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Popping Stone

Natural Rock Feature


(At the risk of infuriating Kentigern of course, with its blatant fibbery).

"In Cumberland there is a spring,
And strange it is to tell,
That many a fortune it will make,
If never a drop they sell."

The above prophetic rhymes are popularly understood to allude to Gilsland Spa, respecting which there is a very curious tradition, viz.., that on the medicinal virtues being first discovered, the person who owned the land, not resting satisfied, as would appear, with his profits which the influx of strangers to the place had caused, built a house over the spring, with the intention of selling the waters. But his avarice was punished in a very singular manner, for no sooner had he completed his house than the spring dried up, and continued so till the house was pulled down when lo! another miracle, it flowed again as before. Whether true or false, this story of antiquity enforces a most beautiful moral and religious precept. - Clarke's Survey of the Lake.
Similar to the anti-interference stories about some standing stones?

From p43 of Legendary Lore of the Holy Wells of England Including Rivers, Lakes, Fountains and Springs (1893) By Robert Charles Hope. Online at
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
21st May 2007ce
Edited 21st May 2007ce

Comments (2)

It is unlikely that a house would be built over the spring, as it issues from a cliff, above a river bed. A bath house was, however, built a few yards from it and stood for over 100 years, despite charging for bathing in the spring water. As regards drinking the water, far from charging for it the hotel owners built a road along the base of the cliff to provide easier access. This was used by thousands of people during the spa's heyday, and no doubt contributed to the hotel's prosperity, although no charge was made for visitors or residents, seeming to confirm the message of the rhyme, although the spa well is unconnected with the Popping Stone. Now, although the road still exists, it is overgrown and dangerous, so the hotel has piped the water to a secondary source. The hotel, owned since 1901 by the Co-op, has always encouraged free access to its grounds and the waters of its two spas. A footbridge was built over the Irthing in 1905 and dedicated "to the use of the public for ever".

Posted by kentigern
19th June 2007ce
ooh - very informative. Thankyou. And further confirmation that the Co-op is great. Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
29th August 2007ce
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