THIS beautiful spring was a favourite resort of the Lady Wulfruna, the foundress of the old Collegiate Church at Wolverhampton; and from this association with her sanc- tity, it acquired the reputation of possessing some miraculous virtues, which were much in request by the devotees of subsequent times, who named it Wulfruna's Well. This was also a Druidical appropriation: for with that order of men all running streams which took a direction from west to east were accounted sacred. It supplies the water to Dunstall Hall, near which it is situated, the home of the Hill family.


Mr. Lawley, however, in the Midland Weekly News, has assigned a somewhat different site to this ancient well. He considers that it was situated at Spring Vale, near Bilston. In an old document belonging to Bilston occurs the following reference to it:

To ye South of Wolferhamtune is a famous springe, called Ladie Wulfrune's Sprynge, where shee usyd to come and washe. Ye legende tells us yt ye ladie Wulfrune prayede for yt God woude endue ye well wyth powers of noe ordinarie vyrtue, inasmoche as yt hath curyd manie, as it were myraculouslie healynge ye lame, ye weake and impotent, and dyvers sufferyng fro mortall diseases, as manie there bee yt cann testifie.

It would be interesting to know the site of a well possessing such valuable powers; but though tradition has not left anything on record by which we can sufficiently localize it, its former existence is still preserved in the name of Spring Vale, by which the district is still known. Further, a street in Cann Lane, lying in the direction of Spring Vale, at its northern end, is known by the name of Holywell Street.

The custom of well-dressing is or was observed here.


The town was anciently the possessor of a famous well dedicated to some old Saxon saint. The well in question was known in colloquial phrase as Crudeley or Cruddley Well, and was situate just off Lichfield Street, near to the entrance to Proud's Lane. In mediæeval times this well was largely resorted to not only by the townspeople, but by others from the surrounding neighbourhood, on account of its being a holy well. It gradually lost its sanctity as the people grew more enlightened (!), and subsequently came under the control of the parish authorities who kept its winding apparatus in proper repair, as is very clear from the parochial accounts. To show this more clearly, I subjoin the following items taken from the constables' accounts for the several years mentioned therein:

  £ s. d.
For repairing Cruddeley Well 0 4 2
" locking up the well 0 15 0
For locking up the well 1 0 0
For chain and ironwork for Cruddeley Well 3 3 4

This latter item, it is most amusing to state, became the subject of an appeal to the Stafford Quarter Sessions, when Edward Wooley (the famous screw manufacturer and hero of the old story of How Wooley lost his Watch), John Bowen (the well-known landlord of the Angel Inn, Hall Fold), J. B. Whitehead (the blank tray manufacturer), and William Taylor (a former overseer), appealed against the legality of certain items in the accounts of the overseers, of which the repairs of Crudeley Well was one.

This well continued to supply the townsfolk of the locality with water until towards 1830, when the supply ceased through the working of the mines, and the shaft was filled up. In the Saxon calendar we have a St. Creadda or Credda, and it was to his memory the well was in all probability dedicated. This well is said, on the authority of an old manuscript found among the town documents many years ago--which were, unfortunately, sold as waste paper!--on the building of the present Town Hall, to have borne a Latin inscription, running thus:

Qui non dat quod habet
Dæmon infra ridet.

Which has been Englished thus:

Who does not here his alms bestow
At him the demon laughs below.

--Contributed by G. T. Lawley.


Another famous local well, which has fortunately escaped the destructive hand of time, is that near Wombourne, known by the name of Our Lady's Well, or Lady Well. It is cut out of the solid rock, which crops out at the top of a lofty hill, situate between Wombourne and Lower Fenn. The well is of considerable antiquity, and several species of cryptogamic plants give to the surface of the stone a venerable appearance. It is supposed to have been sacred to the virgin in mediæval times, and its waters to have possessed curative properties. Here, ages ago, a holy hermit is said to have dwelt, and to have been visited by many persons in search of consolation and instruction.

The well is still a favourite resort of local pleasure-seekers, who go to drink of the cooling and delicious beverage, and ruralize in the adjacent wood.--Ibid.


Dr. Plott gives us some particulars of a famous well, known as Tixall Well, near the church at that place, which, having survived the superstitious veneration formerly attaching to it, was afterwards used to supply, by some method of forcing, the district around.--Ibid.


The New Well, as it is called, is annually decorated with flowers and boughs, the festivities extending over two days. At noon, each day, a procession is formed at the well, and marched through the village, headed by a band, and followed by the May Queen riding on a gaily-decorated pony, attended by her maids of honour, Jack-o'-the-Green, Robin Hood, and the Morris-dancers. This motley cavalcade, accompanied by the inevitable crowd of hangers-on and sightseers, pause at vantage points along the line of route and go through some antics preliminary to the more serious performances that follow on the return to the fields adjoining the well. Here the customary maypole-dancing, old English sports, and amusements, such as wrestling, sack-racing, etc., are indulged in, and prizes distributed by the well-dressing committee to the various successful competitors.--Ibid.


