2011 Walking the Medieval Pilgrim's Path
2010 Comment on St Anne's Well (87KB .pdf file)
2010 Walking the Medieval Pilgrim's Path
2010 Avon Valley Walk
2009 St Anne's Well Walk
Links to other sites...
Chris Lovegrove's notes
Painting of pottery kiln
Discover Brislington Brook
Project Coordinator: to be announced soon (in the meantime, contact this project via BCAP)
The neighbourhood of St Anne's, Brislington, Bristol, is named after the saint whose medieval chapel was a pilgrimage site that attracted the attention of King Henry VII, the first Tudor monarch, who visited shortly after winning the Wars of the Roses. The holy well of St Anne, in St Anne's Wood, is currently popular with Christians and pagans alike.
Documentary evidence for the Chapel of St Anne in the Wood dates to the early 14th century, but the first written mention of the well appears to be in a book by a Swindon newspaper owner, William Morris: Swindon Fifty Years Ago published in 1885. Sadly, the Reverend Richardson's quotation of an older work that indicated the well was a century older, is actually a misquotation (Richardson, A 1898, St Anne's Chapel Brislington, Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological & Natural History Society, vol XLIV, page 197), and the well was not mentioned at all in the original text (Collinson, John 1791, The History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset,).
A clue that the well was connected with the medieval pilgrimage to the chapel, comes from coins and tokens said to have been found in 1878 when the well was cleaned (Western Daily Press, 20 June 1890). The dating evidence is offered by coins of the reigns of Edward IV (1461–1470) and Henry VII (1485–1509).
King Henry VII visited the site on pilgrimage in 1486, and it is ironic that it was his own son, Henry VIII, who was responsible for the dissolution of the monasteries, including Keynsham Abbey in 1539, which saw the chapel close and pass into secular hands. The history of the well is uncertain, but it was in a "neglected condition" when it was cleaned in 1878. A further cleansing in 1923 found the spring that feeds it lies some twenty feet (6m) below the modern level).
There are many strands of investigation to this important site, not least of which are:
to examine the area for traces of archaeology relating to the medieval pilgrimage centre
to explore the pilgrims' routes to the chapel
to clarify the route between the chapel and Keynsham Abbey (its 'mother' church)
to discover if the modern wood is the living descendent of the one in the medieval name "St Anne in the Wood"
and to investigate what inspired the perception of sanctity at this particular site (whether Christian or otherwise).
If you have any information to contribute about the history of this site, including old photographs, memorabilia, and memories, etc, or are interested in helping find out more about this site, please contact the project coordinator, above.
Four MA students (Archaeology for Screen Media) from Bristol University have created a short film about this stretch of Brislington Brook - including St Anne's Well. This forms part of the Discover Brislington Brook project, and features contributions by two BCAP members. The film is only three minutes long so there's no excuse for not watching!
Take a moment to enjoy a dip in the timeless countryside that flows through our modern suburban landscape.