- wishing wells
- A popular custom nowadays is to throw *coins into water, making a wish. It is obviously related to offerings at holy and healing *wells, and may well be equally old, though less fully documented; in 19th-century Shropshire and Herefordshire there were wells into which people dropped pebbles or *pins while making a wish in a ritualistic way - in silence, or at midnight, or drinking water from one's hand and tossing the rest at a particular stone (Burne, 1883: 422-9; Leather, 1912: 13). The OED's first record for the term 'wishing well' is from 1792.This behaviour is often actively publicized and encouraged, to amuse tourists and/or raise money for charity or for the upkeep of a museum, beauty spot, etc. In most cases, the water is clear and shallow, showing the offerings of previous visitors, and the 'well' is often a man-made fountain or artificial pool. Among innumerable and very varied examples may be mentioned the ancient hot springs at Bath, an old mill at Bibury (Gloucestershire), the cascades at Gatwick Airport, and a former baptismal pool in a church converted to a pub in Worthing (Sussex) JS]. At Bibury, a notice offers two *origin stories: first, that whenever ancient Romans crossed water, they threw silver coins in; secondly, that 'It is told that a poor mill worker dropped his meagre wages into a millstream. He was unable to find his money, but on looking for his money next day he found a purse of gold sovereigns. Every time he passed the stream again he threw in a coin, and his luck continued to improve.'
A Dictionary of English folklore. Jacqueline Simpson & Steve Roud. 2014.
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wells — Healing or holy wells are rarer in England than in Scotland, Wales, or Ireland; even so, almost 200 are extant, and hundreds more once existed, as indicated on old documents. Those that remain are often regarded as *wish ing wells. They are… … A Dictionary of English folklore
wishing well — UK [ˈwɪʃɪŋ ˌwel] / US noun [countable] Word forms wishing well : singular wishing well plural wishing wells a well or pool of water that you throw money into so that you can make a wish … English dictionary
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