Notes & Queries
compiled by Mark Valentine
Nucker Hole, Lyminster
John Pile notes a reference in John Cowper Powys’ Autobiography (1934) to ‘Nucker Hole’ in Lyminster, West Sussex (c.f. Source (First Series) issue3). The passage (pp. 329-30 of the 1967 edition) begins;
‘This pond was of immemorial antiquity; and in ancient days it was reported to be the abode of a fabulous monster known as an ‘Avanc’….’
John comments that the term ‘Avunc’ is entirely new to him and wonders whether any readers can clarify it (do we have here a species of dragon?).
Wells in Literature
I’d like to add that ponds seemed to exert a special fascination on Powys, as is evident from some of his novels, notably Wolf Solent. Readers are invited to report other instances of holy wells and other sacred waters in literature. One of the most celebrated must be M.R. James’ classic ghost story Wailing Well. The author did not attribute the inspiration for the tale to any actual well, but it was first read to a Scout troop at Worbarrow Bay, Dorset in August, 1927.
References to holy wells found in folk songs are also worth collating. The Wife of Usher’s Well is particularly intriguing and would repay detailed study.
Procession to St Anne’s Well, Bristol
More than one hundred people joined a procession to St Anne’s Well in Bristol (see Source (First Series) issue 4) on St Anne’s Day (26th July) this year (1986). It was organised by the parish vicar, Reverend Mark Waters and the Rural Dean, Father John Bradley, on the 500th anniversary of Henry VII attending a similar service. The custom had been last revived in 1924 and was held annually until 1975 when Dutch Elm Disease made the surrounding woods unsafe (thanks to Jennifer Scherr who sent a copy of the Bristol Evening Post’s report of this event).
Text © Mark Valentine (1986)
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