Geology Site Account
West Tilbury Wells, , Thurrock District, TQ660777, Historical site only
Historical interest only
West Tilbury Hall and former church sit near the summit of a steep-sided, gravel-topped hill. In the early 18th century there was discovered at West Tilbury Hall a medicinal spring or well which afterwards became famous – more so than any other Essex well. It retained its fame, too, for a long period and appears to have been the only Essex medicinal water to have enduring commercial value.
The well at West Tilbury Hall was first sunk in 1724 and its medicinal value was discovered some three years later. The fame of Tilbury Water increased throughout the 18th century and was advertised extensively in London newspapers. It was claimed to treat bowel disorders and improve digestion and was promoted by prominent doctors and physicians at the time including Sir Hans Sloane, who was “so well convinced of the great efficacy of the Tilbury water that he frequently recommended it to his patients” (Christy and Thresh 1910). The popularity of the water led to competition from a rival well at West Tilbury called the ‘Rectors Well’, which was also being sold in London. This led to much acrimony between the two brands, the London agent for West Tilbury Hall Water warning customers to beware of inferior water being distributed in bottles similar to theirs.
Neither well is now visible. Despite refurbishment at the 16th century West Tilbury Hall, the original well has not been rediscovered and the Rector’s Well has been lost to sight beneath a nearby field (Cowell and Cowell 2001). Thurrock Museum, however, has in its collection one of the original two pint glass bottles stamped with the words ‘West Tilbury Hall’. The water from the wells owes its chemical composition to filtering through Thames gravel (Orsett Heath Gravel) and Thanet Sand, which caps the hill at West Tilbury.
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Reference: Christy & Thresh 1910, Cowell & Cowell 2001
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