A ‘lost’ spring that can be seen again today as it has recently emerged above Swanpool in the southern end of Priory Park, beside the lower end of the Hay Well stream, where it congeals in a small puddle of rather unsightly rusty water looking like sewage effluent, before trickling into the clear stream.
The hidden source of this Malvern spring with its unique high iron content is thought to arise near Malvern Priory and was known in the 18th century as the ‘Dog Well’. The water was said to cure many things, to strengthen “a weak state of the body” as well as helping nervous complaints, worms and even melancholia when taken regularly but cautiously in small amounts on the spot. It could not be stored as it deteriorated once in contact with air and was not recommended for pregnant women.
At first recorded in a hollow in a meadow belonging to the Priory, by the early 19th century it trickled over a stone carved in the shape of leaves where it left a rust coloured deposit. Later the spring was taken into private ownership and could be found in a small cave enclosed by locked iron railings. Although it continued to be known for the healing properties of its mineral contents, it became neglected and the spring was lost for a number of years. It was rediscovered in about 1825 and improvements were made by the owner to dig it out and provide a well house, thought to have been on the site of Spa Cottage in Priory Road. The cottage and access to the spring outflow was then bought by the hydro-therapist Dr Wilson, while in order to access the water Dr Gully built a bath-house for his patients on a piece of land directly above it, thought to now be the cottage garden. The cottage can still be found beside the alleyway just below Swanpool where the water still flows. (RG 2007)