Reviving an ancient tradition in Craven

Saxon Holy WellAlmost fifty people have taken part in a pilgrimage to an ancient Saxon holy well at Thornton on Craven near Skipton, continuing the revival of an ancient tradition.

The Saxon well at St. Mary’s was restored in 2006 and a regular annual pilgrimage began in 2008, held each year on the second Saturday of July. This year the rain held off and individuals and parish groups from the area gathered for a Sung Eucharist, before processing to the holy well for the curiously named Sprinkling service. The well is situated in the lower part of the churchyard and was also the location of the original font and church. The present church of St. Mary’s was built later,  higher up the hill.

At the sprinkling service, the water is given to each person, first to drink, then with a sign of the cross on the forehead, then poured over the outstretched hands. 

Rector, the Revd Canon Nicholas Turner said, “There is nothing magic in the water, though in the eighteenth century it may have been credited with healing properties, but it is a reminder of our baptism, and of Christ's power - John 4, Jesus at Jacob's well with the woman of Samaria,  is our principal text, ending with the words, 'Lord, give me this water.'”

Among those who came were parish groups from St Chad's Bradford and St James, Haydock, and together with friends from as far away as Wakefield and Huddersfield. 

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