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Holy Well, Humphrey Head

Sacred Well


Holy Well, Humphrey Head. -- This celebrated medicinal well is said to have been used by lead miners from the time of the Romans. The patients come for a two or three days' stay to "get the poison out of their systems." The site is three and a half miles nearly due south from Cartmel. The water, which has a very peculiar taste, comes down from the hillside and flows into a small artificial basin or grotto. The key of the door is kept at a neighbouring farmhouse. Close to the well is an untenanted building formerly used by indigent sufferers. The wooded cliff forming "The Head" is of singular beauty, overlooking the waters and sands of Morecambe Bay. On Hennet's map of Lancashire (1828) the well is called "Spa Holy Well." ..

Mr. W. O. Roper, in his Churches, Castles, and Ancient Halls of North Lancashire, writes: "One other appendage to the Priory of Cartmel should be mentioned, and that is the well known as the Holy Well. On the sea-shore, close under the towering cliffs of Humphrey Head, and almost immediately below the natural arch of rock which leads to the recess known as the Fairy Chapel, bubbles the well to which in former days the Priors journeyed in state from their neighbouring Priory, and to which in more recent times large numbers of people resorted, hoping to derive benefit from its medicinal qualities."

Mr. James Stockdle, in Annals of Cartmel, writes: "Near to this holy well (Humphrey Head) are two cavities in the mountain limestone rock called the 'Fairy Church' and the 'Fairy Chapel,' and about three hundred yards to the north there used to be another well, called 'Pin Well', into which in superstitious times it was thought indispensiable that all who sought healing by drinking the waters of the holy well should, on passing it, drop a pin; nor was this custom entirely given up till about the year 1804, when the Cartmel Commoners' Enclosure Commissioners, on making a road to Rougham, covered up this 'Pin Well'. I have myself long ago seen pins in this well, the offerings, no doubt, of the devotees of that day."

Mr. Hope, in his Holy Wells of England, says that "this is a brackish spring celebrated as a remedy for stone, gout, and cutaneous complaints.."
From 'The Ancient Crosses of Lancashire' by Henry Taylor, in Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society (v21, 1903).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
9th October 2011ce
Edited 9th October 2011ce

Comments (1)

Ooh, I'd like to see this one! Sounds charming. And it'll sort me gout out! :)

G x
goffik Posted by goffik
10th October 2011ce
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