Holy and Healing Well News and Events

Ritual “Litter” Redressed Workshop, 5th May 2017 Bayfordbury Campus, University of Hertfordshire Programme
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Details of a conference I am presenting at #rituallitter

PANEL 1 10:25 Tiina Aikas, ‘Contemporary offerings at Sámi sacred places in Taatsi, Finland’

10:50 R. B. Parish, ‘‘Votive’ offerings and healing wells: A historical and modern perspective’

11:05 Lindsay Fricker, ‘British Seaside Piers: An archaeological perspective’

11:20 Discussion

11:35 Refreshment break

PANEL 2 11:55 Sonja Hukantaival, ‘Contemporary deposits in buildings and ships – who cares?’

12:15 Melissa Beattie, ‘Eight Years [G]on[e]: A Study of the Torchwood Memorial in Cardiff Bay’ (video)

12:30 Sara Hannant, Title TBC

12:45 Paul Graves-Brown, ‘Celebrity Veneration: The creation of spontaneous street shrines and tribute archives’

13:00 Discussion

13:15 Lunch (to be provided)

PANEL 3

14:15 Delun Gibby, ‘Sacred Circle: Contemporary ritual deposits at Gors Fawr, Pembrokeshire’
14:30 Debora Morretti, ‘Folk Litter on Display: The Ferretti Collection’

14:45 Tõnno Jonuks, ‘Sacred Rubbish: Cleaning sites of contemporary deposits’

15:00 Discussion

15:20 Refreshment break

PANEL 4

15:40 Ian Marshman, ‘Diverse deposits and contemporary connections at Lincolnshire’s historic sites’

15:55 Andy Foley, ‘Secrets of the Smithy’

16:10 Keynote: Christine Finn, ‘Leaving More than Footprints. Modern Artifacts and Public Interventions at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, US, and in Kent UK’

16:30 Discussion and conclusions

17:00 Mini-bus pick up, return to de Havilland campus, Hatfield

‘Cursed’ Medieval Well Found in England

Records suggest a strange death occurred at St. Anne’s Well, which was found on a private farm near Liverpool, in the United Kingdom.

Credit: Jamie Quartermaine

 

Medieval well that was once believed to wash away sins, while healing eye and skin diseases has been recovered in England. Legend has it that the well was also cursed and records indicate a strange death occurred there.

St. Anne’s Well was found on the lands of a private farm on the border between the townships of Rainhill and Sutton St Helens, near Liverpool, UK.

According to Historic England Heritage, which commissioned the excavation, “the well had become completely filled with earth due to ploughing.”

“When we first got to the well we found that there was very little indication of it on the surface, but after excavation it was found to be in reasonable condition,” Jamie Quartermaine, an archaeologist who supervised the dig, told Discovery News.

The well was built of local sandstone blocks and consisted of a shallow square basin with two steps leading down into the bottom.

“The fabric of the well is consistent with a Medieval date,” Quartermaine said.

The archaeologist noted that St. Anne is quite commonly associated with holy wells.

“This well was probably a late Medieval foundation as the cult of St. Anne did not become widespread in England until after the end of the 14th century,” Quartermaine said.

The dating is important. Alexandra Walsham, professor of modern history at Cambridge’s Trinity College, told Seeker that “a Medieval past for many healing wells was assumed or even invented by later antiquaries, especially in the 19th century.”

After descending the steps, pilgrims submerged themselves in the pool, which was about 4 feet deep. Water seeped in from below the floor, while a stone conduit, now lost, took water from the overflow of the well, which measures 6.5 feet by 6.5 feet.

According to Historic England Heritage, local legend suggests St. Anne’s Well was associated with a nearby priory of about 12 monks, which was lost during Henry VIII’s draconian dissolution of the monasteries.

The legend said the priory held an extensive estate from which the monks had an income. The story goes that St. Anne had bathed in the well, which was reputed to have healing powers for eye and skin afflictions.

“The well attracted numbers of pilgrims, necessitating the building of a small three-roomed structure around the well and the custodianship of two of the monks,” Quartermaine said.

