<< Our Photo Pages >> St Withburga's Well - Holy Well or Sacred Spring in England in Norfolk

Submitted by vicky on Tuesday, 31 August 2004  Page Views: 19818

Springs and Holy WellsSite Name: St Withburga's Well
Country: England County: Norfolk Type: Holy Well or Sacred Spring
 Nearest Village: East Dereham
Map Ref: TF9865213305  Landranger Map Number: 132
Latitude: 52.681007N  Longitude: 0.937285E
4Almost Perfect
3Reasonable but with some damage
2Ruined but still recognisable as an ancient site
1Pretty much destroyed, possibly visible as crop marks
0No data.
-1Completely destroyed
3 Ambience:
2Not Good
0No data.
3 Access:
5Can be driven to, probably with disabled access
4Short walk on a footpath
3Requiring a bit more of a walk
2A long walk
1In the middle of nowhere, a nightmare to find
0No data.
5 Accuracy:
5co-ordinates taken by GPS or official recorded co-ordinates
4co-ordinates scaled from a detailed map
3co-ordinates scaled from a bad map
2co-ordinates of the nearest village
1co-ordinates of the nearest town
0no data

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RedKite1985 visited on 10th May 2023 - their rating: Cond: 3 Amb: 3 Access: 5

St Withburga's Well
St Withburga's Well submitted by hamstermoon : St Withburgha's Well at East Dereham (Vote or comment on this photo)
Holy Well / Spring in Norfolk in the churchyard of St Nicholas' in the centre of East Dereham. The water sprang from the grave of St Withburga when her bones were removed.

A plaque records that "The ruins of a tomb which contained the remains of Withburga, youngest daughter of Anna, King of East Angles, who died AD 654. The Abbot and monks of Ely stole this precious relic and translocated to Ely Cathedral, where it was interred near her three royal sisters, AD 974"
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St Withburga's Well
St Withburga's Well submitted by hamstermoon : This view of the well shows one of the entry points of the water. You can see that the green plant against the wall has grown into the water flow. (Vote or comment on this photo)

St Withburga's Well
St Withburga's Well submitted by RedKite1985 : St Withburga's Well. (Vote or comment on this photo)

St Withburga's Well
St Withburga's Well submitted by rogerkread : St Withburga's in the snow - bitterly cold March day. Note the 'offering' by the locals, but I think they'd drunk it first. (Vote or comment on this photo)

St Withburga's Well
St Withburga's Well submitted by hamstermoon : A picture of St Withburgha from inside the church. (Vote or comment on this photo)

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Nearby Images from Geograph Britain and Ireland:
TF9813 : St Withburga's Well & St Nicholas Church, Dereham, Norfolk by John Salmon
by John Salmon
TF9813 : The Parish Church of St. Nicholas, Dereham by G Laird
by G Laird
TF9813 : Site of Withburga's Tomb, East Dereham by Rob Farrow
by Rob Farrow
TF9813 : Dereham - Old House next to Church by James Emmans
by James Emmans
TF9813 : Church of St Nicholas, Dereham by David Robertson
by David Robertson

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"St Withburga's Well" | Login/Create an Account | 2 News and Comments
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Re: St Withburga's Well by davidmorgan on Sunday, 17 March 2013
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Re: St Withburga's Well by hamstermoon on Sunday, 22 February 2009
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Withburgha was one of three sisters, Daughter of King Anna, who founded convents. I was going to write a description of Withburga's legend myself but found the following on Wikipedia. I think it tells it rather well ...

While she was building the convent she had nothing but dry bread to give to the workmen. She prayed to the Virgin Mary and was told to send her maids to a local well each morning. There they found two does which provided milk for the workers. This allowed the workers to be fed.

The local overseer did not like Withburga or her miracles and decided to hunt these does down with dogs, and prevent them from coming to be milked. He was punished for his cruelty when he was thrown from his horse and broke his neck. This story is remembered in the large town sign in Dereham marketplace.

When Withburga died, in AD 743, she was buried in the abbey cemetery. Her body was dug up 55 years later, was found not to have decayed, and was moved into the church that she had built. Dereham became a place of pilgrimage, with people coming to visit Withburga's tomb.

In AD 974 the Abbot of Ely, Brithnoth, elected to steal her body so that he could have financial gain from the pilgrims. Brithnoth and some armed men came to Dereham and organised a feast. When the Dereham men were properly drunk the Ely mob stole Withburga's body and set off for home. Dereham soon found out that this crime had taken place and set off after the Ely criminals.

There was a large fight between the two sides, with spears as well as fists being thrown. As the men approached Ely, however, the thieves had the advantage of knowing their way through the swamps and marshes - and Withburga was deposited in Ely.

When the Dereham men returned home, however, they found that a spring had appeared in Withburga's violated tomb. The water in this spring was considered to be compensation for the loss of their saint, and pilgrims continued to come and drink from the water.
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