05 Sep 2016

Knaresborough’s Petrifying Well

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KnaresboroughWell
Petrified objects hang outside the entrance to Knaresborough’s well.

The Vintage News reports that they don’t allow you to drink the water today.

One of the most notable examples of petrifying wells is in Knaresborough, England. The Knaresborough petrifying well was first opened to the public in 1630 and still amazes people by its ‘abilities’ to this day.

For many centuries, locals believed that this Petrifying Well was cursed by the devil – a myth fueled by the fact that the side of the well looks like a giant’s skull. They constantly lived with the fear that if they touched the well’s water, they would be turned to stone too. …

History shows that the well wasn’t always known for its petrifying qualities. The earliest written reference to the well was by John Leyland, antiquary to Henry VIII, who visited the well in 1538. He wrote that the well was very well-known and visitors drank and showered under its falling waters, as they were believed to have miraculous healing powers. Around this time, the legendary prophetess Ursula Southeil, who is better known as Mother Shipton, began to gain popularity.

According to popular legend, Mother Shipton was a Yorkshire witch, born in the cave, who prophesied about future events in the form of poems. As Mother Shipton’s notoriety grew, so did the fame of the petrifying well.

In the early 1600’s medical physicians examined the waters, and pronounced that they could cure any malady that the body might have. Then, in 1630, King Charles I sold the land that the well sits on to Sir Charles Slingsby. Sir Slingsby must have been able to recognize a business opportunity when he saw one because he immediately put the well on exhibition and charged money for guided tours around his new property. The well and its surrounding area have been in continuous operation as an attraction since then.

It is often described as the UK’s first official tourist attraction. The cave and dropping well, together with other attractions, remain open to visitors.

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