Posted in Kafevend Blog
Thirst's most obvious solution is water. Tap water and bottled water are the commonest source for us today in the UK, but what about well water? We tend to think of wells as a product of a bygone age. We've know about them since childhood through nursery rhymes – 'Ding dong bell, pussy's in the well' and 'Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water'. We're reminded of them when we see a wishing well or watch a documentary about some far off place where wells still play an integral role in daily life, but in fact around 1% of households in England and Wales still have a private water supply via springs, boreholes and wells.
Village wells were once a prized community asset. Excavated by hand they were a painstaking and time consuming endeavour, worth maintaining with care. Older rural properties may still have their very own well; many lie covered and hidden, awaiting rediscovery. Some properties even have a well sunk in their cellars.
When Gary Wooler and Julie Sykes moved into a nineteenth century cottage in the West Yorkshire village of Shepley they made a surprising discovery during the renovation of their garden. Two enormous slabs of stone were uncovered and when they in turn were lifted a brick-lined well was found with clear spring water forty feet down. The cottage is part of a row that is thought to have been a brewery. The couple decided to build the well back up and have made a garden feature of it.
Roland Daniels went a step further when he moved into a North Downs farmhouse in Woodmansterne, Having discovered a deep well beneath a padlocked manhole cover, the Kent Underground Research Group were able to provide him with some interesting background information, not least of which is that his garden contains the UK's largest domestic well. Completed in 1723, having been commissioned by farmer and landowner Robert Eastland, the well is some 100 metres deep and would have served as an outward show of Eastland's wealth and prestige. High in mineral content, the water is drawn straight from the North Downs aquifer. Daniels has already bottled and sold some locally!