In 2008 Becky came across a small medieval well on an OS map...
When she eventually found the well it was very overgrown and in need of restoration, which was particularly sad as it was Grade 2 listed and had once been considered one of the most beautiful wells in the County. Becky contacted the landowner who gave her permission to clean up the site.
The Well is in Cothelstone, in the Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, less than 10 miles from Bridgwater.
This is a beautiful ancient Well House Grade 2 star listed building. It sits nestled in a field to the north-east of Cothelstone Manor House, and by the side of the road from Bishop's Lydeard to Bagborough.
This photograph was taken upon the first visit.
We engaged the local archaeology department and conservation officers
The project started to clear the growth around the site and footpath to make it more accessible and to prepare for a site visit of Bob Croft County Archaeologist; Somerset County Council, Diane Hartnall Conservation Officer and Stephen.
The site visit happened in early September 2008. It was decided to dig a small trough to explore if there was any original base around the wellhouse. It was also agreed that because of the Grade two listed status further permission would have to be sought before more work could be carried out.
Clearing the site
The work to clear the site for the stonemason was extensive but we were fortunate to have some willing volunteers.
Visit by Mike Orchard Stonemason from Orchard Stonemasons . Mike is going to see if he can create an area so the water can flow into a place where you can collect water or wash your hands as the well door will be locked. After looking round the site we found lots of old sandstone which may at one time have created a paved area around the well itself. The sandstone could have been taken from the local quarrys in Paradise Combe which are now not in use.
Mike has a real passion for historic building conservation work and spoke of a real passion for historical places. He met the team from the Huntspil project and the following pictures were taken 12/09/08 show the final removal of ivy from the top of the well and Mike Orchard preparing his quote for the project.
I located a book dated 1928 written by Richardson which talks of 45 houses in the parish of Cothelstone of which 16 were supplied by a private undertaking belonging to W.C.H Esdaile.
Richardson 1928 Wells and Springs of Somerset. London
It is apparently similar in deign to St Brewards Well in Cornwall which is said to cure sore eyes for an offering of pins. Its also been noted that St Agnes has a similar design to a Holy well near Camelford in Cornwall.
In relation to St Agnes well the history says that Edward Stawel married Agnes who was the daughter of John Cheyney of Pinhoe in Devon in the reign on Henry V11 (Henry VII (January 28, 1457 - April 21, 1509),. Horne suggests this maybe the date of the well building.
Rev Farther Horne lecture Some of the Holy Wells of Somerset Printed at Journal Press Reprinted from Keenes Bath Journal January 1915
October 2008 - Digging Holes with Archaeologists
In October we have been blessed with the opportunity to dig some holes with Bob Croft from the County Archaeologist. He arrived armed with a spade and a packet of Ginger Nuts to help the team from the Huntspill project look for old foundations. It was important to know if the building had an original path around the edge of the well. This would have instructed us how to build the floor around the well. Mr Croft also wanted to know if the building was Grade two listed or Grade two star listed. This makes such a difference when you are doing restoration work.
April / May 2009 - Well Update
Work has started at the end of April to create the wonderful stone basin around the front of the well. Mike from Orchard Stonemasons has created a beautiful stone channel and basin from the well. The water now flows into this space on its way towards the river.
The gate has been moved to help with accessibility and the blue lias stone has been individuals cut and placed to give an area where people can stand and place their hands in the water.
As Mike was digging he found a beautiful engraved stone with the words St Agnes and a small cross. We have no idea of the date of this engraving do you?
No cement has been used in any part of creating this stone front just a huge amount of skill to place the stones to create the desired effect.
The next job is painting the railings, fixing the sign and seeing if we can find further funding to continue with the stone work and create a much needed information sheet. Hugh Warmington is working on the new door for the well to secure the water supply.
It's hard to believe a year has passed. The door is now fitted and we are still waiting for the railings to be painted and the information board to be placed. Various volunteer teams from ANOB have been cancelled due to bad weather. We have however finished the leaflet which combines three wells St Decumans in Watchet, The Chalice Well in Glastonbury and this well.
The next challenge will be to find a way of raising the remaining monies needed to complete the stonework around this well around £2,000 at the last count
In the summer sunshine the well looks so lovely. I have added some recent photographs to the gallery. It would be great to hear from you if you have paid the well a visit.
The well has experienced a sudden burst of greenery due to recent rain. The Huntspill Project who kindly tended to its maintenance is now going to be very limited with all the recent cuts to services. This means its down to you and I to help look after it. Can you spare a few hours to go and help clear some of the greenery growing around the well? I would love to hear from you if you can.
Today I met the Entry to Land Based Studies group based at Bridgwater Colleges Cannington Centre at St Agnes Holy Well. They have agreed to continue with the maintenance of the well about every six weeks. The group were so enthusiastic about the project and enjoyed listening to the many stories associated with the well. They hope to start in two weeks time.