Thanks to Mark Hewlett for the above photographs.
I want to visit this spring in Painswick tomorrow. Have you ever been there? 10. St Tabitha’s Well (SO 867 097). ￼ Issues from the roadside halfway down Tibbywell Lane which leads to the mill in the valley bottom. A simple stone spout pours water into a small pool which then drains away under some stone slabs. The street name is an intriguing derivative of the well’s name! And here is a bit about st Tab. Also known as Dorcas!
Commemorated on October 25
St. Tabitha was a virtuous and kindly woman who belonged to the Christian community in Joppa. She was known for her good deeds and almsgiving. Having become grievously ill, she suddenly died. At that time, the Apostle Peter was preaching at Lydda, not far from Joppa. Messengers were sent to him with an urgent request for help. When the Apostle arrived at Joppa, Tabitha was already dead. On bended knee, St. Peter made a fervent prayer to the Lord. Then he went to the bed and called out, “Tabitha, get up!” She arose, completely healed (Acts 9:36). St. Tabitha is considered the patron saint of tailors and seamstresses, since she was known for sewing coats and other garments (Acts 9:39).
Some Notes on the Route Taken
The 63 bus from Nailsworth to Gloucester dropped us precisely on the line of the Cotswold Way at Scottsquar Hill. We crossed the road and went East, following the official route of the Way to reach Painswick.
This took us first through the old quarries of Scottsquar, revealing bands of inferior oolite , then down hill over Rudge Common Nature Reserve, across the main road by the Edgemore Inn and further down Jenkin’s Lane, towards but not actually reaching, Jenkin’s Farm. We turned left and then right across the fields to pass the curiously half way(ish) marker stone denoting (approximately) the mid point on the Cotswold Way.
Then down to the wooded Washbrook stream, eventually turning right to pass the two front doors of Washbrook Farm. One is half buried below the present ground level and bricked up. The other is elevated and up a flight of stairs. Both show a curious coat of arms on their richly carved lintels. (“a puzzling building needing more investigation” – britishlistedbuildings.co.UK.)
From there we climbed the slope of the Washbrook valley to enter Painswick.
Uncountable yet numbered yews were noted, Spencerian graffiti photographed and much needed coffee drunk.
To find Saint Tabitha’s Well we left Painswick by the diminutively named (and slightly twee sounding) “Tibbywell Lane”. Down this lane, about half way to the valley floor a simple stone spout set in a dry stone wall pours clear water into a small pool which then flows away under stone slabs. It is enchanting and quite beautiful. Quite why this spring should be named after Saint Tabitha is unknown. There seems to have been a move to secularise it in the local signage (see photograph of “Tabitha’s Well”).
Tibbywell Lane was once part of a much used ancient track way to Bisley and on to Cirencester. However, we left this route when we reached the valley floor, turning South West to follow a series of footpaths along the Painswick Valley toward Stroud.
At first the route closely followed the Painswick Stream past the sites of several old mills but eventually we slowly climbed the valley side via footpaths through Sheephouse and Hammonds Farm. The meadows here are broad and lush and cut by the deep, wooded gullies of three streams that emerge from springs below the line of Wick Street only two or three hundred yards further up the side of the valley.
Eventually we crossed Wick Street (Painswick Old Road), to re-enter Stroud via the footpath above Badbrook stream.
We talked of many things on our walk from Rudge Corner through Painswick and back to Stroud: Why is Paganhill so-called? Why the maypole? We discussed the arch, the spring at Puckhole, Oolite limestone, Cotswold quarries, The Siege of Gloucester 1643, the cannon ball marks on the church tower, The parliamentarian graffiti in Painswick Church: ‘Be old but not too bold.’ The Ice Age and the path of the River Thames, hydraulic rams, Thomas Berwick lookalike oak trees flaming in the fields, Ornate, embellished depictions of Keatsian fecundity over at Washbrook House: Pediment pictures suggestive of ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness … Who hath not seen thee oft … sitting careless on a granary floor, Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep …’
We talked of 18th century food riots, weavers’ riots, skimmingtons, ghost roads, holloways, We walked past countless streams, springs and brooks, past Eyebright [Euphrasia] and, on marshy ground, Redshank [Persicaria maculosa]. Crumbling old bridges, silent mills, ghost waterwheels, redcoat ghosts, turnpike ghosts, Tollhouse ghosts, Mossy mouldering drystone walls, riven by towering beech trees, An Ozymandian valley of industry, now oozing, whispering, sighing through the leaves falling in the rain-swept breeze: ‘Look on my works, ye mighty and despair!’
