Living Lore: Myths and hauntings of Warwickshire. ~ Gary Stocker

Castle Hill Field

The holy well of Whitnash.

Whitnash has been settled since pre-Christian Celtic times. The present-day church of St Margaret is on a mound which may have been of pagan importance in pre-Christian times. It also used to have a holy well which went back to Celtic times. Although some say that the well was at the source of the brook a few miles away, most say that it was near to the present day footbridge, crossing the brook on the path from Radford Semele to Whitnash. It has now been drained and all that remains is the merest trickle of water flowing into the brook. It took a while to find and was somewhat underwhelming! It is still said to have curative powers though, for the eyes especially.

There are two legends associated with it. One was that either a reconditioned church bell or a new one had been taken to the well to be re-consecrated, prior to being reinstalled in St Margaret’s church. Old Nick startled the consecration party and they dropped the bell into the well, losing it. However it gained the gift of prophecy. People would drop a stone into the well and ask a question at night time. Then at daybreak it would give its answer: One ring for yes and two for no.

Leamington Courier article about holy well, 23.02.2001.

The other legend is that the Mercian St Fremund won a battle against the Danes at Radford Semele. However, he got beheaded by a fifth columnist after the battle. So he picked his head up (as you do) and walked some distance. Then prayed for water to wash in, a well miraculously appeared, whereupon he washed himself and then keeled over and died, surprisingly! Most say this happened at the holy well in Southam. Although some say that it was in Whitnash.

Remains of holy well

The path going from Whitnash to Radford Semele, which the well is near to, goes past a field on the left called, “Castle Hill Field”. According to tradition there was a Celtic fortification there. That does make sense, what with Whitnash being Celtic in origin and the Roman road, Via Regia went past it (some of which is now the current footpath). There are said to be ley lines crossing the area.

The bell itself is commemorated in Whitnash’s municipal crest.

Sources: https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Bid+to+restore+town’s+holy+w
https://timetrail.warwickshire.gov.uk/detail.aspx
https://whitnashsociety.weebly.com/about-whitnash.html#
https://www.whitnashtowncouncil.gov.uk/home/history/
“Haunted Warwickshire” by Meg Elizabeth Atkins, pages 160 to 161.

About the author

Gary Stocker graduated from Coventry Polytechnic in 1991 with a degree in combined engineering. He worked in civil engineering for nearly twenty years. For the last six years he has worked in materials science and currently works as a test engineer. His hobbies and interests include voluntary work, conservation work and blacksmithing. He is also interested in history, mythology and folklore and he says, “most things”.


How did your granny predict the weather? What did your great uncle Albert tell you about the little green men he saw in the woods that night? What strange creature stalks the woods in your area?

So many of these old stories are slipping away for want of being recorded. legendary creatures, odd bits of folklore, folk remedies and charms, and all the old stories that brought our landscape to life…

Tell me a story, share memories of the old ways that are being forgotten, share the folklore of your home. I am not looking for fiction with this feature, but for genuine bits of folklore, old wives tales, folk magic and local legends. Why not share what you know and preserve it for the future?

Email me at findme@scvincent.com and put ‘Living Lore’ in the subject line. All I need is your article, bio and links, along with any of your own images you would like me to include and I’ll do the rest.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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6 Responses to Living Lore: Myths and hauntings of Warwickshire. ~ Gary Stocker

  1. True George says:

    Most mounds tend to be a burial ground..that church built on the mound is really built on a grave

    Like

  2. Ann Staveley says:

    Hi please could someone tell me exactly where the holy well at Whitnash actually is? I have been searching for it by the bridge off the nature reserve but not sure if it’s location. Many thanks –
    Ann

    Like

  3. Fremundus says:

    I went looking for the well about 25 years ago. As I recall, it was in the field on the right before the bridge over the brook as you approach from Whitnash. All I found was a muddied area in the field a few yards above the brook with a few bits of pottery, C18th & C19th around it. The illustration in this article is of the brook, not the well as annotated. As finance had been secured to preserve the “well”, I have to assume there is something there to preserve; perhaps dropping a line to the council would be beneficial?

    Liked by 1 person

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