A Buckinghamshire field trip-Gorrick’s spring and St Rumbold’s Well
Whilst recently in Buckinghamshire, I was able to visit two noted sites in the county. Buckingham’s St. Rumbold’s Well is sadly dry but a pilgrimage to the site is well worth it. It was easily found using Rattue’s descriptions and is surrounded by a metal railings with a symbol of the saint on it. Restored in 2002 the well consists of a stone chamber and as Rattue (2003) notes a depression nearby could have been a bath. I found the well still in fair condition but had suffered with some recent vandalism and fires had been lit in the chamber and some walling had fallen down.
Gorrick’s spring is an interesting site and perhaps the best of the county’s holy well. The water flows from a rather worn lion’s head beneath a stone arch under the steps, and pours into a stone lined chamber repaired with concrete slabs. It is reached by a series of steps from the layby and beside the spring is a narrow and as Rattue (2003) states an uncomfortable seat. It is unclear where the name comes from but a local legend tells how a witch’s pupil gave the sight back to a Gypsy tinker. A rhyme states:
“When Gorrick’s Spring flows fast and clear, Stoop down and drink, for health is here, If Gorrick’s Spring shuld e’er run dry, Beware, for pestilience is nigh.”
An author named Bartley (1928) mentioned by Rattue (2003) notes:
‘ the monks of old….deemed the delicious waters of this wayside spring as sacred, possessing healing properties for all humans. Daily the holy Friar would hie to the mossy bank and reach the water with his ancient pitcher, and bear it homeward to his suffering flock”
As Rattue (2003) notes it appears unlikely that a friar would have visited the site. Buckinghamshire is not perhaps an obvious county for those interested in holy wells but a long visit does repay as long as a copy of James Rattue’s book is taken with you.