Ladywell House is a vocational centre with a small chapel on the upper floor. It takes its name from the magical spring-fed well which lies in the grounds of the house. Today it is easily accessible, but once upon a time the well was positioned deep in the undergrowth of a country lane; one could easily miss it as one walked by. It was a few feet below the road surface and accessible only by descending several steps, where as a child I would be surrounded by grass and fern and able to sense the mystery of the place. Now the well has been opened up to the air and surrounded by seating where services take place on summer days. The well is now well maintained, even if some of the magic has disappeared.
There is a lovely legend attached to Lady Well (or Ladyewell). A sailor caught in a storm was so afraid he might die that he prayed earnestly to God, promising that if he and his ship found their way to safety, he would repay God in whatever way He wished. He did indeed survive the storm and landed safely, whereupon he heard a voice telling him to build a chapel in a place called Fernyhalgh, where he would find a crab-apple tree bearing apples without cores, and a spring beneath it.
The sailor wondered how he would ever find such a spot, because his ship had come ashore in a place that was wholly unknown to him. However, he began to explore, stopping when he came to an inn where he could take some nourishment. There he overheard a milkmaid complaining that she had been forced to follow her stray cow all the way to Fernyhalgh. He asked the milkmaid to show him the place and she promised to do so, the next day. In that place, Fernyhalgh, he found the crab-apple tree bearing core-less fruit and the spring, just as the mysterious voice had told him. Beside the spring was a statue of Our Lady. And so, the sailor kept his promise and built a chapel here.
The date attached to this legend is 1471 because a small chapel was indeed built here at that date; a new one replaced it in 1796. The fact that there was already a statue in place as early as 1471 proves how sacred this spot was always thought to be, long before Christians gave it a name.
Oh how lovely! I would love to visit!
It is indeed lovely but not as wild as I remember, now. It’s sacredness is remembered, though, and celebrated. One day, Deanna!