IN the parish of Chetton there was formerly a holy well or spring. It is not known whether it had any special dedication, but the church is dedicated to St. Giles, and the waters of the spring were supposed to possess a healing virtue for cripples or weakly persons. The last person who was dipped in the well was Mary Anne Jones, about the year 1817; she subsequently died about 1830, aged twenty-four years, and was the eldest sister of my informant, one of the oldest inhabitants of the parish. Though considerably covered up with undergrowth, the spring is not yet entirely lost."--Miss E. Lythall-Neale.


There is a small holy well in this parish (West Felton), in a hamlet called Woolston. The water of this well is still used by the country people for complaints of the eyes. It is a beautiful clear stream, running under a small black and white chapel into two paved square baths environed with stone walls, one of which is lower than the other. The higher one has steps down to the water, and, strange to say, there is more water in summer than in winter. Under the chapel, which overhangs the stream, is a long-shaped niche which has evidently contained the statue of the saint. At this side is a small cell, or covered place, where probably the priest or monk stood to dispense the water. The chapel is now unfortunately used as a cottage, and the beams of the roof inside are covered with whitewash. At one end there is the tracery of Tudor roses and acanthus leaves, upon what is evidently the framework of a window.--See Shropshire Arch. Soc. Trans. ix. 238.



At Crosinere, near Ellesmere, is one of the number of pretty lakes scattered throughout that district. There is a tradition of a chapel having formerly stood on the banks of the lake, and it is said that the belief once was, that whenever the waters were ruffled by the wind, the chapel bells might be heard ringing beneath the surface.


The White Lady of Longnor is in the habit of coming out of the Black Pool beside the road to Leebotwood. This pool is bottomless. Old Nancy, a well-known Longnor worthy, was shocked and scandalized to hear that the Parson's children had been so foolhardy as to skate on it in the recent hard winters. The White Lady issues out of it at night, and wanders about the roads. Hughes, the Parson's man at Longnor, met her once as he was going over the narrow foot-bridge beside the ford over Longnor Brook. I sid 'er a-cummin', he said (June, 1881), an' I thinks, 'ere's a nice young wench. Well, thinks I, who she be, I'll gi'e 'er a fright. I was a young fellow then, yo' known--an' I waited till 'er come close up to me, right i' the middle o' the bridge, an' I stretched out my arms, so--an' I clasped 'er in 'em tight--so. An' theer was nothin'

She came down here to the Villa wunst, he continued, after a dramatic pause. It was when there was a public kep' here. Joe Wigley, he told me. There was a great party held in the garden, and he was playing the fiddle. And they were all daincin', and she come an' dainced, all in white. And everyone was saying: 'What a nice young 'ooman--Here's the one for me--I'll 'ave a daince ooth 'er'--and so on, like that. And she dainced and dainced ooth 'em, round i' the ring, but they could's niver ketch 'out on 'er 'and. And at last she disappeart of a sudden, and then they found out who it 'ad bin, as 'ad bin daincin' along ooth 'em. And they all went off in a despert hurry, and there was niver no daincing there no more.

Old Nancy declared that this shadowy fair one was the ghost of a lady as 'ad bin disapp'inted, and had drowned herself in the Black Pool. But White Ladies has been a name for the fairies from the days of the romance of Hereward, and the [130] dancing round in the ring points out very clearly the class of beings among which the lady of the Black Pool should be placed.--Shropshire Folk-lore, p. 76.


Some two centuries ago, or less, a party of gentlemen, including the Squire [of Condover], were fishing in the pool, when an enormous fish was captured and hauled into the boat. Some discussion arose as to the girth of the fish, and a bet was made that he was bigger round than the squire, and that the sword- belt of the latter would not reach his waist. To decide the bet the squire unbuckled his belt, which was there and then with some difficulty fastened round the body of the fish. The scaly knight (for so he no doubt felt himself to be) being girt with the sword, began to feel impatient at being kept so long out of his native element, and after divers struggles he succeeded in eluding his captors, and regaining at the same time his freedom and his watery home, carrying the squire's sword with him. Ibid., p. 81.