We talked of Theodolites, trigonometry, chains and furlongs, the Mason-Dixon Line, Lucerne, crop rotation, Turnip Townshend and his four course with fallow, Equinoctial autumn, Thomas Hood’s November: ‘No Sun, no moon … November’, Memories of old school November frosts, Viking words like ‘hoar’ and ‘rime’, The Ancient Mariner, Coleridge’s Fears in Solitude and Frost at Midnight:
‘The frost performs its secret ministry unhelped by any wind’, Wordsworth in the shrouded treeline above the stream: ‘When vapours rolling down a valley Made a lonely scene more lonesome’,
How if we hadn’t had arranged this walk and tryst Then we all would have stayed in, moaning about the drizzle And would have missed all the magic of Coleridge’s Playbills: “Announcing each day the performance by his supreme Majesty’s Servants, the Clouds, Waters, Sun, Moon, Stars”, How last Saturday had been so hot, with bees in the flowers, ‘Until they think warm days will never cease’, But we know they will, and they are, as lowering, louring clouds over Stroud, (Like a limned Sutcliffe Whitby skyscape, or a tinted picture from a Claude eye glass, A heightened atmospheric picturesque, stretching along Badbrook, To its confluence with the cinema and the weavers’ strikes of 1825) Made so evident … the clock is ticking and the daylight receding, But the lessons we ignored in our schooldays still lie in our satchels, It might be William Blake now, but it’s Isaac Newton after break.
And talk of Gilbert White and his Hampshire word ‘hangar’ for woodland hanging above a coombe, And how Pitchcombe is a sort of toponymic oxymoron, And knowing when one should walk in a solitary manner or collective, With a musing over the wisdom of William Hazlitt: ‘One of the pleasantest things in the world is going on a journey; but I like to go by myself. I can enjoy society in a room, but out of doors, Nature is company enough for me. I am then never less alone than when alone … I cannot see the wit of walking and talking at the same time …’ And the relative merits of cycling and walking and how it depends on the weather – as Edward Thomas wrote: ‘It was a still morning … But not until I went out could I tell that it was softly and coldly raining. Everything more than two or three fields away was hidden. Cycling is inferior in this weather, because in cycling chiefly ample views are to be seen, and the mist conceals them. You travel too quickly to notice many small things. But walking I saw every small thing one by one.’
‘But walking I saw every small thing one by one.’
And that’s what we tried to do today.
And that’s what we try to do on every walk.
And share our practice.
Hence this post.
Just to say thank you for your company on the walk today. Inspiring and amusing, as usual. I really value our socio/historical/psychogeographic expeditions.
St Mary’s Painswick, Empire & Colonies. Just came across this bit of info – Thomas Twining, tea merchant, was born in Painswick in 1675, and in 1706 set up his first tea shop at 216 Strand, London, which was to become the home of the famous Twinings brand.
Stuart, as always after a walk I am inspired to research…
nice description of Painswick in the early 1800s here –
Extract from Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of England, 1831.
Also this about “Shepscombe Green” in the age of Ed VI
“During the insurrections in the west and other parts of the kingdom, in the reign of Edward VI., Sir Anthony Kingston, then Knight Marshall, being lord of the manor of Painswick, caused a gallows to be erected on Shepscombe Green, in this parish, for the execution of insurgents, and gave three plots of land in his lordship, since called Gallows’ lands, for the purpose of keeping in readiness a gallows, two ladders, and halters; he likewise appointed the tything-man of Shepscombe to the office of executioner, with an acre of land in the tything, as a reward for his services; a field at Shepscombe, held by the tything-man for the time being, is still known by the appellation of Hangman’s Acre.”
I suspect Shepscombe Green is Bull’s Cross, rather than the rather out of the way green in present day Sheepscombe. What do you think?
and this is a lovely page about old tracks and roads around Painswick. Fancy walking the Bisley Path from Painswick to Bisley sometime?
Summer is back today! But would yesterday’s walk have been so memorable without the mist and clouds over the hangers and Selsley?