In August 1788, the well was bought by Lord Gardenstone, who claimed he had derived great benefit from drinking the waters and, in 1789, the present construction, a circular Roman Temple was commissioned by him. This elegant architectural structure in the form of a Doric rotunda is inspired by the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli in Italy. Under the lead dome stands a marble statue of Hygieia, Goddess of Health. In 1885, the well and grounds were purchased by the publishers Thomas Nelson & Sons. After restoration, it was left to the City of Edinburgh. The pump-room was refurbished in lavish Victonan style. The interior was designed like a celestial vault sparkling with sequin-like stars when sunlight strikes through the stained glass windows. The white marble pedestal is inscribed BIBENDO VALEBIS (By Drinking You Will Be Well).
“According to tradition, St. Bernard’s Well near Stockbridge in Edinburgh was re-discovered by three Heriot’s school boys while fishing in the Water of Leith in 1760. Legend has it that it was originally discovered by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the founder of the Cistercian Order, in the 12th Century. After being poorly received at court, and suffering from a sickness, he went to live in a cave near the Water of Leith. There, he was attracted to the spring by the birds which visited it and he drank its healing waters until his strength returned. In September 1760 the mineral spring was covered by a small wellhouse. ‘Claudero’ (James Wilson), the contemporary poet, composed a eulogy for the occasion: ‘This water so healthful near Edinburgh doth rise which not only Bath but Moffat outvies. It cleans the intestines and an appetite gives while morbfic matters it quite away drives.’ Chemical analysis revealed that the water was similar to the sulphur springs at Harrogate in Yorkshire. The mineral well soon became a popular resort for those afflicted by the fad for ‘taking the waters’. By 1764, the well was so great an attraction that accommodation in the Stockbndge area was at a premium during the summer season. It seems that habitual drinkers of the waters must have had cast iron constitutions, for one later visitor likened the flavour of the water to ‘the washings of foul gun barrels’. The revitalised well remained popular until its closure in 1940, following the outbreak of war. Remarkable claims continued to be made for its medicinal properties, ranging from the efficacy of a regular morning glass as a tonic for the system to a complete cure-all for rheumatism and arthritis. The temple then resembled a continental cafe with ‘little tables where regulars chatted with friends’. Aerated water from the well was even bottled and marketed for a short while.” – http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=10580
Stockbridge/Dean Village Midlothian, Edinburgh
Directions from Nearest Address
St Bernard’s Well is found on the Leith Walkway between Dean Village and Stockbridge, Edinburgh.
Hours Spring is Open:
St Bernard’s Well opens to the public St Bernard’s Well, situated by the Water of Leith in Stockbridge, will be open to the public from 12pm to 3pm on the following days: Sunday 9 August Sunday 16 August Sunday 23 August Sunday 30 August Saturday 26 September (as part of Doors Open Day).
Map Link: St Barnard’s Mineral Well Map