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Sacred Springs

20 21 St Margarets Well is found in Binsey churchyard, across Port Meadow, the marshy common land northwest of Oxford. A legend tells that St Frideswide was pursued here by an un welcome suitor, King Algar. He was struck blind for his boldness, but St Frideswide prayed to St Margaret and a miraculous spring rose from the ground. She used the water to cure his blindness, and founded an oratory where pilgrims subsequently came for healing. The prayers of saints have often brought forth healing water see also St Hildas Well, page 36. St Frideswides legend is illustrated in the beautiful BurneJones stained glass window glowing with rich colours in Christ Church, Oxford, which shows sixteen scenes from her life. More recently, the well has become famous for a different reason it is the original Treacle Well mentioned in the curious tale told by the Dormouse in Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. It is interesting to note that in medieval times treacle was a healing fluid, an antidote to poisoning. To the northwest may be found Fair Rosamonds Well, in the beautiful setting of Blenheim Park, and the Ladys Well at Wilcote is found in Wychwood Forest. On the other side of Oxford is St Bartholomews Well, in the churchyard at Cowley. The taking of its waters would allow the penitent forty days less in Purgatory, before they finally reached heaven. ST mARGARETS WEll Binsey, Oxfordshire
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