Crowborough Wells

Crowborough in East Sussex, once a small village, was proud of its large hotels on top of the hill. The sitting of Beacon hotel was influenced by the location of a natural source of spring water. The stables for the hotel also reaped the benefits of spring water, which was enjoyed by the horses and provided enough running water to clean the coaches that called for an over-night stay. The builders found it was necessary to sink several wells, albeit only shallow ones. The term “well” did not always mean a hole in the ground; the Old English word “wella” indicated a sponge where the waters welled up to reach the surface.

Such was the nature of the spring on Mill Lane, where Mill Mead had a constant supply of spring water. It was well know that the flour produced at this mill, had a special “sweetness” of its own and indeed the coach-horses at the Beacon Hotel, when groomed and watered, had a new sheen, strength and energy that was seen with pride as the coach and horses entered London in double quick time.

It was the local Chinese well digger, Eu Plon Ka, who discovered the secret of the sweet refreshing spring water. When digging out other wells in the area, he came across seams of treacle. A few cottages became famous for their home made treacle toffee and bottle ginger-beer made with spring water from the treacle wells. The most famous treacle products came from “Treacle Cottage” on Mill Lane.

Some of the cottages had wells housed in an out-building, providing a shelter for the winding gear. The most important well-heads merited an inscription, which often gave clues to the life of the community in the days before piped water. Not only was Crowborough becoming a place regarded for its healthy position, on top of a hill, but for the quality of its water. Even rain water, and there was plenty of that, was prized as an aid to complexion and was collected by every household in water butts.

Other famous wells in the Crowborough area include - the Treacle Well discovered at the Plough and Horses on Walshes Road, Jarvis Brook; where on the 15th July 1998 Robert Malone, constructing a firm foundation for an interior brick pillar, hit through the ceiling of an ancient treacle mine at the base of a treacle well.



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