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 Post subject: Soberton (Swanmore)
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 9:52 am 
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It's a long shot, but does anyone have any information, other than the dedication, about what I believe to be St Clare's Well, mentioned in Hope, which nestles in a hedge alongside the A32 near Soberton Mill, Soberton.

After walking the Meon Valley Trail on Saturday, we went back on Monday to find the well. It's marked on hte OS and on the Parish Walks leaflet as 'Holy Well', and exquisitely drawn on a map given to the Baker's Arms, Droxford, to celebrate their refurbishment, but most locals don't know it's there. It's a pig to find even with a GPS, the nearest parking is about a quarter-mile down a footpathless 50 section of the A32 and it's not obvious even standing next to it, which is why I didn't know it was there even though I've travelled the route many ttimes.

I'm working on a web page showing a better route, but we did it the hard way. :)

[edit:] a draft of the web page is at: http://www.pd49.dial.pipex.com/places/wells/stclare.html.

Apologies for the unoptimised images but I have discovered several other problems with the wells section, chiefly broken links and a missing style, which also need fixing. The ten-year-old site, at over 700 pages, is a nightmare to maintain - I used to earn large dollops of money for managing a smaller one full time. :)

thanks in advance

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Last edited by Andya on Thu Jun 07, 2007 7:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: St Clare's Well
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 8:08 pm 
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Hi, Andya:

It sounds like you had a tough time finding St Clare's Well even with the help of a GPS. I have friends having similar experiences when trying to locate certain Holy Wells.

With regards to St Clare's Well, I recently came across an article from this link http://people.bath.ac.uk/liskmj/living- ... fs6jr1.htm, by James Rattue, that had a simple line on St Clare's Well "Hope records St Clare's Well, Soberton (marked on the O.S.)" I am not sure if you are aware of the above, or whether it is of any interest to you.

Additionally, many thanks for attaching the link to your impressive and complicated website on wells. I hope that your problems can be solved without any hussle.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 11:19 pm 
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Hi Andy,

Great site by the way. The problems of Well hunting :lol: . Wondered if the well was the same one marked near Midlington House and farm on an old os sheet visible in the middle bottom of this sheet http://www.old-maps.co.uk/Map1Enlarge.aspx [which you have to past into the address line and wont work as a link]. I know its a bit north of Soberton and I might be totally off.


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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 8:55 am 
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I'll be...

I confess that I'd momentarily forgotten about old-maps. I couldn't get your link to work no matter how I tried, so searched for Soberton Heath. There's the pub, and across the road is a(nother) well. I suspect that this one has gone, but I'll work out the grid reference in a while.

Here's a Streetmap link to the one we visited. The well is in the top left, but I left enough of the other geography to justify the claim to St Clare's. The PH in the centre is the Bold Forrester, marked on the old-map.

The "Holy Well" is marked on the old-map too - search for Soberton heath, and scroll to follow the directions, past Bere Farm and the Mill, it's just 'up' from the 'Lodge' on the other side of the road.

Could you post a link to streetmap or perhaps a grid reference for the one you found to the north, this is getting interesting.

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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 8:23 pm 
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Thanks for the o/s map, that makes things a bit easier. As for the Midlington Well I think if I understand the co'ords right it is 460900 x 117400 which should bring up the right sheet number when used on the http://www.old-maps.co.uk/ site. The Well is about middle and slightly left in the centre of the sheet.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 8:27 am 
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Okay, got it. At the crossroads of the A32 and the road from Soberton to Midlington House? I'm pretty sure that, like the one opposite the pub at Soberton Heath, it's gone. However, in both case, we'll check next time we're out there and report back.

Since the one near Soberton Mill is actually marked as 'Holy Well', I presume I've got the right one, so I've mailed a local artist who has used it in illustrations. If there's no joy, I guess it's Crockford's Directory next. :)

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Andy A

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Last edited by Andya on Sat Jun 02, 2007 7:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 7:36 pm 
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I think your right. I doubt these other wells are holy, but then who knows. I'll be most interested to hear what you find. Good luck with the local clergy.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 7:50 am 
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Jeremy Harte on the Wells-and-Spas list has suggested two parish histories, as well as pointing out that Hope's source is "T.W. Shore, 'Springs and wells of Hampshire', Proc. of the Hampshire Field Club 2 (1890-3) 33-58, who says (p55) 'South of Soberton, not far from the stream, is a pool or well called St. Clare's Well'.