The Monster Fish of Bomere Pool is thus described: He of course lives in the mere, not beneath it, like the water-witches. He is bigger than any fish that ever swam, he wears a sword by his side, and no man can catch him. It was tried once. A great net was brought, and he was entangled in it and brought nearly to the side, but he drew his sword and cut the net and escaped. Then the fishermen made a net of iron links and caught him in that. This time he was fairly brought to land, but again he freed himself with his wonderful sword, and slid back into the water and got away. The people were so terrified at the strange sight that they have never tried to take him again, though he has often been seen since, basking in the shallow parts of the pool with the sword still girded round him. One day, however, he will give it up, but not until the right heir of Condover Hall shall come and take it from him. He will yield it easily then, but no one else can take it. For it is no other than Wild Edric's sword, which was committed to the fish's keeping when he vanished, and will never be restored except to his lawful heir. Wild Edric, they say, was born at Condover Hall, and it ought to belong to his family now; but his children were defrauded of their inheritance, and that is why there is no luck about the Hall [131] to this day. This curse has been on it ever since then. Every time the property changes hands the new landlord will never receive the rents twice; and those who have studied history will tell you that this has always come to pass. Ibid., p. 80.

"Many years ago, a village stood in the hollow which is now filled up by the mere. But the inhabitants were a wicked race, who mocked at God and His priest. They turned back to the idolatrous practices of their fathers, and worshipped Thor and Woden; they scorned to bend the knee, save in mockery, to the White Christ who had died to save their souls. The old priest earnestly warned them that God would punish such wickedness as theirs by some sudden judgment, but they laughed him to scorn. They fastened fish-bones to the skirt of his cassock, and set the children to pelt him with mud and stones. The holy man was not dismayed at this; nay, he renewed his entreaties and warnings, so that some few turned from their evil ways and worshipped with him in the little chapel which stood on the bank of a rivulet that flowed down from the mere on the hillside.

"The rains fell that December in immense quantities. The mere was swollen beyond its usual limits, and all the hollows in the hills were filled to overflowing. One day when the old priest was on the hillside gathering fuel, he noticed that the barrier of peat, earth, and stones, which prevented the mere from flowing into the valley, was apparently giving way before the mass of water above. He hurried down to the village and besought the men to come up and cut a channel for the discharge of the superfluous waters of the mere. They only greeted his proposal with shouts of derision, and told him to go and mind his prayers, and not spoil their feast with his croaking and his kill-joy presence.

These heathens were then keeping their winter festival with great revelry. It fell on Christmas Eve. The same night the aged priest summoned his few faithful ones to attend at the midnight mass, which ushered in the feast of our Saviour's Nativity. The night was stormy, and the rain fell in torrents, yet this did not prevent the little flock from coming to the chapel. The old Servant of God had already begun the holy sacrifice, when a roar was heard in the upper part of the valley. The server was just ringing the Sanctus bell which hung in the bell-cot, when a flood of water dashed into the church, and rapidly rose till it put out the altar-lights. In a few moments more, the whole [132] building was washed away, and the mere, which had burst its mountain barrier, occupied the hollow in which the village had stood. Men say that if you sail over the mere on Christmas Eve, just after midnight, you may hear the Sanctus bell tolling.--Ibid., pp. 64, 65.

Here is another legend. Many have tried to fathom Bomere, but in vain. Though waggon-ropes were tied together and let down into it, no bottom could be found--and how should there be? when everyone knows that it has none! Nor can it be drained. The attempt was once made, and found useless; for whatever the workmen did in the day, was undone by some mysterious power in the night.

In the days of the Roman Empire, when Uriconium was standing, a very wicked city stood where we now see Bomere Pool. The inhabitants had turned back from Christianity to heathenism, and though God sent one of the Roman soldiers to be a prophet to them, like Jonah to Nineveh, they would not repent. Far from that, they ill-used and persecuted the preacher. Only the daughter of the governor remained constant to the faith. She listened gladly to the Christian's teaching, and he on his part loved her, and would have had her to be his wife. But no such happy lot was in store for the faithful pair. On the following Easter Even, sudden destruction came upon the city. The distant Caradoc--the highest and most picturesque of the Stutton Hills, crowned by a British encampment, which some have supposed to be the scene of Caractacus's last stand--sent forth flames of fire, and at the same time the city was overwhelmed by a tremendous flood, while the sun in the heavens danced for joy, and the cattle in the stalls knelt in thanksgiving that God had not permitted such wickedness to go unpunished. [Footnote: These words were repeated as a sort of formula, necessary to the proper telling of the story. Their connection with the two dates, Christmas and Easter, assigned for the destruction is striking.] But the Christian warrior was saved from the flood, and he took a boat and rowed over the waters, seeking for his betrothed, but all in vain. His boat was overturned, and he, too, was drowned in the depths of the mere. Yet whenever Easter Even falls on the same day as it did that year, the form of the Roman warrior may be seen again, rowing across Bomere in search of his lost love, while the church bells are heard ringing far in the depths below.--Ibid., pp. 65, 66.



