Healing Well: OS Grid Reference – SE 1822 3593
Also Known as:
- Tunny Well
Archaeology & History
First mentioned in local history accounts from 1618—as the Tunwells—it was highlighted on the first OS-map of Eccleshill in 1851. Located on the aptly-named Tunwell Lane, it was a deep well covered by a large flat slab of stone, at the back-end the old Victorian mill. The stone was put there to prevent children falling into it. Some old locals thought the name of the place derived from a ‘tun’, or hundred, meaning it to be a hundred feet deep; although as A.H. Smith (1961) tells, tun could equally relate it to be one of Eccleshill’s town wells, of which there were several. It used to be one of the principal drinking supplies for the village and was said to rarely run dry. In William Ranger’s (1854) survey, he told this to be one of the sites to which local people relied in times of drought, where the land-owner allowed local folk to collect their supplies.
The old cobbled Tunwell Lane was long ago supposed to be the haunt of a phantom black dog: a visionary precursor of death and Underworld guardian. Its spirit came and went into the deep well. I remember hearing tales of this when I grew up, as the old women who worked in the mills spoke of it. The ghost of a so-called ‘white lady’ was also said to walk along Tunwell Lane.
In more recent times, Val Shepherd (2002) included this in her short survey of wells in the area as being on “an alignment” with Eccleshill’s Moor Well and Holy Well. She thought “it may be part of a ley line”, but her alignment is inaccurate and doesn’t hit the spots.
- Crapp, H.C. & Whitehead, Thomas, History of the Congregational Church at Eccleshill, Watmoughs: Idle 1938.
- Ranger, William, Report to the General Board of Health on a Preliminary Inquiry into the Sewerage, Drainage, and Supply of Water, and the Sanitary Condition of the Inhabitants of the Township of Eccleshill, George Eyre: London 1854.
- Shepherd, Val, Holy Wells of West Yorkshire and the Dales, Lepus: Bradford 2002.
- Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire – volume 3, Cambridge University Press 1961.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian