Yesterday, I went on pilgrimage to the treacle well at Binsey.
It wasn’t a very long pilgrimage. The Perch isn’t the Tabard (it’s probably a lot nicer) and Binsey Lane isn’t the road to Canterbury.
There’s a longer version for the more dedicated pilgrim that goes from Christ Church Cathedral and past the site of Osney Abbey before turning west towards the Parish Church of Margaret and Antioch (an early saint of dubious provenance) and its legendary well. Even so, I fancy that the Camino de Santiago doesn’t have much to fear from the Botley Road.
The pilgrimage route links sites associated with the Saxon St Frideswide who, according to some accounts, founded her first small monastic community at Binsey before heading for the bright lights of Oxford.
It was a very nice pilgrimage. The sun was shining. There was a chicken, some nice cows, and some even nicer sheep; I gathered wool from the grass verge and ate blackberries from the hedgrow. And of course, visited the treacle well.
There really is a treacle well. It turns out that “treacle” is a medieval word for “healing water” rather than Lewis Carrol’s better know definition of, well, “treacle”.
To be fair, the well is a little underwhelming – well, very underwhelming – and I’m not sure that I’d want to either drink from it or douse myself in its waters.
But the real point of a pilgrimage is to travel, meditate, pray, grow and, eventually, to rest. The little church at journey’s end is open, welcoming, quiet, cool and unpretentious. It was a good pilgrimage – a buen camino.