At Colemere the bells may be heard, according to one authority, on windy nights when the moon is full. According to another, at midnight on the anniversary of the patron saint of the chapel, whom yet another informant declares to have been St. Helen. Another story is that a monastery once stood on the ground occupied by the pool, but a spring burst forth close to it, and swelled to such a height that the waters quickly covered the monastery, and formed Colemere, beneath which the chapel bells may yet be yearly heard ringing.

Another variant runs as follows:

They say that the old church at Colemere was pulled down by Oliver Cromwell, and the bells thrown into the mere. Once an attempt was made to get them up. Chains had been fastened to them, and twenty oxen had succeeded in drawing them to the side, when a man who had been helping said to someone who had doubted their being able to raise them: In spite of God and the devil we have done it.' At these words the chains snapped. The bells rolled back into the water. They heard the sound, and saw by the bubbles where they had settled, but they could not see anything more, nor has anything ever been seen or heard of them since.--Ibid., p. 67.


The Eas Well, at Baschurch, in a field beside the River Perry, a mile west of the church, was frequented till twenty years ago by young people, who went there on Palm Sunday to drink sugar and water and eat cakes. A clergyman who was present in x 830 speaks of seeing little boys scrambling for the lumps of sugar which escaped from the glasses and floated down the brook which flows from the spring into the river.--Ibid., p. 432.


The Berth Pool near Baschurch lies at the foot of the Berth Hill, a very curious entrenched camp on an eminence in the midst of a morass, where it was once intended to build the parish church. But the same mysterious something which interfered with the building on the height also threw the bells intended for it into the Berth Pool. Horses were brought and fastened to [134] them, but were quite powerless to draw them out. Then oxen were tried with better success; but just as the bells were coming to the surface of the water, one of the men employed in the work let slip an oath, on which they fell back, crying, No! never! And they lie at the bottom of the pool to this day. Three cart-ropes will not reach the bottom of the Berth Pool.--Ibid., p. 68.


Between Oswestry and Llanymynech, close beside the railway, lies a pretty little pool called Llynclys, or Llyn-y-clys, which is variously interpreted to mean the swallowed hall, or the lake of the enclosure. Early in this century there were many who believed that when the water was clear enough the towers of a palace might be discerned at the bottom; only, as the author of theGossiping Guide to Wales observes, unfortunately there never appears to have been a day when the water was clear enough. The legend which tells of the destruction of this palace--though now, it seems, forgotten--is recorded in an old MS. history of Oswestry, preserved in the British Museums and communicated to the present writer by Mr. Askew Roberts of Croeswylan, Oswestry, the author of the Guide aforesaid. It is as follows:

About twoe miles of Oswestry within the parishe there is a poole called llynclis of which poole Humifrey Lloyd reporteth thus: German Altisiodorensis preached sometime there against the Pelagian heresie. The King whereof, as is there read, because hee refused to heare that good man by the secrett and terrible judgment of God with his pallace and all his househould was swallowed up into the bowelles of the earth. Suo in loco non procul ab oswaldia est Stagnum incognite profunditatis llynclis id est vorago palatij in hunc dictum. In that place whereas not far from Oswestry is nowe a standing water of an unknown depth called llynclis that is the devouring of the pallace."Llynclys Pool is one which has never a bottom to it.--Ibid., p. 68.


The great mere at Ellesmere is the subject of many legends, or rather variants of one legend, all bearing on the same notion of wickedness punished by a flood. Where Ellesmere stands was once as fine a stretch of meadow-land as any in the county. [135] In a large field in the midst of it there was a well of beautiful water, from which everyone in the neighbourhood used to fetch as much as they pleased. At last there was a change of tenants in the farm to which the field belonged; and the new-coiner was a churlish man, who said the comers and goers trampled down his grass. So he stopped the poor people coming to the well with their cans and buckets as they had been used to do for years and years, and allowed no one to draw water there besides his own family. But no good came of such hard dealings. One morning, very soon after the people had been forbidden to come, the farmer's wife went out to the well for water, but instead of the well she found that the whole field was one great pool, and so it has remained ever since. But the farmer and all of his family who held the field after him were obliged to pay the same rent as before, as a punishment for such unneighbourly conduct.

A correspondent of Shreds and Patches, in 1881, picked up another version. Both are evidently genuine folk-tales.

