Topics / Griffy Well
Griffy Well is a natural spring and was a water source for villagers until the 1930s when mains water was supplied to Griffydam. Although no longer in use, the Griffy Well can still be found along Bottom Road today.
The Griffy well rose from the sand stone that runs along the Thringstone Fault and the number of paths leading to the well signifies its importance to the village in the past. The well was a focal point in the hamlet in days gone by and women would no doubt gather there to natter on balmy summer evenings whilst the men folk smoked their pipes.
Griffy Well clearly attracted many inquisitive tourists up until recent times, and awarded its very own finger post.
The Post Office Directory of Leics & Rutland 1855 states that “Griffy Well at Griffydam is worthy of some attention”. It also appeared in several travel and geographical books as a place to visit. For example, Leigh’s Road book of England and Wales and the new Universal Gazetteer/Geographical Dictionary dated 1823 (held in Toronto University) both refer to it. In addition The London General Gazetteer of 1825 makes mention of Griffydam mineral waters. In the “Beauties of England 1791 by Philip Luckombe he states that “near the town of Ashby de la Zouch is a noted mineral water called Griffydam”.
Edward Gibbon’s revised 1722 edition of William Camden’s Britannia stated the following, which suggests that Griffy Well was known even at this time, although the wording of the paragraph is somewhat convoluted:-
Colorton - the seat of H. de Bellomontor Beaumont, descended from the same famous Family with the Viscounts de Bellomont, but this family is lately extinct by the death of Thomas Lord Beaumont, who bequeathed his Estate to Sir George Beaumont Baronet, of Stoughton-Grange, near Leicester. In this Parish of Cole-Overton (became Coleorton) is a noted mineral water call’d Griffy-dam. (as others also have been lately discover’d in this County, at Dunton and Cadeby.) The place (Coleorton) hath the name of distinction, from Pit-Coles. being a bituminous earth harden’d by nature, and here (to the great profit of the Lord of the Manour) dug-up in such plenty, as to supply the neighbouring Country, all about, with firing. Not far from whence, is Osgathorp, where Thomas Harley, Citizen of London, built very convenient Houses for six poor Ministers Widows, with the allowance of 10 l. per Ann. to each; and also a Free-school, with a 40 l. per ann. good Stipend.
There are many myths and legends linking griffins with water sources. Perhaps because of the similarity of the griffin name to Griffydam a legend also exists about the Well.
The Griffy Well legend tells of a mythical beast with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle that guarded the spring and prevented villagers from collecting the water.
Villagers were forced to walk several miles for their water until one day the beast was slain by a chivalrous knight.
Legend of the Sky is an epic musical re-imagining of the ancient Leicestershire folk legend, The Griffin of Griffydam. The video opposite shows the Philharmonia Orchestra and Leicester-Shire Schools Music Service during rehearsals. The musical, performed at the Albert Hall with pupils from Griffydam Primary school, has a much happier ending for the Griffin who is befriended by the children of the village.