Mungo's (Mongah's) Well - Copgrove
(SE 3470 6378 )
It appears that at one time St Mungo's
Well was one of the most popular holy wells in Yorkshire, visited by
people from near and far in the hope of curing various illnesses. Today
however only the name 'Well House Farm' gives a clue the significance of
this site to the north of Copgrove village. On a visit in May 2000 the
farm owners were very helpful and provided the information that the
derelict remains of the bathhouse were demolished many years ago and the
current farm house was built adjacent to the site. The wells spring
source and adjoining bath are apparently still intact, but now covered
by the paved area in front of house.
A local history book by Henry Major (1) traces the history of St Mungo's
well, and notes that as Harrogate Spa became popular in the 1600's, the
fame of St Mungo's well began to decline. St Mungo's well .....
"....represented the old religious world of the middle ages
with it miracles and saints and gifts of healing; Harrogate Spa
represented the modern world of medical science. Harrogate healed by
means of its minerals ; Copgrove healed by faith."
Around the same time Dr Edmund Deane (2) of York, was promoting the
beneficial effects of mineral spas, and as the waters of St Mungo's well
were without obvious mineral content, he was moved to describe the well
as ".....an ineffectual superstitious relique of popery".
However the St Mungo's well still had its
supporters, who believed that the extreme coldness of the water could
cure disease. Around 1650 a Dr Witties, wrote ......
"it is a quick spring of great repute for curing the rickets in
children, whom they dip into it naked, and hold them in a little while,
but they must observe to dip five, seven or nine times, more or less,
according to custom, or some think it will not do"
In 1696 a Dr. Clayton of Lancashire wrote of the well ........
"...that people resorted there to be cured of fixed pains, with or
without tumour, rheumatisms, quartans, strains, bruises, rickets and all
weaknesses of the nerves".
In 1702 Sir John Floyer quotes (3) a Dr. Ellison of Newcastle who wrote
that St mungo's well is .......
"an extreme cold spring" and that children suffering from
rickets are dipped in it June and July "in their shifts and
Also a Dr. Thomas Davidson wrote.........
"They are immersed at all ages, viz., from six months old to
eighty years. Children are twice or thrice dipped in and presently taken
out again; and while they are in the officious women at the well, are
active in rubbing their backs or the maimed parts; but this seems only
for form. Adult people stay in a quarter, or near half an hour .... they
use no preparative physick, nor observe any diet before nor afterwards,
but a draft of warm ale or a sack to comfort them after they come
Henry Major described St Mungo's well as he saw it in the early 1900's,
"The well stands today very much as it did in the seventeenth
century, an oblong cistern, ....... 4ft deep and is 6ft.4in. wide by
6ft.11in. long, and has five stone steps into it. The temperature when i
took it on a summer day was 49 deg Fah., although that of the air in the
shade was 75 deg.Fah. The high red brick wall with which it is
surrounded undoubtedly goes back to the seventeenth century."
The bathhouse next to the well later became an inn and then a game
keepers cottage, which was derelict by the 1940's until it was rebuilt
as a farm house in the 1980's. However the Holy wells water is still
flowing and a pipe from the spring/baths area takes the spring water to
an underground chamber where an hydraulic pump supplies the water to the
house and other nearby farms, this chamber seems to be an original
feature at the site, being a circular stone built shaft about two metres
deep with a flight of stone steps leading down into it.
(1)Henry Major, Memorials of Copgrove. 1922.
(2)Edmund Deane, Spadacrene Anglica or the English Spa Fountaine, 1626.
(3)Sir John Floyer, Psuchrolousia, or the history of Cold Bathing, 1702