Holy Well

St Rumwold's former shrine and well

Church Street and Manor Street, Buckingham MK18 1BZ

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St Rumwold's former shrine and well

Once the scene of popular medieval devotion, the well has run dry but pilgrim footsteps are encouraged once more by the new St Rumbold’s Way

After such a promising start in King’s Sutton, where he was born, St Rumwold’s life story rather fades out in Buckingham, where his shrine was kept until the Reformation. He lived for only three days in the year 662, but miraculously gained the power of speech at birth and requested that his body be laid to rest in Buckingham. The saintly baby was baptised in the font of King’s Sutton church, which is now his closest surviving relic.

Highlights

Site of infant saint’s shrine and holy well

Buckingham’s parish church used to contain his tomb, housed in a chantry chapel which became a popular place of pilgrimage. The shrine was not only destroyed, the church itself collapsed in 1776 and has since been entirely demolished. Its ancient graveyard can be visited in the town centre, a few steps downhill from the new church, which contains salvaged remnants such as some fine pews. Both old and new churches were dedicated to St Peter and St Paul. None of the former shrine structure was moved into the new building.

There is also a holy well dedicated to St Rumwold on the outskirts of Buckingham, though its earliest history and link to the saint are unclear. The well has fared little better than the church, now run dry and seldom visited. It is next to a disused railway line on the west side of town, a deep chamber lined with stone, looking more like a barbecue pit when I visited thanks to several recent fires. The only visible sign of its holy past were some small metal plaques, one of which has an image of St Rumwold (spelled here ‘Rumbold’) looking like a perfect medieval cherub.

Directions

Churchyard entrance

Corner of Church Street and Manor Street, Buckingham MK18 1BZ

W3W: chum.vital.consults

GPS: 51.9965N 0.9910W

Well

W3W: deflect.accent.walls

GPS: 51.9961N 0.9970W

The old graveyard, where the parish church and shrine were situated, can be entered through gates on Hunter Street and Church Street, which runs downhill from the new parish church, 130m away. The new church sells a guide to St ‘Rumbold’, details on the church website: www. buckinghamparishchurch.org.uk.

The holy well is 600m from the old graveyard.

Leave through the lower gate on to Hunter Street and turn left, heading south. After 180m there is a brick railway bridge with a path on the right before it, between the railway embankment and the river.Walk along the riverside for 220m to another road, with steps on the left up to the former railway line.

Go up the steps and turn right, following the broad path for 150m. Turn left up three or four wooden steps to follow a muddy path uphill, which leads to more steps and then a stile, on the other side of which is the well site.

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Tom Jones

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Holy Well

St Rumwold's former shrine and well

Church Street and Manor Street, Buckingham MK18 1BZ

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