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The Physic Well,
The Well House is a grade II listed building located in the London Borough of Barnet. The small timber framed building has a cruciform plan and pyramidal roof. The Well House was constructed in 1937 and sits over the Physic Well; a medicinal spring that was discovered in the
17th century and was popular throughout the 18th century. Below the 20th century structure is a 17th century brick vault where the
spring water is collected.
Visited by Samuel Pepys on at least 2 occasions (1664 and 1667). The following text is from the Report of a survey of condition undertaken by MRDA in 2017.
1650: ‘the water was being over-exploited and quantities of it were being sent out of the town, most probably to London.’
1656: ‘the Barnet Vestry appointed a well-keeper because the well was continually being broken into. The well keeper was paid 12s a week.’
1659: ‘Barnet temporarily banned the bulk removal of well water in small casks.’
1662: Dr. Thomas Fuller: The Worthies of England. ‘ Already a catalogue of cure by this spring amounteth to a great number; insomuch that there is hope in the process the water rising her will repair bloodshed hard by and save as many lives as were lost in the fatal battle at
1663: (the water) was being advertised in The Angel and Sun Inn in the Strand as ‘available all year’.
1664: Samuel Pepys ‘rode north to see the Wells.’ 11th July 1664. After lunch at the Red Lion (which still exists) he continued to the well and... ’and there I drunk three glasses and went and walked, and came back and drunk two more. The woman would have had me drunk three more; but I could not, my belly being full -but this wrought me very well; and so we rode home... and my waters working at least seven or eight times upon the road, which pleased me well.’ Pepys then recorded: ‘And not being very well, I betimes to bed, and there fell into a most mighty sweat in the night, about eleven o’clock; and there … I begun to sweat worse and worse, till I melted almost to water.’
1667: Samuel Pepys visited the Barnet Well a second time.’ This time he took only three glasses of well water before retiring to the Red Lion, where he ‘ate some of the best cheese cakes I ever did eat in my life.’
1670: Two Well Overseers ‘were appointed to ‘deal with the takings every Saturday and distributing them to the poor.’ The waters made Barnet a £5.6s surplus.’
Repair and conservation works are currently in hand, with anticipated completion at the end of November 2018.