Tuesday, 17 November 2009

our lady's well, Hempsted

I went to the Midlands by the old road on Sunday, along the A38 from Bristol to Gloucester and then to Tewkesbury. (After Tewkesbury I cheated and took the motorway, because it gets complicated after that). I wanted to look at Llanthony Secunda, the daughter establishment of Llanthony Priory, established on the outskirts of Gloucester when the monks evacuated from the Black Mountains during one of those periodical times of troubles-with-the-natives. But first I stopped at Hempsted, a village on a sort of extended island between the Severn and the Sharpness Canal, to look at a holy well. It's marked as Lady's Well on the OS map.

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It was a surprisingly peaceful spot; from the map, I'd been vaguely expecting something quite suburban. But the door on the west wall of the wellhouse was gated and locked, and the floor inside it was dry. Apparently the water had recently been channeled into a cattle trough in front of the structure, but there was no sign of it today. Though there is a cattle trough at the bottom of the hill, as you can see from the aerial photo.

There was much commotion from a large flock of jackdaws in a nearby row of trees; and to the north-east, great clouds of gulls and crows wheeling over a landfill site. But to the west the sun was declining over the Vale of Severn, a kestrel flew by, and a buzzard mewed.

I never did find Llanthony Secunda, because I got lost in some dispiriting industrial estate instead.


  1. Industrial estates often do that.

    I wonder how many people pass by that spot and ask themselves what it can be. Next time we go back to Enland I'll have to go back through your blog and make a list of places to look up.

  2. I like this. What a lovely thing to visit. I'll do the same when next in the area. I'm not very far away when I come to Bristol just before Christmas, and might easily get a great sunset shot or two (or three dozen) of this little well, or the Severn nearby!


  3. Yes I know this holy well site also. It is beautiful yet simple and easily overlooked.

    Our Country is truly a treasure trove of history. I wish I knew it better. Thanks for this Dru.


  4. It is in a bit of a backwater, Anji, so I doubt that too many people pass by unless they're coming on purpose. I think I'll look around the Malverns next...

    Good plan, Lucy; though I have a really good, comprehensive guide to the wells of the Bristol and Somerset area that you're welcome to borrow while you're up this way. What with the combination of hills and rain, there's no shortage of wells round these parts.

    Are you another seeker-out of wells, Helen?

  5. I will be very interested to see what you find that we haven't seen yet - I'm sure you will.

  6. Hi Dru
    I happened to get interested in Holy wells by accident. Walking with friends etc. There quite a few down here in the South West aren't there. The last one I saw was near penzance but as I'm writing this I hoping the name is going to pop into my head?.......no? Now this is going to bug me!.....I'll tell you later.

  7. I tried to find Llanthony Secunda once. Wandered round and round the Gloucester Docks and finally found the remnants in the grounds of an FE college.

    I think you had the better idea...