A many many years ago, clean water was very scarce in this neighbourhood. All that could be got, was what was fetched from a beautiful well in the very middle of what is now the mere at Ellesmere. But the people to whom the land belonged were so grasping that they charged a halfpenny for every bucketful that was drawn, which fell very heavy on the poor, and they prayed to Heaven to take some notice of their wrongs. So the Almighty, to punish those who so oppressed the poor, caused the well to burst forth in such volumes that it flooded all the land about, and so formed the mere. And so thenceforward there was plenty of water free to all comers.--Ibid., p. 69.

A third variant has been versified by the Rev. Oswald M. Feilden, vicar of Frankton, near Ellesmere:

I've heard it said, where now so clear
The water of that silver mere,
It once was all dry ground;
And on a gentle eminence,
A cottage with a garden fence,
Which hedged it all around.

And there resided all alone,
So runs the tale, an aged crone,
A witch, as some folks thought.
And to her home a well was near,
Whose waters were so bright and clear,
By many it was sought.


But greatly it displeased the dame
To see how all her neighbours came
Her clear cool spring to use,
And often was she heard to say,
That if they came another day,
She would the well refuse.

Upon this little hill, said she,
My house I built for privacy,
Which now I seek in vain:
For day by day your people come
Thronging in crowds around my home,
This water to obtain.

But when folks laughed at what she said,
Her countenance with passion red,
She uttered this dread curse:
Ye neighbours one and all beware!
If here to come again you dare
For you 'twill be the worse!

Of these her words they took no heed,
And when of water they had need
Next day, they came again.
The dame, they found, was not at home,
The well was locked: so they had come
Their journey all in vain.

The well was safely locked. But though
You might with bolts and bars, you know,
Prevent the water going,
One thing, forsooth, could not be done,
I mean forbid the spring to run,
And stop it overflowing.

And all that day, as none could draw,
The water rose full two feet more
Than ever had been known.
And when the evening shadows fell,
Beneath the cover of the well
A stream was running down,

It flowed on gently all next day,
And soon around the well there lay
A pond of water clear;
And as it ever gathered strength,
It deeper grew, until at length
The pond became a mere.

To some, alas! the flood brought death;
Full many a cottage lies beneath
The waters of the lake; [137]
And those who dwelt on either side
Were driven by the running tide
Their homesteads to forsake.

And as they fled, that parting word
Which they so heedlessly had heard,
They now recalled, I ween!
The dame was gone; but where once stood
Her cottage, still above the flood
An island may be seen.

The connection of the island in Elelsmore with the legend is an addition of the verse-maker's.

Another version: An old woman named Mrs. Ellis had a pump in her yard. She would not sell or give any water to her neighbours. One night the well overflowed, and the next morning nothing was to be seen of her or the pump. Only the large mere covered the country, which is called after her Elles-mere. Ibid., p. 72.


Miss Jackson has thus recorded a droll story current in the neighbourhood of Ellesmere. Kettlemere and Blackmere, two small meres of the Ellesmere group, lie close to one another. A gentleman riding down the lane which skirts them, said to a boy whom he met: 'My lad, can you tell me the name of this water?' pointing towards Kettlemere. 'Oh, aye, sir, it's Kettlemar.'' 'How deep is it?' 'Oh, it's no bottom to it, and the tother's deeper till that, sir!'"--Ibid., p. 73.

The Ladies' (or Lady's) Walk at Ellesmere is a paved causeway running far into the mere, with which, more than forty years ago, old swimmers were well acquainted. It could be traced by bathers until they got out of their depth. How much farther it might run they of course knew not. Its existence seems to have been almost forgotten, until in 1879 some divers, searching for the body of a drowned man, came upon it at the bottom of the mere, and this Thd to old inhabitants mentioning their knowledge of it.--Ibid., p. 77.


There is in England a lake which is commonly called Wlfresimere, that is, the mere of King Wlfer, which abounds with fish when all are allowed to fish in it, but when men are prevented from fishing in it, few or no fish are found in it.--Ibid., p.72.


In the same region is Haveringe-mere. If a person in sailing over it calls out: Prout Haveringe-mere, or allethope cunthefere, a storm arises at once and swamps his boat. These words convey an insult, as if it were said to the lake: Thou art called Haueringe-mere,! i.e., Hauering's mere. Both (lakes) are on the borders of Wales. The above puzzling extract is from Gervase of Tilbury, which was communicated to the Rev. H. B. Taylor, in the belief that the meres mentioned in them were probably to be identified with Ellesmere and its neighbour Newton Mere.--Ibid.