At the village of Endon similar festivities attend the annual well-dressing--usually on May 29 or 30. The principal well in the village is most elaborately and even artistically adorned, and the smaller well--for there are two in this case--comes in for its share of floral decorations. Here the festival is under the patronage of the vicar of the parish, who opens the first day's proceedings by a service in the church and the delivery of an appropriate sermon. On the conclusion of this solemn preliminary, a procession is formed near the church of the maypole-dancers and other participators in the festival, and then they proceed to the enlivening strains of a brass band to the wells, where hymns are sung, and a few suitable words addressed to the audience by the vicar. At the conclusion of this semi-religious introduction to the two days' amusements, the most important feature of crowning the May Queen is performed. The girl selected for this honour is gaily decorated with flowers, and is conducted with much ceremony to a floral throne provided for her, where, being seated she is crowned with a wreath of flowers. Being thus invested with royal powers, she straightway signifies her pleasure that the maypole-dancers should go through their evolutions to the sounds of enlivening music. This over, the usual sports and amusements are indulged in.

Carried out as above, it is pleasant to contemplate the keeping up of such an old-fashioned custom; and it is only to be regretted that so few of our village communities retain it among their annual social relaxations. It is somewhat remarkable that in the south of the county well-dressing has become as extinct as the dodo.--Ibid.


The custom of well-dressing obtains, or did obtain here.


There is a well in a field at Croxton, in the parish of Eccleshall, called Pennyquart Well, because, it is said, the water from it, being especially pure, used to be sold at a penny a quart.--Shropshire Folk-lore, p. 70 n.


In a rental of the Earl of Uxbridge, written in the reign of Edward VI., it was specified that Andrew's Isle, alias Mudwin's Chapel, was let to John Hewitt at will at the annual rent or sum of three shillings and threepence. There is every reason to believe that this well and chapel were situate on the flat meadow opposite the churchyard, as this spot is still known as Annesley or Andressy, and the part of the river dividing the island from the adjacent shores is called the Modwens or Mudwens.--Ibid.


This well was once scrupulously kept, and flowers yearly adorned it, because it was believed to possess great curative properties. According to the Reliquary it was called Penny Croft, from the pence the afflicted offered for the use of its healing virtues. It has lately been turned into a common drinking-place for cattle.--Midland Weekly News, contributed by G. T. Lawley.


The ancient name Marian or Mary's Well has in more modern times been changed to Maiden's or Marden's Wall (Well)--wall here having the same meaning as well. It was situated on the rise of a hill called the High Wood. Its waters were once very famous for their healing powers, and many people from the parts adjacent frequently fetched some of its water to administer to persons suffering from various diseases, when the medicine of the professional man had failed to effect a cure or give relief.

It had also a strange legend attached to it, which may account for its modern name. It was believed to be haunted by the ghost of a young woman, and on this account people were so much afraid that few of them could be found hardy enough to go near it after dark. This superstition would appear to be a survival of the time when wells were believed to be inhabited by spirits, whose aid was invoked by means of divination. Fortune-tellers frequently took advantage of this superstition to extort money from the ignorant and foolish, pretending to call up the spirits to the surface of the water, in order that the person desiring knowledge of the future might question them. Females in particular were guilty of this superstition, arising out of a weakness and anxiety to know who would be their future spouse.--Ibid.


There was a famous well here known as St. Helen's, which was endowed by the superstitious with several very singular qualities. It sometimes became suddenly dry after a constant overflow for eight or ten years. This occurred in wet as well as in dry seasons, and always at the beginning of May, when springs are generally believed to be at their highest, and the dry season lasted till Martinmas. It was locally believed that this occurrence foretold some great calamity, as war, famine, pestilence, or other national disaster. It is said to have become dry before the outbreak of the Civil War, before the execution of Charles I., before the great scarcity of corn in 1670, and in 1679 when the miscalled Popish plot was discovered. So says Dr. Plott.--Ibid.


Between Upper and Lower Tean, in the parish of Checkley, is a spring of a remarkable character, denominated the Well in the Wall, as it rises from under a rock. An old tradition says that this unaccountable spring throws out all the year round--except in July and August--small bones of different sorts, like those of sparrows and chickens.--Ibid.


Here is a noted well, known as Elder Well, said to be blessed with valuable medicinal properties, and to be a sovereign remedy for the eyes, on which account it used to be annually dressed with flowers and branches of trees, and rustic games and amusements indulged in by those attending.--Ibid.


At Shenstone, near Lichfield, a little distance from the church, was a well called St. John's Well, after the saint in whose honour the parish church is dedicated. It was looked upon as sacred from the miracles or cures wrought by its waters on St. John the Baptist's day, June 24. For this reason was a sanctity placed upon it by the faithful, who brought alms and offerings, and made their vows at it.--Ibid.


This well was at one period famous for the cure of the king's evil and other unaccountable cures, in grateful memory of which the people still adorn it with flowers and boughs.--Ibid. (Shaw 's Staffs.)


A custom similar to the above obtains here.--Ibid.


There was a famous sulphureous well here accounted a sovereign remedy for leprosy. England's Gazetteer (1751) informs us it is used at present by both man and beast against cutaneous diseases, so that many of the inhabitants boil their meat in and brew with it. Nightingale (Beauties of England and Wales) tells us that processioning was prevalent at Brewood at the annual celebration of well-dressing there.--Ibid.


