|Cat's Well, Bratton|
A long-lost holy well discovered and restored
Cat's Well has nothing to do with felines of any kind - the Cat in question is Saint Catherine, and this is her mediaeval well in the village of Bratton. This Saint is also remembered locally in the dedication of Edington Priory Church, which is sacred to Our Lady, Saint Katharine and All Saints. Indeed, the well lies beside the road which leads through Imber past Our Lady's Well at the Stone Cross (by Ladywell barn on Salisbury Plain), Cat's Well and Edington's Ladywell to Edington Priory. The names of these three wells clearly echo the Priory Church's dedication, and it may be that this route was once a pilgrim route across the Plain to the Priory.
This simple dipping well was lost for many years, and has been rediscovered and restored fairly recently through the efforts of a tireless local historian, Jean Morrison. It is a rectangular well constructed of stone, with two steps leading down to standing water. More water trickles from a pipe into the well, but the flow is very slight and the water is doubtless brackish and unfit to drink - unlike some of the other excellent springs in this area. A new railing has been set around the well, and a plaque on it reads Mediaeval well of St. Catherine's. This should ensure that the well should not sink back into obscurity for the forseeable future.
It is perhaps inaccurate to say that Cat's Well has no connection at all with felines. The well lies beside Stradbrook Lane, which is haunted by a black beast which some say is a great black cat, perhaps one of the Alien Big Cats which have often been sighted in recent years (White 1990-91). However, other local residents reckon that the beast is a black dog. The black dog is a very widespread phantom, found all over the country, and in its commonest and most benign form it is often found haunting the parish boundary. In Bratton the parish boundary runs along the bed of the Stradbrook, and so it would seem most likely that the Black Beast of Stradbrook Lane is a black dog.
ST 917522 OS 1:25 000 Sheet 1200.
If you apprach Bratton from Edington, take the first turning on the left once you enter the village. If you approach from the Westbury direction, pass the village pub on the left and turn right about halfway down the hill leading out of the village.
This is Stradbrook Lane. Follow the narrow lane and park on the left by the stream at the point where the road swings right to go to the village church. The road straight ahead leads up to the army firing ranges and there is a large notice warning drivers about this. Cat's Well lies to the right of the road leading up to the ranges, a very few yards from your parking place.
Black dog of Stradbrook Lane. Jean Morrison, Bratton, May 1994 (aged c.82)
Cat's well on mediaeval pilgrim route to Edington Priory Church. Jean Morrison, as above.
ReferencesWhite, Kathleen (1990-91). Old wives' tales, superstitions, myths & legends. Bratton Historical Association Journal, 1, 35-39.
|Wiltshire Holy Wells||
Design by Black Cat Folklore
|At the Sign of the Black Cat|