Ancient Sites | Modern Druidry | Wheel of the Year

The Solstice – Plegmund’s Well

June 21, 2010

Having just returned from a visit to Glastonbury with Kal (more about that very soon) I wanted to do something for the Summer Solstice and to keep it local. Where better, then, for me to go than to our local holy well – Plegmund’s Well in the little hamlet of Plemstall which adjoins the larger village of Mickle Trafford in Cheshire.

I had visited Plegmund’s Well earlier in the year on what was something of an uneventful excursion (hence no post), but now there was a good reason to go again because at this time of the year a local committee have revived the ancient ceremony of well-dressing. On my previous visit I had tested the energies of the well. They were weak to the point of non-existence, and the only energy that I could find was that left by people’s devotions (i.e. intentions of good-will, or adoring energy). No earth energy at all, which was unusual for a well, as running water, especially primal water that has passed through rock and minerals is usually quite energetically active. Here, there was none of that, although a set of iron railings prevented me from seeing inside the well itself (iron again! are people insane? iron at a sacred site nullifies energy!).

Who the smeg was Plegmund?

So, if this is Plegmund’s Well, who was Plegmund? Well, it turns out he was quite the scholar in the time of King Alfred. Here’s what the interweb has to say about the fellow:

“He was of Mercian descent and is believed to have lived as a hermit on what was at that time an island which became known as Plegmundeshamm or “The Isle of Chester” at Plemstall in Cheshire. He would have been affiliated to a monastic community either at nearby Chester or near the site of the current church of St Peter, Plemstall.” (source: Wikipedia)

The well dressing ceremony took place on Sunday 20th June, but the panels of creatively decorated flowers stays in place for the Solstice Day too. M and I went down to the church of St.Peter’s that was the original island that Plegmund lived on. There we found that we were fortuitously in time for a bit of tea and cake. As a huge cake lover I was particularly pleased.

We bumped into a friend of ours – a lady who was the last person to have been baptised in the waters of the well. That had been a tradition for all the children of the area for as long as anyone could recall. We chatted about the well-dressing ceremony, got a bit more background history, then went off to experience the well itself.

The Dressed Well

Britannia - emblem of The Lady in Britain

The lady depicted in the floral decorations around the well was Britannia – a mother goddess, a genius loca of the British Isles, and a personification of the nation. Britannia is the kind of emblem that has such modern connotations of nationalism, and yet has been a depiction of the Mother Goddess (The Lady) for so long that she inhabits the corners of the mind of every denizen of these isles, whether they realise it or not.

What I did do was to create a posy of wild flowers after asking permission from the local plants, and threw it into the well dedicating it to The Lady. You’ll see why I did that dedication when I reveal my Glastonbury experience soon.

No water flows through the well now since the nearby Shell plant lowered the water table of everywhere nearby when they extracted all the local water for their own purposes. This probably accounts for the lack of earth energy at this sacred site. That makes the ceremony of well dressing in this case is now just an echo, a memory of what its purpose once was, and a way of bringing local people together – a positive aspect and worthy for sure.

Britannia composed of seashells and flowers

Happy Solstice to all you druidic and dowsing people out there. May you keep alive, nay found your own local tradition to celebrate flow of the seasons.


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