Robin Hood’s Well was first recorded by local antiquary Roger Dodsworth as ‘Robbinhood-well’ in 1622, but the above well-house in the form of a rustic dome was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh for the Earl of Carlisle in the early eighteenth century. It stands in a lay-by on the south bound side of the A1, (which can be seen in the background) near its original location, having been moved from its spring of water to make way for the modern dual carriageway. The spring on which the well was situated has been capped off; Hunter suggested the Skell was the source, ( South Yorkshire, Vol II, pp. 457, 487) and this is probably from where the villages of Skelbrooke and Skellow derived their names. The original site of the well appears to have been on the north side of this tiny river, opposite where the lodge gate cottages of Skelbrooke Hall stood before the road was widened. Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was one of the most famous halting-places on the Great North Road, celebrated by many travellers, but the hamlet with two good inns of the early nineteenth century has now disappeared. A spirited if not entirely accurate ‘history’ of the well is given by Joseph Hunter.
Hidden in woodland alongside the A638 at Hampole is Little John’s Well. First recorded in 1838, this may mark the spread of the legend rather than a genuine association, although it is in the right area for an early derivation. Like Robin Hood’s Well not far away, this spring no longer carries water, turned dry in recent times as a result of quarrying behind it. The vertical stone marking the spring shows signs of antiquity, and could possibly be a Roman gravestone, whilst the collecting basin, badly damaged by vehicles, is 18th century. (Eric Houlder, British Archaeology, Issue no 48, October 1999)
The first paragraph contains information found in Rymes of Robyn Hood, Dobson and Taylor, p. 310, and A History and Guide to the Parish Church of St. Michael And All Angels, Skelbrooke, Canon Stanley K Reynolds, Former Rector of Skelbrooke, (1992).
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