I need to be outdoors or else I suffer cabin fever. It’s the week after Yule, the 29th December, so I took myself off out for a couple of hours.
In Norfolk we are somewhat lacking in sacred springs and holy wells, but I made a short pilgrimage to one very site, just six miles away; practically on my doorstep!
I parked my car in the town centre of East Dereham and walked to St Nicholas’ church along Church Street.
The church was sadly locked as I’d have liked to look inside, but the path one can take on either side of the church leads you to the Holy well.
It was serendipitous because although the day had started gloomily, as I approached the well the sun beamed down from between the clouds and a little white feather floated in front of me, landing upon the wet grass.
I took in the atmosphere and rested upon an old tree stump for a few moments, breathing in the ancient energy before I recalled the story on video of why this well came in to being.
This sacred well is dedicated to Saint Withburga.
St Withburga was one of 3 siblings of King Anna. Her father decided Withburga would live at Holkham on the North Norfolk coast with her nurse. After his death, Withburga decided to venture to Dereham to build a convent (or abbey).
Lacking in food to sustain the workers on the construction she prayed to the blessed Virgin Mary for food. Her prayers were answered because two doe’s appeared who provided sustenance for the workers in the form of milk. However the townsfolk were non too happy with Withburga’s little miracles so they went out to locate and slaughter the animals. On their way back, the horse of one of the men whom had killed a doe threw him and he suffered a broken back and died.
After Withburga’s death she lay in Dereham undisturbed for over fifty years until the Bishop of Ely said she should be laid to rest in Ely near her siblings.
Consequently, the Bishop made his way to Dereham, got the townsfolk drunk and made away with Withburga’s skeleton to Ely.
This little known of well was built in honour of Withburga around her tomb – which can be seen in the above photograph at the side of the single plant pot.
I always leave an offering to the guardians/nature spirits for keeping a spiritual watch over any sacred site.
A winter hour in natures’ saintly beauty is an hour well spent.
Feel free to leave your comments below.
Niki – A Druid’s Life.