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Well, why well cottage !
You may wonder (as did our Architect Philip Heeks) why on earth we decided to call our house Well Cottage.
Was it that the house been unwell in the past and was it well again now?
Was it perhaps a riddle? or maybe even some sort of a Da Wrenbury Code? what did it all mean? why "Well Cottage"?
Well, the reason is actually quite simple.
When we originally bought the barn it still had its own very old hand water-pump and stone trough outside, there was no sign of a well so we had assumed that the water-pump was probably fed by an old a bore hole beneath it.
The whole of our courtyard was just covered in grass when we bought the barn and before any building work first commenced, however we soon noticed a soft area of ground to one side of the pump which was also lower than the surrounding ground.
On further inspection we found that just inches below the turf and soil of this lower area there were a number of old railway sleepers. When we lifted up one of the sleepers we discovered that they were laid across the top of a perfectly circular brick lined well, the well itself was still full of water and it was this well which obviously fed the water-pump and had originally provided the water for the whole farm.
A sequence of pictures showing the discovery of the sleepers and well
We have no idea when the well was built or by whom, but it seems almost certain that it probably pre-dates the courtyard and therefore the other surrounding farm buildings so could well date back to the 1700's or earlier.
Alan the digger driver did tell us how well builders would use an old cart wheel as the template for the round circumference of the walls when building the round brick lined wells and that although it will have perished long ago the actual cart wheel they used would have been left at the bottom of the well when they had finished building it.
Because of the water table and rainwater drainage in the courtyard the well is always quite full of water and even at the height of the summer the level only seems to drop by a few feet so we do not actually know just how deep the well is but we think it is probably about 8 or 10 metres deep.
The view down inside the brick lined well
The water does not look particularly dirty but I don't think I would be too keen on drinking it myself. We are however thinking of trying to be a bit more environmentally friendly by using it to flush the toilets. The correct term for this is "gray water" and Phil the plumber has said that it would be possible for us to install a reed valve pump with a filter in the well and pipework up to the house and into the bathroom and en-suite toilet cisterns so that when you flush the toilet the rainwater from the well is used, and of course this then goes out off into our septic tank in the garden when flushed so all self contained and self sufficient.
At the moment the well with its railway sleepers still covering it presents a bit of a danger to any heavy vehicles traveling up our drive such as the oil tanker delivering our fuel oil or the builders merchants delivery wagons because if they were to drive over them the sleepers may collapse into the well along with whatever wheel was driving over them. Therefore we have placed cones on top of the sleepers over the well to warn drivers, a bit unsightly but effective nonetheless and if you do come and visit us then for your own safety please try and avoid the cones over the well.