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Nell’s Well and The Tinker of Turvey

Old Nell must have been a most remarkable character.  As well as the reference to her and her tinker husband on the inn sign of the public house ('The Tinker of Turvey, his dog and his staff, Old Nell with her budget will make a man laugh'), there is also a local well named after her.

What is a tinker?

See the Trades page to find out!

When this picture was taken, in 2000, Nell's Well was just an empty archway in the wall beside Ladybridge Terrace.  (with my son, Matthew, posing beside where his ancestors would have got their water).

The famous well is opposite the lane leading to the allotments, at the bottom of the sloping lane leading from Tandy's Close to the Lace Cottages.  In 1875 Colonel Higgins of Picts Hill placed a stone arch above it on which was inscribed the quotation seen on the left.


O fountain pure, whose spring so sure

Has never yet run dry:

Thy water tells of deeper wells

Which living springs supply.

Thy spring, though pure, no thirst can cure,

Who drinks will drink in vain:

Go, neighbour, try that deep supply:

Thou ne’er shalt thirst again.

Restored 1875.

The well was closed for water in September 1960, after giving water since 1600.  There was a huge cry of protest from villagers, (with a petition carrying 1700 signatures!) which even made TV headlines on a program called 'Tonight With Fife Robinson' shown in September 1960.

Because of modern water quality standards, the protests were in vain and the pump was removed.  The left picture show Fife Robinson at the well.  The right hand photo is of schoolchildren saying goodbye to the doomed water supply.

The well was reopened on 4th December 2004 by Mr Len Savage.  After the re-opening, the village Christmas lights were switched on at the small field called 'Lancelot's Piece', which is just in front of the Rectory.

Village Stores = Tinker’s Inn

The Village Stores, once the Tinker's Inn or The Tinker of Turvey Inn.  The original Inn sign is now preserved in Luton Museum, Beds.  It shows the Tinker, his wife - Nell, and their dog.  The building was altered quite a bit in 1840.

The inn sign for the 'Tinker of Turvey'.

Tinkers Cottage

The door of Tinkers Cottage, to the left of the now Village Stores.

Recently, iron rings have been discovered in the walls of the cottage.  It is thought that horses were shackled in here whilst the coaches which they pulled were changed.

In 2005, Nell's Well had a cosmetic overhaul.

There is much more on Turvey’s watering holes on the Pubs & Inns page.

The Tinker’s Inn, Turvey, circa 1890.

Click the picture to see more details.