Sunday, 23 May 2010

The Silent Pool

There is an ancient, sacred spring, set back in a wood close to Newlands Corner, near the highest point on the road between Guildford and Godalming, and it is called 'The Silent Pool'.

When I lived in the area, I used to love to visit it at any time of the day or night, but particularly on warm, sultry days like today.

Local legend has it that the infamous King John was hunting nearby and spied a beautiful girl bathing in it's edge. He sent his riders to fetch her for him, and - in trying to escape by swimming to the centre - she drowned. Since that day, no bird has ever sung on the trees that overhang the lake. 'King John' was blamed for all sorts of unfortunate events, however, so I would not take this story too seriously.

Although birds can be heard singing nearby, I have never heard a bird singing in the overhanging trees though, so there is something in the legend... maybe. The water is crystal clear and shallow. It seems to be mineral rich too, as encrusted branches can be seen on the floor of the pool. I am told that about once every few years, the water turns blood red, commemorating the death of the maiden and - although the colour must derive from an influx of iron minerals - it is not the only sacred spring to run red on a regular basis.

It is one of the most peaceful and healing places that I have ever visited, and whether or not you believe in such things, the magical nature of the spot cannot be denied.

Many years ago, I went there in a state of confusion and depression about a particular problem in my life at that time. I sat at the edge of the pool for a long while, staring into the limpid water. Instinctively, I picked up a small stone from the bank, then cast it into the middle. As the ripples slowly approached me where I sat, I knew that I would - in some way - find a solution to the problem.

When the first ripple reached me, sure enough, mental peace followed in it's wake. Each successive wave reinforced the next, and as the approaching ripples bounced gently off the bank and returned to the centre, they took with them the toxins and neutralised them in the water of the pool, leaving me washed and dried. The problem was still there, but I was better equipped to deal with it and accept it for what it was. That is what is known by a 'healing spring' I think. It is not always a case of driving your wheel-chair into the water, then abandoning it by walking out on your own two feet.

As I write this, Her Indoors has just started vacuum cleaning with a bloody noisy Dyson, about six feet behind my head. Oh to be at the Silent Pool...


  1. It is beautiful and still and tranquil looking. I love the stories of English Folklore and Kings and their women.

  2. I'm not sure who King John was really supposed to be, Raz, but there are many 'King John's Hunting Lodge's' dotted around England. He is a famous despot in English folklore.

  3. Ok, I've just looked him up. He was Richard the Lionheart's brother, who took over when Richard went to the Holy Lands to fight the Crusade. John Plantagenet made a complete hash of things, by the sound of it, and was generally reckoned to be a 'bad king' by everyone, especially the serfs who he ruthlessly exploited. Richard forgave him on his return, however.

  4. living in a house surrounded by four boys and a husband (=5 boys), you have no idea what I would do for a silent pool of my own...

  5. I'm just in the process of opening up MY 'Silent Pool'. Not quite the same thing though! I love small hidden pools/ponds of any sort; they're all magical. There's even one that I have yet to explore within a few hundred metres of here. It's THAT secretive.

  6. I love your comments - 4 = 5! I thought about it, and it was obvious that King John was bound to be hated, as he would have been left to squeeze as much money out of the land as he could, in order to finance his brother's exploits in the Holy Wars.

  7. Tom, thank you for sharing that post. I loved what you have written. There are places which fill up your senses in a way which you can't explain and this one is obviously one of them. I like the bit where you wrote 'it's not a case of driving your wheelchair into the water ...... that is so true.
    Love Molly

  8. Thank you for your lovely words, Molly. There is that old joke about the family that queue up for hours at Lourdes with their daughter in a wheel-chair, only to find they have no way of getting her into the water, so they spend money erecting a sort of ducking-chair to hoist her in the next day.

    After another long wait, she and the chair are finally lowered into the holy water, and when she is pulled out, the wheel-chair is found to have been miraculously equipped with a pair of brand new tyres...

  9. I am beginning to think I should start a self-help blog. This is what seems to get most of the overall response.

    If I do, it will be called, 'Please Help Yourself', and have lots of pictures of food in it.