John Burnard, Our Chairman (17th May 2017)

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For our April meeting we welcomed Mr Terry Faull from North Petherwin. He gave a slide show and talk at the Molesworth Arms entitled The History of The Forgotten Garden and The Holy Well of Lewtrenchard.

He told us that the earliest information of a Holy Well at Lewtrenchard is an entry made in the parish register for 1830 by the then curate Caddy Thomas.

He wrote that the Holy Well behind the church has been re-erected and formerly its water was used for baptisms at the font.

In 1872 Sabine Barring-Gould inherited the Lew estate. He then came back to Lewtrenchard and took on the living as rector. Soon after the well was knocked over during tree felling and buried.

In early 2006 Terry Faull gave a talk to the local history society, Lewdown Past, which included how he had attempted to find the Holy Well but to no avail.

He and a few others struggled though the undergrowth of the Glen behind the church to try and trace the well, they did not find it but did find traces of an old garden and various water features such as ponds and waterfalls.

It is understood that The Glen came about as a result of quarrying the stone to build the former rectory, now the Lewtrenchard Hotel.

Sabine was a complicated man, he was credited with writing the Hymn Onward Christian Soldiers but he had no time for the Methodists who were a strong force at the time. How he would have felt today when this hymn is being sung by Methodists and others all over the world I shudder to think.

He also wrote over one hundred books ranging from novels to two biographies.

He planted the garden in 1913 and rebuilt the well, as a record in his Family Bible stated, “Built Holy Well in The Glen”.  This would tie in with the Garden being created at the same time.

Sabine made the garden so that his wife Grace, who suffered from arthritis could take more exercise to try and help her condition.

Many of the employees went to serve in the first world war and the garden became neglected.

So it was that it continued to go back to nature over the next ten decades until The Friends of Lewtrenchard became involved and the garden was restored and the Holy Well also.

The garden is situated opposite The Lewtrenchard Hotel, by the Church. Admission is free and the total site covers some five acres including woodland. There are gravel paths around the garden and a car park. Also the newly rebuilt Holy Well.

If you want a treat go and have a look for yourselves; I am sure you will not be disappointed.

Our thanks to the Molesworth Arms for hosting us and to Terry Faull for his interesting evening.

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