Clarborough & Welham Community
near Retford, Bassetlaw
North Nottinghamshire
United Kingdom

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Welham History
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A hamlet next to Clarborough, Welham has a long and sometimes distinguished history. This first article, written by a couple who have lived there for some time, first appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of Clarborough & Welham Newsletter:

Where is The Well in Welham?

Apparently this is a question that has been posed to Clarborough & Welham Newsletter's Editor, Greg.

Well according to several articles that I have managed to obtain it is here at our house, “Well House” in what is now Bonemill Lane (formerly Wellhouse Lane). Undoubtedly, the original part of the house is the Spa that was built by John Hutchinson in the early 1700’s. As quoted by Arthur Mee in “The Kings England Nottinghamshire “ in 1938 “Below the floor of a cottage on the lane to Welham is the once renowned well which gave that village its name. A flight of steps goes down to the water in a stone basin 12 feet square.” I am sure that many of the residents aged over 40 and still living here will be able to confirm following the school outings that used to visit here.

John Piercy wrote in 1828 “The History of Retford in the County of Nottingham as follows “Welham, or the Hamlet of the Well, is supposed to have derived its name from a once celebrated spring (St Johns Well) near the place, which was formed into a large bath, and still remains entire; during the early part of last century, it was famous for many cures, but latterly it has lost much of its celebrity. The late John Hutchinson, Esq. erected a cottage adjoining and enclosed the bath, to reserve it from injury. Here was, until lately a feast , or fair, held annually on St John’s day, to which the neighbouring villagers resorted to enjoy such rural sports as fancy might dictate. Cold baths like this were formerly regarded with superstitious reverence, being supposed to possess a sovereign remedy for agues, rheumatism, &c.” (probably they were also welcome after the flights of fancy)

I would like to thank local historian Ross Parish for giving me the above references during his research visit. Other items that emerged during my research were that Arthur Robert Garland of Welham Hall purchased from the deceased estate of John Henry Hutchinson of Clarborough Hall acres 117.3.16 along with Well House Cottage and garden for the sum of £3200 on 16/10/1910. He then sold the cottage and garden to Fred Anderson on 5/11/1910 for £130. This was subsequently bought by the late Mr Eric Durham on 14/10/1955, later to be purchased by myself on 27/3/1975

Further articles in the Retford Times of 14/6/57 & 2/7/70 give much of the above information along with the other points of interest. The Domesday book refers to Wellun (at the spring), this changed to Wellum by 1166 and by the 16th century had become Wellom but in Chapman and Andres map of Nottinghamshire in 1775 was shown as Welham. By 1830 the spring had lost much of its popularity as railways became widespread opening up travel to the warmer if not more effective spas. The water was originally taken internally and indeed prior to mains water in 1938 served as the water source to the local farms and cottages. One such house was Hopfield Cottage where hops were grown for malting -  they can still be found in the local hedgerows (including here at Well House).

The secret behind the power of the water is its very high mineral content as it soaks through the gypsum in Clarborough hills. It is drinkable, but only in small quantities, as it is very high in magnesium and sulphate (the predominate ingredients of Andrews Liver Salts). It is quite chalky to taste flat but is very pleasant to drink if aerated. Other tales we have been able to glean from locals are that the lane used to be virtually a tunnel as the hedgerows joined above. Also it is believed that a Vicar of Babworth died of a heart attack while taking the very cold water. We would very much appreciate any further information that any readers are able to give us.

The spring today is diverted round the house and can be seen pouring out into the dyke halfway down our garden. It is still very prolific at several gallons per minute which does not reduce even in the driest of summers.

Glyn & Jenny Whelan

This article appeared in the Spring 2012 Issue of Clarborough & Welham Newsletter. For current and back issues of the Newsletter, click here.