Ancient Crosses

Wavertree Cross and Well

From The Ancient Crosses of Lancashire by Henry Taylor:

Considerable doubt exists as to the history of this structure. Three views of it are given in the Binns Collection in the Liverpool Free Library; two of them are practically identical, showing an Early Gothic arched recess in a wall, below which is a well square in shape surrounded by masonry. Above the arch are indications of an inscription. A later engraving shows the arch surmounted by a cross bearing the inscription, “Deus dedit homo bibit.” A recent photograph appears to indicate that the whole structure has been rebuilt since the date of the last engraving, with sundry variations from the original design, which shows an ancient structure in ruins.

Mr. Cox (Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire for 1895) writes: “An old man remembered this well open, and told me that the descent to it was by several steps. The source of the water is not at the well, but under the lawn of ‘Monkswell,’ and a passage led to it. The inscription formerly over it is well known – ‘Qui non dat quod habet, Daemon infra videt. Anno 1414.'” In the rebuilt structure this inscription appears to have been inaccurately copied.

Hope, in his Holy Wells of England, gives the same inscription as Mr. Cox, and adds, “Tradition says at one period there was a cross above it inscribed ‘Deus dedit homo bibit,’ and that all travellers gave alms on drinking. If they omitted to do so, a devil who was chained at the bottom laughed.”

I have not as yet come upon any documentary evidence to prove whether or not the structure represented by the Binns engravings is of really ancient date.

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