The White Spring Water Temple is one of the most remarkable sacred spaces in Glastonbury. Appreciation for it is rapidly growing. It is housed in a nineteenth century Water Board pump house building and represents a magnificent reclaiming of a despoiled heritage. The raising of the building, brought about by outbreaks of cholera and the need to secure clean water, had been unpopular with local antiquarians as it destroyed an area of great beauty and archaeological significance. Stories told of monk’s cells at the bottom of the Tor slopes and tantalising remains of foundations could be seen. It was surely the case that use of the site stretched back into prehistoric times.
The water flowing from a spring set slightly back in the Tor hill contained minerals that left a slightly white deposit behind. That such a place could be found immediately adjacent to what is now called the Chalice Well, producer of a notably red-tinged water, would have marked the vicinity as potentially sacred even without the huge additional factor of it being situated at the foot of the Tor. The whole locale would have probably been seen as a unity.
A charming recollection by George Wright in1896 gives us an idea of how the area looked before the Well House was built. ‘There was a small copse of bushes on the right hand running up the hill, and through it could be, not seen, but heard, the rush of running water, which made itself visible as it poured into the lane. But the lane itself was beautiful, for the whole bank was a series of fairy dropping wells – little caverns clothed with moss and verdure, and each small twig and leaf was a medium for the water to flow, drop, drop, drop into a small basin below. This water contained lime, and pieces of wood or leaves subject to this dropping became encrusted with a covering of lime. For a long time I attended those pretty caverns with affectionate care, and Well House Lane was an object of interest to all our visitors.’
The calciferous deposits in the water led to it gradually blocking pipes so the functionality of the pump house was compromised and it was closed down. This ultimately proved to be a blessing. Today the old building is a grotto of the ancient mysteries, a place of unique atmosphere.
Deities of the area are honoured with shrines to Brigit and the Horned God, both featuring superb large artwork by Wendy Andrews.
The famous story of St Collen encountering Gwyn, the Lord of the Faery realm can be appreciated here perhaps even more strongly than on the top of the Tor where the two are said to have met. The archaic uncanny atmosphere of the White Spring, a place of the candlelit darkness of the womb of mother earth, brings the mood of the tale alive and transforms our appreciation for it. The faery folk may well exist in another dimension near to our own that we may occasionally access. Here is a place that helps to make this wild idea easier to believe. Come and appreciate this for yourself.
On the outside of the building is a tap where visitors and locals can collect the water of the White Spring.
For more information on The White Spring visit their website.