This ancient well was also known as Nancy’s or Mary’s Well and is thought to have originally been near what is now a triangular traffic island in the road junction of the Ledbury and Welland Roads, marked by a large electricity pylon.
In the 12th century this was an important spring water source and is said to have fed the nearby Benedictine Priory of Little Malvern established in 1127, and may still be one of the supplies to their old fishponds. During 19th century when the main road was improved and a Tollhouse built here, the well was lost and the waters were contained inside underground tanks. But some nearby cottages still have the supply and it also emerges as streams lower down the hill. Charles Grindrod (writer & a friend of Elgar) reported that in much earlier times the water was regularly collected by an old lady who took it by cart to sell in Worcester. Could this have been Nancy or Mary?
According to Chambers’ “A General History of Malvern”, published in 1817; – “There is a spring called Ditchford’s Well, which rises in an ash coppice, about five hundred yards from Little Malvern church, on the Ledbury Road. This spring, we are informed, is the original one, and that it was noticed long before Holy Well, when an ancient dame conveyed the water in bottles to Worcester … this well has also been called Mary’s and Nancy’s Well, all of which names have been presumed to be belonging to the woman who carried the water of this spring, in bottles, on horseback, to Worcester.” This villager probably collected the water in the early 17th century as it would have been much in demand in the city during the severe national drought of 1615, when it was reported that Malvern’s springs kept flowing. Holy Well was only becoming famous by the 1620’s when it’s thought water was first bottled there, perhaps for the same reason.