St. Margaret's Well Oxford

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St Margaret's well Oxdford


Oxford, renowned globally for its esteemed university, also prides itself on its deep-seated Oxfordshire history. One of the lesser-known, yet equally enthralling Oxford things to do, is a visit to the legendary St. Margaret’s Well in the charming hamlet of Binsey. Tucked near the Church of St. Margaret of Antioch, this well intertwines history, folklore, and literature into a fascinating narrative.Along with oxford things to do like the Ashmolean museum oxford port meadow are all free things to do.

Things to do st margaret well oxford

The Enigmatic Well in the Heart of Oxford

St. Margaret’s Well, located adjacent to the Church of St. Margaret of Antioch, attracts thousands of visitors annually. The well’s captivating history and its alleged curative properties make it a unique feature among numerous Oxfordshire landmarks.its also one of the great free things to do oxford

The Legend of St. Frideswide

Healing at a well in oxford

Although it carries the name of St. Margaret, the well’s creation and its believed miraculous healing properties are linked with a different saint, St. Frideswide. Born in the 12th century, Frideswide was the daughter of King Didan of Mercia and later established a monastery in Oxford, which is now known as St Frideswide Farm.

Despite her vow of celibacy, she found herself the object of affection of a Mercian prince named Algar. When Algar, undeterred by her rejections, arrived in Oxford during the Middle Ages intending to abduct her, Frideswide fled to the marshlands west of Oxford.

The Divine Intervention

Frideswide’s story takes a miraculous turn at Binsey. When Algar found Frideswide, he and his men were struck by lightning, blinding them instantly. Despite Algar’s ill intentions, Frideswide prayed for their sight to be restored. Answering her prayers, a holy well sprang up at her feet. Its waters, known as theriac, had the power to heal the men from blindness.

The holy well has since been revered for its curative properties. It is said to have healed countless individuals of their ailments, particularly lameness and eye problems. As a testament to its miraculous abilities, the church was once adorned with the crutches of those who found healing in the well’s waters.

A blind king algar of leicester in oxford

The Curse of St. Frideswide

The events surrounding Prince Algar gave rise to a superstition known as the ‘Curse of Saint Frideswide.’ According to legend, any king who entered Oxford with violent intent would inevitably meet an untimely end. Several kings, including Harold I and Harold II, are believed to have fallen prey to this curse.he online book shops industry.

St. Margaret's Well Through the Ages

oxford healing well restored

The holy well, despite its destruction in the 17th century, was reconstructed during the Victorian era. While it no longer draws the vast crowds of pilgrims on a pilgrimage it once did, it continues to captivate those seeking a unique exploration of Oxford’s history.

The Well's Literary Fame

Alice in oxford treacle well

Apart from its historic and spiritual significance, St. Margaret’s Well also holds a special place in the realm of literature. Lewis Carroll, inspired by the well, mentioned it as the ‘Treacle Well’ in his renowned book, ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ Here, ‘treacle’ is a play on ‘trickle,’ a term used in the medieval period to denote healing. This inspiration has made St. Margaret’s Well a literary landmark.

Integrating the Well into Literary Tours

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Given its significance in the world of literature, Saint Margaret’s Well is a highlight of any literary-themed “walking tour” in Oxford. It provides a unique stop that complements visits to other Carroll-related sites, such as the Christ Church College and the Alice’s Shop. For those crafting an itinerary around “what to do in Oxford in one day,” including this well ensures a blend of literary exploration and historical discovery.

A Tranquil Escape from the City

Despite its proximity to Oxford’s city center, Saint Margaret’s Well offers a tranquil escape from the urban hustle. The journey to the well, typically a 45-minute walk from the heart of Oxford, is an experience in itself. The path winds through picturesque landscapes and quiet country lanes, setting the stage for a serene and reflective visit.

Best Times to Visit and Practical Tips

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To fully immerse in the experience, a visit to Saint Margaret’s Well is best planned for the morning hours. This timing allows visitors to enjoy the site in relative solitude, enhancing the sense of connection to its history and lore. Practical considerations, such as comfortable walking shoes and a camera for capturing the picturesque setting, are recommended to make the most of the visit.

Accessibility and Safety Considerations

While the journey to Saint Margaret’s Well is part of its charm, it’s important to note that Binsey Lane, the route leading to the well, lacks sidewalks. Visitors should be mindful of occasional car traffic and stay alert while walking. The road, however, is paved and relatively flat, making it accessible for most visitors.

Integrating Saint Margaret's Well into Your Oxford Adventure

Complementing Oxford's Historical and Cultural Sites

While Saint Margaret’s Well is a destination in its own right, it also serves as a perfect complement to the myriad of historical and cultural attractions Oxford has to offer. From the prestigious University of Oxford with its historic colleges to the lush expanses of Port Meadow, incorporating a visit to the well into your “city tour” or “walking tour” of Oxford ensures a well-rounded experience of this storied city.

The Perfect Addition to a One-Day Itinerary

For those wondering “what to do in Oxford in one day,” Saint Margaret’s Well is an ideal addition. It offers a quick yet enriching glimpse into the city’s medieval past and literary connections, fitting seamlessly into a day packed with visits to Oxford’s famous landmarks, such as the Bodleian Library, the Ashmolean Museum, and the Oxford Castle and Prison.

Concluding Thoughts: The Enchantment of Saint Margaret's Well

Saint Margaret’s Well in Oxford is more than just a historical site; it’s a portal to a bygone era, a touchstone for literary imagination, and a peaceful retreat from the modern world. Its blend of history, legend, and literary charm makes it a must-visit for anyone exploring Oxford, offering a unique perspective on the city’s rich cultural heritage.


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 St Margaret’s Church, St Margaret’s Rd, Oxford OX2 6RX

Frequently Asked Questions About Saint Margaret's Well

No, there is no entrance fee. Saint Margaret’s Well is open to the public and can be visited free of charge.

A visit to the well typically takes about 30 minutes to an hour, allowing time to appreciate the site and its surroundings.

Yes, some “walking tours” of Oxford include Saint Margaret’s Well as part of their itinerary. You can also explore specialized tours focusing on literary sites or historical landmarks in Oxford.

Yes, the well is accessible year-round. However, visiting during spring or summer offers the added beauty of the surrounding nature in full bloom.

Comfortable walking shoes are recommended, as the journey to the well involves a walk along a country lane. A camera is also a good idea to capture the picturesque setting.

Saint Margaret’s Well in Oxford is a testament to the city’s layered history, offering a unique blend of medieval lore, literary inspiration, and tranquil beauty. Whether part of a comprehensive Oxford tour or a standalone visit, it promises an enriching and memorable experience for all who step into its storied realm.