Edward Hunt's Forest of Dean Miscellany

Fact, Fiction and Fantasy

Saint Anthony's Well

The vale (of Castiard) has its beginning in St. Anthony's Well, a spring that bursts on the outside of the forest bowl into a shallow basin, before cascading into a plunge-bath the size and depth of a good-sized room. This pool was carefully made by the monks of Flaxley, but unfortunately some careless timber fellers of the Royal Engineers during the war broke some of the heavy stones of the coping, fouling the twelve steps descending through the water to the floor of the pool.

The last time I came here I found that both well and pool were dry, owing to water from this source being pumped to Cinderford on top of the hill, and one can only hope that this parched condition will not be permanent.

Though this water is salubrious without being efficacious, there is a local tradition (founded no doubt by the monks) that the bath is a cure for rheumatism to any one visiting the pool on twelve successive days, descending one step the first day, two the second, until on the twelfth day the floor of the pool is reached. This would be something of an ordeal, since after the ninth or tenth day the sufferer would be out of his depth, while even on the hottest day in summer the pool is deliciously icy. The well is also held to be good for skin diseases if visited in the month of May at the rising of the sun on nine successive days.

The above text is from "The Forest of Dean" by Brian Waters (publisher: Dent 1951)

Edward Hunt