Wednesday, 6 April 2016

A Quick Pilgrimage Pt 2 - St. Mary's Well, Jesmond, Newcastle

Leaving St. Mary's chapel, I walked on to my second destination.  St. Mary's Well.  I'd never visited before because I hadn't ever known exactly where it was.  Unless you know it, the well is not the kind of place you're likely to find accidentally.

Well that's disappointing isn't it?!  The claim here is that it isn't an ancient well and a place where people were healed.  Nevertheless it is still a pilgrimage spot and people visit from quite a distance.  Although I have to admit to being totally alone at both the well and the chapel.  For a lot more information about the well there's this site, which is pretty fascinating.

Steps down to the well.  The story is that in total there are as many steps as there are articles in the Creed.  I didn't count the steps and I don't know where they are counting from as there seemed to be rather more than twelve steps down from the track at the entrance to the site.

The well itself.  Exciting isn't it?

You can that someone has erected a little shrine on the top of the brick work.  I'll be posting photos of it and photos of similar things from the chapel in the next blog post.

It's a hole.  Water comes out, trickles across the stones and then disappears down another hole.

I didn't sample the water.  I didn't cross myself with the water - there was a time that I'd have been doing that and might even have wished I had a bottle to fill so I could get the holy well water blessed.

Gratia - presumably engraved there in reference to Mary, mother of Jesus.  She who is called Gratia Plena - full of grace, or highly favoured depending on your preferences of translation.

It can also mean gratitude.  There's been a lot of gratitude on this blog recently.  And I'm grateful that places like this are so easily accessible to me.

This photo looks back across the well and up the steps.

I have to admit it's not the most exciting place to me.  But I'm very glad to have visited and explored another little part of Newcastle.

Moving on, my walk took me down into Jesmond Dene.

Spring is quickly coming.
Part of the old banqueting hall, now without a roof.
As you descend from the chapel to the Dene you pass two special trees, planted by the path for different reasons.

These pictures are the view from the bridge you cross over the Ouseburn as you come down from St. Mary's Chapel to the Dene.

And finally, having visited the holy well, here's a picture of an unholy well.  It's a little further down the valley, in Heaton Park.  This is "Ye Well of King John."  Heaton Park also contains a ruin known as King John's Palace.  The palace has nothing to do with King John at all although there is a story that King John did visit a palace in Heaton.  It was a fortified house, the seat of Adam of Jesmond.  The well too was not actually King John's.

The religious world develops pious stories.  In Jesmond we saw the tale of a holy well that had never been holy at all until the tale was developed.  The secular world is just the same.  In Heaton we have a well belonging to a King, a King who never owned the well.

We are human.  We need stories.  That's never going to change and it's not a bad thing.

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