The White Lady of Kilsall haunts the dark walk beside the pool in the grounds of that old-fashioned mansion. She is said to be the ghost of one of the Whiston family, who were owners of Kilsall, near Albrighton, in the time of Elizabeth, and whose name is still preserved in that of Whiston's Cross,in the same neighbourhood.--Ibid., p. 77.


Two versions are here given, one in the vernacular, the other in vulgar English:

Naw, Ah nivir 'eerd tell as anny think 'ad bii sin o' leate 'eers, but thur was a marmed seed thur wonst. It was a good bit agoo, afore moy toime. Ah darsee as it 'ud be a 'undred 'ears back. Theer wuz two chaps a-gooin' to woork won mornin' early, an' they'd 'n raught as fur as the pit soide in Mr. ---- 's faild, an' they seed summat a-squattin' atop o' the waëter as did skear 'em above a bit! Eh, they thought as 'ow it were gooin' to tek 'em roight streat off to th' Owd Lad is sen! Well, Ah conna joost seä ezackly what it were loike--Ah wunna theer, yo' known--but it were a marmed, saëm as yo' readen on i' the paepers. The chaps 'ad' loike to 'a runned awea at the first, they wun that skeared, but as soon's iver the marmed spoken to 'em, they niver thoughten no moor o' that. 'Er v'ice was se swate an se pleasant, they fell in loove wi' 'er theer an then, the both on 'em. Well, an' 'er towd 'era as 'ow theer wuz a treasure 'id at the bottom o' the pit, loomps o' gowd an' dear knows what. An 'er'd give 'em all as iver [139] they loiked if se be as they'd'n coom to er i' the waëter an' tek it out of 'er 'ands. So they wenten in--welly up to their chins it were--an' 'er dowked down i' the waiter an' brought oop a loomp o' gowd, as big as a mon's yed, very near. An' the chaps wun joost agoin' to tek it off 'er, an' the won on 'em sez: 'Eh,' sez 'e (an' swore, yo known), 'if this inna a bit o' luck!' An' moy word! if the marmed didna tek it off 'em agin, an' give a koind of shroike, an' dowked down agen into the pit, an' they niver seed no more on 'er, not a'ter; nor got none o' the gowd; nor nobody's niver seed nothink on 'er sence.

The following is a translation:

No, I never heard anything had been seen of late years, but there was a mermaid seen there once. It was a good while ago, before my time. I dare say it might be a hundred years ago. There were two men going to work early one morning, and they had got as far as the side of the pond in Mr.----'s field, and they saw something on the top of the water which scared them not a little. They thought it was going to take them straight off to the Old Lad himself! I can't say exactly what it was like, I wasn't there, you know; but it was a mermaid, the same as you read of in the papers. The fellows had almost run away at first, they were so frightened, but as soon as the mermaid had spoken to them, they thought no more of that. Her voice was so sweet and pleasant, that they fell in love with her there and then, both of them. Well, she told them there was a treasure hidden at the bottom of the pond--lumps of gold, and no one knows what. And she would give them as much as ever they liked if they would come to her in the water and take it out of her hands. So they went in, though it was almost up to their chins, and she dived into the water and brought up a lump of gold almost as big as a man s head. And the men were just going to take it, when one of them said: 'Eh!' he said (and swore, you know), 'if this isn't a bit of luck!' And, my word! if the mermaid didn't take it away from them again, and gave a scream, and dived down into the pond, and they saw no more of her, and got none of her gold. And nobody has ever seen her since then.

No doubt the story once ran that the oath which scared the uncanny creature involved the mention of the Holy Name.--Ibid., p. 78.



The only ancient dedication (in Shropshire) to a Welsh saint is that of St. Owen's Well, at Much Wenlock, the existence of which in the sixteenth century is known to us from the Register of Sir Thomas Boteler, vicar of the parish.--Ibid., p. 621.


St. Milburga's Well is still to be seen near the entrance to the beautiful and interesting ruins of the priory. A conduit from it, it is said, supplied a beautiful carved fountain which has lately been brought to light within the abbey precincts.--Ibid., p. 417.


