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The Bishop’s Well, Chislehurst

A probable holy well, if only in name or association is to be found in the London suburb of Chislehurst. This is a site missing from James Rattue’s survey of Kent holy wells. This is the  Bishop’s Well, which is said to be one of the springs consecrated by the Bishop’s of Rochester during their tenure at Bromley. It was enclosed in the private grounds of Old Crown Cottage, along Crown Lane, but was once accessible via small path from the road.

Evidence of worship

Interestingly there is anecdotal evidence of worship at the well, For I was informed by the owner in the late 1990s, a Mr. Bill Orman, that when the previous owners had taken over the property in the 1940s, the well was surrounded by a number of small crosses, which sadly they disposed of. Could these have been evidence of pilgrimage to the well or left by those healed by its waters?

Will the real well reveal itself?

The well shaft is of considerable depth, and older brickwork is visible towards its bottom. The top is enclosed in a square brick chamber, and water still fills the chamber below. When I peered down, as can be made out in the photo, was the remains of a badger! There is some dispute regarding the exact site, and I was shown another well, capped and fitted with an old pump, lying in the grounds of Bishop’s Well House. However, despite the name, it is generally believed that the Old Crown Cottage’s well is the said site, and that this other well being above the other draws water from that. The owners hope to make the well into a feature for the garden although I have not contacted them since then to discover if this was done!