EASTBOURNE: HOLY WELL

The chalybeate springs at Holywell, a short distance west of the Sea Houses, are highly worthy the attention of the visitor. The quality of the water is said intimately to resemble the far-famed springs of Clifton, and it has been found highly beneficial in many of the diseases for which the mineral waters of Bristol are almost deemed a specific.

The analysis, however, proves them to consist of simple, but very fine, surface water. "Not far distant there was a chapel dedicated to St. Gregory. Tradition states that the French, in one of their marauding expeditions, landed here, burnt the chapel and carried off its bell to some church in Normandy. The chroniclers are silent as to this event.
    - History of Sussex, Horsfield, 1831, vol. I., 291. Sussex, by Lower, 1870, vol. I., 151. Suss. Arch. Coll., xiv. 125.

As water was the most sacred substance of the old religions, and essential to the location of an altar, it follows that certain blind springs and water lines determine the exact position of the altar. (p.165)

As to the selection of sites, the early Christian missionaries were charged by Pope Gregory the Great, and by certain other churchmen, to take over pagan sacred places or fana whereon to build their churches after the destruction of heathen idols. When the site had been selected, the first step would have been to make a plan of its geodetic lines and blind springs. This would show the architect exactly where he could or could not locate the various parts of his structure, and his problem would be to design it in compliance within the geodetic conventions, but also in as rectangular and apparently functional and logical a manner as possible, such as would not disclose the principles which had dictated any necessary deviations from the norm. (p.163)
    - Antiquity, Volume XXII, 1890, p.255-6

Some dowsers of experience are able to operate without a divining rod. However, it is better to use one. The diviner without a rod "feels" nothing in the ordinary sense, but "knows" whether or not he is on a water line. He can even follow zigzag lines without much difficulty. I have frequently worked without a rod and have never been wrong in my results, yet I never feel absolutely sure of them until I have checked the same ground with a rod.

A good divining rod should be instantaneous in reaction and capable, as is the dowser's twig, of making complete rotations. It should be steady when the dowser is walking, and should respond only to movements of the hands in a certain direction - those caused by the twisting and untwisting of the wrists. Some dowsers use a piece of clock spring held between finder and thumb at each end and twisted into a loop in the middle. The loop will run from one hand to the other when an underground stream is crossed. A piece of wire acts in the same manner. Either of these may be used for the sake of being different, but they cannot compare with the efficiency of the twig or a sensitive rod. Elm shoots, even tough stems of flowering grass, have been known to give results.

The oldest known divining rod is the Lituus, which is a straight twig twisted into the form of a spiral. Its efficiency is not great, but its spiral form must have made it seem appropriate for religious use, since from the earliest times this has been a universal religious symbol of the greatest importance, and one usually associated with water. This symbol has been found on pottery dated c. 4000 B.C. Later, one was allegedly used by Romulus in laying out the boundaries of Rome. (pp. 32-33)
    - Guy Underwood, The Pattern of the Past, Abacus edition, pub. 1972

< Back