.. an account of St. Maddern's Well in the parish of Penzance, Cornwall. From Camden. Ed. Gibson, p21, 22.Oh I think Mr Cameron would like this well very much. He'd like the way the Cured Cripples went back to gainful employment. Don't tell him about it though or he'll probably privatise the damn thing.
"Bishop Hall tells us (Mystery of Godliness), that a cripple, who for sixteen years together was forced to walk upon his hands, by reason of the sinews of his legs being contracted, was induced, by a dream, to wash in this well; which had so good effect, that himself saw him both able to walk, and to get his own maintenance. Two persons that had found the prescriptions of physicians altogether unprofitable, went to this well (according to the ancient custom), on Corpus Christi eve, and laying a small offering on the altar, drank of the water, and lay upon the ground all night, in the morning took a good draught more, and each of them carried away some of the water in a bottle. Within three weeks they found the effect of it; and (their strength increasing by degrees) were able to move themselves upon crutches. Next year they took the same course, after which they were able to go up and down by the help of a staff. At length one of them, being a fisherman, was, and, if he be alive is, still able to follow that business. The other was a soldier under Sir William Godolphin, and died in the service of King Charles I.
After this the well was superstitiously frequented, so that the rector of the neighbouring parish was forced to reprove several of his parishioners for it. But accidentaly meeting a woman coming from it with a bottle in her hand, and being troubled with cholical pains, desired to drink of it, and found himself cured of that distemper.
The instances are too near our own time, and too well attested, to fall under the suspicion of bare traditions, or legendary fables: and, being so very remarkable, may well claim a place her. Only, 'tis worth our observation, that the last of them destroys the miracle; for, if he was cured upon accidentally tasting it, then the ceremonies of offering, lying on the ground, &c., contributed nothing; and so the virtue of the water claims the whole remedy."
I suspect, that the patients who are said to have lain on the ground, did so under the altar of the church; as it was the custom in other cases of a similar kind. Borlase says, the water is simply pure, without any mineral impregnation, and rises through a stratum of grey moor-stone gravel. He adds,
"Hither also, on much less justifiable errands (than to cure pains in the limbs), come the uneasy, impatient, and superstitious; and by dropping pins, or pebbles, into the water, and by shaking the ground round the spring, so as to raise bubbles from the bottom, at a certain time of the year, moon, and day, endeavour to settle such doubts and inquiries will not let the idle and anxious rest."
This is from 'The Cambrian Popular Antiquities' by Peter Roberts, 1815.
Posted by Rhiannon
19th May 2011ce