According to local folklore, a dispute rose in the 16th century about boundaries and access to the well between the prior, Father Delwaney, and Hugh Darcy, the estate manager of the neighboring landowner.

One day, when the two stood nearby the well, Darcy predicted the prior would not be in position for much longer. Two days later the king’s commissioners arrived and took possession of the priory and the well.

Father Delwaney promptly understood Darcy’s role in the action as he was clearly known to the commissioners.

“With teeth tightly clenched, and his face white with suppressed passion,” the prior hissed out his curse, according to a 1877 report on local legends in the St. Helens Leader.

Darcy would be dead within a year and a day, Delwaney predicted. He then collapsed and died himself.

A series of disgraces fell on Darcy: three months after the curse, his only son died of a mysterious illness. He suffered financial losses and “plunged recklessly into dissipation,” according to the St. Helens Leader.

One night, after heavy drinking at a tavern, he disappeared.

“The search began. Nothing was seen until they came to the well, in which Darcy was found lying dead, his head crushed in,” the St. Helens Leader reported.

Despite the grim legend, the well continued to be revered even after the dissolution, and people immersed themselves in the waters until the 19th century.

To protect the structure from damage by farm machinery, new wooden edging will be installed.

“We have worked with the farmers to ensure this important holy well survives long in to the future,” Tamsin Cooke, a Historic England Heritage at Risk representative, said.

Original article on Seeker.

New Holy Well App – Well on the Web


Press enquiries:
Becky Wright 07590 684888
email: becky@newleaf.uk.com
A new free App has been released to tell the story of St Agnes Holy Well in Cothelstone. The App is the culmination of 14 month’s work led by Debbie McKenna and Becky Wright of New Leaf Life Design in partnership with Bridgwater College’s Entry to Land Based Studies students and Alex Roland of YourITNow.
The project, which was funded by Bishops Lydeard Parish Council, The Heritage Lottery and New Leaf Life Design, came about after Becky found a small Well located on an OS map. The Well was very overgrown and in a state of disrepair when she finally found it and having spoken to the landowner she gained permission to clean up the area.
On researching the Well further it was found to be Grade 2 listed and had in fact been considered one of the most beautiful Wells in the County in its day. The story of how this all came about and the painstaking restoration is all told on the App.
Alex and Becky’s share the same passion for conservation which led them to form this unique partnership, and it is this partnership which has resulted in the first App ever to be created by young people to support a heritage project.
Students from Bridgwater College were given the opportunity to be part of the whole restoration process, learning about natural stone masonry and historic building restoration work. They took part in two projects, one based around Art led by Artist, Lucy Large and the other to help develop creative writing using the folklore surrounding the Well. This was led by Storyteller Chris Jelly. Both these projects can be viewed and heard on the App.
In May this year, the Well was officially opened with a Well Dressing Ceremony and there is a video of this occasion filmed by Dan Gale available via the App.
Iain Porter, Development Officer Quantock Hills AONB Service said, “This is a wonderful example of a community led project which has restored and increased our understanding of the heritage of the Quantock Hills and Cothelstone in particular. Becky’s enthusiasm and the engagement of the other partners have ensured the success of this project and the conservation of the Well into the future.”
The App has original music on it by Jon Guard and a unique sound walk which transports the listener back to the Well and the sounds around it.
Andrew Hopkins, Marketing and Visitor Centre Manager for Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council said, “We are delighted to welcome this initiative and look forward to promoting this to visitors. The Holy Well is already cited as a Culture Secret of Somerset.”
Parish and County Councillor for the area, Mike Rigby, was set on supporting the project as soon as Becky brought it to his attention. He said, “It’s fabulous to see forgotten parts of our heritage uncovered and restored by public-spirited individuals and organisations. Download the App and take a trip to the well.”
The App, which is currently only available for Apple products, can be downloaded at
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/holy-well/id1139540831?mt=8

The App is free.
For more details of the well visit Cultural Secret of Somerset http://www.visit-exmoor.co.uk/culture-secrets
Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/wellobsessed/
website http://www.wellobsessed.com

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