THERE is a Leper's Well here, in which Edward the Black Prince bathed for his leprosy.--G. L. Gomme, F.S.A.


This well, the source of the river Raven's Bourne, is so called, because when Cæsar's legions were marching along that way to London, being destitute of water, a huge raven settled down upon this well, which is said to possess healing properties.



Called from Eustachius, Abbot of Flai, who is mentioned by Matt. Paris (p. 169, an. 1200), to have been a man of learning and sanctity, and to have come and preached at Wye, and to have blessed a fountain there, so that afterwards its water was endowed with such miraculous power, that by it all diseases were cured.---Hasted's Kent, iii. 176.


Warksworth, in his Chronicle (pp. 23, 24), in recording the occurrence, in the 13th year of Edward IV., of a gret hote somere, which caused much mortality and unyversalle fevers, axes, and the bloody flyx in dyverse places of Englonde, and also occasioned great dearth and famine in the southe partyes of the worlde, remarks that dyverse tokenes have be schewede in Englonde this year for amendynge of mennys lyvynge, and proceeds to enumerate several springs or waters in various places which only ran at intervals, and by their running always portended derthe, pestylence, or grete batayle. After mentioning several of these, he adds:

Also ther is a pytte in Kent, in Langley Parke; ayens any batayle he wille be drye, and it rayne neveyre so myche ; and if ther be no batayle toward, he wille be fulle of watere, be it neveyre so drye a wethyre; and this yere he is drye.

The state of the stream was formerly looked upon as a good index of the probable future price of corn.--Choice Notes and Queries (Folk-Lore), 206.


These wells were no doubt celebrated in times anterior to the Reformation, as indicated by the name Lady Well, which still designates the spot; but we do not possess any clear historic evidence until the year 1648, when an event occurred which made their virtues famous.

The manner in which the virtues of the water were discovered is curious. A poor woman afflicted with a loathsome disease, whose case had been given up as hopeless by the doctors, was advised to try the water, not because of any known virtues therein, but because her habitation was near by the springs. She used [82] the water outwardly and internally with such good effect, that, although her distemper had assumed serious and malignant symptoms, she found herself quickly restored by its daily use. From this circumstance the spot acquired some popularity and patronage. The waters were given gratis to all comers, as God hath freely bestowed His favours upon this water, so it is now dispensed gratis to any that desire it, either to themselves, or to any they shall send for it, everyone being left at liberty to gratifie the Poor people (that attend there dayly to cleanse the Wells, that the water may be taken up fresh and pure), as they shall think fit, there being no customary usuage, or fixt gratuity apportioned. An attempt to enclose the wells with a brick wall, and to give the profits of such monopoly for the Poor's use, was frustrated by the Divine hand in a striking manner. The water lost its virtue, taste, its odour, and effects, proving that in behalf of the Poor (incapacitated to right themselves) God sometimes immediately steps in for their assistance. The scheme of enclosure was abandoned. The wells were situated at Westwood Common, about two miles west of the parish church. Other wells mentioned by Allen, and described as being at the Foot of a heavy Claiy Hill, about 12 in Number, were situated near Lady Well Station. Two of the old wells were in existence until about the year 1866, when they were ignominiously destroyed by the construction of a sewer. An illustration of the Lady Well is preserved in Charles Knight's Journey-Book of Kent, P. 59. For fuller account see Antiquary, xii. 56-8.


Within the demesne land of the manor, and near the palace, is an ancient well, which from time immemorial has been dedicated in honour of St. Blaize, there having been a shrine attached to the well, to which pilgrimages were encouraged by promise of indulgences to those who worshipped there on certain occasions.--Archæologia Cantiana, xiii. 155. This well is probably the same as Bishop's Well, a full account of it, with illustration, will be found in Hone's Table Book, pt. ii., 65-8.


In the parts eastwards of Sittingbourne there are Nailbourns, or temporary land-springs, their time of breaking forth, and continuance of running, is very uncertain ; but whenever they do [83] break forth, it is held by the common people as the forerunner of scarcity and dearness of corn and victuals. Sometimes they break out for one, or, perhaps, two, successive years, and at others with two, three, or more years' intervention, and their running continues sometimes only for a few months, and at others for three or four years.--Hasted's H. of Kent, iii. 333.