It is an unfailing spring, a little above the church, and at the foot of the steep bank leading up the Brown Clee Hill. It was reputed to be good for sore eyes, and was also much used for bucking clothes, which were rinsed in the well water and beaten on a flat stone at the well's mouth; but some ten years ago it was covered in, and altered, and I am told is now in a ruinous and unsightly condition. The legend still current in the village relates that St. Milburga was a very holy and beautiful woman, who, nevertheless, had so many enemies that she was obliged to live in hiding. Her retreat, however, became known, and she took to flight, mounted on a white horse (most authorities say a white ass), and pursued by her foes with a pack of bloodhounds, and a gang of rough men on horseback. After two days and two nights' hard riding she reached the spot where the well now is, and fell fainting from her horse, striking her head upon a stone. Blood flowed from the wound, and the stain it caused upon the stone remained there partly visible, and has been seen by many persons now living.

On the opposite side of the road some men were sowing barley in a field called the Plock (by others the Vineyard), and they ran to help the saint. Water was wanted, but none was at hand. The horse, at St. Milburga's bidding, struck his hoof into the rock, and at once a spring of water gushed out. Holy water, henceforth and for ever, flow freely, said the saint. Then, stretching [141] out her hands, she commanded the barley the men had just sown to spring up, and instantly the green blades appeared. Turning to the men, she told them that her pursuers were close at hand, and would presently ask them, When did the lady on the white horse pass this way? to which they were to answer, When we were sowing this barley. She then remounted her horse, and bidding them prepare their sickles, for in the evening they should cut their barley, she went on her way. And it came to pass as the saint had foretold. In the evening the barley was ready for the sickle, and while the men were busy reaping, St. Milburga's enemies came up, and asked for news of her. The men replied that she had stayed there at the time of the sowing of that barley, and they went away baffled. But when they came to hear that the barley which was sown in the morning ripened at mid-day, and was reaped in the evening, they owned that it was in vain to fight against God.

Mediæeval hagiologists relate the flight of St. Milburga from the too violent suit of a neighbouring prince, whose pursuit was checked by the river Corve, which, as soon as she had passed it, swelled from an insignificant brook to a mighty flood which effectually barred his progress.--Ibid., p. 417.


SS. Peter and Paul were obvious dedications for two wells in a field near Burnt Mill Bridge in the parish attached to the Abbey of SS. Peter and Paul at Shrewsbury. They were good for sore eyes, and were much resorted to till they were destroyed by the drainage of the field, about 1820.--Salopian Shreds and Patches, July 27, 1881.


St. Hawthorn's Well existed on the Wrekin in recent years, and was supposed to be effectual in cases of skin diseases. We are told of a man who suffered from a scorbutic affection, who was wont to walk from his home, six miles distant, before 2.30 a.m., that he might drink the water and bathe his face in the well before sunrise, which was needful to the cure. But unfortunately his trouble was in vain.--Ibid., August 17, 1881.



At Rhosgoch, on the Long Mountain in the Montgomeryshire portion of the Shropshire parish of Worthen, is a famous wishing-well, which is good for the eyes besides. One of my cottagers, writes Sir Offley Wakeman, who lived close to the well for two years, tells me that the bottom was bright with pins-- straight ones he thinks--and that you could get whatever you wished for the moment the pin you threw in touched the bottom. It was mostly used for wishing about sweethearts.--Shropshire Folk-lore, p. 422.


This is renowned for its eye-healing virtues, and was yeady visited by Black Country folk and others, who douked, or dipped, their heads in it on Good Friday.--Ibid., p. 433.


The pretty legend of the Boiling Well--so called from its continual bubbling as it rises--in a meadow beside the River Corve at Ludlow, was related to me on the spot in the year 1881, as follows. Three centuries ago the principal figure would have been described as a holy saint in disguise instead of a simple palmer.

Years ago, you know, there was what was called the Palmers' Guild at Ludlow. You may see the palmers' window in the church now: it is the east window in the north chancel, which was the chantry chapel of the guild. The old stained glass gives the story of the Ludlow palmers; how King Edward the Confessor gave a ring to a poor pilgrim, and how years afterwards two palmers from Ludlow, journeying homewards from the Holy Land, met with the blessed St. John the Evangelist, who gave them the same ring, and bade them carry it to their king, and tell him that he to whom he had given it was no other than the saint himself, and that after receiving it again the king should not live many days, which came to pass as he said. The Palmers' Guild founded many charities in Ludlow, and among them the Barnaby House, which was a hospice for Poor travellers. Many used to pass through the town in those days, especially pilgrims going to [143] St. Winifred's Well in Wales. And once upon a time an old palmer journeying thither was stayed some days at Barnaby House by sickness, and the little maid of the house waited on him. Now, this little maid had very sore eyes. And when he was got well and was about to go on his way, he asked of her what he should do for her. 'Oh, master,' said she, 'that my sight might be healed!' Then he bade her come with him, and led her outside the town, till they stood beside the Boiling Well. And the old man blessed the well, and bade it have power to heal all manner of wounds and sores, to be a boon and a blessing to Ludlow as long as the sun shines and water runs. Then he went his way, and the little maid saw him no more, but she washed her eyes with the water, and they were healed, and she went home joyfully. And even to this day the well is sought by sufferers from diseases of the eyes.

