The Warden and Society of Sutton Coldfield (that is, the Corporation) were involved in a long court case, finally resolved in 1825. The case, in the Court of Chancery, related to the way the funds of the Corporation were used, and at the end of the case very specific provisions were made in a detailed document known as the Scheme. The Scheme included “the erection of two small houses for the two Assistant Park-keepers” - these were to be in Sutton Park, total cost £258.
Mr. Beach was the builder of these cottages, as Sarah Holbeche noted in her diary “Beaches Cottages in the Park built”, and in 1828 “The Keeper’s Lodge at Rowton Well, Joseph Nash the first occupant.” The site of Rowton’s Cottage can still be found, though the building has long gone. I had always supposed that a man named Rowton lived there, and that the well was his well, but the name is much older than the cottage.
A map of Sutton Park made in 1779 shows Rowtons Well and marks a ridge of high ground as Rowtons Well Bank. The spring water there was held to be curative, and in spite of its remote location the well seems to have been visited from early times. Whether a Mr. Rowton created a basin to help people bathe their sores is unknown, but according to a writer in 1860 “Rowton Well has been a noted well for a great number of years, for scorbutic eruptions etc. Very much resorted to by the working mechanics of Walsall, West Bromwich and that neighbourhood. Indeed all about that smoky country, to bathe in its pure waters.”
In Victorian times it was thought bathing in the waters was good for the constitution, and a warning flag was flown to keep men away when ladies were bathing there. Water from the well was regularly collected and taken to Birmingham Eye Hospital for its beneficial properties. As the poet Charles Barker (headmaster of Bishop Vesey’s School) wrote in 1841;
Or o’er the wild heath and length’ning way
That leads to Rowton Well.
Pellucid fount! What annual scores
Thy stream to cleanliness restores
The scribbled post may tell!
How many Smiths and Joneses came,
And left to thee their votive name,
How many more had done the same,
Only they could not spell!