Friar Tuck’s Well…new…well actually old photos

For my 99th post I’ve decided to revisit one of the blogs most popular posts,….with new photos and hopefully with a new appraisal.

Towards a restoration of the well?

In my post about Friar Tuck’s Well I bemoaned the lack of any good photos. Whilst my search for photos of the whole structure have drawn a blank so far an exciting discovery via fellow folklorist Frank Earp in his photo collection which will go some way to reassessing and understanding the structure if and hopefully when it is fully restored. Frank had to scan the photo in two sections and I have ‘glued’ them back together digitally (I include two different glued versions) I include the photos as they are

Friar Tuck's WellFriar Tuck's Well2 contrasted


friar tuck one

He believes the photos were taken between 1975-78 I have included them compared to recent photos labelled to where I suggest the lost features are.  My question being do these structures seen in the picture lie beneath the mud and mire seen in the recent photo or has all the stone work been removed. Frank described the ‘basin’ as being cut out of the sandstone rather than being built with gives hope. Sadly, the photo fails to show the position of the railings. If combined with this image from the late Bill Richard’s Book on Friar Tuck and Blidworth Forest we can just work that the railings enclosed the basin seen in Frank’s photo just traceable as a depression.

The Ash tree which damaged the well, post Frank’s photo circular late 1980s?

What the photo does go to show is the importance of those pictures taken by ‘amateur’ well enthusiasts…keep photographing. I hope one day that the land the well is on can be purchased and the site repaired and this photo will help I feel in that venture. Especially as taking a walk….I found….

Big changes at Blidworth

A recent visit found all the trees uprooted and channels made to drain the pool above. I thought at first that the well itself had been gone, but some focusing on the area revealed it still remained but the spring head brickwork looked more dilapidated and the railings gone. No sign still of anything like Frank’s photo above however, I think the sediment needs to be removed and a long period of dryness required. Fortunately the site is listed, grade II, and on an at risk register suggesting the authorities are aware of but something still needs to be done to reveal the ashlar trough below.

Another theory?

The name Friar Tuck maybe a bit of misdirection. If we look at the word Frere Tuck this means ‘troublesome brother’ the former from tucian perhaps if we combine this with the fact that the spring is intermittent, a piece of local lore recorded in my book, does it perhaps refer to the damage caused by this flow, in short a woe water, who’s flow either caused problems or predicted trouble. Frank has also focused on the possible folklore behind the famous fight between Tuck and Robin. Rather than be a ‘historical’ event it probably has a deeper folklore message of  dark battling light or the Winter fighting the Spring.


I stress the copyright on these important photos lays with Frank. Thanks go again to Frank and I direct you to purchasing the excellent book A-Z of Nottinghamshire curiosities from website. I asked Frank to contribute his excellent article on the origins of Newark’s St Catherine’s Well, in what I hope will be a regular feature of guest bloggers


About pixyledpublications

Currently researching calendar customs and folklore of Nottinghamshire

Posted on April 8, 2014, in Nottinghamshire, Pagan gods, Restoration, Robin Hood and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. With regards to your pictures the well was surrounded by the steel railings the picture of the tree which fell over and bent the railings is upside down on this web page. When I was a boy I dug down and found a structure similar to in the picture A and B. There are just stubs of the railings now and the well is buried. I met the owner of the well this weekend and pointed it out to him. Broadly speaking to find the well he needs to locate the stubs of the railings and start to excavate. Then he will find the well. The steps which listed in the photograph in colour next to the A and B photo is not the well. Its been listed incorrectly. Mystery solved. Regards Mark Wheatley

    • Thanks Mark. I would be interested to know if the owner does intend to clean it out. It does seem a shame that the site is slowly deteriorating and wonder whether something could be done about it. Please do keep in touch and if any help is needed I have a number of archaeological contacts who would be happy o help locally. The photo of the tree is the correct way on the blog but when clicked goes upside down, I don’t understand why! The steps, or rather cascade have been recorded in listing as part of the associated structure of the well or a related structure which appear to have a chamber above so at some point it seems likely that the water was pumped up and then overfilled flowed down and filled the well. However I agree it’s clearly not the well per se. Thanks again.

      • I would be happy to put you in touch with the owner. I have communicated with him via email after meeting him, He told me that he’s found the stubs of the railings and seems interested in investigating further. I see the Well as a missed opportunity for the land owner and something for the public to enjoy if efforts were made to enhance the site. I did copy him in on your website, the photo’s that you have found are most useful. A lot of the mess is due to requirements of English Heritage and other bodies I am sure he can fill you in on all of that. I don’t know who removed the railings.

        If you send me an email with your contact details I will pass them on.

        I sent this email to him today which contained a link to this blog.


        Mrs Mord and Tom Lamin lived at Copt Hill farm before my Mum and Dad bought it. Mord told my Mum in 1954 that it was Friar Tucks well i.e. it was a local legend. Mord was an old lady so her information is prior to whatever the local historian was saying.

        Mum told me of a faded sign that was on a tree near to the lake that read ‘Here on this spot the children of Mansfield were baptised by Friar Tuck,’ She said that this was in the 1960’s and the sign was quite old and faded. So someone must have promoting the well in the 1950’s. The railings looked older than that.

        What is more interesting is the link which shows the railings which were crushed by the tree as I described and the photographs of the stonework I described which was near to the railings. The black and white pictures marked A and B looks like the structure that I dug out. I believe that is Friar Tucks well, which I suspect is the reason why someone took the time and trouble to protect it with the railings. The other bit of legend is that the stream that flows out of it which runs towards Rainworth water was where Little John and Robin Hood had a fight over a crossing. The monastery and the Well fit with the stories or have stories been created to fit around the landmarks??? If you do some digging let me know and I’ll lend a hand.

        So far I have not had a reply to the above.

        Regards Mark

      • Thanks very much again Mark. I shall email you off blog in the next couple of days.

    • Peter Bailey

      I found the old railings today.
      It’s a mystery that needs to be solved.

  1. Pingback: Perhaps not so jolly old well…..Friar Tuck’s Well at Blidworth | holyandhealingwells

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