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Archaeology, folklore & myth of Britain's pre-christian sites & heritage: stone circles, holy wells, maypoles, tombs, archaic cosmologies and human consciousness. Everyone welcome - even Southerners!

    PEG O' NELL'S WELL or ST MARGARET'S WELL, near Waddington


    Join date : 2011-02-10
    Age : 61
    Location : Nelson - the one in Lancashire sorry to say!

    PEG O' NELL'S WELL or ST MARGARET'S WELL, near Waddington

    Post  Sunbright57 on Fri Apr 08, 2011 10:43 am

    OS grid reference SD.734 426. The well is located in the grounds of Waddow Hall close by Brungerley Bridge, near Waddington, in the Ribble Valley. The hall is just off the B 6478 road about three-quarters of a mile south-east of Waddington village. It is on private land, but you can see the well by walking along a footpath at the western side of the hall running along the banks of the River Ribble at the southern side of the hall grounds.

    The legend originates from the 18th century although the well is a preChristian spring. According to this most often told 'legend' Peg O' Nell was a servant girl at Waddow Hall. However, she often fell out with her masters, the Starkie family, often quarelling with and being disobediant to them. One night, in particular, Peg had a blazing row with Misstress Starkie after saying she didn't want to fetch water from the well; the misstress was so enraged that she shouted at the servant saying "I hope you fall and break your neck". At a later date this came true when on a particularly icy night Peg went to fetch water from the well, but on her way there she slipped on some ice and fell into the River Ribble, at a trecherous spot, and did indeed break her neck. From that time on there seems to have been a curse on the Starkie family - anything and everything that happened at the hall was blamed on Peg, or her ghost, which was now haunting the house and grounds. Misstress Starkie became so fed up with the curse that she took an axe and chopped off the head of a statue that had earlier been placed beside the well in memory of poor Peg. Thinking that by doing this the curse would come to an end, and it seems to have done just that, because afterwards peace and quiet seems to have come upon the hall.

    Another legend or tale says that Peg dwelt by the well, perhaps as a kind of sprite, but that she caused a local Puritan preacher to fall into the River Ribble. As a punishment for this dastardly trick the head of the statue was chopped off. Folklore says that a water spirit or "sprite" lived in the well which was connected underground to the nearby River Ribble.

    But the truth about this seems to be that the headless statue is that of St Margaret of Antioch who was beheaded for her faith in the early centuries of Roman rule. St Margaret's feast day was on 20th July. Apparently, her statue was brought to Waddow Hall from either Sawley Abbey or Whalley Abbey where it had stood in it's own niche, or possibly it came from a local Catholic church. The headless statue appears to be holding a bible in one hand; so it was probably placed at the side of the well in order to make the well holy and sacred to pilgrims who used to visit the site for healing purposes on the saint's day. The head of the statue used to reside in an upstairs room at the hall, but it was lost for a time, only to be re-discovered and embedded into a wall at Brungerley farm not far from the bridge.

    But we may never know what really did happen here because legend and folklore have become mixed in with other tales that may, or may not, be true. The holy well stands in a meadow in the hall grounds and is a square-shaped hollow in the ground where water still flows, possibly fed by the river close by. The statue still stands at the side; and fencing now surrounds this sacred site. The hall and grounds are still said to be haunted by a ghost, but whether it is Peg's ghost we do not know, because this particular ghost is said to be hooded ? The curse itself used to claim a victim once every seven years; the screeming spirit of Peg would rise up from the murky waters of the river on stormy nights - an animal could apparently surfice as a victim, rather than a human. This story was almost certainly made-up probably to frighten the Starkie family who it was originally aimed at.

    Waddow Hall is now a Training and Activity Centre, but it used to be a Centre for girl guides and during the second world war it was an isolation hospital.


    Hilton, J.A. - Return to Peggy's Spout.
    Nelson, Carole - Source No 6.
    Harte, J. - Rivers and Sacrifices.
    Whitaker, Terence W. - Lancashire's Ghosts and Legends, Robert Hale, London, 1980.

    Last edited by Sunbright57 on Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:07 pm; edited 1 time in total

    Join date : 2011-02-10
    Age : 61
    Location : Nelson - the one in Lancashire sorry to say!

    Peg O' Nells Well or St Margaret's Well, Brungerley Bridge, Near Waddington.

    Post  Sunbright57 on Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:29 pm

    B/w image of Peg O' Nells Well, Waddow Hall, near Waddington in the Ribble Valley.

    Join date : 2009-08-20
    Location : Yorkshire

    Re: PEG O' NELL'S WELL or ST MARGARET'S WELL, near Waddington

    Post  Paulus on Sat Apr 09, 2011 9:59 am

    Cheers again Ray! The profile link for this site is here:


    Join date : 2012-04-17


    Post  lancaster on Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:10 am

    Wadow Hall still belongs to the Guide Asspciaiton and is used extensively by Guide Associaiotn members. The legend of Peg goes back into the 1660's, and there are many different accounts of the story.

