A bit of Googling (see http://www.antipope.org/feorag/wells/hope/norfolk.html) comes up with a mention of a book by Robert Charles Hope, published in 1893 and entitled "The Legendary Lore of the Holy Wells of England including Rivers, Lakes, Fountains and Springs, Copiously Illustrated by Curious Original Woodcuts". In it he states:

"From a very early period there was an open common well for the use of the citizens a short distance from the public street; the Court of Mayoralty, in 1547, granted the parishioners of St. Laurence a lane from the High Street to the well, together with the said well, on condition that they erected a door at the south end of the lane, to be kept open in the daytime and shut securely at night. Evidently, there had been some serious if not fatal accident, or these conditions would not have been enjoined. Of Robert Gibson, a beer brewer, is recorded under April 26, 19 Eliz. (1577): This day it is also agreed by consent of this assembly that Robert Gybson shall have the little entry that goeth out of the street to St. Laurence Well, etc., with this proviso, that the same Robert shall, at his proper costs and charges, in a con-duit or cock of lead, bring the water from the said well up into the street for the use of the common people, and for the main-tenance of the same conduit or cock wherein the water shall be conveyed, etc. He erected an elaborately-adorned affair on which he caused to be inscribed the following doggerel lines recording the service he had done to his neighbours, though, at the same time, he gained some personal advantage:

This water here caught
In sorte as yowe se,
From a Spring is brought
Threskore Foot and thre.

Gybson hath it soughte
From Saynt Laurens Wel,
And his charg this wrowght
Who now here doe dwell.

Thy ease was his coste, not smal
Vouchsafed wel of those
Which thankful be his Work to se,
And thereto be no Foes."

Further digging around establishes that in the latter part of the 19th Century, local brewer Harry Bullard, of "Bullard & Sons Anchor Brewery" (later to become Sheriff, then Mayor, then knighted, then MP for Norwich in 1890 and 1895) converted it into a public drinking fountain, and incorporated it into a wall of his brewery. (See http://www.hiddenea.com/notablesprings.htm). A photograph exists of the structure in the brewery wall, facing onto Westwick St., before it was subsequently moved to the other side of the wall during the relatively recent Anchor Quay housing redevelopment. At the time of the photograph the spout was in place, and the handle was sited high up on the wall. The position of the handle leads me to question whether it was at that stage in fact a pump, as it seems more likely to me that the handle would simply have been connected to a stopcock. The photograph also demonstrates very clearly the subsequent deterioration of the structure which, thankfully, eventually led to its having a major facelift. (See the photo and further information on Robert Gybson at http://www.georgeplunkett.co.uk/.)

|Return to Thumbnail|