A couple of weeks ago I took Steve (UrbanDruid) off for a tour of The Edge, and I managed to get a shot of the carvings on the Wizard’s Well, an area which I didn’t get round to mentioning in my previous blog entries about Alderley Edge.
The well is the first you come across as you climb up to the Edge from the public footpath off Mottram Road. I like to think of all the folks coming from the station on their excursions walking along the path and meeting this face. The wording reads “Drink of this and take thy fill, for the water falls by the wizard’s will’. Alan Garner claims that the image is another example of his great-great-grandfather’s work and it would have been carved about 200 years ago, it was certainly there in 1843 for it was mentioned in a guidebook of the time. The inscription was added later. There are several faces carved around the Edge, on the rock and also gateposts.
Alderley Edge as it is today, is a product of the Victorian railway age. The Parish was previously called Chorley but the railways managed to get the name changed as there was already a Chorley in Lancashire. They bought up land from the De Trafford family on the slopes of the Edge, which became covered in large Victorian Villas. In order to entice the wealthy from Manchester and its surrounds they were sold with free first class rail travel into town. The area became full of mill and factory owners which the local gentry christened ‘cottontots’ Now it is full of footballers too.
Under the rock face there is a stone trough, and despite the fact that the water is really only a steady drip, it is nearly always full. In wet weather it forms a stream across the path and down the slope. It is my favourite well, because it just has such a terrific energy to it and the surrounding area. I used the water here to cure a wart and it has always felt like a healing place. One day I arrived and found a frog balanced on the lip of the trough which was fantastic. Frogs being a symbol of healing and rejuvenation and of course, fertility. Which is interesting because the well is more usually associated (as are the other major wells on the Edge) with fertility and in 1902 FS Graves recorded finding ’great numbers of pins and hairpins’ some of which he judged to be over 60 years old by their style, which he attributed to local women coming for help with conceiving. Of course the area has probably been a sacred spot for thousands of years. These days the offerings found here are mostly flowers and fruit.
Railway Handbill from here