    Join date : 2011-05-29
    Location : Earby used to be in Yorkshire

    Wadow Hall

    Post  QDanT on Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:02 pm

    lancaster wrote:Wadow Hall still belongs to the Guide Asspciaiton and is used extensively by Guide Associaiotn members. The legend of Peg goes back into the 1660's, and there are many different accounts of the story.

    Hi Lancaster, thanks for the post, the main man Paulus is away at the moment so let me say welcome and it's great to get first hand information rather than stuff just copied out of a 32 year old book and not checked out
    Not about this entry but another I queried from the same poster I had this reply :-
    Sunbright57 wrote: No Danny have not been there as I don't drive.
    I rely a lot of what I read about sites from local books and they very rarely give a grid reference,
    or if they do its often not accurate.

    Have you any more information ? maybe say hello in the hello forum -- cheers Danny

    Last edited by QDanT on Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:26 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added a Ray quote)

    Out here at the perimeter, there are no stars.

    Join date : 2011-05-29
    Location : Earby used to be in Yorkshire


    Post  QDanT on Fri May 18, 2012 8:49 am

    Yorkshire Ledgens and Traditions

    ' History hath no page
    More brightly lettered of heroic dust,
    Or manly worth, or woman's nobleness,
    Than thou may'st show ; thou hast nor hill nor dale.
    But lives in legend.'

    Peg o' Nell's Well at Waddow.
    Waddow Hall is at Waddington, in the parish of
    Mitton, separated from Lancashire only by the river
    Ribble. Within the grounds of the Hall, and near the
    banks of the river, is the well from which the watersupply
    of the place is obtained, and known as * Peg o'
    Nell's Well.'Peg o' Nell was a young woman who, 'once upon a
    time,' was servant at the Hall. She had, upon a certain
    day, a bitter quarrel with her master and mistress,
    who, upon her departure to the well, to obtain the
    domestic supply of water, wished that before she came
    back she might fall and break her neck. The wish was
    realized. The ground was covered with ice, and by some
    means the girl slipped, and, falling, broke her neck.
    In order to annoy those who had wished her this
    evil, her spirit continually revisited the spot, and, with
    shrieks and hideous noises of all kinds, allowed them
    no rest, especially during the dark nights of winter.
    She became the evil genius of the neighbourhood.
    Every disagreeable noise that was heard was attributed
    to Peggy; every accident that occurred was brought
    about by Peggy. No chicken was stolen, no cow
    sickened or died, no calf was bewitched, no sheep
    strayed, no child was ill, no youth or maiden took to
    bad ways, but Peggy came to be regarded as at the
    bottom of the mischief
    In addition to inflicting these perpetual annoyances,
    she required, every seventh year, a life to be sacrificed
    to appease her. The story was—as told by R. Dobson
    in his ' Rambles on the Ribble '—that unless ' Peg's
    Night '—as the time of sacrifice, at the end of every
    seventh year, was called—was duly observed by the
    inhabitants of the place, and some living animal duly
    slain and offered, the life of a human being would
    certainly be taken before the morning.
    One wild winter's night, when the winds blew in
    fitful gusts, and beat the rain against windows, a young
    man had stayed, at a neighbouring inn, longer than wasgood for him, but yet he boastfully declared, that he
    must cross the river and be in Clitheroe that night.
    Efforts to induce him not to brave the storm, and the
    sv^^ollen river, were vain. To clench them, however,
    the maidservant of the inn reminded him, that it was
    Peg o' Nell's night, and no life had yet been sacrificed
    to her ; he must not therefore go.
    He cared not for Peg o' Nell; he laughed at the
    superstition as to her demands, and, giving his horse
    the rein, was ^soon at the riverside. There was then
    no bridge, as now, but only a ford, and the ' hippins
    over which, long years before, Henry VI. had essayed
    his flight. Next morning horse and rider were found
    drowned. How the accident happened no one knew
    —no eye saw it ; but no one doubted but that Peg o'
    Nell had exacted her septennial tribute.
    By her well stood a statue, in later years, headless.
    It is said to have come into this condition by the malevolence
    of one of her victims. Having suffered from
    her evil influence, in some way or other, the injured
    man seized a hatchet, and ran, and, in his blind fury,
    aimed a blow at the statue, which effectually decapitated
    it. Whether this act destroyed the power of
    Peg for evil, or her malevolence died a gradual death,
    records say not. But certain it is, that her deeds of
    terror ceased, and she, her night, and her demand of
    life, are well-nigh forgotten. A substantial bridge was
    in due time built over the river at * Bungerley Hippins,'
    and travellers now pass and repass the swollen river
    with safety. This may have had much to do, with the
    death of the superstition, as to the septennial tribute
    exacted before.

    Out here at the perimeter, there are no stars.

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    Re: PEG O' NELL'S WELL or ST MARGARET'S WELL, near Waddington

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