Our old informant had known a man come with a horse and cart all the way from Bromyard, in Herefordshire, to fetch a barrel of the water for his wife's use, and when the barrel was empty he came again.--Ibid., p. 421.


St. Julian's Well, within the precincts of the Austin Friars at Ludlow, is, I imagine, like St. Julian's Church, Shrewsbury, dedicated in honour of St. Juliana, the virgin martyr of Nicomedia, who bound and scourged her demon-tempter, quenched the fire prepared to burn her with her tears, and arose unhurt and refreshed rrom a boiling caldron, and thus may have been considered a patroness of healing waters.--Ibid., p. 420.


In a valley called Sunny Gutter, near Ludlow, is a wishing-well, into which you must drop a stone, and the wish you form at the moment will be fulfilled.--Ibid., p. 422.


The famous well of St. Oswald makes no figure in the authentic history of the saint. In all probability it was a pagan sacred spring frequented long before his time, to whom it was afterwards dedi[144]cated. An undated deed of the thirteenth century describes certain land as being situated near the Fount of St. Oswald. In the fifteenth century the chronicler Capgrave writes that in the plain called in English Maserfeld the church which is called the White Church is founded in honour of St. Oswald, and not far from it rises an unfailing spring, which is named by the inhabitants St. Oswald's Well. Leland, in the sixteenth century, adds

[Illustration: Ostwestry: St. Oswald's Well (photograph)]

that in his day it was said that an eagle snatched away an arm of Oswald from the stake, but let it fall in that place where now the spring is," which gushed forth where the incorruptible arm of the saint rested. A chapel, he says, has been erected over it, the ruins of which were still to be seen in Pennant's time (1773), but have now disappeared. But the waters of Oswald's Well still flow freely at the foot of a woody bank in a field on the outskirts [145] of Oswestry, next to that now used as the Grammar School playground. A little stream runs from the well to a pool below. Above and behind it is secured from falling soil or leaves by walled masonry, probably about a hundred years old, opening in front in a rounded archway, beneath which the stream flows away. In 1842 a local antiquary, the late Mr. J. F. M. Dovaston, wrote that the feeble and the infirm still believe and bathe in the well, and did more so until it was enclosed in the noisy playground. Bottles of its waters are carried to wash the eyes of those who are dim or short-sighted, or the tardy or erring legs of such as are of weak understandings. Nowadays it seems chiefly used as a wishing-well, and many are the ceremonies prescribed for attaining the heart's desire thereby. One rite is, to go to the well at midnight, and take some of the water up in the hand, and drink part of it, at the same time forming the wish in the mind. The rest of the water must then be thrown upon a particular stone at the back of the well, where the schoolboys think that King Oswald's head was buried, and where formerly a carved head wearing a crown projected from the wall. In Mr. Dovaston's boyhood this was in good preservation, but in 1842 he says wanton tenants have battered it to a perfect mummy. If the votary can succeed in throwing all the water left in his hand upon this stone, without touching any other spot, his wish will be fulfilled.

A young girl at Oswestry, about three years ago, obtained the wish which she had breathed into a small hole in the keystone of the arch over the well.

Another approved plan is to bathe the face in the water, and wish while doing so; or, more elaborately, to throw a stone upon a certain green spot at the bottom of the well, which will cause a jet of water to spout up in the air. Under this, the votary must put his head and wish, and the wish will be fulfilled in the course of one or two days. Another plan savours of divination: it is to search among the beech trees near the well for an empty beechnut-husk, which can be imagined to bear some sort of likeness to a human face, and to throw this into the water with the face uppermost. If it swims while the diviner counts twenty, the wish will be fulfilled, but not otherwise.--Ibid., pp. 427, 428.



