We visited the Maharajah's Well in Stoke Row at the weekend.
Set in the middle of the Oxfordshire countryside, it is totally unexpected to come upon an ornate well with a gold elephant on top.
Cherry Orchard The Story
This is the story from the time when India was part of the British Empire and links between England and India were very strong. It is the story of a friendship between two men from different countries and backgrounds who were both wealthy benefactors.
In India in 1831, Edward Anderton Reade, a gentleman from Stoke Row, who was a governor there, gave a gift of a well and mango grove to a village in Varanasi to help the local community.
Later in England in 1863 the Maharajah of Benares, who had struck up a friendship with Mr Reade, recalled his donation, and copied it by donating a free public well and cherry orchard to the village of Stoke Row, to help the community. The villagers would be able to earn money from the cherries. Water in that part of Oxfordshire was in short supply. The story goes that the Maharajah heard that water in the community was rationed and that a small boy was beaten by his mother for helping himself to an extra drink when thirsty during a drought. He was very moved by this story and gave the well to help the village.
These are photos I took of the well a couple of years ago when I was doing a project for City and Guilds in Embroidery and Stitched Textiles
This is the enclosed panel I made, blending together India and Britain. The pink pieces with cherries and leaves represent the cherry orchard, and the orange piece with paisley represents the mango grove.