Broad Well (aka Brade Wyll, Boiling Well, Laughing Well), Alton Priors
It has been suggested that Alton Barnes may have derived its name from its proximity to this holy well or sacred spring, which appeared in Saxon Charters as Bradewelle as early as 825AD. In ‘A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 10 (1975)’ Broad Well receives three mentions which are quoted below.
‘The boundaries of Alton Barnes were established by the early 10th century and thereafter remained unchanged. The eastern boundary with Alton Priors was marked in the north by an old highway east of and parallel to the Ridge Way, and in the south by the stream flowing from Broad Well spring (Brade Wyll), and eventually into the Christchurch Avon.’
‘The village of Alton Barnes, which presumably took its suffix from members of the Berners family, possibly lords of the manor in the 12th century and later tenants of a freeholding in Alton, grew up on the spring line near Broad Well, on the other side of which lay Alton Priors.’
‘There was a mill worth 10s. at Alton Barnes in 1086, and a mill stood on the manor until c. 1580. It was situated c. ½ mile south of the village, driven by the stream flowing from Broad Well spring, and was apparently leased with the demesne. It was demolished by William Button when he was lessee and when he also held the near-by Alton Priors mill on the other bank of the stream.’