Some Holy Wells in Kent
by Valerie Martin
Near Sittingbourne – Becket’s Well. Now a gully which flows from a small stream. Originally used by a leper hospital, foundations discovered nearby.
Ickham near Canterbury – well near ruined chapel.
St Blaise’s well, a chalybeate spring next to chapel with same dedication.
St Martin’s Well. Incorporated several centuries ago into an archbishop’s conduit to the cathedral. There are several springs to the East of St Martin’s church. On an old map, approximately 1 mile East of the church, a spring is marked, where Spring Lane has been built.
Near Cuxton – well by the church, (OSGR 668637, sheet 171).
Ashford – a lost well. There was a Plantagnet’s Well in the grounds, supposedly named after a bastard son of Richard III who had refuge here after Bosworth.
Marked on O.S. sheet 173, at grid reference 275419, on the downs. A housing development has street nurses incorporating ‘Holy Well’, Pilgrim’s Spring’ etc.
Near Canterbury – The Black Prince’s Well. Situated by a trackway just off the South side of the A2 Watling Street to Canterbury, just below the church of St Nicholas and almshouses. The three feathers of the Prince of Wales’ arms are carved on a stone above the arch of the well. Other pieces of carved stone are scattered in the gardens of the almshouses. The water is said to have healing properties, which is probably why the leper hospital of St Nicholas was built nearby. The spring was reputed ‘good for the eyes’. A leather pouch found nearby may have been used by pilgrims for collecting water. The hospital claimed to have Becket’s shoe, from which the holy water was sprinkled on pilgrims. The Black Prince is alleged to have asked for water from the well while suffering from dysentery on his last journey from Canterbury to London. The well is in good repair and freely accessible, (OSGR 129582, sheet 173).
Near Sevenoaks – St Edith’s Well. Near the Pilgrim’s Way and associated with pilgrims. Water used to soothe eyes.
Near Hythe – St Eadburgh’s Well, one of several natural springs in the area, probably associated with a nunnery near the church.
Near Kemsing – St Thomas’s Well, 300 yards from the church, founded by Becket who saw that his palace in the village needed a water supply, struck his staff into the ground, and water appeared. The springhead with late medieval masonry still remains.
Near Ramsgate – St Augustine’s Well, shown on current O.S. map as on a golf course. Have not yet gained access.
Near Cobham – a lost well. Was dedicated to St Thomas a Becket, and sited by the western edge of Cobham Park, again associated with Canterbury pilgrims.
Near Gravesend – a lost well, was at the junction of Watling Street and Church Lane. Site marked by a plaque until 1952 when road widened. Legend has it that a young girl called Salerna was wrongfully accused of stealing a cheese and threw herself down the well, calling on St Thomas to save her. She landed on planks at the bottom and was rescued. After that, the well was named after Becket, (OSGR 653706, sheet 171).
Near Maidstone – Pizien Well. A superstitious rather than religious custom, the well was visited by wedding parties, the bride drinking the water to ensure fertility, (OSGR 6765331, sheet 171).
Near Maidstone – St Leonard’s Well, at base of the Tower dedicated to that saint. Remains of small chapel and adjacent spring can be seen.
St Eustace’s Well, in a private garden. A woman is alleged to have drunk the water and then vomited up two black toads which changed into dogs then donkeys. She threw well water over them and they disappeared, (OSGR 061459, sheet 173).