The aim of this blog from the beginning has been to throw some light onto the lesser known places, stories and people of this fascinating county. And today was one of those days when I felt particularly blessed to have been born here. Cornwall is overflowing with legends and mysterious traditions – some of which are just being rediscovered.
In the 1980s an ancient well was uncovered close to Men-an-tol, hidden in the undergrowth just off the track that leads from that famous ancient monument to the Nine Maidens Downs. In fact it was so I am told discovered by Craig Weatherhill when he literally fell in it!
Venton Bebilbell, (also known as Fenton Bebilbell) which translates as ‘well of the little people’, had been practically forgotten since it was last mentioned by the historian A K Hamilton Jenkin in the 1930s but these days this ancient site is finding a new place in people’s lives.
There are literally hundreds of Holy Wells in Cornwall, each associated with a saint and usually famous for providing some kind of miraculous cure for some ailment – from rickets to infertility to lameness and eye complaints, there’s a well out there that will help you.
We forget of course that the vast majority of wells and springs were precious for a far more mundane but vitally important reason – they provided the local population with clean drinking water. So important were these supplies of water that there are still numerous laws protecting springs and wells from interference or pollution.
You might be surprised to know that mains drinking water didn’t arrive to some of Cornwall’s smaller villages and isolated hamlets until the 1950s, some as late as 1970.
The spring at Quenchwell in Feock really doesn’t seem anything special. It can be found just beside a public footpath near Carnon Downs but this little well still actually supplies a number of properties with water to this day. Continue reading