Here is another well famous for the cure of the king's evil, known as St. Erasmus's Well, of sulphureous quality. In the reign of Henry VII. a chapel was built near this spring. The Chetwynd MS., in the Salt Library, at Stafford, records that an aged man, formerly clerk there, told Walter Chetwynd that the adjoining wells were much frequented by lame and diseased people, many whereof found there a cure for their infirmity, inasmuch that at the dissolution thereof, the walls were hung about with crutches, the relics of those who had benefited thereby. Nor was the advantage small to the priest, the oblations of the chapel being valued in the king's books at £6 13s. 4d.--Ibid.


In Dr. Wilkes' MS. is a reference to this famous well. He tells us that a holy well existed in that town, which was curiously dedicated to St. Sunday, and that it was celebrated for the cure of several diseases. It bore the following inscription: Fons occulis morbisque cutaneis diu celebris. A.D. 1728. Where this well was is now a matter of impenetrable mystery, a fact which may be accounted for in the almost complete covering of the original surface of the land by the refuse of the mines.--Ibid.


A holy well formerly existed here, which it was the custom every year to adorn with garlands, to the accompaniment of music and dancing, in honour of its patron, St. Augustine, who

C. S. B.]--Eldon Butler.

Adbaston Vicarage, August 19, 1890.


Black Mere or Blake Mere is a small pond of irregular shape, lying in a little hollow on the summit of the high hill of Morridge, about three and a half miles east-north-east from Leek. Great was the horror in which Black Mere was held by our ancestors, and strange beliefs were connected with it. Camden, (quoting Richman, says it is:

A lake that with prophetic noise doth roar;
Where beasts can ne'er be made to venture o'er--
By hounds, or men, or fleeter death pursued,
They'll not plunge in, but shun the hated flood.

Dr. Plott, however, in his History of Staffordshire, says: The water of the Black Mere is not as bad as some have fancied, and I take it to be nothing more than such as that in the peat-pits, though it is confidently reported that no cattle will drink of it, no bird light on it or fly over it; all of which are as false as that it is bottomless, it being found upon measurement scarce 4 yards in the deepest place; my horse also drinking when I was there as freely of it as ever I saw him in any other place; and the fowls are so far from declining to fly over it, that I spoke with several that had seen geese upon it; so that I take this to be as good as the rest, notwithstanding the vulgar disrepute it lies under.

"Amongst the unusual incidents that have attended the female sex in the course of their lives, I think I may also reckon the narrow escapes that have been made from death; whereof I met with one mentioned with admiration by everybody at Leek, that happened not far off at the Black Mere at Morridge, which, though famous for nothing for which it is commonly reputed, as that it is bottomless; no cattle will drink of it, or birds fly over or settle upon it (all of which I found to be false), yet it is so for the signal deliverance of a poor woman, enticed hither in a dismal stormy night by a bloody ruffian, who had first gotten her with child, and intended in this remote, inhospitable place to have despatched her by drowning.

"The same night (Providence so ordering it) there were several persons of inferior rank drinking in an alehouse, the 'Cock,' corner of the market-place and Stockwell Street at Leek, whereof one having been out and observing the darkness, and other ill circumstances of the weather, coming in again, said to the rest of his companions that he were a stout man indeed that would venture to goe to the Black Mere of Morridg in such a night as that; to which one of them replying that for a crown, or some such summe, he would undertake it; the rest joining their purses said he should have his demand. The bargain being struck, away he went on his journey with a stick in his hand, which he was to leave there as a testimony of his performance. At length coming near the Mere, he heard the lamentable cries of this distressed woman begging for mercy; which at first put him to a stand, but being a man of great resolution and some policy, he went boldly on, however, counterfeiting the presence of divers other persons, calling 'Jack, Dick, and Thom,' and crying, 'Here are the rogues we look'd for,' which being heard by the murderer, he left the woman and fled, whom the other man found by the Mere side, almost stript of her clothes, and brought her with him to Leek, as an ample testimony of his having been at the Mere, and of God's Providence too."

This mere is also termed the "Mermaid Love," from an old tradition that one of those fabulous creatures dwells in it; in fact, some of the peasants thereabouts are ready to swear that, when some years ago the "love" was partially "let off," one appeared predicting that if the water were allowed to escape "it would drown all Leek and Leekfrith." This vain idea has given origin to the sign of a neighbouring roadside inn, "The Mermaid," a place frequently visited by sportsmen when shooting in the vicinity. --Reliquary, O.S., iii. 182.


The mermaid herself appears at one particular spot on the approach of any great calamity. On one occasion, when long ago some dredging or "rundeling out" operations were going on in the mere, she put her head out of the water, and, mistaking the intention of the workmen, and warned no doubt by the destruction of her first home, she uttered the thoroughly Salopian prophesy:

"If this mere you do let dry,
Newport and Meretown I will destr'y."

Miss C. S. Burne, Shropsk ire Folk-lore, p. 640.