By the side of the Roman road between Ruckley and Acton Burnell, yclept the Devil's Causeway, and half-way down the Causeway Bank, there rises out of a ferny, flowery bank a most beautiful spring, which drips into a deep rocky basin, partly natural, of great gray slabs of stone, placed there by the hand of man. Behind it rises the ancient Causeway Wood, with its yews and hollies, its ash and mountain-ash trees. The spring is never known to fail, even in the dryest seasons. Its waters, say the folk, are always cold in summer and warm in winter, and, needless to add, they are good for sore eyes. Will it be believed that this beautiful fountain, fit only for the fairest of water-nymphs, is the scene of what seems like a fragment of the husk-myth of the Frog-Prince (see p. 115)? Here the Devil and his imps appear in the form of frogs. Three frogs are always seen together; these are the imps; the largest frog, being Satan himself, remains at the bottom and shows himself but seldom.--Ibid., pp. 415, 4I6.


This well is dedicated in honour of the patron saint of the church, and is situated in the churchyard to the west of the church.


St. John's Well shared the dedication of a neighbouring chantry chapel, which was probably built on account of the celebrity of the well. The legend of St. John causing a serpent to show itself in the poisoned chalice of which he then drank unharmed, sufficiently accounts for the dedication.--Ibid., p. 420.


The name of the Lady Well Mine at Minsterley preserves the memory of another ancient holy well; but I believe the present church at Minsterley is dedicated to (in honour of) the Holy Trinity.--Ibid.


This well, still resorted to for bathing weak eyes, is just below Dorrington Church (near Allbrighton), which is believed to have the same dedication, and which it doubtless preceded in sanctity.--Ibid.



Of the Halliwell Wakes at Rorrington (a township in the parish of Chirbury), I am able, thanks to the kindness of Sir Offley Wakeman, to give a full account, gleaned from the old folk of Rorrington and its neighbourhood, who attended the wake in their youth.

It was celebrated on Ascension Day at the Halliwell or Holy Well, on the hillside at Rorrington Green. Are you going to the Halliwells on Thursday? one neighbour would say to the other as the time drew near. The well was adorned with a bower of green boughs, rushes, and flowers, and a Maypole was set up. The people used to walk round the hill with fife, drum, and fiddle, dancing and frolicking as they went, and then fell to feasting at the well-side, finishing the evening by dancing to the music of fiddles. They threw pins into the well, an offering which one old man, a blacksmith at Hope, says was supposed to bring good luck to those who made it, and to preserve them from being bewitched; and they also drank some of the water. But the pure spring water was not the only, or chief, material of the feast! Soon after Chirbury Wakes (St. Michael's) a barrel of ale was always brewed on Rorrington Green, which on the following Ascension Day was taken to the side of the Holy Well and there tapped. Cakes of course were eaten with the ale; they were round, flat buns, from three to four inches across, sweetened, spiced, and marked with a cross. They were supposed to bring good luck if kept.

The wake is said to have been discontinued about the year 1832 or 1834, at the death of one Thomas Cleeton, who used to brew the drink.--Ibid., pp. 433, 434.


There is a well at Haughmond Abbey, still covered by its fifteenth-century well-house.


This well gives the name to the village of Pitchford, near Shrewsbury.



A highly interesting fragment of English history is preserved here in the name of the well--Fair Rosamond's.


Mr. Wright records a tradition, picked up at our famous buried city of Uriconium, to the effect that on the northern side of Watling Street, not far from the place where it crosses the Bell Brook, there is near the brook-side a buried well at the bottom of which vast treasures lie hidden. As a local rhyme expresses it:

"Near the brook of Bell
There is a well,
Which is richer than any man can tell."

Miss C. S. Burne, Shropskire Folk-lore, p. 84.


The roadside well at Betchcot, near Smethcote, in the Pulverbatch country, was dressed with flowers on the 14th of May up to the year 1810, or thereabouts.


Newport owed its existence as a chartered borough to its Vivary, a pool or mere dammed up at the upper end of the level marsh, known as the Wildmoors, which here are contracted to a narrow neck. From this Vivary the burgesses were bound to supply fish for the king's table, a service of which the three fishes in the borough arms are a reminiscence. The pool seems, however, to have gradually dried up, perhaps through neglect; its site was waste in 1749, when the lord of the manor, with the steward and burgesses, made a grant of it to trustees, who were to keep the bridge or Cool Dam in repair. We cannot be wrong in thinking this was the original home of the Mermaid of Newport, as she is invariably called, though she now lives in Aqualate Mere, in Staffordshire, a remarkable sheet of water about two miles higher up the Wildmoors. Many can tell how they have seen summat on the wooded banks of the great mere.--Ibid., p. 640.