The Maharaja's Well, Stoke Row, Oxfordshire, UK Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

The Maharaja's Well, Stoke Row, Oxfordshire, UK

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A map of Oxfordshire in the shape of an elephant, highlighting Stoke Row.

The Maharajah's Well is to be found in the village of Stoke Row, Oxfordshire which is near Reading, Berkshire, UK. It is a 370-foot deep well with a highly ornate wellhead cover, which includes a golden elephant under a domed canopy. It was paid for by the Maharajah of Benares (now Varanasi) in 1864. The local area governor, who was from Stoke Row, had told the story of a boy in the village who had been beaten by his mother after drinking the last of the water in the house during a drought.

At that time in the 19th Century, to replenish the supply meant a several-mile round trip to fetch and carry the water by hand. The Maharajah was so touched by the story that he financed the digging of the well, along with a keeper's cottage and a cherry orchard to provide for the upkeep of the well.

The well fell into disuse but was renovated in the 1950s and can still draw water. The keeper's cottage is still alongside but the cherry orchard is now an ornamental garden.

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