The Upwey Wishing Well
Location: Upwey, Weymouth
The Wishing Well at Upwey is a natural spring and source of the River Wey. The tradition as a wishing well is said to have begun as a visitor attraction in the early 20th century.
Visitors would often participate in the ritual by taking a few sips of well water from a glass. And throwing the rest of the water backwards over their left shoulder while wishing.
The Wishing Well waters are thought to also have healing properties especially in the healing of sore eyes.
George III often visited the village of Upwey during his stay at Weymouth. He was particularly attracted by the spring that it is said that this caused a seat to be set nearby for his use. It is also said that the gold cup that the king drank the spring water from later became the Ascot Gold Cup.
The origins of the tradition are alternatively said to lie in pagan tradition or in giving thanks for the purity of the water drawn from certain wells during the period of the Black Death. It is often said to have originated in Tissington, Derbyshire, though other claims can be made for Eyam and Stoney Middleton. Whatever its origins it was historically a custom exclusive in England to the Peak District of Derbyshire.
Well dressing was introduced to Upwey in 1986. Some Derbyshire Ladies who moved to the area started the tradition of dressing the well, as per Derbyshire custom. Thus The wishing Well is now dressed each year at May Day. A collection is made for a charity or local good cause.
Footnote: Access to the well is via the Wishing Well Tea Rooms: 01305 814470, open 10am to 5pm every day April to August, Tuesday to Sunday out of season.