This is St. Walstan’s Well in Bawburgh, which was a pilgrimage site in the medieval period. Walstan was an Anglo-Saxon Prince who would have likely had some wealth, but he decided when aged 12 that he wanted to dedicate himself to a life guided by God. Very pious….Anyway, after a worthy life as a farm worker and servant of God, he received a message that he was going to die within days.
So, knowing that he was going to die, Walstan decided that he would stop his work and would allow himself to be pulled around East Anglia by two bulls. He must have loved the random, as he decided that the bulls could decide where he should be taken and this would be God’s will. God decided that Walstan’s now dead body would be taken to Taverham and Costessey, which doesn’t sound very exotic. Along this route wells had magically been popping up, which is what happened in Bawburgh. At this well, or spring, there was water which magically healed sick humans and animals. A pilgrimage spot had been created and this did very well indeed (excuse the pun). The Dissolution of the Monasteries saw an end to this little arrangement though.
The medieval well structure has been replaced by this more modern arrangement. There was a local walk printed by the Norfolk News in 1896 which mentioned that in the river here that believers could still see the print of his foot in the water. Regarding the well itself, the author of the article reported that “it does not look very brilliant nowadays, though a rustic informed us that the water was good”.
Don’t drink the water…..
The Church of Bawburgh St Mary and St Walstan is visible in the background.