The site of St Chad’s Well from which the name Chadwell Heath is said to have derived and the ancient Green Belt lands around it were under threat from London Borough of Redbridge who wanted to put 3 giant London markets there. This failed as Fairlop Plain is protected by Green Belt status and is a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC).
The original Well surround has been lost, apparently due to being hit by a lorry. It was replaced with the plaque shown below which says “St Chad’s well. The site of St Chad’s Well from which the name Chadwell Heath is derived. This tablet was placed here by the Ilford Borough Council on behalf of the citizens of Ilford to commemorate the Festival of Britain 1951 “
A photo of the original Well is found in A History of the Mineral Waters and Medicinal Springs of the County of Essex – 1910, along with a description:
It stands actually in a roadside ditch, but the spring is said to be some fifty yards distant, in a field, the owner of which claims the well. The water is perfectly clear and has neither taste nor smell. The surplus constantly runs off into the ditch. A man living in the vicinity of the well stated that it was used formerly or the cure of sore eyes and other ailments, but that is used also for domestic purposes of the cottagers living near.
A well to which curative properties have been ascribed exists near Little Heath, in Great Ilford. Mr G E Tasker speaks of it as “a reputed medicinal well in Billet Lane, near Little Heath, which was at one time much resorted to by persons with weak eyesight, for the special properties of the water were supposed to be beneficial to the eyes. It is possible that the well may have existed at the time of the brother bishops, for it was often the custom among missionaries in those far off days to baptise their converts at some well or spring which happened to be handy. These wells frequently took the name of the holy man, and it is that Cedde held a baptism at this spot, and because of the healing qualities of the water, and in memory of his brother Chad whose fame had spread all over the country, it became known to future generations as St Chad’s Well.
Be that as it may te well in Billet Lane has existed a long time, and there is very little doubt that it gave its name to the two hamlets of Chadwell Street and Chadwell Heath. It lies quite solitary on the roadside, and is partly protected by an alcove of brickwork. Its appearance is so strange at dusk that horses unused to the road often ‘shy’ at it. The water is excellent quality. A sample obtained on the 10th September 1907 yielded the following results:
Calcium carbonate 9’7 parts per 100,000
Calcium sulphate 22’4 parts per 100,000
calcium chloride 3’0 parts per 100,000
Magnesium chloride 11’3 parts per 100,000
Sodium Chloride 0’5 parts per 100,000
Potassium and sodium nitrate 12’8 parts per 100,000
Silica etc 3’3 parts per 100,000
This water is unusual in character, as the magnesium salt present is the chloride and not the sulphate, as is generally the case.
An Ordnance Survey map for 1888 – 1913 shows a ‘W’ (well) positioned roughly where the current plaque is, but as suggested it would seem to be further into the field behind and also a Well at Hainault House.
One thing is certain, the land behind and around the ‘Well’ floods in winter! although the quality of the water is no longer ‘excellent quality’ having been contaminated by gravel extraction and the unlicensed tip there, leaving ditches running with ‘orange’ water in nearby fields.