• Callums Night Photography

South Oxfordshire Wells At Night!

I recently have been cycling around South Oxfordshire during COVID-19 lockdown to light paint a series of wells at night, in a different perspective compared to the normal daylight shots.

Here is some information i have wrote up about the wells and the history of them!


Chalk is a very porous rock so a high percentage of rainwater just seeps through the cracks and fissures in the chalk down to the water table, rather than collecting in streams and rivers. In previous centuries, villages up in the Chilterns suffered from severe water shortages and relied on wells for their water supply – many communities didn’t get piped water until the mid-1900s. Maharajah’s Well in Stoke Row is almost certainly the best known well in the area, but there are many more, both beside roads and also in people’s back gardens. Most of these wells date from the mid to late 19th century.

Villages across South Oxfordshire have wells built in in Victorian times. Many are elaborately designed and sometimes feature elephants in their designs, reflecting the fact that they were funded by Indian benefactors.

The first was in Stoke Row, donated by the Maharajah of Benares (now Varanasi). He was returning a favour for Edward Reade, a man from Ipsden who worked with him, who helped to build a well for a community there. The Maharajah was moved by Edward’s stories of how people from his own area struggled to get water, especially in times of drought, presumably due to the nature of the chalky Chilterns landscape.

The Maharajah’s well was opened in 1864 and is twice as deep as Nelson’s Column is tall. Next to it is an tiny cottage built for a well keeper, surrounded by a cherry orchard, to provide a sustainable source of income.


Callum Cromwell - Reading - United Kingdom - Callums Night Photography

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