The Shell Well

Between the side entrance and the garage is a picturesque water well studded and roofed with seashells.   This originated because the original cottages had a considerable problem of damp and the cottage garden in winter was often flooded with a few inches of water.   By studying the geology of the Devonian sedimentary rocks of the valley, the owner found that the flooding was the result of a very thick bed of sandstone that dips down the valley towards the sea.   This sandstone layer is contained in a highly fractured red shale that is an aquifer for groundwater.  The sandstone layer can be seen in the bank behind the garage and house.  It passes beneath the garage where groundwater is trapped upstream of it. This brought the groundwater to the surface as springs.   In order  to drain the site, an observation well was built and a drainage pipe leading away from the site constructed.  The  land was raised six feet to form the platform on which the present house and garage stand.  Water level in the well rises by two feet each winter before the groundwater is tapped off.  Considerable water moves underground down the valley to emerge as springs on the pebbly beach of Sandy Haven.  In 1998 a new spring burst out of the roadside near the high tide mark and washed out some of the road.  On summer holidays before the house was built the owner would have an annual family gathering and a BBQ in the gardens.  The drinks were lowered into the well which kept them pleasantly cool.

– John Roobol

Comments are closed.