Bere Regis Village, Dorset
 

History of the Village Wells

Extract from 'Well Well Well' - a book on the Wells, Pumps & Boreholes of Bere Regis, written by Local

Villager John England.

Introduction

The   Production   of   this   small   book   started   from   an   enquiry   from   a   visitor   at   one   of   the   local   hostelries   in Bere   Regis,   regarding   the   whereabouts   of   'St.   Mary's   Well'.   The   enquiry   was   passed   onto   the   Post Office   and   hence   to   myself.   My   initial   approaches   were   to   those   more   mature   and   long   standing members of the Parish. It   has   taken   quite   a   long   time   to   find   the   answer   to   this   question   (the   most   probable   answer   being   the   Anchoret's   Well   on Woodbury   Hill)   and   even   now   it   may   not   be   quite   correct,   but   all   the   enquiries   have   produced   a   fund   of   knowledge   about   wells, pumps,   boreholes,   springs   and   water   supplies   covering   centuries   and   I   felt   that   it   should   be   put   to   paper   before   everyone   had forgotten. I   must   thank   so   many   people   who   willingly   gave   me   locations,   information   and   stories   and   allowed   me   to   take   photographs   of existing   wells,   or   identified   the   places   where   they   had   been   in   the   past.   I   apologise   if   any   of   the   items   are   incorrect   in   any   way and to those I may have missed during my enquiries.

The Anchoret's Chapel and Well

The   next   record   of   a   well   dates   from   at   least   the   15th   century   (or   possibly   earlier)   on   Woodbury   Hill,   the   site   of   an   Iron   Age fortification   with   possible   Roman   occupation,   in   connection   with   an   Anchoret’s   Chapel   on   the   hill.   It   is   referred   to   in   Dean Chandler’s   register   of   visitations   recording   a   chaplain   there   in   1408   and   again   a   reference   in   1411.   Little   more   was   heard   of   it   till 1770   when   its   foundations   were   reported   to   be   still   visible.   The   well   was   necessarily   very   deep   and   according   to   tradition   a golden   table   or   tablet   had   been   hidden   in   it.   The   well   was   reported   to   have   water   with   remarkable   healing   properties   and   people made annual pilgrimages to it on September 21st, the date of its dedication, to drink the water. The date of 21st September is St Matthew’s Day and it was always in this week of the 21st that Woodbury Hill Fair was held. Sir   Frederick   Treves,   in   his   book   ‘Highways   and   Byways   in   Dorset’   mentions   that   the   fair   has   been   held   since   the   time   of   Henry III   who   died   in   1272   ‘commencing   on   September   18th   near   about   the   festival   of   the   Nativity   of   the   Blessed   Virgin   Mary’   but   the Nativity is celebrated on September 8th and depending on the year the start date would of course change. However   the   question   of   ‘St   Mary’s   Well’   may   be   answered,   as   the   land   on   which   Woodbury   Hill   is   part   of   what   was   owned   by the Abbess   of Tarrant   up   to   the   time   of   the   reformation   (1539)   and Tarrant Abbey,   their   home   at Tarrant   Crawford,   had   the   chapel dedicated to St Mary and this could have been also the dedication of the chapel here as well. The   efficacy   of   the   water   is   mentioned   in   Reference   3   page   100,   where   the   Rev   O   P   Cambridge   (Vicar   of   Bloxworth)   recorded the   tradition   of   the   use   of   the   deep   well   on   Woodbury   Hill   ‘where   people   were   supposed   to   drink   the   water   on   September   21st and   pay   money   offerings   to   the   Abbot   of   Tarrant’.   The   hill   consists   of   London   Clay,   so   it   is   possible   that   the   water   may   have contained some Epsom Salts!
History of the Village Wells Collecting water from Butt Lane Well Well at Culeaze Supply pipe at West Street/Shitterton Junction Borehole at Watercress beds Well at 129 Bere Heath Pump at West Street/Shitterton Junction Pump at Roke Farmhouse
Bere Regis Village Website
Bere Regis Village website
John England, Summer 2012 (The Book can be bought for £5 at the Post Office and there is a Copy of it in the Parish Church of St. John the Baptist.)
© 2003, Bere Regis Village Website.

History of the Village

Wells

Extract from 'Well Well Well' - a book on the Wells, Pumps & Boreholes of Bere Regis, written by Local Villager John England.

Introduction

The   Production   of   this   small   book   started   from   an   enquiry   from   a visitor   at   one   of   the   local   hostelries   in   Bere   Regis,   regarding   the whereabouts   of   'St.   Mary's   Well'.   The   enquiry   was   passed   onto   the Post   Office   and   hence   to   myself.   My   initial   approaches   were   to   those more mature and long standing members of the Parish. It has taken quite a long time to find the answer to this question (the most probable answer being the Anchoret's Well on Woodbury Hill) and even now it may not be quite correct, but all the enquiries have produced a fund of knowledge about wells, pumps, boreholes, springs and water supplies covering centuries and I felt that it should be put to paper before everyone had forgotten. I must thank so many people who willingly gave me locations, information and stories and allowed me to take photographs of existing wells, or identified the places where they had been in the past. I apologise if any of the items are incorrect in any way and to those I may have missed during my enquiries.

The Anchoret's Chapel and Well

The next record of a well dates from at least the 15th century (or possibly earlier) on Woodbury Hill, the site of an Iron Age fortification with possible Roman occupation, in connection with an Anchoret’s Chapel on the hill. It is referred to in Dean Chandler’s register of visitations recording a chaplain there in 1408 and again a reference in 1411. Little more was heard of it till 1770 when its foundations were reported to be still visible. The well was necessarily very deep and according to tradition a golden table or tablet had been hidden in it. The well was reported to have water with remarkable healing properties and people made annual pilgrimages to it on September 21st, the date of its dedication, to drink the water. The date of 21st September is St Matthew’s Day and it was always in this week of the 21st that Woodbury Hill Fair was held. Sir Frederick Treves, in his book ‘Highways and Byways in Dorset’ mentions that the fair has been held since the time of Henry III who died in 1272 ‘commencing on September 18th near about the festival of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary’ but the Nativity is celebrated on September 8th and depending on the year the start date would of course change. However the question of ‘St Mary’s Well’ may be answered, as the land on which Woodbury Hill is part of what was owned by the Abbess of Tarrant up to the time of the reformation (1539) and Tarrant Abbey, their home at Tarrant Crawford, had the chapel dedicated to St Mary and this could have been also the dedication of the chapel here as well. The efficacy of the water is mentioned in Reference 3 page 100, where the Rev O P Cambridge (Vicar of Bloxworth) recorded the tradition of the use of the deep well on Woodbury Hill ‘where people were supposed to drink the water on September 21st and pay money offerings to the Abbot of Tarrant’. The hill consists of London Clay, so it is possible that the water may have contained some Epsom Salts! John England, Summer 2012 (The Book can be bought for £5 at the Post Office and there is a Copy of it in the Parish Church of St. John the Baptist.)
Collecting water from Butt Lane Well Well at Culeaze Supply pipe at West Street/Shitterton Junction Borehole at Watercress beds Well at 129 Bere Heath Pump at West Street/Shitterton Junction Pump at Roke Farmhouse
Bere Regis Village Website
© 2003, Bere Regis Village Website.