The Pipewell Stories

water spills out of the pipes of the pipewell

It's late afternoon and Mr Kekewich is admiring the four iron pipes he has bought and had specially fitted to the four plentiful springs of St Martin's Well in Liskeard. He rubs his chin as he turns to the gathered crowd,

"My uncle, John Trehawke, would turn in his grave if he could see his carefully hoarded fortune splashed out for all to admire. Well I tell you, it's my inheritance and I shall spend it as it suits me. The Well deserves a bit of industry and these pipes are as grand as I can get. I believe it deserves a new name too. All you good people of Liskeard; I rename your well Pipewell".

A cheer goes out to Kekewich, the crowd enjoying his bravado; a voice lingers after the applause.

"You may mark my words Mr Kekewich. Adding to all the grandness of they buildings ain't going to bring back what this well's known for, and that is the magic healing powers it can give and the luck that comes from that there stone."

Kekewich looks at the lady a moment; she is old as the stone, his aunt perhaps or his aunt's aunt's aunt.

"Look all you like maid," he says firmly, "but I tell you what I see: four smart iron pipes and four gushing springs, a nice pool and no lucky stone. It may not be magic but it's impressive, a monument for the future of this town."

The elderly lady looks back at Kekewich with her sharp brown eyes. "I can tell you all a tale, one you should rightly know," she licks her lips excited.

"St Martin's Well has been used for its healing qualities since the Celts first came down off the moors and settled here. When I was a maid betrothed to be married I came here with my husband to be. We stood on the lucky stone together and drank water from the chief spring. My mother told us just by touching the stone with our bare feet we would have a good future and by drinking together we would be happy and successful in our married life. Times were every betrothed maid in Liskeard came here to make her wish. We believed every word of it, we had been blessed by the well nymph and the truth be told we were happy, very happy and blessed. It was said the lucky stone gave magical powers to anyone who touched it. I don't know about that I don't think myself as particularly magical, we simply valued the powers of the spring. Imagine, a healing spring and a promise of a happy marriage what more could a town need? Every generation have respected St Martin's Well and they looked after it proper until recent times. You only have to look at the ornate building you see above it as proof enough to that. Then this here new council claimed the stone had 'lost its virtue' and they goes and covers it up putting an end to all the good fortune and free blessing us folks of Liskeard got from the waters whenever we so pleased. Now you are no better, Kekewich you have sheathed the water. Iron won't stay like that mind and before long we won't even be safe to drink it. Real shame that is, real shame."
Kekewich took a deep breath from his stomach, "Don't you worry about the quality of the water lady, it's discharging three gallons a minute and they say it has never yet run dry." The elderly lady turned away from the revelling crowd. Her piece was said, she would never again visit the well.

Now it may be that you have listened carefully to the value in the elderly lady's speech and you believe luck to be more valuable than iron?

It may be that you are living in Liskeard Town and are brave enough to take away the pipes and restore the holy well? Perhaps you would like to have the lucky stone retrieved from the concrete for surely a promise of prosperity and happy family's is priceless to your community?

But above all, wouldn't it be great to attract visitors from all over the world to Liskeard to drink the crystal clear water...and charge them £6 a glass to do so!

 retold by Anna Chorlton

References: 'Liskeard Town and About' 

'Folklore & Legends of Cornwall' M.A Courtney 


  • Liskeard