St Eadburg's Well

St Eadburgs Well c1904St Eadburg's Well in use c1904 

The best way to access St Eadburg's Well is on foot.  You can park in the Station Road carpark and approach over Tayne Field, or park at the parish church and follow the lane that runs initially south and then bends east to descend steeply to join Well Road.  At the bottom of the lane, the well-house is to your left.  Take great care if you approach the well-house along Well Road as there is no pavement and there can be a fair amount of traffic using the road.  Alternatively, use the pedestrian gate to access Well Field in order to approach from the level of the spring and the Nailbourne itself.

In the Google map, the well-house is located on the branch of the Nailbourne that can be seen extending west in the direction of the parish church of St Mary and St Ethelburga. 



St Eadburg's Well is the site of a perpetual spring that flows out of the chalk.  This is generally considered to be the main source of  The Nailbourne, the chalk stream that flows northwards along the Elham Valley, joining the Little Stour near Littlebourne and then the Great Stour at Pluck's Gutter, which then flows into the sea at Sandwich.  Nailbourne (and also Winterbourne) is a common name for the seasonal chalk streams across the Downs that dry up, in whole or in part, for periods of time during the year when the water-table drops.  Parts of the Lyminge Nailbourne further north are often without water for long periods, but St Eadburg's Well never seems to run dry. 

This spring was the public source of water for the central part of Lyminge around the parish church until mains water arrived in 1905.  Many houses had private wells, but everyone else had to rely upon the spring.  The current well-house, modelled on the church porch, was built in 1898, replacing an earlier structure.  Water flowing out of the chalk is collected in a reservoir at the base of the well-house before it flows out into the stream.  A pump mounted in the upper storey of the well-house at road level allowed water to be drawn up from this reservoir and collected in buckets.  The galvanised iron tank, which is long-since removed, may have been intended more as a horse trough, or as a source for water that was not needed for drinking. 

St Eadburgs Well showing water tankThe well house showing the galvanised water tank 

The ancient name of the spring is St Eadburg's Well.  There is a will dating to 1484 that records this name, and a number of the miracles recorded in the Life and Miracles of St Eadburg take place in its vicinity.  From around 1899, the spring was often called St Ethelburga's Well in the mistaken belief that St Eadburg was the same person as St Ethelburga who founded the first church in Lyminge.  In fact they are not, and you can read more about this controversy in our section on the life of St Eadburg.  In 2020, the Parish Council, which owns the well-house, approved the restoration of the original name.  This did not involve as much change as might have been expected as the Ordnance Survey has always shown the spring as St Eadburg's Well.  

The well-house is now a Grade 2 listed building.  Although it ceased to function as part of the public water supply a long time ago, it has remained at the heart of the village as an important symbol for why there is a community in Lyminge.  The ready access to fresh water has supported settlement here for a very long time.  Archaeological excavation has revealed that people were spending time beside the spring making flint tools 8-10,000 years ago.  These hunter-gatherers may have camped at the spring only temporarily, but such permanent springs are rare on the Downs and it is quite likely that hunting parties returned to the spot frequently as they roamed the landscape in search of food.  St Eadburg's Well has been valued as a source of fresh water for almost as long as people have been living in Britain, since the end of the last Ice Age.  This makes it a very special place indeed. 

Rogation procession at St Eadburg's Well 1961Rogation procession pausing at St Eadburg's Well, 1961 ( © Rob Baldwin from an original in the collection of Lyminge Parochial Church Council)

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This page is managed by Lyminge Parish Council Historic Environment Working Group