St. Alkmund’s Well, Derby, Derbyshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – SK 351 371 

Geting Here

It can be found by taking North Street off Duffield Road (A6) continuing until it joins North Parade and here a little lane, called Well Street comes off and the spring is at the junction of this and Bath Street on the left hand side.

Archaeology & History

St. Alkmund's Well, Derby

St. Alkmund’s Well, Derby

First recorded in 1190 in a rental agreement but considering its association probably earlier. The well is dedicated to the Saxon saint who died 800 AD and whose tomb or shrine was located in church nearby (and is now located in the Derby Museum).  Little is recorded of its history however.

The well is below ground level with four steps to its water which flows with some force into an oval basin. A stone carving states its name. The plaque reads:

“Until the area was built up from 1814, the well was in a rural setting, part of St Helen‟s Park. The stone niche surrounding the well was built by the Rev Henry Cantrell in the early 18th century”.

It now sits rather incongruously in an area of urban landscape,  an odd juxtaposition amongst the older houses and tower blocks still exists, but is often prone to vandalism. and has suffered from it. Well dressings were discontinued due to vandalism and it was blocked off my tall metal fencing for a period recently. Now it is surrounded by a small wall and black railings which has blocked access but will protect it.

Folklore

Cox (1875–9) records that a vicar of S. Werburgh’s was cured of his low consumption, after constantly drinking its water, although the sign It has been traditionally dressed, revived in 1870 and continued infrequently until 1993, stopping because the boards were thoughtlessly vandalised. The demolishing of the St. Alkmund’s Church in the 1960s for road widening stopped the tradition of processing to the well. I was told by a local elderly lady that she still drank the water and that it was very pure…I was not sure myself!

References:

  1. Parish, R.B, (2010) Holy Wells and Healing Springs of Nottinghamshire

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Currently researching calendar customs and folklore of Nottinghamshire
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2 Responses to St. Alkmund’s Well, Derby, Derbyshire

  1. sunbright57 says:

    Paul, I have some info on St Alkmund somewhere, will try to find it and put another comment on shortly.

  2. sunbright57 says:

    Alkmund or Alcmund (774-819) was the son of King Alchred of Northumbria. According to legend, he fled north with his father when their rebellious subjects concluded a treaty with the Danes. For 20 years he and his father lived amongst the southern Picts in central and southern Scotland. Later they were asked to return to Northumbria (c 800) because the people in that kingdom had grown weary of the Norsemen. Alchred and his son were persuaded to join and lead the peoples fight for freedom. Alkmund, now king, fought heroically against the Danes but was treacherously betrayed by King Eardulf. Alkmund, a Christian convert was murdered, his relics brought to Lilleshall in Mercia, but then through fear of the Danes they were transferred to Derby. His richly carved sarcophagus lies in the museum there. Alkmund was probably King of Northumbria from 800 to 819. (Source unknown)

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