Harberton's "Holy" Well


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Steps down to the Well The Well

Water, the essence of life, has naturally had a religious significance since the beginning of time. One can imagine the people of what is now Harberton gathering to worship the spirit of the well.

With the coming of Christianity it is easy to picture the lonely monk in his hermit's cell tending the now Christian well. It is known that we have had a chapel for worship here from at least 909 A.D.

There are 207 wells in Devon with a religious dedication, the most common being to St. John the Baptist. There are 20 dedications to Our Lady. Of these, 35 are particularly known as being Holy Wells. Their water either having a reputation for healing or for the breaking of evil spells.

Devon history mentions in particular water from holy wells being helpful for eye or skin complaints. It also had the means of curing whooping cough and scurvy as well as releasing evil spells cast on cattle.

We have no record of any healing properties from the water of our "Holy" Well but the water was used for baptisms here up to 1950. The Priest appointed subsequently discontinued the ancient practice. Our well has been decorated at least from the early nineteen hundreds and we are pleased that recently it has been restored.

(The above text was prepared by the Revd Peter Willis for the Flower Festival held in St. Andrew's Church Harberton around 1990.  Pictures taken July 2001. The well's location is a closely guarded secret and there is no public access to it.)