The Borough Well is situated in Borough Well Lane, which connects Trinity Street with Bridge Street. Traditionally known as the Roman Well it is thought that it has been in use since Roman times. However another theory is that 'Roman' refers to the Roman Catholic period, when the Benedictine Priory owned all the land running down to the river, and the nuns used the Well as their main source of water.
The Well is a natural spring of pure water which runs into a brick lined cistern, erected to make the water more easily obtained using buckets, The brick work was repaired in Tudor times. By the 17th century a pump had been installed, which conducted the spring water through a pipe into the Well.
From early times the maintenance of the Well was the responsibility of the Town Reeve and Town Trust. Entries in the old Town Book accounts record items such as:
1728 - Paid for drink when the Town Pump was mended, 4s. 6d
Paid for paving round the Town Pump, 1s. 0d.
1747 - Paid Mr. Cluff for Bottomfying the Town Well, 7s. 6d.
Throughout the 19th century the Well was used as a main water supply for the town centre. Old photographs include a boy struggling up Bridge Street with overflowing buckets, and an old gentleman riding to the Well, with a bucket slung on the handles of his penny-farthing bike.
From about 1923, pumped water was gradually made available to all houses from a pump-house on the Common, and the Well ceased to be needed.
In the 1980's the Town Trust arranged to have the ancient monument repaired, and the Bungay Society raised funds towards the cost. During dredging of the Well, two sherds of Roman pottery were found, dating to the 2nd- 3rd centuries AD. These are now on display in Bungay Museum. The new entrance gates were provided with a plaque, stating:
Bungay Town Trust - The Borough Well
Roman by tradition - Tudor in construction
Last used circa 1923
Restored by the Bungay Society, 1985.
Until recently the Well was available for visitors by obtaining a key from the Butter Cross Tearooms in Cross Street. But as there are steep steps down to the Well, which get damp and slippery, it is no longer deemed safe, and can only be visited by pre-booked parties. To arrange a booking contact the Museum Curator on 01986 893155.