wiltshire Holy Wells

Design by Black Cat Folklore
Page originally created on 1 Dec 1997.  Reset in this style 30 May 2007

j0323082.wmf (15990 bytes)
Sign of the Black Cat