By Zoe Nile
A visit to the 15th Century wishing well with Sam Cross unearths past uses for the building and provides some food for thought!
On Tuesday 25th September 2018 I was given the opportunity to meet with Sam Cross, whose family own No 18 Buckwell Street, on the Barbican, to take a closer look at the hidden jewel that is the Buckwell.
The building itself has a rather ‘foodie’ background, until recently it was the Spice Well and previous to this has been a cafe, restaurant and takeaway and so I was delighted to be invited to take a closer look inside to find out more.
Once stepping over the threshold it was like stepping into the past, regardless of carpet and paintwork, you could feel the history oozing out of the walls and when I took a look into the Buckwell it was most calming and a little mesmerizing.
The following information has been provided by Sam Cross to give us a more in-depth look inside number 18, Buckwell Street.
Sam says ” We often talk about the history of food but what about the history of where we go to eat our food. Imagine a well that was used in the 15th Century, primarily for washing having a property built around it in the 18th Century and it not being found again until 1978. This is exactly what happened when a young couple, Brian and Sue Cross,
bought a busy café and discovered it when renovating the building back to its authentic glory. It’s strange but true!”
The café was situated on a historic block, with a ‘circa 1450’ medieval house on its’ adjacent corner, and in 1980, the café re-emerged as ‘The Old Well Eating House’ restaurant and take-away. The well being the central focus. Over the years, the restaurant has been a café, run by Plymouth City Council for adults with learning difficulties; a late night take-away for pizzas and kebabs; and, more recently, a successful Indian restaurant and take-away. The well has been there but has not had a central focus for a few years.
Forty years later Brian and Sue’s enthusiasm for the restaurant’s history is still there. They are currently renovating the restaurant and have supplied us with these photos. They are negotiating with a future tenant, who wants to run the restaurant with a lounge bar at the back, near the well – wanting to show the well to its full beauty and let Plymothians and tourists eat good food surrounded by unique history.
Now that sounds like an exciting opportunity indeed!
Clockwise from the left: Taking a look into the Buckwell, Buckwell Street in the 18th Century, Brian and Sue Cross and the Cafe they purchased in 1978.