One famous Malvern water site is the Eye Well, now only a tiny bubbling pool of water on the hills directly above the Holy Well in Malvern Wells, but long renowned for its healing of diseased livers, kidney stones and other ailments as well as eyes.
“A little more I’ll of their curing tell,
How they help sore eyes with a new found well;
Great speech of Malvern Hills was lately reported,
Unto which spring people in troops resorted.”
(‘Breviary of the Eye’ by Richard Bannister, 1622)
In the 18th century Dr John Wall analysed the purity of Malvern’s spring waters when treating his patients at Worcester Infirmary and developing English bone china in Worcester, now Royal Worcester Porcelain. He raised subscriptions from the gentry to make the springs “more commodious” for the public and the profits from his book “Experiments and Observations on the Malvern Water” published in 1756,
“were devoted to assisting the many needy sick who came for treatment.”
(F.C. Morgan, Public Librarian, Malvern c.1930)
Among the many healing wells, the most commonly claimed cures seem to be for complaints affecting the eyes. A woman with her eyes so inflamed that she could not see, went to this respected physician. “He advised her to visit the Eye Well and following a week of bathing her eyes in its water her sight was ‘so much recovered that she could see a Flea leaping on her bed’.”
(Dr John W. Harcup, ‘The Malvern Water Cure’ 1992.)
At a time when the level of the unpleasant taste of minerals in waters was believed to signify their power to heal, Dr Wall promoted the unusually clean taste and purity of Malvern water as its healing power and this attracted many famous people to the town long before the 19th century commercial ‘water cure’ treatments. He is popularly remembered in the rhyme, “The Malvern water, says Dr John Wall,
is famed for containing just nothing at all.”
According to a Mr Wickham, the Eye Well was a much more prolific source until the 19th century, when seeking to pipe the water to his home, a local resident struck the ground with a pick axe only to see the water disappear completely.”Mr Bennett says that owing to such experiences owners of springs in Malvern are always very careful how they interfere with springs. It is the brashy nature of Malvern rock which causes such an occurrence.”
(Wells & Springs of Worcestershire 1930)
The Eye Well later reappeared. “The water oozes out of the Archaen rock, but owing to the path functioning as a dam the ‘well’ is now simply a little morass.” (Wells & Springs of Worcestershire 1930) A little more of the water seems to have returned and this spring is now regularly cared for and dressed annually by its Malvern Spa Association Well Warden.