The story of St Mary’s Well, Penwortham

An article about St Mary’s Well, an ancient healing well in my home town of Penwortham, which charts its history and the reasons it dried up and was abandoned, eventually to be built over by the Penwortham by-pass. The author, storyteller Peter Dillon, raises a resonant and poignant question at the end: with the demise of St Mary’s Well, what have we lost?

Stories From The Land

In the past many people regarded sources of clean water as sacred, whether those sources were rivers, lakes, springs or wells. In Penwortham there were a number of wells associated with the area around Castle Hill. One of these wells, known in modern times as St Mary’s Well, has been obliterated by modern transport developments.

Castle Hill lies on a promontory overlooking the river Ribble. It has all the hallmarks of a sacred place and an important military position. There was a castle recorded there in the Doomsday Book and the area has been well documented as there had been a priory nearby from the 13th to the 17th century. There is also a motte still present which underwent a partial excavation in the 19th century and is believed to be dated back to either the 7th or 11th century. St Mary’s church now occupies a position at the highest…

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