Rope team recovering cash hoard from bottom of pub’s wishing well

What's down there? Landlady Lucie Sargent beside the old well
What's down there? Landlady Lucie Sargent beside the old well

An old pub well is due to surrender its secrets this weekend.

There’s a hoard of cash at the bottom and on Sunday (August 26) an operation is being mounted to retrieve it.

Experts from Belay Rope Access, backed by the volunteer crew of Newhaven Lifeboat Station, will be undertaking the task at The Abergavenny Arms in Rodmell.

Being lowered by rope to the depths promises to be a delicate operation involving a block and tackle pulley system mounted at the mouth of the well – which is believed to be a gut-wrenching 75ft deep.

It will be the first time the wishing well’s contents have been recovered in 14 years.

Lucie Sargent, the pub’s landlady, said: “I think there’s a lot of money down there, with notes as well as coins.”

Staff believe there may also be various items of cutlery, dropped in by careless customers.

Lucie explained that The Abergavenny Arms has been a pub for about 250 years, during which time it has also served as a court and even a mortuary, but the building actually dates from the 15th century.

The well used to stand outside, but an extension at the pub brought it indoors.

It’s role changed from a practical one of supplying water to a more romantic one, with visitors throwing money down it and making a wish they hoped would come true.

It is normally covered with a grating for obvious safety reasons.

The ‘Down The Well’ event is being turned into quite an occasion at the pub. The action gets under way at 5pm, and will be accompanied by a hog roast and music.

Customers will be invited to buy tickets to guess the weight of the haul of coins recovered, with proceeds being shared by the RNLI – a cause close to landlady Lucie’s heart – and Rodmell Parish Council for the good of the village community.

The person who comes closest to the right answer will win a three-course meal, plus wine, for four people at the pub. The second prize is a bottle of champagne.

The RNLI and council will also benefit from a second raffle, with prizes being offered by local businesses, and from all legal tender brought to the surface – because some of the cash is likely to be obsolete.

The Belay Rope Access team certainly know their business, with a training facility operating at East Quay, Newhaven.