| Ancient * Surrey |
Is there a better way to end this year than a few too many gins, and a big ‘screw you 2020’? In Surrey we’ve got our very own Silent Pool Gin Distillery hidden between the hills of the North Downs, providing the county with its much-needed NYE alcohol quota. The name of the branded spirit is taken from the ancient quarry which stands beside the distillery; a clear, almost transparent, pool of water whose myths and legends go back thousands of years.
Silent Pool was once a chalk quarry, fed by natural underground springs. It would have been a local source of drinking water and home to an extraordinary number of species. The water has been described as ‘opalescent’, and its crystal-like nature is typical of chalk spring pools. The chalk gives the spring a chemical quality which makes it purified and clear, and allows it to filter down to the water table without picking up all the sediments which would make it look brown.
The eery calmness of Silent Pool has unsurprisingly led to many local myths. The most famous story tells the tale of a woodcutter’s daughter who was often found bathing in the water. One day, as she washed and swam about, she was suddenly startled by a nobleman on a horse watching her from the bank. He tried to lure her to the side, but she refused to comply. Frustrated with her rejection, the nobleman charged his horse into the water to bring her out. The girl flung herself into the deepest part of the pool, where the darkness enveloped her, and she drowned. Sometimes there’s an addition to the story which says that the nobleman was actually King John who ruled England from 1199 to 1216, but he wasn’t available for comment so we may never know.
With rainfall decreasing on average every year, Silent Pool’s natural springs now have a tendency to dry out. But nature isn’t its only threat. A few years ago, the invasive weed Crassula Helmsii appeared out of nowhere. Surrey Wildlife Trust stepped in, but if they hadn’t, the entire area would have turned into your typical browny-grey large puddle. It is thought that this potential catastrophe was caused by someone chucking the contents of their old aquarium into the water.
Beware of Chaos Theory.
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