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Sacred Springs

40 41 The Holy Well of St Marys in bustling Willesden is found within the peace of the church, rising in a pump. This is another well that rises under a church see also St Oswalds Well, page 30. The poet Sir John Betjeman is known to have used the water for its healing qualities. This pilgrimage site is unique because of its association with a statue of the Black Virgin. The original was burnt, as were so many others, at the Reformation, but it was replaced in 1972 by a new one beautifully carved from black limewood. While London does not appear to be the most obvious place to find holy wells there were many at one time. The River Fleet, now covered by roads and buildings around Fleet Street, was also known as the River of Wells, and place names such as Clerkenwell remind us of their presence. Sadlers Wells opera house is built over the site of the holy well of St Johns Priory, and later named after Thomas Sadler who uncovered it and turned it into a successful spa. Some of the most famous London wells are buried under railway stations St Chads Well was lost when the Metropolitan Railway was built, Bagnigge Wells is under busy Kings Cross station and neighbouring Pancras Wells is under St Pancras Station. However, there is still an ornate nineteenth century fountain in Well Walk, marking the site of the famous Hampstead Spa. hOly WEll Of ST mARyS Willesden, London
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