With traces of snow on the ground, but the sun shining, I headed back to Farewell last weekend. Following my previous visit, I’d had a look at some old maps and another extremely helpful conversation with BrownhillsBob on the subject of wells. I was hopeful that this time I’d be able to find the site of the well, that gave the place its name.
This description of the well is from ‘A Tale of Fairwell’, set at the priory in 1527 and published in the early 1800s – ‘Exactly in the centre, the sparkling tide of a large well or rather fountain leapt from a carved stone basin and hurrying hither and thither amidst rich grass floated under an arch in the wall into the pool that supplied the mill.’ Whether there is any element of truth in this description or whether it’s completely imagined, I don’t know!
All I could find is this hollow, which is marked on maps ranging from 1884 to the late 1960s, as a pond. The maps also show a well or spring to the north east marked as ‘Well’ or ‘Fare Well’.
Just down from this old pond, is a small brook in which there are some big chunks of stone. This brings me onto the next question! What remains of the priory of St Mary, initially founded as a hermitage but shortly afterwards converted into a nunnery?
The priory was dissolved in 1527. It seems that the old nunnery chapel was retained as a church but most of it was rebuilt in 1747 in brick, leaving only the stone chancel.
Pat suggested that a nearby wall might contain some of the stone from the earlier building(s).
A brick wall has been built around the church yard, and this too seems to incorporate some older stone?
A archaeological resistivity survey carried out in 1992 located areas of higher resistivity thought to relate to demolition debris from structures associated with the church. Staffordshire Record Office hold the results of the survey which ‘revealed significant archaeological remains relating to the priory, including walls of buildings and the remains of the precinct wall’. I wonder whereabouts?
Until I can get my grubby mitts on a copy of this or any other real evidence, I’ll just have to be content that Farewell is a lovely place to speculate about!