This is one of a cluster of three ‘lost’ wells around Haywell Walk, at the bottom of the flight of steps behind Warwick House, on the southerly A449 entrance to Great Malvern. The ancient Hay Well still exists but is sadly covered over by a driveway and car park belonging to the Baptist Church built here in 1894.
This well is thought to have originally sustained the hermit Aldwin and later supplied the monks in the Benedictine Priory that he established here in 1085, enabling the first settlement of Great Malvern to begin. “Hay” is the Anglo Saxon word for an enclosure or forest clearing for animals and 18th century maps show the Hay Well above a pond in just such a clearing called South Field, not far from the Priory.
“On the other side of the road and at the end of a little walk, hid away under some wet haired willows, is the Hay Well, the most abundant of the many springs that come oozing and bubbling out of the bowels of the Malvern Hills. It is a round basin, some five or six feet deep, about the circumference of a cart-wheel, and like a punchbowl in everything but the potency of the beverage it contains.” (Three Weeks in Wet Sheets by Joseph Leech 1851)
In the 1960`s the rim of the Hay Well was briefly uncovered beneath concrete foundations during building work, but the waters can still be heard and glimpsed flowing underground from a tank behind the Church. Its flow emerges in Priory Park as a tiny crescent shaped pool, then as the ornamental stream, which in turn feeds the lake of Swan Pool, originally the Benedictine Priory fishpond. (extract from Malvern “Hill of Fountains” by Rose Garrard © 2006)