The healing wells of Ashover, Derbyshire
The hydrolatic history in this small village is very interesting with two hydros and a number of
noted healing springs. The first noted by Binnall (1940) was St. or Sir William‟s Well (SK 349
637) but this is perhaps not a holy well at all. The name may have changed at the Reformation
although local historian Mr. Banks, believes it was probably named after a local benefactor, the
saint prefix being as an error of the ordnance surveyors. Its only mention is in reference to the
conversion of the school in a 1830s Charity Commission report. It has now been culverted away
and was at the junction of Malthouse Lane and the land leading up to the hillside, probably when
the houses were built here in the 1970s.
More significant is Cripton Well (SK 345 638) which lies on Cripton Lane and was said to have healthgiving properties and indeed despite an area surrounded by other springs was much frequented by the hydro residents. It arises beneath some old moss covered stonework and first fills a small circular basin. Its water was said to never run dry and produces a considerable
flow joining a small brook. Does its name refer to St. Crispin or local family?
There is a field name recording Nan‟s Well, first in 1842 Tithe Award when it is noted as Nan‟s Well
Close. Nan is often a vulgarisation of St. Anne, the grandmother of Jesus. This would apparently
be the same as the Old Woman‟s Well (SK 348 627) noted in 1900 on the O/S map. The name
may also record a pagan deity (there are similarly dedicated wells especially in Yorkshire). The
O/S still shows the site but marked as a spring. However, field work failed to locate the exact
site as the area has become mudded by cattle and lost.
The Chalybeate Spa (SK 343 633) still exists being found as a rather muddy area along a
footpath just at the edge of Marsh brook. There is very little to see but a ferruginous deposit in
some of the puddles where the footpath crosses the brook on a stone slab. It is a very
insignificant site no even discernable as a spring. It was drunk for medicinal purposes in the 18th
and 19th centuries, the site being noted by Short (1734). A local legend states that it ran faster at
night than day. Whether there was any structure here is unclear it does now look very appetising!
Confusingly another spring called Bath Spring (SK344644) was used in the early 1700s and a
house was established nearby now Bath House Farm. The venture appears to have been
unsuccessful and what apparently was the spring is an inaccessible boggy hole.