Tag Archives: stream

The Wishing Well

23 May

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

Today, we continue our theme of ‘Quirky Dorset’ and for Part 18 I though we could take a look at one of Dorset’s many wells, and a wonderful place it is too! This is in part a natural and mesmerising wonder, delightful to watch and listen to. This is the so called Wishing Well at Upwey.

The Wishing Well, Upwey

Although this is known as the Wishing Well, it is not strictly a well at all but rather is a natural spring which is the source of the River Wey which flows from Upwey to Weymouth some 5 miles downstream. It is believed to date back to the last Ice Age and was at one time the village’s water supply. It is at this point where, because of the formation of rock, sand and clay, water literally bubbles its way to the surface from the underground stream. The water is always clear and maintains a steady temperature of 10.5 degrees.

Upwey Wishing Well

Although this is a natural phenomenon, it is one that has over the years been harnessed by man as an attraction to draw people into the area, and that includes royalty because it is said to have been something of a favourite place for King George III. In fact, the stone seat next to the well was specifically built for him. When he visited, he drank the waters from a special gold cup which interestingly became the original prize for a horse race known as the Ascot Gold Cup. In addition, it is said that Queen Charlotte and also HRH Edward, Prince of Wales both visited.

The royal connections continued because further changes were made to the site in 1887 when arches were added above the seat to commemorate the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria.

Upwey Wishing Well

One of the quirky things about this place is that there was a very specific way to drink the water! This involved filling a glass, drinking part of it with your back to the well, and then throwing the remainder over your left shoulder back into the well, making a wish as you did so. Such was the popularity of this practice that some villagers were appointed to help visitors with the process. Naturally, with modern health and safety requirements in mind, the practice is no longer encouraged.

One further change is that in recent years, the practice of dressing the well has taken place for May Day. This is a custom that is more associated with the Peak District but that has now come south to this Dorset well.

Upwey Wishing Well

The Wishing Well is a place that was for centuries just a natural ‘welling up’ of water to the surface and which was only popularised in the 19th century when the term ‘Wishing’ was added. Today, with its attached gardens and tea rooms, it is still a popular place. And deservedly so because it is quite magical to just sit and listen to the birds, the bees and the babbling spring.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

 

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Theme for the Week – Ruined Churches in Dorset Part 3

20 Apr

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

Continuing our theme of ruined Dorset churches, and by that I mean churches that no longer fulfil their original purpose, we pay a visit today to a very beautiful little chapel in the Lyscombe Valley.

Lyscombe Chapel

Lyscombe Chapel

Lyscombe Chapel

This chapel stands in a broad and beautiful bowl of a valley which is surrounded by chalk downs. It is known as Lyscombe Bottom, the name Lyscombe coming from ‘lisc’ which is Saxon for reeds, and ‘coombe’ meaning valley. Running down through this valley is a small stream, a tributary of the River Piddle, and in front of the chapel, this stream broadens out to a sheep wash pool.

Lyscombe Chapel and Cottage

Lyscombe Chapel and Priest’s House from the Sheep Wash

Lyscombe is a tiny hamlet comprising very few buildings, including the chapel and beside it the ruined priest’s house. The chapel itself dates originally from the 12th century although it has been restored and rebuilt over the years. It was an out-chapel owned by Milton Abbey which is some 5 miles away, and was probably on a monastic route since it is half way between Milton Abbey and Cerne Abbey. This would once have been a stopover place for pilgrims. With the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Milton Abbey grounds were taken over by Henry VIII who passed them to Sir John Tregonwell, who in fact was heavily involved with the Dissolution on the king’s behalf.

The Priest's House, Lyscombe

The Ruined Priest’s House at Lyscombe

At some point, probably during the 17th century, the chapel was converted to a cottage and bake house, probably for farm workers. It was still in use in 1950 although it subsequently had to be protected by a Dutch Barn type building that was erected over it. It ultimately failed completely in the 1990’s when the roof collapsed. In the latter half of the 20th century, the cottage also became derelict.

Lyscome Chapel Interior

Lyscombe Chapel Interior

This was not the end of the story for this tiny chapel though because in 2005 funding was obtained by the then land owner for its restoration, with walls being renovated and a new thatched roof being fitted. Such was the quality of this restoration that it has been recognised with several awards. Sadly, the priests house was beyond repair so this was just made safe.

The Lyscombe Valley

The Lyscombe Valley from the Downs

Lyscombe is a magical place! The chapel retains much of its original charm and perhaps unusually has remained small and simple when most churches have been extended and enlarged over centuries. With the ruined Priest’s House standing beside it, this place has a real sense of history that conveys something of its purpose and heritage. It stands in the most beautiful surroundings, remote, with no roads running through, and just the gentle rippling of the stream and bleating of sheep for company.

It’s purpose has still not ended since Lyscombe Chapel now forms a community space and doubles as bunk house type accommodation for walkers. It seems to me that this is an appropriate use for it, restoring it to a stop over place, albeit for modern day ‘pilgrims’. It is just the loveliest place to spend some time and any walk is made richer for visiting this diminutive chapel in its idyllic setting.

Oh yes, and one more interesting fact – apparently the rent originally paid for this site was 12 fish per year!

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.