Stock Well, Clitheroe

In the shadow of Clitheroe’s Trinity Methodist Church is the site of an old well called Stock Well. The sign closeby remarks that it is one of three within the ancient borough, and is first referenced in 1645, perhaps in relation to the civil wars, when towns’ water supplies took on a greater significance. It goes on to explain that it was covered over in 1880, around 30 years after piped water was brought to the town, on account of two children who fell in and nearly drowned. It is good to know that health and safety was a concern to some Victorians as well as ourselves.

As I passed by, I pondered the significance. A well is a place of life and refreshment, but to a later generation, a useless place of death and danger. Where once life was nourished, life was later harmed and almost extinguished. Unfortunately, this happens with many Christian denominations, including the Methodists by whose chapel the old well sits, and the Congregationalists like ourselves. While once our pulpits preached sins’ forgiveness by Christ’s shed blood through God’s undeserved grace, we slowly switched our emphasis onto good works, morality, charity, and Jesus being a good example, merely showing us how to live. May we avoid falling into such traps; may we also avoid creating them. Old wells become polluted; we must constantly tend to them and ensure the water they give is good and wholesome. 

A righteous man who falters before the wicked is like a murky spring and a polluted well. Proverbs 25:26

How welcome to the soul oppressed,
In sorrow’s vale, by raging thirst,
Scorched by the sun’s meridian beam,
Is the sweet well of Bethlehem!

Prophets of old, and saints the same,
In every age, of every name,
Drank of this soul-reviving stream,
The water sweet of Bethlehem.

Water so pure, or half so good,
From nature’s fountains never flowed;
There’s curse and death in every stream,
Save in the well of Bethlehem.

Wide as the stretch of human woe,
Those death-consuming waters flow;
Spring up, O well! be this my theme,
Thou water sweet from Bethlehem.

To cheer when faint, when sick to heal,
Its wondrous virtues must prevail;
My sins to crush, my fears to quell,
Spring up, O stream! from Bethlehem’s well.

When nature sinks beneath her load,
Amidst the din of Jordan’s flood;
With this my every fear dispel,
One sip of Bethlehem’s sacred well.

J. Kent, 1091, Gadsby's Hymns