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HER Number:MDV12490
Name:Dripping Well at eastern end of Anchor Wood, Barnstaple


A dripping well, reputed to be a holy well for curing eye disorders.


Grid Reference:SS 546 327
Map Sheet:SS53SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBarnstaple
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishFREMINGTON
Ecclesiastical ParishTAWSTOCK

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS53SW/23
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SS53SW6

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • HOLY WELL (Early Medieval to XVIII - 1066 AD to 1800 AD (Between))

Full description

Polwhele, R., 1793-1806, The History of Devonshire (Monograph). SDV21030.

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

Dripping Well recording on 1880s-1890s 25 inch Ordnance Survey map, at the eastern end of Anchor Wood, adjacent to the boundary between the parishes of Fremington and Barnstaple.

Brown, T., 1957, Holy and Notable Wells of Devon, 209 (Article in Serial). SDV304810.

A possible holy well exists an Anchor Wood near Barnstaple Harbour, noted for curing eye complaints.

ASI Heritage Consultants, 2000, Leaderflush and Shapland Site, Barnstaple: Archaeological Assessment (Report - Assessment). SDV70999.

Ordnance Survey, 2012, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV348725.

Goodwin, N. D., 25/07/1989, Dripping Well in Anchor Wood (Worksheet). SDV92636.

According to Polwhele, at 'Anchor Wood, which overhangs the Taw a short way below Barnstaple Bridge (towards the mouth of the harbour) a spring of most excellent water issues from a large rock, and is said to possess great virgues as a collyriam [technical term for an eyewash]. It constangly runs both summer and winter, and through close to the flowing of the salt tide, is not in the least brackish'. Site visit 25th July 1989. A pointed arch reveals water dripping from a rock. Dress red stone forming a wall with protruding ppillars either side. Castellated top. Date 18-65. it is said there were initials, B R?, standing for Boucher Wrey. These stones are now gone.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, Unknown, SS53SW6 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV92632.

Site visit 20th April 1971. The dripping well comprises an ooze issuing from ground level to about 2.0 metres up a sandstone bluff. The area has been given a brick surround with stone revetting framing the brickwork. It appears to be no earlier than the 19th century and is know locally as a form of folly. There is now no tradition of medicinal properties.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV21030Monograph: Polwhele, R.. 1793-1806. The History of Devonshire. The History of Devonshire. Unknown.
SDV304810Article in Serial: Brown, T.. 1957. Holy and Notable Wells of Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 89. A5 Hardback. 209.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV348725Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2012. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #80519 ]
SDV70999Report - Assessment: ASI Heritage Consultants. 2000. Leaderflush and Shapland Site, Barnstaple: Archaeological Assessment. ASI Heritage Consultants Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV92632Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. Unknown. SS53SW6. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV92636Worksheet: Goodwin, N. D.. 25/07/1989. Dripping Well in Anchor Wood. Worksheet + Digital.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Jul 14 2021 10:46AM