The parish histories are both held in the Cope collection at the uni. here. If I can find my passport I'll drop by next week and see if there's anything there. Jeremy concurs with me that the dedication is probably genuine.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 9:30 pm 
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Or failing that you can always get them through the British Library, I am sure they fall within their collection.


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 Post subject: Better confess
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 9:18 am 
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I'm glad I didn't go the BL route. I went down to the library yesterday afternoon and neither parish history mentions any well, let alone this one. So I hit the Victoria County History (I must get my eyes tested again) and that doesn't mention it either. However, three religious houses (Beaulieu, Titchfield and Southwick) owned the land from the C16, and cartulary rolls generally do mention wells, so it's not quite a dead end yet.

And I did acquire an ID card. Either I've worn them down over the years (I was a student here but still needed to ID myself every visit, a long-winded process) or the nice reception lady was bored. So not all on the down-side.

Edit 10:21 AM: much embarrassment, or, you'll love this. :) Got an email from the manuscripts librarian. The well (still without an official attribution but certainly 'holy'), is, as I'd guessed, officially in Swanmore parish. It's apparently listed in the 'Hampshire Treasures' extract on Hantsweb but that's not where she found it. Google is her friend and it does show how a professional has the edge at times like this. Because the Hantsweb thing is just about unusable, a guy with too much time on his hands did an extract from it a few years ago. Errm, yes, that would be me then. Once I've finished buying a very embarrassing round of drinks at the Stile, they've taken the liberty of submitting a call-sheet for me for an old map and a modern local history. Good job I gt that card, then, 'cos I still can't find the passport :)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 8:50 pm 
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:lol: Yup, the memory is the first thing to go when researching. Still a good find and a very obscure ref. Its amazing just how often a really useful piece of information turns up in a totally unexpected source.

Wish I was as good with google...

good luck with the cartulary rolls by the way. I find them very difficult to use on the very rare occasions I have to look at any.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 7:49 am 
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Didn't make it over there yesterday, but it's second on my list for today. To be frank I'm not expecting to find anything new but even pushing back the date of the attribution a bit would be nice. I agree about Cartulary rolls, frustrating in the extreme to work with, but I did get a result a few years ago chasing a well in the city - and I know I got it right because I later discovered that a professional historian had followed the same route a couple of years earlier: the results just hadn't been published by the time I repeated the exercise.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 7:11 pm 
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could not agree more. Grey [e.g. unpublished] literature is the bain of my life. Why oh why is there not a good grey literature index. Well I know why, but still it would save so much time if there was. The few indexes we have just dont work, in my field anyway.


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 Post subject: Okay, this is probably the end of the road...
PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2007 8:37 am 
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OKay, I can't see there being much more information out there that's accessible in the short term.

the clergy are relatively new (both will be interested if we find anything out) and the artist said that Hope had the dedication but he hadn't heard it anywhere else. In slow time I'll try the people at the lodge, but although they knew where the Holy Well is (after we'd found it) they didn't volunteer any more information, so I'm not hopeful.

As a parish, Swanmore became a separate entity in 1896. The Parish History by Peter Watkins (held in the Cope collection) really starts in 1840, although there's a chapter on early Droxford. There are references to the three village wells, but not to the 'Holy Well'. Watkins gives references that indicate that Holywell House was thus described when it was sold in 1780.

Watkins also reproduces a map drawn from the 1551 Manor Records by Harold Barstow. This doesn't mark the well, but it doesn't mark any others either, so that's not evidence either way. Interestingly, perhaps, the farmstead now called St Claire's is marked as 'Sentlers', which doesn't sound to me like linguistic drift from 'Clere', adding weight to the thought that there's some other root for 'St Clare'.

Having gone to the trouble of getting the Thomas Milner 1791 map out and proudly discovering that the well is marked, we discovered that the relevant section is reproduced in Watkins anyway, so some of my street cred was recovered. There are two other potential sources that they're trying to find: there's an earlier map in Winchester, and there should be a 'wells' gazetteer of the geological survey of the area in the collection somewhere (which will be interesting anyway) but sadly it's either been misfiled or stolen.

so, for now, that's about it. The well's been 'Holy' for at least 200 years, and a term similar to St Cla[i]re dates to the 1550s. (Ley line believers may take comfort from the fact that the lane leading to 'Sentlers' appears to have been known as Dodswell.)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2007 12:39 pm 
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Impressive piece of research Andy. However, if the history is drawing a blank, there is always archaeology :). It is a bit of a long shot but I would suggest chasing the SMR's for the site. These will list every reference and all archaeological work associated with the site if indeed it is listed, and many Wells are not simply because no work has been conducted.


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