Thursday, December 14, 2017

Combrook, Warwickshire

A well for all seasons?

Before leaving Combrook, the parish church of which featured in my previous post, I want to share this less obvious feature of the village. It’s one of two well heads, built around the same time as the church and I’d guess designed by the same architect, John Gibson. It has an ogee arch, the double-curved design that is characteristic of the 14th-century Gothic that inspired the church’s west front, and if you look very closely at this opening you can see that it’s decorated with ballflowers, another 14th-century motif.

I take this well head to be more evidence of the care that the landlord was bestowing on this village in the 19th century. The church, two well heads, the former village school (it’s now the village hall) and several of the houses were built or rebuilt in this period. Along with the houses, the water supply was the most important facility of all, and giving the well this kind of ornate gable in white lias and limestone (complete with coat of arms, now worn away) is an indication of that care. One hopes that there was also originally some sort of cover, to keep out inquisitive infants and falling leaves so that it could indeed be a well for all seasons.


Hels said...

This well was carefully designed and therefore not ordinary. But was every village obligated to build a public well? If not, where did ordinary families get their drinking water from?

bazza said...

Hels: I think the wells took water from underground streams but flowing rivers and streams provided water and boiling and filtration beds were also used.
I think few wellheads would have been in the class of this example though!
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Stephen Barker said...

Hels, In South Leicestershire I can think of a number of villages where the village pump remains. Most have been sealed as the water is not fit for consumption. In the case of Welham the tank that collected rainwater for the pump is only yards from a cesspit. On the wall by the pump is a metal sign from the then Harborough Rural District Council say the water is unsafe. Mains water supply was not introduced until the 1950's along with electricity.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Yes, all of the above were used as water sources. I am told that the Lincolnshire village where I spent the first two years of my life, in the mid-1950s, was supplied from a village pump. My mother had to walk the short distance to the pump every time we needed water fit to drink, although people also collected rainwater for other purposes.