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Oxford Inscriptions: St Margaret's Well, Binsey


St Margaret's Well

ST. MARGARET'S WELL

S. MARGARETAE FONTEM
PRECIBUS S. FRIDESWIDAE UT FERTUR CONCESSUM
INQUINATUM DIE OBRUTUMQUE
IN USUM REVOCAVIT
T. J. PROUT AED. XTI ALUMNUS VICARIUS
A.S. MDCCCLXXIV

St Margaret's Well

In the year of salvation 1874
T. J. Prout, an alumnus of Christ Church
recovered back into use the spring of St Margaret,
granted by the prayers of St Frideswide that it might flow
but for a long time buried and defiled,

The Church of St Margaret of Antioch at Binsey (dating from the twelfth century) stands on the site of one of the original monasteries of St Frideswide (the patron saint of Oxford). In the seventh century she escaped to Binsey to avoid marrying the Mercian prince Algar, and when he was blinded by lightning while looking for her, her prayers brought forth a healing spring here, and she cured his blindness with its water.

The well outside the church was famed for its healing properties, and many pilgrimages were made to Binsey in the middle ages. The crutches of cured cripples once adorned the church.

The well was taken down in 1639, but restored by the Revd T. J. Prout in 1874.

It became famous again after Lewis Carroll described it as a treacle well in Alice in Wonderland. (In medieval times, treacle meant a healing fluid).

Regular well services are held before evensong in the summer during which the congregation is sprinkled with the holy water.

St Margaret's Well

Stephanie Jenkins, 2013