The Red Lodge Well

Posted on by Lauren MacCarthy.

In 2010, workmen in a downstairs room of the Red Lodge Museum discovered a well that was covered over by a brick capping. It was so well hidden that nobody had known of its existence.

Image of a Red front door and red signThe Red Lodge well was probably dug at the same time as the house was built, in 1580, when it would have been outside the house.

Some 50 years later the house had been extended over the well although we do not know when people stopped using it. A private water supply was a valuable resource and the well may have been in use until Bristol Water brought piped water to the city in the middle of the 19th century.

Cavers descending the well noticed the remains of oak timbers set into the walls. These would have been used by the Elizabethans during construction. A caver sawed off one of these oak stumps and dendochronology (the study of growth-rings in trees) confirmed that it dated from the 16th century. This is probably the first time that a well has been dated using dendochronology.

The newly restored Red Lodge well with lighting and perspex coverThe well is 12.4 metres deep (just over 40 feet) and its water level varies. When it was found the water was six metres deep (nearly 20 feet). If you are at the bottom of the hill, at the Bristol Beacon’s back door, you are at about the same level as the bottom of the well.

The men who built the Red Lodge well were working with extremely hard stone (rocks of the Quartzitic Sandstone Group) in a dangerous environment. They knew how far they would have to dig through the hard rock to reach the water table and obtain a good supply of clean water for the household. The water has been analysed and it is of good quality.

You can watch a documentary about the discovery of the well which includes film footage of its exploration.

Thanks to the Ibstock Cory Environmental Trust, Bristol Water plc, and Dendochronological Consultancy Ltd whose support made the investigation and display of the Red Lodge Well possible.


7 comments on “The Red Lodge Well

  1. Nigel Peter Wilby

    I never knew it existed


  2. Maggie blackmore

    Interesting find I must come again for a visit.


  3. Emily

    It did not exist when we visited the lodge in 2005..


  4. Elaine

    How fantastic. I received the Bristol Museums email which had a link to this. Having these prompts to read the online stuff while we are all indoors and have the time is great. I am making a list of what I will go to see when it is open again .


  5. Mike Graves

    Which company did the work the cover the well and build in lights underneath? I have a similar well in my cellar and would like to make it as ornamental as your one.


    1. Lauren MacCarthy Author

      Hi Mike, we used Cliveden Conservation for the whole project as well as a couple of companies to make the glass cover and the hoop that held it in place. These were Specialist Glass Laminates Ltd and KRF Fabrications. We hope that is helpful.


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