On the outskirts of the town of Leek in the Staffordshire Moorlands can be found a very old well which has possibly been used for thousands of years, and even today it is visited by individuals and groups where they perform rites and make offerings to its healing waters.
The well which is also known as Lady of the dale well is quite difficult to find as it doesn’t appear on the ordnance survey maps of the area. I was able to find it in the latest edition of the A-Z street atlas of Stoke-on-Trent. I followed the A520 out of Leek towards Cheddleton, then I took a left turn onto Ashenhurst way, this took me through a housing estate. When the road drops down into a dip and narrows you can see a public footpath sign on your left, if you follow this path it will lead you to the well which is around 400 yards along this path.
It may be a coincidence, however the footpath which leads to Ladydale well can also be found to lead to the Egg well at Bradnop, so maybe in the past sick people would make a journey from one well to another to take advantage of their healing waters. It has been speculated that at one time there existed a Christian Chapel dedictaed to the Virgin Mary at Ladydale which would account for the name.
However the healing waters at this spot have been used for thousands of years and do in fact pre-date Christianity. The stone well head is said to depict a date of 1855, however upon close inspection I believe it shows 1851 although the number 8 does seem to resemble a 2 as can be seen in the photograph.
In more modern times the well became known locally as the weavers well as the silk weavers would come to bathe their tired eyes after a hard days work in the silk mills. It is said that members of the St Mary’s church which can be found close to this area would attend a ceremony once a year when the waters would be blessed and hymns sung, however even though the art of well dressing is still alive, this custom of blessing the waters of Ladydale has now died out.
During the Middle ages the well was known as Lady Wall Dale. In more recent times property developers have tried to build on this land and thankfully local protesters managed to win the fight to protect this beautiful countryside and well for future generations. The well was granted a GradeII listing on the 2nd of February 1995.